Thursday, March 26, 2015

Say No to Frumpy

My dream of a What Not To Wear ambush makeover by Stacy and Clinton will never be realized. I know this now, and I'm learning to let go. Yet, it's my biggest dream when I get in a wardrobe funk. And I'm there. In the funky rut of not knowing what to wear. It's been a tough few years for me, wardrobe-wise; I've lost and gained weight and find myself at an impasse with clothes.

I know I have to wear them. But I'm not very happy with them. So that means lots of t-shirts and lots of jeans. Sigh.

Then three things happened:

First, I was sent a gift card for a new store in Midwest City, Versona Accessories.

Second, I saw a thing about Candace Bergen, where she admitted she was fat and happy… you know, accepting of herself and her size and the life that she lives because she can. She enjoys herself, and she’s doing that thing people do when they get older and lose muscle tone. And she’s okay with it. I love this so much, because after seeing that post where Cindy Crawford was unretouched and looked like a normal person, I realized how much of a shock it was even for me to see a normal person. Not a skinny, unattainable airbrushed image, but a real person, with stretch marks and cellulite and fat as real people are wont to have.

My own perception of what a real person looks like has been warped by the media-ready images we are all assaulted with. I realize that I’ve not allowed myself to be okay with who I am because I am not media-ready… and I’m trying to be more accepting of my own body—stretch marks and cellulite and all. Which leads me to…

Third, I've been inspired by this article about Frumpy Mom Trends on the Redbook Magazine website, and I am endeavoring to de-frump my wardrobe. Because I may try to hide under baggy t-shirts, but those shirts don't hide who I am. So wanting to not look frumpy is okay. Looking frumpy is okay, too, if that's what makes you happy! But this is a post about not being frumpy.

The first five rules, as defined by the article and paraphrased by me are:

  1. Step up your t-shirt game. Don't just go rolling through the neighborhood in a baggy, saggy gimme shirt. Nobody looks good in a tent with advertising printed on it, no matter how comfy it is (truth: I'm wearing one right now). 
  2. Proportional layering. Baggy pants, baggy dress, baggy jacket? Baggy no. Swathed in oversized layers doesn't hide my figure flaws so much as it makes me look like a pile of laundry. 
  3. Athletic-inspired shoes instead of old running shoes. I overcame this one while living in Europe—you really see how the rest of the world doesn't just rely on an old pair of sneakers to round out their ensembles. 
  4. Mini cardigan > too big cardigan. This is an issue for me—feeling fluffy? Grab a long, flowy cardigan. Bonus points for wrapping it over a long, flowy top (see rule #2). 
  5. Mixing prints. Mixing solid colors is a big deal for me. Mixing prints without looking like I got dressed in the dark? Might be a challenge. 
Before you get up in arms about the rules, please remember; these are not my rules. I'm just paraphrasing them and choosing to single out these 5 of the 9 total because the other ones don’t apply to me or I just don't care about them.

I don’t wear yoga pants [rule 6] out of the house because I’m all about that bass and the thin frabric can’t treble that; I refuse to step away from Capri pants [rule 7] because they're comfortable and I have cute ankles; I have mom hair [rule 8] and will tackle that later; and I don’t have a inappropriate handbag [rule 9] issue except that I like expensive ones. 

Building a Better Wardrobe From Within

Step one, I hit the racks. I know that behind all those oversize gimme t-shirts and cardigans featured front and center in my closet, I’ve got a decent wardrobe. Or at least the makings of one. I liquidated 99% of my clothes when I dropped weight, but even having gained some (most) of it back, I have enough to flesh out week’s worth of outfits. I took the rules with me into the closet and selected clothes with the rules in mind, then tried them all on. 

Stepping Away from My Closet 

Step two, fill in the gaps. I really don’t want to buy a lot of new clothes each season, but I do try to update with key pieces, especially accessories. I love accessories and collect them but don't often wear them because what necklace goes with a gimme t-shirt? A wardrobe challenge like this gives me a great excuse to wear and maybe shop for some new accessories.

I like to shop everywhere for items—like museum gift shops, big box stores and boutiques. I'm always amazed at what I can find. I was excited to shop a store that specialized in accessories.

When I visited Versona, I was impressed with the wide range of items available—from hats to shoes, tops and bottoms, accessories of all kinds—all organized and color-coordinated around the store. My daughter came with me; my teen son decided to stay in the car with his smart phone. He said words like "bae" and "on fleek" so I made a mental note to check WebMD for possible head injuries; but I digress.

Accessories and clothing at Versona are color-coordinated,
which makes for easy shopping.
The store offers a wide range of sizes, styles and items that are both on-trend and classic. I love the color-coordinated layout. Made it so much easier to go into the store and find exactly what I wanted. Because this store is huge, with a lot of product in it. The layout and organization made it feel easy to shop and not overwhelming. The variety means that you could visit the store with a group of friends, each one of you finding an outfit that matches your personal style.

I was also pleased to see a good range of sizes in the store—junior small up to misses 18. I've avoided going to stores when I just don't think I'll find anything that will fit me, even if I'm just looking at the accessories. Finding a good range of sizes makes me feel comfortable. Finding friendly sales people no matter what sizes the store has makes me feel even better. Versona has both.

