General Self-Care: Clothing (Fashion?) As Self Care

Okay, I have a confession to make.

For years, I have bemoaned that I don’t have the money to “adult” my wardrobe, which is still largely comprised of items from college and grad school. And while I certainly am not making the big bucks, the truth is… clothes just haven’t ever really been my priority.

I associate shopping for clothes with spirals down into body shame and self-hatred, so I pretty much prefer to avoid it whenever possible. My default wardrobe of choice is “jeans or leggings with a funny or fandom t-shirt.” But, it turns out life has dealt me one of those office job things where I’m expected to dress “professionally.”

Hitting the “less than a month until my birthday” seems to have sparked a sort of clothing crisis situation, wherein I’m overwhelmed to realize I’m nearly 28 years old and have never learned where adult, professional Amanda likes to shop for clothes. Maybe it’s a side-effect of working at TJ Maxx for four years in college, but clothes always seem to cost way more than they should. When I do spend money on clothes, it’s usually for t-shirts that proclaim my love of things like Potterhead Running Club, Yoga with Adriene, etc.

And yet.

Because I haven’t really updated my wardrobe in any major way since my younger days, getting dressed can occasionally be a daunting and upsetting prospect. What in my closet still fits? What in my closet is work appropriate? How do I combine things into “outfits”? If my thighs rip through this pair of jeans AGAIN, where do I go to get new ones?

It isn’t exactly that I don’t know what my style would be in an aspirational sense. When I watch TV, I see cute, quirky, colorful outfits I love. (Hello, The Mindy Project!) But the last few times I’ve tried to shop for clothes in a real life store where I can try things on, everything is… mustard. The colors just are not there, and I’m too tall and too unsure of sizing to shop online with the abandon needed to update my wardrobe for the 2020, professional version of me?

And so, a goal.

This year, I am going to do a few things to start treating my clothing/style like it matters to me. Because, I’m tired of struggling to dress myself for work and feeling bad about my options and, as a spinoff result, my body.

1) Audit my clothes

I’m going to go through my closet, which it seems like I do every year, and get real about what I wear and what I don’t. Also, probably, definitely, I need to actually see about getting that t-shirt quilt I keep saying I’m going to get to make better use of my sentimental t-shirt collection.

2) Plan my outfits

Maybe if I actually think about what will work together, it will feel less like a daunting, depressing search for clean shirt that fits plus clean pants that fit?

I’ve tried looking at what I have the night before and putting together combinations (with the help of the Cladwell app) with what I’ve already got. So far, so good in that arena, if I do say so myself.

(In this photo I am also wearing LIPSTICK. I mean, what?! Thank you, Forever35 podcast and my incredibly stylish friend C.P. for inspiring me)

3) Use 1 and 2 to assess where, realistically and truthfully, I could use some additions to my wardrobe

Rather than just buy one or two things I really like occasionally, I’m going to try and take stock of key items my wardrobe is missing that, if added, could help me make more outfits I’m excited about. Actually owning a pair of tights=more dresses in winter. Having a blazer that fits/doesn’t have shoulder pads that make me look like a football player=ability to dress up more casual items for work.

To this end, I spent the other night watching reruns of The Mindy Project while tirelessly tracking down her outfits over at WornOnTV. Even if I didn’t buy any of those items (hello, $300 windowpane blazer I’m obsessed with from Zoey’s Incredible Playlist), it did help me figure out the stores that carry items I’ll like and think of key pieces I need to add in order to create more work outfits with a personal sense of the fun, quirky, professional attire to which I aspire.

I’ve never been a person for whom fashion was an area of interest, but I have reached a point where I no longer feel good about my work wardrobe and want to move to a space of feeling confident in the clothes I wear, let’s face it, most of the time. The reality of a 40-plus hour workweek is no matter how much I’d prefer to lounge around in my leggings and YWA t-shirts, my work clothes are the ones I’m in most of the time. Regardless of how I feel about fashion, I do think finding a sense of adult style is a key piece of feeling more put together in my day-to-day life.

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