Middle Aged Middles

Now I’m beginning to think the description has more to do with our body shapes than the chronology of our lifespans!  Yes, my near 45 year old middle is not the same as even my 42 year old middle.  I donned a pair of pants last night that I thought I might demote to banquet wear.  They were tighter in the waistband than I’d remembered.  Came to my senses this morning and put them in the sell/donate pile.

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I thought back, and the last time I’d worn them was my 42nd birthday, above.  Then I moved to FL and they were not seasonally appropriate so they got left behind.  This happens more than I’d realized.  An item I think I wore ‘just last season’ may have actually been passed over for a year and a half or more because of my moving and only packing the necessary items for that climate. So, what is a gradual shift in my body composition that I don’t notice too much becomes more apparent when I drag that lonely article of clothing back out to wear.

I don’t indulge in body loathing or any of that, but I also don’t prescribe to sticking my head in the sand, buying elastic waists, and pretending that nothing has changed!   I’ve had the good fortune of a very steady body weight most my life, which has allowed me to keep clothes for decades sometimes.  This is changing a little bit now.  That’s okay.  I’m changing with it 😉

Not to get too into it all, but I’m still a size 4, weigh the same, it’s just distributed a little differently.  That one inch moving from my hips to my waist makes rises all that much more important when looking for jeans and pants.  I’ve always had a touch of that high, shelf, hip – I now just have to dress around it a little bit more than in the past.  And if I’m being honest, the bra band area is looking a little softer than years past.  Must pay attention to dressing that rear view as well.

I realize I’m not going to look 25 forever.  Yes, I’ve aged pretty well so far.  But age I have, and will continue to.  Beats the alternative!  Doing it gracefully is the key.  Instead of bemoaning or railing against these body changes I want to accommodate them, and of course do what I can fitness wise to keep myself healthy.  But I know crunches all day and night are not going to magically change my shape.  Hormones win in the end.  That’s just how life is.

So, today I purge the pants of the past.  And I go for a nice afternoon run!  🙂

Culling – A Small Start

I got into the closet yesterday and started getting a little bit more ruthless.  I found a handful of items to let go of.  Most have not been worn much.  The jeans are the exception.  2015 purgeThe pink satin dress and the blue satin shirt I had already pulled aside at the start of the year.  The dress was hard.  My BF picked it out with me on a trip to Seattle for my 40th birthday dinner.  I also wore it Valentine’s Day the following year in New Orleans on vacation.  But it’s tight in the middle now and I have pictures of both of those occasions to remember.  Time to sell it.

Most of these items have fit issues that slated them for tossing.  They were a close fit to start with, and 3, 4, years later look just too snug both with the changing of fashion to a looser silhouette and my shape shifting ever so slightly to straighter and less hourglass.

2 items got demoted.  The blue sweater is cashmere, and cozy and warm but kind of snug, so it is now a lush lounge wear item.  The black satin pants are now going to be banquet attire for weddings (if approved by my mngr).  They got pushed aside by both my dressy Leith track pants and the Vince leather/suede pants.  I know I will never reach for them above the latter items.  Demote!

The other things are going to be sold or donated.  The espadrilles are in a color I’m moving away from in my closet, and the fit is funny where the heels pull away with each step.  I looked at the soles and saw just how pristine they really are.  I bet they only got a dozen wears.  But they’re a brand name so I think resale is possible.

The jeans got lots of wear both at work at my pub job and in my regular outfits for several years.  The style is becoming a bit dated (or very specialized rock n roll cowgirl type that is not me) and the low rise I find myself tugging at.  This was also hard, as they are very flattering on.

Also had trouble with the jacket/shirt.  LOVE the style but it is just too small, much as I wish it weren’t.  I only wore it 3 times.  Oh, if it were only bigger.  Would be a hands down favorite item.  But it’s not.  End of story.  Sell.

The black tops are too snug for today’s fit and were nothing special to start with.  I have 2 other black tops that I will wear first.  Easy to let go.

So this is my first little chunk I chipped away.  Not huge, but I did the easy stuff long ago.  It gets a lot harder as you get into things you still actually really like that are in good condition.  But, if I am not wearing it, I have to ask myself why and decide if it’s a situational thing that might change or something that is a constant that isn’t changing.  (Warm temps vs tight armpits for instance).  I’m confident these items would not magically get a second lease if left in the closet longer.  Their time is done.  They served me well (or not) and are ready to go.   Gulp!