I found a great necklace at Versona that was my key piece; A gold bar necklace with fringe, I’d seen it in a magazine and had hoped to find exactly this when I came to the store. I styled it with a lovely bright coral high/low hem top perfect for spring—unfortunately, they didn’t have one in my size that day (though a good range sizes are available, S-XL). Instead I found a fun, on-trend bracelet that coordinated well with the necklace. Two pieces for under $25 that can update my wardrobe easily (more about those below).

Dressing by the Rules

Outfit #1: Gray/black stripe t-shirt, burgundy speckle cardigan, leopard print sneakers and beaded necklace. Is it a statement necklace? I don't know for sure. If it is, I think it says "I made this from a collection of random beads and this really cool big pendant stone.

Of course I wore this with Capri pants. It's that time of year in Oklahoma, when the weather is sure to be somewhere between freezing and boiling, and Capris are an easy choice.

I love that I've had this sweater for many years and keep finding new ways to wear it. The speckled fabric and collar detail step it up a little. This outfit was super comfy and a step above casual.
Outfit #2: Black/white check button down, orange cropped cardigan, converse sneakers (parrot not part of outfit even though he does add a lovely pop of color and pattern).

This one was a step out of my comfort zone, as the checkered shirt was a bit more snug than I'm comfortable with and the cardigan is cropped, thin cotton. It was perfect for a drive to a friend's house, casual but comfortable and more put together than I normally am.

I also wore earrings and a bracelet to accessorize.

Oh, and capris. Which you can have from me when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers because I love them.

Not sure if this is going to happen again because black + orange is too Halloweenish for me and the cotton shirt needs to be ironed. I hate to iron.

Outfit #3: Hot pink high/low t-shirt, coral cardigan, gold-tone statement necklace and bracelet from Versona, beaded bracelet, green loafers.

I'm really excited about this outfit, because I was able to replicate what I found in the store with what I have in my closet.

And I love the way the gold and pink look together. And the green in the shoes and the bracelet are subtle additions of not being matchy but colors that go together. Stacy and Clinton would be so proud.

I shall be pairing this with Capri jeans, as is my way. I would also wear this with patterned pants for a dressier feel. I just love these colors together. This is possibly the girliest outfit I've even considered wearing in several years.

Outfit #4: Orange/black print tunic, skinny gray cardigan, black jean leggings, silver statement jewelry, white/leopard flats.

This is one of my favorites. And there are no Capri pants so I'm following all the rules. The orange top is flowy but the gray sweater is body-conscious, so I don't feel like I'm wearing a tent when I have this outfit on.

The bonus is that this entire outfit was purchased on sale or at discount stores—It probably put me back a total of $50. I shop sales and every store I go into for unexpected items.

Those Vera Wang shoes were a steal for under $10 at Kohls. The silver bracelets were just $4 each, regular price, at a local big-box store. You never know what you'll find when you look.

My own rules for non-frumpy dressing:

  1. Don't be afraid to wear bright colors. Not all colors are suitable for all people (I look horrible in yellow), but don't be afraid to try to wear something that's not a neutral. Orange is way bright for me but I always get complimented when I wear it.
  2. Go to the stores. Don't let a store intimidate you because you think it's too trendy, too expensive, too not you. Because you just never know what you'll find.If you're a size 2, don't be afraid to see what a shop for plus sizes has to offer, and if you're a plus size, don't shy away from a store for juniors. You might find that perfect something to complete your look.
  3. Try on all the things. I went shopping with a friend who has completely different taste than I do. We each picked out a few things we thought the other person would look good in, which led to picking out a ton of stuff for ourselves that we might not normally try. We tried on mountains of clothes and learned more about sizes (which cannot be trusted), colors and tailoring. It was a pretty eye-opening trip.
  4. Revisit your stuff. If you hoard clothes like me have a big closet and might forget what you had last season or last year or 10 pounds ago, revisit what you have stashed in there. I don't abide by the "if you haven't worn it for a year, toss it" adage because I think it's crap. Maybe you just have been schlumping in yoga pants and t-shirts and the thought of non-elastic waists gave you fits but now you're ready to embrace the world again and dress like a lady (I call that 2006). Or maybe you dyed your hair a weird shade and wearing green draws focus to that. Or maybe you drive a red truck and don't like to wear red because you don't want to coordinate with your vehicle (confession: I totally did this when I was 19). Whatever the reason, you probably have a few great things shoved in the back of your closet / under your bed / in a van down by the river / etc.
  5. Be adventurous. Wear that color, that bracelet, those shoes. Yes, it might be out of your comfort zone. Yes, people might notice. They might even offer a compliment. But in all seriousness, most people are too busy worrying about their own clothes to worry about yours. And if they are more worried about what you're wearing, put them to work and ask them to pick out what they think would look great. You might be surprised.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! I'm kind of coming to terms with my body right now and making wardrobe changes at the same time. What's really helped me is visualizing and thinking hard about what I have that looks good together. I've ended up finding so many new outfits I didn't realize I had.

    And I love the look of Versona. I've been in the one close to me a few times, but haven't purchased anything. Their scarf selection alone is reason enough to visit!