Feb 132014

I had to stretch a little to find a confidence-related old post to re-run today. Not sure this is the best connection, but it seemed worth editing to re-post. The idea of settling on a formula to simplify dressing feels even more appropriate for today than it did when I first wrote this in February 2006.

Most of us, when we consider the concept of wearing a uniform, find it somewhat restrictive. A few, however, would be relieved. If you are one of those few, pay close attention now. I have a suggestion to make your life easier. When I was growing up, my mom wore a uniform. Not a company logo polo shirt, or fatigues, or navy shirt and shorts; she had a certain formula for dressing that just worked for her – a template, if you will. Wearing a suit everyday in my former professional life was the same concept. Easy, but with variety not afforded by a traditional uniform.

The project (this should be fun):

  • Get out your collages, clippings, or pin boards of looks you like, grouped by lifestyle segment.
  • Work on one season at a time. Depending on where you live, you may choose to work on Winter or Spring, or even Summer at this time of year.
  • Identify a “template” you would like to use for the season you are working on, in each category.
  • “Bottoms up”: Start with pants or skirt (or dress) and shoes; add jacket or sweater; connect with blouse or top. To be very thorough, plan also for jewelry and accessories, even undergarments.

Here’s a fictional Winter template plan:

Leisure = jeans + cotton tee-shirt + wool sweater
Casual = wool trousers + dress shirt + blazer or cardigan Business = pant or skirt suit + silk blouse
Social = dark sleeveless dress

This concept adds structure to our thinking about what to wear. And I need to revisit. 😉 Comments, suggestions, snide remarks?

Jan 282014

In the aftermath of my recent wardrobe trauma, I have been strategizing how to avoid such trouble in the future. Realizing that it happens most when I am going to a daytime social event is a clue. I may be overthinking the impression I want to make on people. Or I may just not have the right undergarments 😉

The first thing I tried on that day didn’t work because it didn’t fit at all. I had gotten a pair of purple, patterned tights at a clothing exchange and it never occurred to me that I should try them on. They came up just above my knees! Oh well.

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image1.jpgIf, for some reason, I had rejected the suit I ended up wearing, my next option was this (dress from youngest daughter’s wedding, with tights and sweater). Wearing it to church the next day seemed like a good opportunity to test-drive an outfit. Although it was fine, it was not great. The dress is sleeveless and the sweater was a little bit itchy.

Many people use this template to wear their summer dresses year-round.

Sundress + tights + sweater

This year I kept my summer clothes out, going for more variety, but I haven’t found them very useful. Do you have separate summer and winter wardrobes?

Nov 112013

In Myers-Briggs “code”, the T stands for thinking and the P for perceiving. I will leave it up to you to investigate, if those terms are not familiar. As I have been ruminating on the connections to style for a good long time now, I figured it was time to start throwing my thoughts out there.

TP = Tidy + Practical

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Characterized by simple pieces and established silhouettes, the TP style is, in my mind, best illustrated by what the hero wears.

Leisure: t-shirts and lots o’ pockets
Business casual: long-sleeved button-downs and twill pants

That’s about it. (Allow me to, parenthetically, express a pet peeve here: button-down is a specific COLLAR style, not “buttons down the front”.) While women’s clothing is always more complicated, I don’t think there is anything wrong with simplifying.
A TP woman could:

  • Stick closely to favorite classics and let someone else shop for her
  • Buy multiples
  • Spend more for perfect; it will get worn out!

A TP could also neglect to throw things with holes or stains away and wind up with a bulging drawer full of painting clothes and nothing respectable to wear. 😉

Do you have any favorite feminine translations of this style? IMO, the female detective on TV’s Psych wears it well.

Nov 012013

Has anything in your closet failed to see action in the past year? Experts recommend biffing those items. But, since there seem to be exceptions to that rule, it is sometimes hard to follow through.

Reasons why an item may be languishing:

  • You don’t like it enough to wear it. In this case, definitely pass it on. A variation is when you wear it, you don’t feel like yourself or as good as when you wear your favorite things.  Honestly, isn’t this the reason the rule was created?
  • Or, alternatively, it doesn’t quite fit. The Internet is full of reasons why you should not keep stuff that doesn’t quite fit, and yet most of us do.  A variation is stuff you need different underwear to wear. Decide which it is, and then biff or shop!
  • The hardest reason to recognize, IMO: you have too many choices in that lifestyle category. If you haven’t worn it in a year, it may be your least favorite. Biff. The exception: if your favorites are wearing out, you may like this lonely piece better than buying new; especially given the fact that you probably need to put more effort into shopping for one or more of the other lifestyle categories.

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These are some reasons to adhere to the One Year Rule.
When do you break the rule and keep stuff you are not wearing?

Oct 162013

For that next step up from jeans and a sweater, what I call “casual”, a dress is always in option. A dress with flats, IMI ( that’s “in my idiom”, as opposed to “in my opinion”). So, whether you need a casual dress or cocktail, today only:

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Recently my sister commented that she didn’t wear jeans and heels. I rarely do. (I wonder if that has to do with not preferring to wear heels; perhaps women who wear heels all the time wear jeans and heels when I would wear a dress and flats?) I also don’t care much for “nice pants”, with the exception of wool trousers instead of a dress when the snow flies.

What’s your go-to casual template?

Aug 242013

I confess I am conflicted about sundresses, vacation dresses, leisure dresses. I will allow that there are days when a dress is the coolest thing to wear. And yet, I did not bring any with me to Hawaii. At the last minute, the dresses I was considering seemed like they would be too wrinkled to wear on arrival; I had no assurance there would be an iron. And who wants to iron on vacation anyway?