Paring Down More

I’ve been having a nagging little voice in the back of my head tell me I can do better.  I can let go of more.  I’m still holding on to a sort of ‘comfort zone’ of items.  Tonight I start training at a new second job, in addition to the scarce shifts of banquets I’m still doing here and there.  This means, you guessed it, even less time out in the world in ‘real clothes’ and more time in uniforms.

I have just shy of 150 items right now.  This is my comfortable max.  I know that I could ditch at least 2 items in every category and not miss them.  But I haven’t done it yet.  I have the room.  I don’t need to get rid of anything.  But what’s the worst that would happen if I did?  If I miss something I could certainly look for a similar replacement.  Odds are, that won’t happen.  Just working out my worst case scenarios here.  Best case, is my closet is even more user friendly and the few times I don my ‘out in the world’ clothing I will feel my best.  Not wearing ‘runners up’ just because they are there, and they mentally allow me to continue to save the ‘good’ stuff.

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I made up a list of what I have starting off the year.  Then I played with what a Project 333 closet would add up to if extrapolated for all 4 seasons, modeling the amounts per category on what I currently have with minor reductions in each.  Then I further reduced to what I dubbed a Dozen wardrobe, meaning a dozen items in most categories, with half a dozen in some and two and a half dozen for the bigger, broad categories of shirts and shoes.  I did a quick replacement rate figuring at the bottom of each.

I’m hoping to be at least to the P33 amounts by my 45th birthday in May.  That gives me all winter and the start of spring to wear my cold weather items.  If I’m not wearing them by then, I can comfortably pass on them.  If I can keep the influx of new under control, this shouldn’t be too hard.  Surely I can find a couple items in every category that are not really being utilized, or are past their prime.  When I start to break out in a sweat I can remind myself that I am in work uniform 5 or more days a week.  Realistically, that leaves me probably 3 outfits a week of regular clothing (say I go to lunch or shopping one day before work).

Again, I know I don’t have to get rid of any clothing.  Nobody is keeping score but me.  Maybe I do need a little project or challenge of some sort to keep me entertained.  Or maybe it’s that, being totally honest with myself, I know I’m holding on to more than I really need or wear.

I do have the ‘project’ of trying to curtail my shopping to 30 or less items, and attempting a seasonal approach.  But I’ve been slowly working on that for some years now.  Time to get a bit more ruthless with what goes out.  Not just what comes in.  🙂

Duh.

Ever find yourself stabbing around at various things online (or in person if possible)?  You know, like an itch you can’t scratch but it doesn’t go away.  Well, that’s part of what’s been going on with my flashy leather skirt I mentioned in my last post.  In addition to that catching my eye, I’ve had a foil tee on my list for well over a year.

TA DA!!  I want shiny.  It doesn’t have to be a skirt, or a top, or shoes.  I just want a metallic, shiny, reflective item.  In fact, the more I thought on it, the less versatile a skirt or top might be. Also in the back recesses of my ‘wantsies’ was a silver backpack, after seeing the very lust worthy Whistles Verity over at http://apairandasparediy.com/2014/02/four-ways-the-backpack.html  I didn’t really put 2 and 2 together, or 3 and 3 I guess lol.  Shiny, yes, of course.  That’s what they all have in common.  A backpack . . . well, that might be just the ticket to give me the flash but still accommodate my casual lifestyle.  What’s more casual than a backpack??  Genius.  If I do say so myself.  Ha ha!

Now comes the part where my ‘seasonal shop’ plans have hit the wall.  My kitty needed a vet visit in the midst of my planned BIG shop month that I did not elucidate to the BF.  Ahem.  The question, “are we going to be having more $700 Visa bills?” came out last night.  Well, no.  Kitty isn’t planning more $350 vet visits was my somewhat glib answer. Neener neener.  Anyway . . .  I will be waiting for my next billing cycle, and therefore stretching my seasonal shop even further.  The good news is, I think the next order could really be IT for the season.  I have a silver backpack and 2 hats I plan to order with free shipping both ways.

Oh, another positive development is my 3rd try for dark skinnies arrived today and they are the ones.  They feel and look like actual denim, not some stretchy jegging fusion item.  And they were $50!  Score.  http://us.mavi.com/product/alexa-skinny-in-dark-kensington.

So my winter season shop should wrap up in 2 weeks.  That’s when the billing cycle starts over and I’ll place the Asos order.  All that’s left is a pair of uniform pants for work, and as I’m doing about 3 or 4 shifts per month right now, I can take my time with those!

