This morning I complimented a girl on the color combinations of her outfit. She was wearing a purple t-shirt over a pink shell, with a bright green jacket. I didn’t notice her pants, because I’m sure they were the basic black/navy/dark brown. And that’s point number one.
I didn’t notice her pants because they were very basic.
Despite the fact that she was half my age and weight, she carried off the rainbow pretty well. And I told her so. (I like to give out compliments when I can.) That led to my second thought — if I were dressed like that, I’d look like I was heading off to the circus.
Tada dum. An instant putdown to a healthy thought.
Now, the outfit wasn’t offensive in any way. It wasn’t too short, too small, too tight, too sloppy. It was a play on colors I had not seen together. And — I liked it.
Yet I hide in my black-on-black and silver-and-black and pink-and-black. Summer may throw in some whites and greens, but it’s pretty much old lady old. Last year I wrote a blog called Old Lady BoHo (http://wp.me/p1pIBL-uu) where I was going to lighten up my wardrobe and wear flowy skirts and peasant tops and whatever felt good.
And here I am, writing this blog, dressed in black pants and a black-and-white mosaic shirt.
And I think — I can’t do this any more.
I know there are plenty of women who are perfectly happy in the monochromes of the world. But deep inside I am not. I think I’m so afraid of “stepping out of the (color) box” because I’m afraid of looking stupid, so I pass on a lot of fun, comfortable, ME things.
I’m not totally helpless yet — I do have tops with promise, and I have bought a few of those cotton dresses from India for summer evenings. But I sure could use some advice — and a boost of confidence. I’m sure there are other readers out there who could use a boost in the wardrobe department, too. Or who have taken the plunge and never looked back.
I want to be that person.
I know I cant (nor do I want to) dress like I’m 20 or 30. I might have the legs for mini skirts, but my buttocks and stomach aren’t quite as accommodating — or forgiving. But there has to be fun colors and patterns out there I can put together and not look like the a haushalterin. But my color palate is like the image above and right. Always moving, always confusing.
So I am starting a class on Midlife Wardrobe Changes. Not a book/notes/regular attendance kind of thing. Just a blog now and then that gives suggestions on what looks good on a 62-year-old hip, fun granny.
And I sure could use your input.
Lesson One: Closet Cleaning.
Less is More. And less makes room for more. Get a paper bag. Open it. Go to your closet. Pick out three things you haven’t worn in a year. Ask yourself why not. If there is ONE NANO-SECOND of hesitation, put it in the bag.
Pick out three pieces you love to wear. Ask yourself why. If there is ONE NANO-SECOND of adoration, put them back.
Pick out three more pieces that you haven’t worn in quite a while. Ask yourself why not. And this time wait for the answer. Was it a little too tight? A little too short? A little too baggy? Be honest. Then put them in the bag.
It might take you a few weeks to do this, but trust me, you will have a thinner collection. It’s the too small/too tight/too silly looking pieces that make you look stupid, not some peasant blouse or Hawaiian shirt.
The next step is stepping over the conservative barrels your youth set out for you. Catholic schools are at one end of the horror spectrum, big city public schools the other. You either couldn’t afford the newest duds, or weren’t allowed to think about them. We have to shed this heavy coat of conservatism.
But that is Lesson Number Two. Fodder for another day.
In the meantime, if you want to give me some fashion advice, please do. What works for you or what you’re looking for.
I only have 20 or 25 years to get this right. Better start sooner than later.