I may have mentioned this before (to the point of annoyance) but as a rule I do not wear synthetic fabrics. So the coral maxi dress I bought for $1, thinking I would bring it, did not make the final cut, partially because of polyester content. Is a polyester-blend dress really cooler than shorts and a tank-top?
lulus walk bright up white dress orange color blockingAt any rate, today I am test-driving the double-layer cotton skirt as sundress substitute. And we are going to the county fair!

Bringing sundresses with me, I think, would have been more work (shopping) and alot of them are just too drapy for me. I prefer crispier fabrics.  When I was poking around the web a little just now, thinking about the issue, I found this. I think this is so much cooler than the standard sundress. If it were cotton, it might actually be the other kind of cool as well 😉

Aug 212013

That moment when you realize (almost) all your _____ (insert article of clothing staple) are on or past their last legs.

I have been packing. Or at least I have been thinking about packing. In a day or two, I fly with a small group of female friends/family to Hawaii. I am purposely packing light. But suddenly I find myself with the following wardrobe of shorts:

  1. one pair Bermudas that I wish were an inch shorter. Sort of a soft, sagey green that doesn’t go with the rest of the color scheme I am packing, so I am wearing them while I do laundry, shop, and pack. They will be clean for me to wear upon return.
  2. one pair mid-thigh, chino-style which fit fabulously but seem to have a defective “barn door”. Or operator ;). Yeah, the other day I looked down after an afternoon of shopping and selling stuff at Plato’s Closet to see my zipper down! It had to have been that way all afternoon, if it didn’t come down on its own. 🙁
  3. my favorite summer pair of shorts, lipstick pink, which came out of the wash recently with spots that looked like a pair of jeans had bled onto them.  I washed them again and I think they are okay, but …

I needed to buy some shorts.

So, it was back to Value Village for the one day, half off summer, card-holders only sale. And a quick stop at Goodwill on the way home.

(I could have gone to shop clearance at the regular store, at this time of year, but it isn’t as easy for me to get to. Shop Clearance at

Shorts added:

  1. Khaki, white, orange, and O.D. green plaid Bermudas
  2. Brown knee-length board shorts
  3.  O.D. green mid-thigh Athleta shorts with oversized grommet trim

In addition to shorts, I plan to take:

  1. Coral roll-up light-weight twill pants
  2. White gauze trumpet-gored skirt

Anything you would add? Besides tops 😉

Aug 012013

sage green Bermudas, with jacketIn my attempts to wrestle the brain and schedule into submission and re-habituate to the blogging life, I have tried a couple of remote blogging locations.  I mean coffee shops, mostly. Last Friday morning I spent a couple quiet hours semi-productively at the Hardback Cafe inside Hastings.  I was dressed like this:

  • Breve-colored slip-on Italian loafers.  These are comfortable and classy, even if it’s not so classy when I slip them off and put my feet up on the couch or coffee table 😉
  • Sage green short-sleeved pants. Perhaps not the most fashionable, but I consider these “just get dressed” summer clothes. As usual, I wore them with a belt and my signature key ring hanging from a belt loop.
  • Also, “just get dressed” summer clothes: Mod Bod tank in ivory.  Now, I love these tanks and have them in several colors, but this summer I haven’t worn them much.  They seemed boring. However …
  • This short, puffed sleeve jacket in a crispy cotton fabric and neutral putty color is just perfect for converting just about ANY “just get dressed” summer outfit into business casual.  Why didn’t I think of that before?

The jacket has a slightly-fitted shape which, combined with the rounded sleeves and a pair of shorts that taper slightly creates a smooth figure 8 ish silhouette.  I have had the jacket a few years – never worn it much – and it was a thrift steal: Caslon (NORDSTROM) tags on when I bought it for next-to-nothing.

I always feel more like myself when dressed with a business edge.

May 142013

As I continue to hone my personal style idiom, I find myself spending less and bypassing more.  Increasingly, I am impressed with the value of expressing the true self, rather than a generic robo-Barbie.

Yesterday, one of the daughters and I went out together on several errands, including thrifting and the mall.  Pictured, but somehow upside-down, my purchases:


  1. Christopher & Banks short-sleeve jacket in coral, brand-new with tags still attached. It fits beautifully, but I am still considering putting it on eBay.
  2. London Times capsleeve dress in brown.  This will assume the position of casual dress in my fall wardrobe.
  3. WR9000 silk and cashmere v-neck sweater in navy with gold sequin horizontal stripes. I laugh cuz I got it for 54 cents!

Well, there you have it: what my $2.69 bought.  And I have no idea why the picture refused to upload right side up.  If it bothers you, blame the people who perpetually howl for pics.  I can remove it. I think. 😉

Anyway …

While I was out and about, dressed as myself not robo-Barbie, I also received a number of compliments, not the least of which was the fact that, wherever I went, people were willing to engage with me.  More on that to come!

Oct 192012

In some ways, my wardrobe is an analog to my life.  If parts of my wardrobe are not working, it is likely parts of my life are not working; if my wardrobe is completely out of control … I’m in trouble!

Presently, circumstances in my husehold are complicated.   I need to simplify.  Thus, when I started pulling my fall wardrobe items out to work them into my dresser, the thought train looked something like this:

I have really great navy sneakers AND my brown ones are kinda tired looking AND my painting shoes are white, which shoe color doesn’t suit my idiom AND if I throw away the white ones and demote the brown ones, I still always have something to wear (but I would only have to store two pairs instead of three) AND I have an opportunity to simplify my decision process.  

And then, all of a sudden, this simple philosophy crystallized: Painting, or gardening or dog-walking, clothes should be favorite leisure clothes with minor damage.  They should not be perfectly good clothes that I don’t like anymore; they should not be rags.

In the scene shop weekly, with a group of peers, I wear painting clothes.  I should look like myself.