How is your seasonal shopping panning out, if you have recently tried switching from a steady stream of new items all year like me?  Did you have unexpected bumps in the road?  Is the shock of all that $$$ at once hard to take?  Or hard for your S.O. to take? 😉

The Good Stuff – To Buy or Not to Buy

It’s a common theme with those of us who maybe shop more than the average gal to ‘save’ the good stuff.  Your nice clothes.  The leather, silks, cashmere, designer, what have you.  I am as guilty as anyone of this.  I’m trying to break this habit but it’s been harder for me than fighting the bargain hunting.

My own wardrobe motto is Buy what you will wear and wear what you have.  The reason for this is not only that it is logical, but it addresses two of my main shopping issues – buying items that will actually get worn with my lifestyle and comfort level and then not just having a brief love affair with items and then passing them over.  I really, really want a closet that is both useful and joyful.  Okay, so that’s the crux of my shopping issues in a nutshell.

What is happening lately is I’m finding myself drawn to leather skirts.  Part of me really wants just the right one that’s part bad ass and part sophisticated chic.  I stalk.  I put some in a cart and then virtually ‘walk away’ for a few weeks.  I come back and consider hitting the buy button.  Then I walk away again.

I had a black leather panel skirt.  It was a style I liked, but the fit was just too straight.  I ended up selling it off (way too cheaply) to Twice online.  I’m not sure if half of my hunt is trying to replace and upgrade that item.  I don’t know if it’s more fantasy life or the drive to improve on that ‘almost’ item.  Am I wasting time, energy, and possible money an a ‘good stuff’ item that won’t really get worn much?

To add to my indecision, I’ve only worn my beloved leather/suede pants once.  In my climate, a skirt is much less wearable than pants.  So if I’m not really wearing my leather pants, what makes me think I will wear a leather skirt more?  And if my rational mind is turning these thoughts over, why in the heck does my desire not wane?

Even worse, I’m drawn to the flashy ones.  Not plain black leather.  Oh no.  Usually zippers or uneven hemlines or mixed media. There was a fleeting moment I was going to go for this shimmery metallic one.  If the size had been right on I probably would have!  And maybe that’s it.  It has to be so much a LOVE item that it makes you wear it.

If I’m being totally honest I might still try this skirt.  Sizing is always so iffy that maybe what I think is one too big isn’t at all.  Besides, I wouldn’t want it as snug as the model anyway.  And, yes, the scarcity factor (FOMO) is at play, too.  This is the LAST ONE in any size.  Gasp.

See what I’m doing?  The internal struggle.  Ugh.  So I’m back to – if I love it enough will I wear it no matter how ‘nice’ for my lifestyle it is?  Or will I just be adding pretty things to my closet to look at while I grab the t-shirt and jeans, dressing them up with a jacket and heels for my ‘dressy’ looks?  LOL

Do you struggle between treating yourself with ‘nice’ things but then not really wearing them?  Have you just decided to lower your dressiness level to your environment?  Or do you dress to your own comfort level, environment be damned?  Would you buy this?

Bump in the Road – Returns

My planned seasonal shop has hit a snag.  I am finding myself on the returns merry-go-round.  And it’s not so merry.  Besides being plain inconvenient – I have to email my BF labels to print at his work, then drive over 10 miles round trip to the UPS place, but only after 1pm when the window is open – it is dragging out the process to be a month long (or more!).

The whole idea of the big shop in one or two weeks’ time was to get the focus off of constant shopping, hunting, returning, etc.  I am now on my 3rd attempt at dark skinny jeans.  Luckily, I got Amazon Prime trial for the month, which helped speed things up at least a little bit.  Another miss was my long sought-after hat.  It was a touch too big, but the real issue was the ribbon was bent down on the brim, right in front.  Luckily, I got a return label even though hats are stipulated as non-returnable.  It qualifies as damaged.  Bummer it didn’t work out.

returns

So here is what I do have for my winter shop.  A moto/edgy jacket – check!  Returning the colorblock one opened up the possibility for the military vibe one that I adore.  A graphic tee – check and check (I found a graphic sweatshirt too!).  That one may seem easy, but I’m picky with my graphic choices.  They have to mean something to me, and not just be a cool design.  If it’s a concert tee, I better have gone to the show.  If it’s a slogan, it better pertain to me, etc.

What I don’t have is of course what I want most – the dark skinny jeans.  I’m having trouble with the washes.  What looks fine online has either way too much fading and looks fake, or not enough fading, and has that weird, painted on look that also looks fake lol.   Also, since this is a basic, but not a statement for me I don’t want to spend over $100 for them.  I have jeans that cost that much and I don’t mind spending that much for certain kinds.  But these I am going to treat almost like a layering piece.  To go under tall boots and longer tops.  They are meant to fade into the background and let the other pieces stand out.  So, for that, I’m not plunking down $180 for designer prices.

