Since I've gotten squat done in terms of quilting or embroidery for the last few weeks, I've had squat to talk about. I finally decided that maybe some of you (ahem--all we women "of a certain age") may appreciate some of the things I have been spending time on recently. This one's kind of long, but I'm letting you into a whole thought process and then making some recommendations...
You see, every so often I decide I should grow up and get a clue.
I've been thinking that dressing at 50 feels different from dressing at 40. Each decade has brought its own styling challenges (and, to complicate matters, its own range of sizes I'm wearing at the time). I still remember so clearly the year I turned 40, walking through a department store and having no idea whatsoever what department I was supposed to be shopping in. I quite literally stopped dead in the middle of an intersection and looked around me in bewilderment. I had to leave and come back again in a few months after I'd gotten over myself.
Now 50 is the new 30, thanks to the aging Baby Boomers shifting demographic assumptions once again. I don't actually like thinking about clothes, but I have decided I've reached a point in my life and my career where I need to start thinking about these things. I need to figure out how to dress in a way that's ME while still dressing professionally in a way others will accept. (No, it's not right that people judge us by externals. But it's reality.) I need to pay attention to...well, shoes. I am so NOT a shoe person. But I really have to be. Mostly, I have to stop making shoe mistakes. I admire other women's shoes but rarely figure out how to have the right ones for my own outfits. And purses. I've always subscribed to the "one bag for everything" theory but rarely does that actually work.
My biggest issue is that I buy nice pieces, but I don't do well when it comes to putting things together into outfits. Stacey of What Not to Wear was often speaking directly to me. So I'm taking steps towards building a wardrobe that works better. That way I don't have to think about clothes again--I can theoretically just reach into my closet, grab a couple of things, and be on my way. Really, I'm taking what I've learned about creating a really good fabric stash for quilting and applying it to my closet. It only took me 15 years of quilting to realize I could do that. Go figure.
So, first step: I've been subscribing to style blogs, selectively. I've found a few that I've enjoyed for various reasons. I may not like all (or even most) of a particular blogger's outfits but maybe I enjoy her relatable writing style. Or another I may like because of her choice of accessories. Or another because she's a larger person and I appreciate that fashion isn't dependent on the size of one's waist. There's actually only one of these bloggers who 90% of the time wears outfits I could see myself wearing, and I get ideas from seeing the way she puts things together. But I'm not going to tell you which is which--you can guess for yourself. And sorry, my younger followers, all of these blogs are at least for post-40, most are post-50. Younger folks have a lot more blogs to choose from!
wardrobeoxygen.com (this one is geared at all ages but is realistic fashion, not Fashion Week fashion)
flattering50.com (she hasn't posted in awhile but still good info on past posts)
fiftynotfrumpy --although she no longer blogs here because she turned 60, so she's working on a new website named susanafter60.com. As of this writing, that one isn't available yet so I'm still going through the posts on her fiftynotfrumpy site. However, note--she's still active on Polyvore (below) as fiftynotfrumpy.
Many of these bloggers have Pinterest boards as well.
Second step: I've also started playing around with the website and app Polyvore. It's both an inspiration-curating and shopping app with a social networking twist to boot. I haven't shopped from it as it tends towards the pricey options, but it's good for getting ideas and then going to look for something similar somewhere else. You can follow folks on Polyvore so there are a couple of "over 50s" I've added to my feed: http://stylish-at-50ish.polyvore.com/ and http://fiftynotfrumpy.polyvore.com/ (see her blog above). Polyvore also has home dec stuff and "beauty" (products) as well.
Third step: I'm taking a good, hard look at my wardrobe and assessing it the way I did my stash a few years ago. The major helper in this is another app named Stylebook. I'm switching out my spring/summer clothes for my fall/winter clothes this week (despite it being 85 degrees out there--I live in hope!). As I'm doing so, I'm taking the time to photograph items to enter into my Stylebook "closet" so I can start figuring out how things actually go together into outfits. This process forces me to pick up every single piece of clothing and decide--do I actually wear this, or do I just like it in theory? And if I do wear it, do I like the way it makes me feel when I wear it, or am I tugging, pulling, and constantly feeling uncomfortable? In other words, do I like this item of clothing well enough to go through the bother of taking a picture of it and entering it in Stylebook?
There are two bags of clothes that didn't make the cut waiting to be dropped off at Goodwill. I'm working on getting the rest photographed. I also went through all the bad-idea-shoes and the purses and handbags that had gotten stashed on a shelf over the years to decide what deserves to see the light of day versus what can be donated. I several "ethnic" bags from various social entrepreneur/women's empowerment sites that I've never figured out how to use and I'd really like to, so they're now photographed. And I've already ordered a couple of new bags to fill in some situational-gaps. See? I'm already learning! (And no, I'm not waiting until I get the time to make myself more purses--I need something now, not five years from now. That day will come....)
I've already started messing around with the really fun part of the app where, once you have pictures of your wardrobe, you can start putting it together into outfits. Since I only have pants and a couple of tshirts and three or four bags entered yet, I can't get super-creative with the outfits at this point. (But see? That's one of those women's empowerment bags in that pic--I love it with that tshirt and I'd never thought of that before!) But you know what? I'm wearing an outfit to a family shindig tonight that has had the components in my closet for some time but I never thought to put them together before taking pics for the app. Don't I just feel all that and a bag of chips?
However--what I'm mostly looking forward to here is how helpful it'll be when I have to pack for vacation or work trips. It has a section where you create your packing list from your "closet" entries. I'll be able to plan my outfits for each day I'm gone all within the app and then create my packing list from there. SO helpful! My work trip this past summer had so many different types of events that I had to keep track of a couple of outfits for every day. Obviously, as I try to pack light, I'm using a lot of items multiple times, which creates more possibilities for confusion. Having a picture of every outfit will be so useful!
Plus, now I will be able to see what I have too many of in my closet (the herd of white camisoles needs to be culled), what I have just enough of (no need to shop for jeans or black work pants for awhile), and what I really need to get to make these individual pieces work together better. I have several nice blazers and sweaters that I haven't worn for a long time because I don't have anything that works layered underneath them. Now I can make a list and shop with smarts.
So--this is what's been occupying my time as I've been taking breaks from studying and laying in bed for a couple of days with vertigo. I know--very shallow kind of stuff. But it's a nice break from the Deep Thoughts I'm engaged in most days. And I always love a new app to play with. I hope some small piece of this, at least, has been useful to you.
I'm going on a quilt retreat this weekend (woot!)--no worries about what I'm wearing there as it'll be yoga pants and tshirts all the way--and although I'll have to spend time on school work I should also have something involving fabric and thread to report on next week. So stay tuned...