After rummaging through my clothes to declutter and donate to charity, I evaluated the massive stack of pants that I never wear and set about trying them on. Confused, I found that pair after pair were too tight: neat khakis, sharp black slacks, soft jeans — none of them could be buttoned without creating what a friend best described as what it looks like when a can of biscuits pops open.
Dejected, I made a small pile of what still fit without cutting my abdomen in half and set aside the others. I checked the tags and it was no more than a size or two that separated the substantial pile of have-muffins-tops from the have-nots.
A muffin top, er, biscuit dough, effect had infiltrated and impacted my wardrobe. But when?
I looked to my laundry and made the connection immediately.
Sitting clean waiting to be put away was the dirty little secret to what I was really wearing: I had pants, sure, but I wasn’t wearing real pants anymore. Instead, there was a tell-tale robust pile of ratty tees, tights, leggings, yoga pants, and so many casual, shapeless dresses. I thought I was wearing dresses because I like wearing dresses. But it turns out I was wearing them because I was getting really out of shape.
Here’s how I snapped out of it and started getting my style back:
1. I stopped wearing yoga pants. No, not entirely, those soft li’l gems are a gift from the gods for our gams.
But enough jokes are passed around on the internet and television that I finally got it: if I’m not on my way to/from yoga or it’s not past 9pm, loungewear isn’t appropriate. Not because I give a crap about fashion rules, but because it makes me lazy.
Yoga pants mean not picking out a cute top or a blouse, instead wearing something knit and soft; keeping my hair casual too, meaning pulled up and unwashed; and a pair of ballet flats or running shoes (*snort* which I also do not run in) to complete “the look.” And that “look” was that I didn’t care. Maybe you don’t care, and kudos if you have that freedom. But it drags me down when I don’t take care of myself the way that suits me best. And dirty hair does not suit me.
2. I’ve edited my wardrobe. When I looked carefully at the pieces I was hanging on to but rarely wearing, they really weren’t “me.” They were brights in line with the aforementioned adorkable phase of idolizing New Girl‘s spunky manic-pixie-dream-girl style, they were hasty purchases, were ill-fitting, and/or were worn out. I don’t mind well-loved pieces but I was making special concessions for everything.
Let’s face it, that a-line dress that’s too gross/bright/tight/loose to wear to a sit-down restaurant is also not good for life. My threadbare “I <3 NY” tee shirt proudly stays though, because it’s not stained or shrunk and has got a certain versatility that makes it worthwhile. Apply what works best for you without necessarily sweating what’s on trend.
3. I’m getting back out there. I’ve been using thrift shopping and fast-fashion outlets like H&M and Forever 21 to reintroduce new pieces, as well as thrift-shopping for better legacy brands and staples that needed updating. I’m slowly repeating a few mantras to save myself heartache later, such as: I don’t ever like the way I look in coral or pink. I can’t function in four-inch heels anymore. Size-four pants in Old Navy do not make you a size four in any other store. Repeat.
4. I dress the part. I’m a writer who likes to bike and walks dogs part-time, so comfort and convenience were my driving factor, but I was fooling myself about those criteria. Is throwing on jeans, flats, and a flattering top any less convenient than running out the door in leggings and the tee shirt I slept in? Barely. But the routine of getting myself ‘together,’ maybe even adding a cool accessory, puts me in a more-focused mindset and switches gears to make me feel more professional and polished, less like the lazy loaf that I worry people envision when I say that I’m a freelancer.
What’s your best advice for getting back on track fashion-wise?