Here are the first 2 I tried off of Amazon and the third I ordered just last night from Mavi directly.

At this point, if the Mavi order does not work out I am going to just hold my horses until I find some in person.  Our TJ Maxx carries some decent brands occasionally but it’s quite hit or miss.  I may have to just keep an eye out for this item, despite my desire to just shop and be done for the season.

So far I have as many returns as successful buys.  Ugh.  But that’s what online shopping can entail.  And where I live I have very little choice.  The upside is that I am very happy with what I did keep.  Better to have less but love it, right?  🙂  I’m hoping that I can either find the time to go in-person shopping more or simply have better luck with the online choices in the future.  Something’s going to have to give if I’m to ever get on the seasonal band wagon!

What I Have

I purged a good dozen items since coming home this fall and added a select handful.  It was high time to count it all up again, being the start of a new year.  So, off to the closet with my pen and paper I went.  My idea of the right size wardrobe for me hovers around 150 items.  This is considering I have lived just as many months in FL as I have Tahoe over the last 10 years, and therefore have a bit of a dichotomy in my climate needs.  If I stop moving, I imagine this number would drop to maybe 125.

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This count is off by 2 shirts.  One being my new graphic sweatshirt that I wasn’t sure to categorize as sweater or long sleeved top, and a grey tee in the wash. Oh, and the notations to add are things I am actively searching for this season.

What I didn’t count was strictly lounge or layer items – things not meant to be seen in public or worn alone.  That would be 4 tanks, 2 tissue weight turtlenecks, 3 leggings, and myriad demoted tees for wearing under PJ sets or with sweats or lounge pants around the house.  Obviously did not count sleepwear.  Also specifically for exercise items.  Adidas running tops, Nike Dri-Fit pants and skirts, prAna yoga sets, etc.  Lastly, I did not count uniform wear.  I have 2 pairs of pants, 1 skirt, 1 blouse and 2 pair of shoes that are worn for banquets only and never would I put them on for a ‘regular’ outfit.  Oh, I also have 3 golf polos and 3 logo tees from previous jobs I have not yet purged.  Who knows, I may get the positions back, and spare uniforms at the ready are not a bad idea (I’ve been re-hired several times at both places in the past, so it’s not a crazy idea to think it could happen again.)

Several years ago I started photo documenting my wardrobe.  I took every. single. item. and laid it out to photograph it.  I have since tried uploading stock photos whenever I acquire something new.  I admit a few things have slipped through the cracks.  But, for what it’s worth, here is some of what I do have pics for:

jackets

dresses

pants

These categories seem to be my most up to date set of pics.  I am missing just one winter white corduroy coat, and actually am right on with the dresses and pants.  (I have to seriously attend to the tops and sweaters catalog. I found only half my sweaters were represented.  Oops.)  As you can see, I have a mix of stock photos and then my own.  I prefer the stock ones whenever possible.  They just make for a cleaner looking catalog.  And speaking of how things are looking, seeing all your similar type items lined up in a row can help you see where too much duplication is happening in your closet.  If 6 of my 10 skirts are black, they better look markedly different from one another, for example.

I played around with a few sites and looked for ways to essentially play paper dolls with my computer images.  Many ladies use Stylebook, but I only had a Kindle for my platform and Stylebook was iPhone, and then later I believe Android.  Anyway, I’m a smartphone rube and most of that goes right over my head.  I found Stylish Girl for Kindle for free and thought,”why not?!”

I don’t use it regularly, but think I might start in this new year.  Actually, I’m debating dropping daily outfits pics altogether.  If I use the app instead, it shows what I wore, but I don’t have to search for lighting in mid winter, crop pics, upload, blah blah blah.  Besides, as I’ve said I’m no model and don’t think daily pics are necessary at this point.  They were very helpful a few years back when I first started but I have a better idea how things look on me, and proportions, etc. I also wonder if daily outfit shots don’t put a certain internal pressure on what we wear.  I am aiming to get more intuitive with it all eventually, despite my analytical nature.  I hope to get to where I just want pics of particular outfits I think are out of the park home runs, and leave the rest be.

One last thought on cataloging your wardrobe.  It can really help hit home just how much stuff you really have when you start to contemplate pulling it all out to photograph it.  That alone was a big wake up call for me.  I was moving at the time, so it was easier, but still.  And to continue, taking care to keep track each time you buy something new also keeps you aware of how much you are bringing in.  It takes the mindlessness out of shopping.

Have you cataloged your wardrobe?  If taking pics is a daunting idea, have you even just counted it?  Or are you plain not interested in dissecting it?