Monday, 10 November 2014

Reflections on Wardobes

Ergh. We all know that sound we make when we're fed up, trivially annoyed at something or slightly disgusted at ourselves or our situation. 

Just ergh. 

Like when you open the fridge after feeling sick for a week and you still don't want to eat anything inside it. Or when you have just spent an hour making amazing pumpkin soup and the very first mouthful ends up on your light-coloured T-shirt. 

It was exactly the sound I made when I pulled down the stashed space bag from the top of our wardrobe and started sorting my pre pregnant clothes. 


I'm sure every first time mum has had this harrowing session. Some might find it cathartic and even releasing. Others could be indifferent as it's just another job on the list to complete before bub wakes up from the morning nap. But I'm sure there are a lot, like me, who open that bag and just say ergh... Each item of clothing draws out another sigh. Each try on (or half try on since a few items don't even reach halfway up your thigh or can barely pull over your hips) evokes an 'I give up' look thrown into the mirror. 

As the sorting progresses, the wardrobe I so lovingly put together over the past ten years: work items, exercise outfits, casual T-shirts, dresses bought for special events, trustworthy jeans, comfy cardis and just those fun clothes that make you feel happy, became assigned to different piles.

The bin. For overstretched older clothes no one will wear. Old tanks and undies and some old shoes.

Op Shop. For items that are not quite bin worthy, but probably won't sell on ebay even if I listed them for $3.

Sell/Giveaway. For items that do not fit me, do not suit me (or my age) and that I can't bear to see go away to a stranger or for free. Many of these items are now in my friends' wardrobes. And it is nice to know that if they ever did fit my new hips that I could borrow them back. I also sold a few items on Facebook groups, which works well, until I find something else on these groups I want to buy...

The bag at the top of the wardrobe. These items don't fit me currently, but they are either nice underwear, or sleepwear, and some work clothes I don't feel I could give away, but I am determined that one day, maybe just one day, I might wear again. I often go through this process when I'm cleaning out. And this bag usually becomes the Op Shop bag a year later.

Keep. Hurrah! Some items actually do still fit me. I am quite lucky in the fact that I've always had an a-line or flowy style, so I was able to still pull off these clothes. The only downside is that they limit breastfeeding capabilities. Darn high necks. 

And the process was done. With a whole lot of empty coat hangers now sitting on the rail. Room for whole new possibilities of colour and style. With around fifteen items returned to the rack out of their hibernation and it was well worth me doing some 'own closet shopping' before I decided on some new essentials to buy. Even though a lot of items fit me, a lot were pushing it. I'm a whole size up on the top and almost two sizes bigger on the bottom. 

Now, I've never been confident in my clothes buying and wearing. As the only daughter in my family and having quite a tomboyish mum, I wore the more hideous end of the tragic 90's outfits (oversized navy T-shirts and checked cotton shorts anyone?) and didn't blossom much in my teenage years. It's taken me a long long time, and I'm still learning, to shop for clothes that I will wear effectively and like for more than a week, BUT I have learnt a few things. Let me share.

1. Shop for your correct size. This is a MUST. I don't care whether it makes you super depressed that it is a size 12 or (16 or 20) pair of jeans that fits you best. Clothes that are too tight, or too loose, will make you look awful. Just plain bad. Get over the number, they are scrambled across brands anyway, so trying on is a must, and buy a good fit. Please!
2. Only buy it if you KNOW you will wear it and can match it with existing items. It took me a long time to learn this. If I can't picture the matching tops or bottoms I have at home while I'm wearing it in the change room, I won't buy it. I have to imagine myself walking around somewhere in it and know that it will suit the places I go and the activities I do. 
3.  Shop with the right person. I am most successful shopping when I take certain people with me who will honestly tell me if the colour or style doesn't suit me. I'm OK shopping alone, but I tend not to take risks with colours and styles that I assume won't suit me. Going with someone will also be more fun. It's a girly essential.  
4. Get inspired and THEN take risks. Something I am trying to do more recently is research (OK, trawl Pinterest) outfit ideas that are reminiscent of my existing wardrobe and break down the key pieces in it before I shop for them. Especially to get an idea of new combinations, colours, styles and layers. Before you buy a pair of coral flats, think about the jeans/skirts that will match it, then look in your wardrobe for options to match, and then look for the things that complete the outfit, or outfit combinations at the shops. Nothing worse than coming home and never wearing the coral flats because nothing works with it. 
5. Think about what it shows. Maybe a more important point for the sixteen year olds out there, but I am constantly amazed at what I see people wearing in public these days. I'm no prude (OK, maybe a tiny bit, but I blame motherhood and fast approaching 30), but some things on show just don't look good. Think about what underwear you own that will work under the clothes you buy. If it is a cream strapless dress, you're probably gonna need a decent nude strapless bra, it's just common sense. If it's tighter round the derrière, do you have seam free knickers? I am of the opinion that a good outfit doesn't reveal the supporting structures. 

After saying all this, do I even enjoy shopping as much these days? Yes and no. I love getting out of the house (oh that blessed shopping centre relief after you've been staring at the lounge room floor all morning) and it is actually very settling for bub as she loves the pram and being out and about around people. I do love treating myself to new things and I also like buying pressies for others. But, my daughter finds fitting rooms a bit claustrophobic, and there aren't many that fit a pram out there. She often loses it when I reach the cashier and the lights in those fitting rooms... need I say more? 

One of the hardest things, though, is shopping for my new role. Not many of my friends are getting married anymore and the party season is well and truly slowing down. I don't dress up for work like I did when I was a teacher, and there is rarely (never) a reason to wear heels. Some days I get dressed in less than 30 secs out of necessity and often go through two to three outfits a day. My main priorities now are comfort, breastfeeding friendly, easy to stain treat and wash, warm enough, cool enough, works with slip ons (the only shoes I wear are ballet flats and thongs) and I now even consider sun protection. It's hard to feel special with clothes when you don't even know when your next going to wear a dress. 

But I'm excited to see how my wardrobe is maturing and reflecting how much more comfortable I feel in my own skin. As a teen you dress to impress. Now I am confident to wear clothes that make me feel comfortable and happy and pretty. I like trying to impress myself and respect myself by choosing colours and styles that lift my mood, let me be as relaxed as I want to be or flatter my figure. 

No comments :

Post a Comment