New Year’s Day. Reviewing my closet this morning, I was wondering what resolutions to make, relative to changing my clothes; after all, what’s in my closet changes of its own volition, at least a little, almost constantly. Just in the past week or so, I’ve had to let go of a favorite pair of red suede T-strap shoes that I’ve had for at least 10 years, decided an equally ancient sweater was just not worth any more mending, and that a favorite sequinned tank top was (sigh) just too small. I wonder: with a wardrobe in more or less continual evolution, is it worth making resolutions today that may just have to be amended tomorrow?
Actually, yes. When I was working on my pilot’s license, one of my instructors once said to me, “Flying is a series of small corrections.” I believe I could as accurately say, “Dressing well requires a series of small corrections.” And I’m not talking about responding to fickle fashion trends; I mean adjusting to the many changes in our lives that, if we are thinking in a conscious way about how we dress, should be reflected in our clothing choices. Here are a few examples of some common changes (yes, from my own experience): weight fluctuation, lifestyle changes, different jobs, and just getting older.
How has my wardrobe been impacted?
• Weight fluctuation means I have to work a bit harder at finding (and making) clothes that really fit me properly— nothing makes me more conscious of a few extra pounds than garments that are uncomfortable, but I also refuse to dress in shapeless clothing.
• Lifestyle changes: I got obsessed with ballroom dancing a few years ago. I started planning outfits based on what would require the fewest changes to be dance- ready. To that end, I made myself several lightweight, floaty overskirts that could be worn over anything from dresses to jeans; for me, I just felt, you know, more like a dancer in a swirly skirt (an important note on the psychology of clothing).
• I’ve worked in many different capacities, from office manager to running my own retail store, each of which had its own clothing requirements; even today, working mostly from home, I find it necessary (or at least helpful) to dress professionally in order to get myself in work mode.
• Getting older, ah, something we all have to deal with. The major concession I feel I should make is to acknowledge that, even if I can still do certain looks justice, they just might not be appropriate on a woman of a certain age. And since I’ve stopped (well, more or less) resisting this idea, I’ve found a surprising pleasure in the challenge of continuing to dress like me (as opposed to a conventional notion of what someone “my age” should wear), but also as someone who fully embraces her age. Which is 51.
The other major adjustment that’s required is to your own changing taste. I used to make a point of wearing dresses all the time (I took pride in not even owning a pair of jeans), thinking, I admit, that I would stand out that way. These days, with much more self-confidence (not to mention around 30 more years of life/dressing experience), I don’t make rigid rules like this for myself any more, with one exception: whether I’m going out, working at home, taking a walk, I must always dress in a way that makes me feel my best.
And that’s one resolution that should last me from today through all of 2013. At least.