anatomy of a failed outfit

My mantra this week? “I’m still learning.”  Still learning how to perfect the warrior two pose, still learning the intricate details in the great big world of financial aid, still learning the best way to get from my Upper East Side job to anywhere outside of Manhattan or my apartment. Most importantly (for the context of this blog, anyway), still learning how to look fashionable. And as is evident by my outfit today, there is still a long way to go.  

Almost as important as my first day back to grad school, yesterday was the first day of school at the college I work at. The quiet days of summer gave way to frantic students trying to fix their schedules, finalize their aid, or pay their bills…and they all come to our office. It’s a madhouse the first few days, so I attempted to make myself look presentable while still taking into account the nasty, rainy weather outside.

In my head, the outfit below looked better than when I actually had it on. It had all the basics: a neutral color palette dressed up with some jewelry, with some practical shoes for the rain (rainboots were unavailable). So in theory, this should have been a winner, right?

Not so much.

(Sidenote: I wore it to work anyway.  It wasn’t that bad, and I didn’t feel like putting together another outfit when I had a pile of homework staring me in the face that needed completing before I went in for my 11-7PM shift. And when I say “pile of homework”, I really mean “a long list of required readings I had saved to Google Docs”, so not an actual pile per se.)

The (Failed) Outfit in Question

I’ve provided a picture for easy reference as I run down the list of reasons why this outfit didn’t work, in no particular order. But like a true, eternal student, I also included ways to improve upon these mistakes. See? Everything can be a learning tool!

  1. The sleeves of the cardigan were just a little bit shorter than the sleeves of the shirt.  This left me with a strange upper-arm conundrum.  One thing I have learned is that layering works best when the ends of the layers (sleeves, waistline, hems) are different enough to really pull it off.  Switching out the short-sleeve shirt for a long sleeve one, or even a sleeveless one, would be better.
  2. The shirt was fitted, but the pants were loose fitting and shouldn’t have been accompanied by a loose cardigan. I probably could have gotten away with this if I had donned my black skinny jeans.
  3. About halfway through the day I realized I had a frog closure on my sweater.  I had gotten it at the thrift store and apparently hadn’t looked it over closely enough!  But the closure lines up just a little too close to the end of my necklace, so I left it undone.  With a shorter necklace it could work better, or perhaps a skinny belt holding the cardigan closed.

I can’t deny that this particular outfit was very comfortable, and professional looking enough for my office; with some minor improvements it will surely make its way back into my rotation.  I think the fact that I can “diagnose” the problems I had with it and come up with some solutions means that I’m becoming better at this whole fashion thing!

(Sidenote 2:  I actually did know what a frog closure was without having to look it up, thanks to my aunt’s sewing machine skills and a vest she made for me a long time ago.  But if you’re simply dying for a definition, check out Kohl’s very useful glossary of fabric and fashion terms).


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