Wednesday, May 9, 2012

clothes woes.

So I have this problem, and I feel like I’m a part of an epidemic in America: I have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear.

Let me be specific: I have nothing to wear to work. (While this is not a literal statement, it sure feels like it.) Casual is no problem; my closet is brimming with jeans and awesome t-shirts.
Unfortunately, the jeans and t-shirts must stay home: my job requires me to dress business casual Monday through Thursday, and I can wear jeans on Fridays or Saturdays (but probably not with a clever t-shirt). I shouldn’t complain; there are a lot of jobs out there where I’d be in a uniform or – horror of horrors – a suit. Even so, putting together business casual outfits out of my casual closet can be a hassle.

As I do not get out of bed in the morning until I ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO, I pick out my clothes the night before. I always put it off until right before I’m about to climb into bed: I drag myself over to my closet and dolefully stare inside. I want to wear these pants, but I have to wear heels with them, and I really don’t feel like wearing heels. I could wear this shirt, but depending on where I am in my workplace, I could freeze to death. (Like many office buildings, mine has wildly varying temperatures depending on your location within the building. And I’m not talking about such obvious differences as “furnace room versus walk-in freezer. I’m talking about places that really shouldn’t be that different, like “sweating in the workroom versus deathly cold at the information desk.”) Should I find a cardigan, or should I just wear something with long sleeves and risk being too hot when I’m NOT at the desk? It’s a challenge, I tell ya.

More often than not, I simply surrender and pick out some trusty pair of pants and something involving a sweater. Add a necklace, and bam, it’s an outfit. Not very exciting, but good enough. Putting on dress pants day after day seems like complete drudgery, and don’t even get me started on the days I have to wear tights. When I get home from work, I practically leap into a pair of jeans. Jeans = instant relaxation. I can breathe a sigh of relief that my business casual day is over and the rest of the day is mine to do with what I wish.

Not too many years ago, I held jobs that required you to wear jeans. On my rare days off, I almost always wore skirts or dresses, simply because there was no place for clothes like that at work. I still would wear jeans, but only my “good” jeans – you know, the kind you HAVE TO HAVE when you’re in high school. You spend half your measly paycheck on them, only to discover that those TOTALLY COOL holes in the jeans turn into not-so-cool giant holes in no time. Yeah, those jeans.

I got my first business-casual job the summer after my sophomore year of college. Up until then, my summer jobs had all involved food service, cleaning chemicals, or lawnmowers (in the case of one job, all of the above). I was ecstatic: I could wear my nice clothes EVERY SINGLE DAY, and I never had to worry about spilling bleach on them or my clothes absorbing the smell of deep fryers. You can imagine how quickly my excitement wore off. After a few weeks of skirts and actually having to dry my hair in the mornings, I really started to miss my jeans. I had that job for two summers, and I found myself in a couple of business-casual internships after college. On my days off, you would never catch me in anything BUT jeans.

So here I am, five years since my first business-casual job. I wear jeans on my days off, and I wear pretty hum-drum outfits the rest of the time. Even though I have all sorts of clothes practically leaping out of my closet, calling “wear me!” I still lean towards the very basics. Why is this? Well, I feel like those extra-special clothes are too nice to wear to work, so I should save them for a worthy event. I know, I know: work SHOULD be a worthy event: dress for success and all. But in my job, the less flashy you dress, the better: I’ve have a number of questionable characters off the street say something about my clothes, which was never a workplace goal of mine. (One questionable character commented on my outfit for a few weeks straight and began calling me GQ – yes, as in Gentlemen’s Quarterly. Yes, I think it’s creepy.)

Of course, by saving my favorite clothes for deserving occasions, they get far less wear than my “meh” clothes. I’ve always been a saver: whenever I’d get a sheet of stickers, I would put them in my little sticker box and save them for something important. Needless to say, when I did some cleaning last year, I found my sticker box – still full of stickers. I guess the moral of the story is pretty simple: carpe diem (or, in this case, carpe stickers).

Now: carpe clothes. I need to start wearing the good stuff instead of letting it rot in the back of my closet. Why buy these clothes if they’re just going to sit there?! It’s a downright shame. But how do I convince myself to do this? I have good intentions, but I could very easily slip right back into my boring-clothes-wearing ways. What I need is some accountability. If you’ve been on the internet lately (and I’m sure you have), you may have noticed that the internet is flooded with style blogs – people taking pictures of what they wore that day and posting said outfit photos on their blogs. Often, they’ll tell you where they got their clothes so you can go out and buy the EXACT SAME OUTFIT BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME.

Admittedly, I have looked at a style blog or two, and they’re sort of interesting in very, very small doses. However, I just don’t think I’m fashion forward enough to really get into them. People who write style blogs tend to leap on trends immediately, whereas I like to wait around and see if they stick. Heck, I didn’t buy my first pair of skinny jeans until a solid two years had passed since they first appeared. So now, most style blogs are rife with neon pants and maxi skirts, and I’m not sure if I’m quite ready for that. (picture: purple pants, yes. Neon pants, no.)

I briefly toyed with the idea of starting a style blog of my very own: more jeans and sneakers, less I’m-trying-too-hard layers! However, a number of things stopped me. First of all, I live alone, so who would take my picture on a regular basis? Self-portraits never turn out that great, so scratch that idea. Secondly, I’m too modest for that. Not modest as in “my wardrobe consists only of turtlenecks,” but modest in that I lack the narcissism to post pictures of my daily outfits on the internet and expect praise.

So style blogging for accountability is out. Looks like it’s up to my willpower and/or ability to guilt myself into doing it. I will try harder to wear my favorite clothes and spend less time on the mediocre. I think I made this decision just in time: I got this awesome new pair of shoes, and I have no place to wear them. 
I'll be all dressed up with nowhere to go, but I think I'll be ok with it. With shoes like that, I'm sure I'll be fine.


  1. Calla, I remember when you use to dress up in dresses & heels. You looked terrific. I vote you do it again. Get outside of your comfort zone. Your mom used to have one of the nicest stores in Brookings. She had great taste.

    1. Thanks! I will try to give my dresses and heels more wear time, especially with summer right around the corner. I bet I would've loved Mom's store - she really does have great taste!