Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Express Checkout Experiment and Checking In

2011 was a great year for my personal style. During the past several years, I felt discouraged about buying new clothes and my overall style, simply because I didn't fit into what I saw as the neatly defined style categories for women in department stores, chain stores, and big box stores.

You know: like Trendy Junior, Scary Boho, Mutton-Pretending-to-be-Lamb, and Dumpy Matron.

I define my style as classic/feminine/original: I love the classic lines and styles of 1940s and 50s designs, I wear dresses and skirts as often as jeans or trousers, and I work well with accessories. I avoid too much flowery/fussy/ruffle- or bow-sprigged stuff, sleeveless or tight-fitting clothing, cheap fabrics, and absolutely hate to see myself coming and going. I had more or less resorted to my "go to" favorites: trousers, jeans, and pencil skirts with man-styled blouses. This had gotten pretty routine, and thus boring, while I had a closet full of jackets, sweaters, and dresses I was avoiding. I had even given up working my many, many accessories.

Changes? Investment in better support lingerie, a couple of simple purses, good quality coordinates, and time.

So what did I do in 2010-11 to update and improve my style?

First, I revitalised my closet with the Express Checkout Experiment. Choosing 15 items and only 15 items to wear for 2 months forced me to realize how many extras were hanging around but not being worn--literally. I eliminated multiples and almost-but-not-quite impulse buys. Things that still had tags on them. Things that had worn patches I was hiding. I eliminated anything I didn't feel comfortable in, didn't look good in, or didn't like (yes, there were surprising numbers of all three). I like and need color in my closet, but worked around a limited palette: black, mid-gray, chocolate, white, red, turquoise, and shades of blue and purple.

Eliminated beige, cream, khaki, yellows, and almost all green. Okay, yes, there's a lot of black. Work with me!

Remember this from my original E.C.E. post, from 10.22.10? All of these pieces are still rotating through my regular closet wear, except the argyle dress and the purple piece. I've replaced the argyle dress (too short, too "junior") with two different black dresses. One I bought in Paris that has a more youthful feel, and one from TravelSmith that is a great conference dress (always makes me feel feminine and slim). Both can be dressed up/down more easily than the argyle one, and both are more realistically me. I haven't yet replaced the purple top.

But the lesson in both cases was appropriateness: the dress was too young for me and the top was too bulky and shapeless. Neither did me any favors. Lessons heeded and learned!

The good news:
  • I donated/tossed about one-third of my overall wardrobe (my emotional clothing baggage, if you will!), including shoes, bags, scarves, and overall accessories;
  • I bought five great new pieces in fall 2011, pieces I see as the center of my closet now, while spending only 60% of the in-store retail price;
  • I actually re-discovered my specific likes and dislikes, and thus moved toward a more organized/comprehensive personal style;
  • I updated/invested in my hair and jewelry to fit my new style choices, and I lurv both.
The bad news:
  • I still have multiple pieces of clothing baggage from a decade ago, unable to detach myself from them (why?);
  • I realized yet again that I will be happier and my entire wardrobe will be more available to me if I lose even ten pounds (which is not a ridiculous notion and definitely a healthy one);
  • I have a few $$$ of untapped resources in my closet, for no good reason--seems so very wasteful.
The best thing was that with focus, I found that I didn't have to spend a lot to gain much, much more. Letting go of all those useless/wrong clothes made me feel better in every way, buying several new pieces of jewelry for myself (some found on Etsy) was a sound investment, and changing my hair was a bigger physcological charge than I imagined! Even adding on professional coloring every 3 months (my hair holds color forever), this is a great investment in myself.

Don't you love self checkout?

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