Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday's style

Winter is not my favorite month weather-wise, but I have to admit I love the clothes.

Sweaters, jackets, wool skirts, boots, gloves, scarves -- all of it appeals to me. Here in the Big D and at My U, however, "winter" is a completely different thing than in the N'East, and as "business casual" takes on a new turn.

Oh, and my determination to address minimalism.

Once again I am taking up the challenge of focusing my closet on a handful of items, so see what I really need. In the last year, I've been upgrading my style and my wardrobe a bit, having realized that it had been some time since I bought real, grown-up clothes for out-of-the-house work.

At home, I go very casual: sweats, yoga pants, t-shirts, buttondowns. For cleaning, running errands, preparing classes and writing, these are fine. Maybe too fine, if you know what I mean: "at home casual" can easily slide into shapeless pj pants and tees, affecting your attitude toward work as well as your own image.

For classes, however, I range from dressier jeans to trousers and skirts to dresses. My office is casual: colleagues often come year-round in sweatpants and ragged tees because they teach studio classes. Even my chair and dean have made a choice to "dress down": no suits, no ties, no lace-up shoes.

My own style (and preference) is more formal without being business-strict. This week, for example:
  • Monday: a lightweight gored skirt in black and chunky cobalt turtleneck, with knee-high boots and tights
  • Tuesday: a black-white ponte dress with a sweater-coat in black, tights and same boots
  • Wednesday: dress jeans, a silvery smock top and brown ankle boots
  • Thursday: black trousers, a jersey V-neck top in wine, black open cardigan, black ankle boots
  • Friday: black trousers, a jersey V-neck top in black, suede jacket, ankle boots
I add a scarf or jewelry, belts, a purse and a laptop bag. Done.

Everything has to be appropriate for student meetings, classes, walks to the library across campus, and simply being seen, 5 days a week.

So this month (February), I'm paring things down to twenty items. That doesn't include accessories, shoes, coats and simple/multiple items like tank tops or tees. My closet is starting to look fat to me again, and decisions will have to be made about what's going. The best way is to see what I use and like on a regular basis, and stick to that.

(I looked back to the first Express Lane Checkout post, in Fall 2010, and realize the basics of my wardrobe haven't changed all that much... but individual pieces have and there are more dresses here than in previous seasons. And there's more gray.)

Twenty pieces for February:
  1. black trousers
  2. straight-leg jeans (dressy dark blue)
  3. black gored skirt
  4. black pencil skirt
  5. black/white ponte dress
  6. black ponte dress
  7. black smock dress
  8. gray sweater dress
  9. black sweater coat
  10. gray sweater coat
  11. black cardigan
  12. blue cashmere cardigan
  13. black turtleneck
  14. cobalt turtleneck
  15. black V-neck jersey top
  16. teal V-neck jersey top
  17. wine V-neck jersey top
  18. red silk sirt
  19. cream silk shirt
  20. white cotton blouse
Let's see how many things I can give away in March!


  1. Your wardrobe this week puts mine to shame. While it is really, really cold here at my U in Illinois, I could do much better. Even class days have been jeans and cashmere sweaters this week. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Therese: I'm lucky in that I don't have the kind of snow here you've got, but there's no shame in working jeans and sweaters. The thing I love about winter, cashmere sweaters and jeans is that you can dress it up with so much variety: scarves, gloves, cute hats on top. Once you get into the classroom, you can layer off to show pashminas/shawls, lighter scarves, jewelry. Color-coordinating tees with sweaters and shawls/pashminas. Cool boots. I also sport readers, so I work on having a couple pairs that can co-ordinate, as well, as simply as having the same inexpensive pair in red or green plastic frames. How about changing up the jeans with wool trousers? Or trousers with tights underneath?


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