In a previous post, I talked about how I was trying to restructure my wardrobe in line with function - so deciding how much of my day I spent doing what, and how that should be reflected in my wardrobe. While that approach is very useful, especially as a way to see what areas you really don't need any more items of clothing, it does have limitations. Rather obviously, knowing that you need more 'work formal/dressy' clothes, as I have realised I will, doesn't help if you don't know what clothes fall in this category. And while I could default to my jeans/t-shirt combination for everyday casual, with cardigans/sweaters added for cold days, I've been working on changing this for the past year. (As it happens, the job I got as a 'normal', non-academic job is in retail, where I'm still allowed to wear jeans, and have uniform shirts, so no thinking is required for work clothes. This lets me concentrate on my everyday outfits. )
These questions are a matter of style. What clothes do I want to wear? What sort of image do I want to project?
Confession time: I can't help myself. I'm addicted to style help books. If a book promises to tell you just what clothes will suit, or just what every woman needs in her wardrobe, or just how to get the most out of what you own - I can't resist. I have read so many blogs, websites, magazine articles and books on the topic. Yet I was still having trouble articulating my style. One book I read said that you should be able to encapsulate your style in a sentence; another said in three words. This gives me flashbacks to working on the thesis - sum up your thesis in three sentences! One sentence it is.
The big tension for me as far as style is between casual and ladylike. I like both. This happens in everything in my life - interior decoration, art styles, house types that I drool over. Part of me wants a big bleached pine table, part of me wants an elegant tea trolley. Part of me wants a big squishy sofa, part of me wants a Victorian arm chair. Part of me wants the vibrant print, part of me wants the botanical illustration. Part of me wants the open-plan beach house, part of me wants the inner-city Victorian terrace. Generally this isn't problematic. As we are still renting, I haven't had the total control over my environment that I need to be dissatisfied with the mish-mash of styles I currently have. But with clothes... I do have control and I feel as though I should be exercising that control.
So I'd like my style to be comfortably ladylike with a quirky, vintage edge. And currently it is very casual with occasional retro, ladylike accessorizing.
I think the key to upgrading my current casual style to where I'd like it to be will come in three parts:
1) Fit and quality. I can still wear a jeans/t-shirt/cardigan combination and achieve my goal, but only if the jeans are neat and fit well, the t-shirt doesn't have a slogan and isn't baggy, and the cardigan isn't pilling and is also the perfect fit.
2) Accessories. I own quite a few, I have plans for more, but I tend to wear them only occasionally, when something is happening to make me go the extra distance. I need to start wearing them on a more regular basis.
3) More skirts and dresses. I do tend to live in jeans most of the time, because it is the easy option. I need more skirts that coordinate with the rest of my wardrobe, and more dresses that are suitable for day-wear rather than special occasion wear. Or I need to rethink how I view the dresses I own, to believe they are ok for day-wear.
So these are the guidelines for my wardrobe planning and clothes projects in 2013 and 2014: clothes that fit beautifully, accessories, skirts and dresses. Quite a task!