Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wardrobe Therapy Week One

Still processing the election. Thrilled about the Obama/Biden win. Saddened by the multiple gay marriage bans that passed. We take a step forward only to take several steps back.

The Fall Cure is going on over at Apartment Therapy. I'm not participating this round. Dave and I have done a bit of furniture rearranging and I worked on the basement storage area for the last few days.

I was pleased to see that Wende over at The Sky is Bigger started up the Fall Wardrobe Therapy adventure today. I followed along during the Spring edition but did not participate. Now I'm ready to tackle my clothing.

Wardrobe Therapy is set up much like the Apartment Therapy system, which also shares some ideas with Flylady, but it focuses on your wardrobe.

Here is the first Week 1 post found here.

Agenda: Week 1

Get completely caught up on laundry you can do yourself. If trips to the dry-cleaner are relatively routine for you, catch up on that, too.
Thankfully I keep on top of the laundry, most of the time. I do not dry clean my clothing. I am however debating getting rid of a nearly 10 year old Dryell at home dry cleaning kit.

Breath: Choose one garment, pair of shoes, accessory, make-up item, skin-care product, or hair-care product that will ultimately belong in the Torture Device, Velveteen Rabbit, or Mystery of the Lost Shopping Trip category and make it go away now instead of waiting for its special week. If you think it best to start a donation bag or turn your old clothes into rags, do that thing -- just get something de-accessioned.
See this post regarding these categories. I will address this later.

Heart: Do something pampering for yourself. (If you've been doing the 8-Week AT Cure, you need and deserve a little pampering by now.) It's not necessary to run out and buy anything -- just to give some attention to yourself rather than the apartment, the family, the dog, the job, and so on. If you can tackle a treat you've been postponing, so much the better.

We were at Office Max today to get a pencil sharpener and some new pens. There is a printer and a chair that are calling to me. But they are not wardrobe related. We shall see.

Head: Find a source of clothing pictures that you enjoy looking at. It need not be a fashion magazine or current catalog. Old movies, Old Masters... doesn't matter. The idea is to immerse yourself in elements that nourish your personal style, regardless of whether the nice buyers at the nice stores are on the same page.
Audrey Hepburn, in Funny Face, a girl can dream. Current fashion Icon Michelle Obama.

Also, give yourself at least a back-of-the-envelope idea of where you want to go with budget. I'll blog more about this issue later, too.
Ah budget. The smaller the more realistic.


  1. Who is your candidate for "best dressed," real or fictional? Audry Hepburn in Funny Face and Michelle O.
  2. Is there anyone you're tempted to see as a style icon, but you'd never dare dress that way? See question 1.
  3. What is your favorite garment/outfit ever? I don't know, my wedding dress? The black/tan dress I wear all the time in the summer?
  4. What is your current favorite garment? My new black knit yoga pants.
  5. What would you wear if you could wear absolutely anything? Cashmere, so soft.
  6. What would your favorite store be, if money were no object? Store? A resale shop filled with clothing I actually like that fits me.
  7. Do you have a favorite store now? If so, why? If not, why not? I like Land's End because it wears well and is simple. I like Talbots on sale, it wears well. Target is ok, I like the Mizrahi line. I don't like paying for clothing that falls apart quickly.
  8. What's your best fashion faux-pas story, now that the scars have healed? Wearing waist high pants with a belt? I suppose by some standards I am a constant fashion faux-pas.
How You Live & the People Around You
  1. If there were a uniform for where you spend most of your time, what would it be? I'm a SAHM so I am home most of the time or out and about with the kids. So I would say jeans, khaki's with tshirts, turtlenecks, sweaters, depending on time of year.
  2. If there were a uniform for where you spend your leisure, what would it be? Jeans and a tshirt/sweater. Some wear sweats. I own one pair for when I am sick. I do not wear sweatpants out of the house as a rule.
  3. What do you like best about the prevailing style where you are? I like the comfort and easy care.
  4. What frustrates you? Not always feeling put together and finished. I dress to shoes, a la Flylady and do my hair, but not my face lately, but I don't always feel polished. I want to take SAHM to the next level, but not to Stepford Wife.
  5. Is there another place (one you've lived, visited, heard about, whatever) that better captures your idea of style? No.
  6. Construct a quick pie chart of the occasions for which you dress. (The link has detailed instructions from Rebecca.)

Your Wardrobe
  1. In three bullet points, what is the problem with your wardrobe? No jeans without holes or tears. Comfortable everyday Winter footwear. Blah, ho hum.
  2. If your wardrobe could speak, what would it say is the problem? For Christ Sakes by a pair of jeans already. Can you wear a color other then black or brown?
  3. What one thing do you want your wardrobe to do more of? Mix and match, look put together.
  4. What do you want people to say about your look? I would like to look good but not look like I'm trying really hard to look good. So ideally my clothing would be appropriate and together but not outlandish. It's more about how I feel then how I look to other people.
The Categories mentioned above found in this post.

Pile 1: Torture Devices
These are the garments that you either take off right after putting them on, or you wear them and wish you hadn't. They pinch, poke, squeeze, constrain, wrinkle within seconds of ironing, give your skin a jaundiced glow, or have you wondering who that awkward woman is every time you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. You loathe these garments, but you keep them because they were "quality" -- or because they are necessary to an outfit that centers around a garment you love -- or because you haven't mustered the time, energy, and spare cash to replace them.

