First things first: today is the Three Year Blogaversary for Une femme d'un certain age! I'd like to express my most sincere thanks and gratitude to all of you who have read, commented, e-mailed, blogrolled and linked to une femme, and I hope we'll continue to have these fabulous online conversations on style and life and all the rest! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Before launching into Walking the Walk Part 2, I also wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for such thoughtful and engaged comments on Monday's post. It's a relief to know I'm not alone in trying to navigate these murky waters.
It seems that many of us fall prey to some of the same beliefs that keep us in a pattern of settling, so let's unpack those beliefs and see if we can release their hold a bit.
1. Availability and Familiarity. Lack of time is my well-worn excuse for sticking to what I know, and while it's a valid one to some degree, I can make time to familiarize myself with some new retail options. In fact, if I cut back on my internet browsing/shopping for things I don't need, and subsequent trips to return most of those items, I'd free up some time right there! What Jen said in comments on Part 1 about shopping being work is true, yet easy to forget. I use shopping as recreation, which is fine at times, but to achieve the desired goal I need to set priorities and schedule time for this like any other task.
2. Sizing. Shopping only in Petites section is more a lazy habit than anything. I have found some items that fit me well in regular sizes (and need to keep reminding myself that alterations should become Standard Operating Procedure to get the fit Just Right).
3. Lifestyle. It's not like I'd wear my finest clothes to work in the garden or bathe the dogs. But for work, going out to lunch with friends, Saturday night out with le monsieur, why not? What's wrong with standing out (in a good way)? Growing up when I did, I was raised not to be too "proud," to be a good girl and not broadcast my accomplishments lest I make others envious and resentful. Having nice things that get noticed can sometimes feel like "showing off." At an early age I also learned from my mother that my not-thin body was something to be hidden and camouflaged or risk attracting a critical gaze (or my mother's critical comments!). Time to retire those outdated beliefs!
4. Weight. I'm trying to be realistic about this without settling in this part of my life too. I know that I'll never weigh what I did in my 20's or even 30's, but I think I can get the weight back down to where my current clothes fit a bit better. I'm all about balance these days, and am no longer willing or able to undertake drastic regimes or become obsessed with a number on the scale. Just because we are no longer young or have girlish figures doesn't mean we still can't have great style! Knowing what works best for my shape (thanks, Imogen and Karen!) and keeping the possibility of alterations in mind will help me feel good in what I'm wearing.
5. Fear. While it's true that nothing lasts forever, and our favorite items wear out or are discontinued or are "re-designed" (too often with pre-teenage bodies in mind it would seem), there will always be other wonderful pieces somewhere out there that we'll love just as much. We may have some dry spells, but The Fabulous Abides.
So here's une femme's plan for the next five or six months (whenever fall fashions start to hit the stores):
1. Stop Buying, especially More of the Same. I have more than enough clothing to get me through the next several months. There's nothing I need. Another cardigan is not going to add any value to my wardrobe or life. I'm going to stay away from my usual venues and e-tailers. I'm vowing to stop "frittering," along the lines of Make Do Style's challenge, and this includes makeup and accessories I don't need. I'll save up what I'd normally spend in these months to accumulate a decent War Chest when the time comes to shop for real.
2. Gather Inspiration. Rather than shopping online, I've begun collecting pictures of what inspires to create my own "lookbook" which I'll share here periodically. The pictures need not show an exact item I'd want to wear, but rather colors, cuts, textures, stylings, aesthetics and moods that speak to me in some way.
3. Explore. I'm going to set aside some chunks of a few hours here and there to browse around some different boutiques and consignment stores outside of my normal venues. When I am ready to buy, I'll hopefully have honed in on a few retailers that will have a greater likelihood of stocking items that will work for me.
4. Enlist Help. Once fall items start coming in, I plan to make appointments with some in-store shoppers at one or two better department stores, and maybe sales associates at some of the smaller boutiques if I've found anything promising. (This is where the lookbook will come in handy.) I'll try on a bazillion things, maybe engage Karen for an afternoon of focused shopping.
5. Discriminate. Before I spend on an item, I must love it. No more "it'll do's." I must be able to work it into my current wardrobe, or it must fill a gap. (Hello, LBD?)
So that's the plan (which in a nutshell comes down to retraining myself how to shop) to achieve my goal of upping the "fabulous" quotient in my closet, while continuing to pare down to a solid core wardrobe. I'll update how this is going periodically.
Have you changed how you shop? What motivated you, and how did you do it?