the pants that started it all

Or should I say, the paycheck that started it all.  I received some money from my place of employment as reimbursement for the tuition money spent on my graduate school program.  Since I’d already paid the bill for this semester, I figured I could live a little and buy some new clothes.  I wouldn’t blow the whole check on clothes, most of it’s going to future semesters.  But still, I had some money to burn.  Besides, my tax return check would be coming in soon to save the day.

I went into Marshall’s, which I love because it’s within walking distance of my apartment.  I never really went there when I was younger, it wasn’t in my repertoire.  However, I’m not afraid to dig through a rack or two to get a good deal.  I know my limits, I won’t go through an entire sale section on the assumption that if I search for an hour, I’ll find something. But I don’t mind flipping through for a few minutes.

Luckily, I didn’t even need to do that.  On a stand-alone rack was a lovely display of Dockers stretch skinny khakis.  Dark green, perfect, I don’t have any dark green khakis.  Nice enough to wear to work, but casual enough to wear elsewhere.  Skinny enough to put into boots, but I could probably get away with some strappy sandals when the weather got nicer.

Whoa, did true fashionistas have all that crap running through their head every time they saw a piece of clothing they liked?  It almost hurt a little, but I was inspired.

(Sidenote: I may at times imply that I’m a real idiot, such as the sentence above.  I’m not stupid, I’m fairly intelligent, I just don’t have that zing-boom neural pathway connection when it comes to clothes.)

I wasn’t quite at the point where I figured out what I could wear with these khakis, but I knew I must have at least one sweater that would match. That’s it.  I grabbed them and got on line.

(Sidenote 2: Sometimes I don’t try things on in the store. In a place like Marshall’s, my store in particular, I don’t want to step into their changing rooms.  I’d rather take my chances, try it on at home, and make a trip back if they don’t fit.)

It was fate.  Later that night, I came home and happened to stumble upon the website Pinterest.  It’s beautiful!  People just “pin” up anything from home decor to clothes to whatever else.  Entire outfits, just waiting for me to swoop in and try to copy.  I found this one:

Those weren’t the exact pants I bought, but they were close enough.  I have a scarf like that.  I had seen a similar top in Express just a few days before, and then I just needed a belt.

Holy crap, I had a gameplan.  I had picked out one pair of pants, and all of a sudden a whole new outfit fell into my lap.  It felt good.  I figured, if I could do that with one piece of clothing, why could I revolutionize my whole wardrobe that way?  I had recently gone through my dresser and gotten rid of a few things, I had room to refill.  I have a few basics: pencil skirts, button down dress shirts, boyfriend sweaters.  Slowly phasing in other nice things couldn’t be too hard, right?

And so it begins…

some perspective

So, I’m turning 24 in less than a week now.  There’s no time like the present to make a sincere effort to re-do my wardrobe.  I’m a pretty simple un-fashionista.  In the winter, I love a sweater, a camisole and a pair of jeans/dress pants (depending on the day).  In the summer, give me a t-shirt and some more jeans.  Maybe a skirt if I’m feeling especially un-subconscious about my pale skin.

But honestly, I’m about to hit my mid-twenties, I need to stop perusing the boys section of Modell’s (what? the boys large t-shirts are the perfect size!), and start thinking about buying things that will last me awhile.  Timeless, classic pieces.

In order for me to do this, and to keeps things in perspective, I thought a few lists would be handy.  I love lists.  My closet may not be organized, and neither may my desk, but gosh darn it, I have a million lists.

Pros (or things about me that will be helpful in this process):

  • I’ve had a very similar body type since I was in high school, so I know I can buy things now and still wear them a few years down the line.  I do have a summer dress from 8th grade that I still wear.  And until I stop getting compliments, I’m going to keep it.  Seriously.
  • I’m creative.  While I’ll have to work on visualizing complete outfits, I have the capacity to do so.  I worked at Michael’s crafts for years, darn it, it rubbed off on me.
  • I haven’t shopped in Forever 21 in at least a year. My window shopping locales of choice has become Banana Republic, The Loft, etc.  That’s a step in the right direction, yes?

Cons (or things about me that will be maddeningly unhelpful in this process):

  • I have a hard time letting go of clothes (see that dress from 8th grade).  If I think I’m going to wear it this year, even if I didn’t wear it at all last season, it’s hard to part.
  • I’m lazy when I’m getting ready in the morning, whether it’s for work or for fun.  My makeup routine is minimal. Part of the draw of sweaters and t-shirts is that, well, that’s it.  That’s your outfit right there.  No coordinating belts or jewelry or flats, everything goes.
  • I don’t think in terms of “outfits”, but rather single pieces. When I see a skirt, I think it’s nice, but my mind doesn’t automatically run the numbers on how many other things I already own that I can wear it with. I also don’t think “ok, well, now I need a brown belt for x, y, and z pants that I just bought”.  I suppose that comes with experience, and I intend on re-wiring my brain to do this.
  • I’m stingy.  I have to be in a real splurge-y mood to justify spending a lot of money on clothes.  Not that this mood never strikes, but I need to come to terms with the fact that if I spend more now, I won’t have to buy the same sweater next year. If it costs more, it’s (probably) made better, and will last longer.

Crap, I have more cons than pros, don’t I?  Luckily, when I know that something is important (or I should say, if I have made something important, no matter how trivial it is), I’ll work hard to get it done.  When I was a bridesmaid, I diligently made labels for the bridal shower favors. It was a low-key party, no one cared about the labels, but I spent hours meticulously cutting and penning them. I am excellent at fixating on things.  So while this task of re-doing my closet seems closer to insurmountable than not, it’s going to get done.