I can think of one! It's an undergarment I wear under my otherwise super comfy new yoga pants to not have VPL. My dress shoes and boots are not comfortable. I do not know how women wear heels all day long. The shoes I own are ok for short periods of time but not for all day wear.

Our goal: To get these out of the rotation, out of the closet, and out of your life, without leaving you naked.

Pile 2: Velveteen Rabbits
These garments looked good (maybe even great) on you before they faded, shrank, pilled, snagged, developed stains, or lost buttons -- and you still find yourself reaching for them. These have a good chance of defining your Personal Classics, but you shouldn't be wearing them as-is.

My lone pair of Gap jeans with a very sad hole in the right knee. They fit great and feel so comfortable and are flattering.

Our goal: To repair where possible and replace as needed.

Pile 3: Stalwart Staples
These are your workhorse garments: the tops and bottoms that look nice, coordinate well, and take you most places you need to go. They are not necessarily exciting in themselves, but you can't get dressed without them. You can wear them with the assurance that you're appropriately dressed, and at least some of them will form the core of your Personal Classics.

For me this is turtlenecks. I love turtlenecks in the winter. I have slowly replaced all of the oversized jcrew turtlenecks in my collection with Talbots and Old Navy turtlenecks.

Our goal: To keep these in good repair and adequate supply, so that you don't find yourself with a closet full of Velveteen Rabbits; also, to align these with the inventory in pile 4, below.

Pile 4: Superstars
In these garments, you look amazing and feel gorgeous. Collecting Superstars involves a certain amount of luck, depending on how clothing manufacturers feel about your shape, coloring, and credit limit at any given moment.

The difficulty with Superstars is that if you look fabulous in a currently unpopular color or cut, your Superstar can easily become an orphan that has no coordinating pieces other than maybe a Torture Device. And as Mella pointed out last year, certain Superstars turn themselves into Torture Devices by being Diva Garments: that is, they require so much specialized maintenance that they're not worth the effort to wear.

I have a black and brown calf length sleeveless dress that I love and wear quite a bit in the summer, but can't find more of.

I have a brown scoop neck cashmere sweater from Old Navy that I wore a few nights ago and felt fabulous. I need to take better care of that sweater.

Our goal: To maximize your ability to acquire Superstars; also, to make sure that your supply of Stalwart Staples includes the right things to support your Superstars.

Pile 5: Same Time, Next Year
These are garments that you wear rarely, but when you need them, you really need them. Very rarely in the past two years have I needed to wear formal business attire; but a suit that announces I work for an investment firm that's coining money, thankyouverymuch isn't something I can run out, buy off the rack in 30 minutes, and wear the next day. (How is it that heroines in novels not only can always find a fabulously flattering designer outfit at a secondhand store just when it's wanted, but also never need the slightest tailoring, even when their figures are outside ordinary sizing norms?)

I have one nice black crepe 'suit' that thankfully still fits from when I graduated from grad school and was looking for work. I've worn it to countless funerals. I have now two LBD's that I've worn repeatedly.

Our goal: To make sure you have a plan for avoiding the nasty surprise that your Same Time, Next Year collection has mutated into Velveteen Rabbits or Torture Devices.

Pile 6: Sentimental Journeys
These garments have joyous memories, but there's nowhere you'd actually wear them, even if you had the Stalwart Staples to match. Wedding gowns are right up there in this category, as are certain former Superstars that announce their vintage a little too loudly.

I LOVE my wedding dress. It makes me smile and yes I still fit in it. It's not taking up that much room and it brings me joy so it's not going anywhere. I have two of Mom's suites, her going away outfit from her wedding and a beautiful vintage couture suite and shell that Aunt Ella bought Mom, it's dated but beautifully constructed. Both suits make me smile. I also have Grandma J's fur cape, it's super soft. These items don't take up that much space. I had a lot more of Mom's clothes that I've culled.

I also have two plastic bags of college sweatshirts and one plastic tote of tshirts. Sentimental journeys that are not bad but not joyous, but I can't bring myself to get rid of, at least not yet.

Our goal: To cull or store -- whatever feels right! -- so you're not wasting prime space on stuff you can't wear.

Pile 7: Mysteries of the Lost Shopping Trip
When all the other piles are piled, these garments are left over. You don't love them. You don't hate them. You don't wear them. You may not even be sure why you own them. Or maybe they were Stalwart Staples, two jobs back, but have nothing to do with your current life or future plans.

I've gone through my closet several times in the past year. I can't think of a Mystery right now but I'm sure I will find one.

Our goal: To reduce this pile to zero, permanently.

So that's a start. I'm looking forward to following along with Wende and hopefully culling and adding to my existing wardrobe.


drwende said...

Welcome to WT!

If you refuse to wear sweatpants out of the house, you cannot possibly be one ongoing fashion faux pas.

(The reason none of us buys jeans readily is that manufacturers make it an all-day process of frustration and humiliation. Give us precise measurements, consistent sizing within a brand, and diagrams, and we'd be getting somewhere...)

Rebecca said...

Hi Karen! Thanks for visiting my blog. I look forward to following you wt progress and, of course, to my own.

Anne (in Reno) said...

Just thinking - how old is that pair of Gap jeans that has gone rabbity? They stock the same styles for quite a while and are having a big sale right now on some stuff, it might be worth keeping an eye out for that style again.