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Makeover Monday, Meet Closet Confessions: Who Am I, Anyway?

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I promised you another juicy Closet Confession, and today is my monthly Makeover Monday, ergo…

This is hard. I’ve been thinking about tackling this subject here for quite a while, and now seems to be as good a time as any to stop procrastinating. Yes, it will be a makeover (eventually), but I have to start with the confession.

Here’s the thing. You know how I’ve written about our wardrobes evolving as a reflection of changes in our lives, and in us as individuals? Well, for several months now I’ve been feeling thoroughly confused, clothes-wise; it’s like I’m no longer sure what works on me, what’s flattering, what’s age-appropriate, and most perplexing of all, what is actually a reflection of who I am?

Ah, there’s the real question I’ve been avoiding like an itchy wool sweater:

Who am I?

It feels like I used to know, and therefore used to know how to dress. Now? I feel lost. Confused. Scared. And that’s a whole lot of negative emotional energy going into something like my wardrobe. And yet it deserves to be addressed, in fact, it must be dealt with— I truly detest feeling like this. I want to love my clothes, and to feel like they’re returning the favor!

So what’s changed so much that I’m having such a difficult time adjusting my wardrobe to my life today?

  1. I’m older. 52 years old, in fact.
  2. I’ve put on weight.
  3. I started Argentine tango 6 months ago.

 

Taking each of these individually, here are the issues as I see them:

  1. I struggle with occasional conflicts between what I want to wear and what I think is age-appropriate. Actually, to be really honest, it’s more about me and my clothes being perceived as appropriate or not by others.
  2. My weight has fluctuated a fair amount in the past few years; I don’t own a scale, so I don’t know (or care, to be honest) exactly what I weigh, but I do know I no longer fit into things I was wearing 2-3 years ago. I have to adjust my clothes (both styles and sizes) to suit my body as it is today; this is at least a little easier than the psychological/emotional toll of all the self-scolding I’ve done because I’ve gained some weight. So I’m also working on self-acceptance.
  3. I surprised myself when I added tango to this list; I hadn’t consciously thought of this addition to my life as having negative side effects on my wardrobe. In fact, I’ve really been enjoying making tango-ready clothes (not to mention shopping for dancing shoes)! So what’s the problem? Well, it relates to the first 2 things on this list. Relative to age-appropriateness, I’m trying to find a balance between what looks good on me and what looks good on the dance floor— harder than it might sound. Also, looking around and seeing what all the younger/thinner women are wearing (tending towards skimpy/body-conscious Spandex-based things that look beautiful on them) makes me feel clunky and dowdy by comparison. Conclusion: Being involved in tango is bringing all my other wardrobe-related issues into sharper focus. (It could very well be the reason why I’m finally writing this piece.)

 

Okay, I’m just going to get this next part over with. I decided that the best way to start the process of figuring out how to dress the new me is by facing up to how I look right now, so I had Valerie take some straight-up, non-Photoshopped pictures of me:

Me

Me.

[Deep cleansing breath.] At first I thought, “Try to look at these pictures without judging yourself”, but then it occurred to me to just go ahead and get it out of my system, say all the negative things I’ve been thinking for a long time about how I look:

Negative viewpoint

Negatives, as I see them, about my body.

Good, that’s over. And you know what? I noticed that, even as I was pointing and labeling and criticizing, I was also thinking, “Yeah? So?” Maybe I’ve just thought these things habitually.

Now I’m going to do just the opposite: list the things I think are my assets.

Positive viewpoint

Positives. It’s interesting to note that nearly all of these refer to the same body parts I was criticizing in the last photo. Ooh, I forgot to add fair skin.

As I’ve been flailing around, wardrobe-wise, I’ve found myself doing something I can’t remember ever doing before: trying to latch onto an icon, maybe a movie star, someone whose style I admire, to give me a sort of starting point for developing (or re-developing) my own look. Do you ever do that? You know, think of your style as, for example, Audrey Hepburn (especially in Roman Holiday), a Hitchcock heroine (think Grace Kelly in Rear Window), Helen Mirren in the recent Red films? (Sorry— I’m a film lover.) Well, I’ve been feeling like if I could just come up with the right person, someone to use as a style touchstone, maybe I could get past some of my confusion. Trouble is, I haven’t been able to do that. And I suspect that’s because it really won’t solve my issue, which is still…

Who am I, anyway?

This is clearly going to take more than 1 post to cover adequately (I should have known). Next time, I’ll show you how I took the photos from this post and turned them into paper-doll-like drawings, onto which I can sketch my design ideas; I think this just might be a good way to get some insight into the general silhouettes that will work for me. And I’ll also go more deeply into what I do know I want from my wardrobe.

I’d also love to have your thoughts; are you going through something similar? How are you dealing with it? How has your wardrobe been affected?

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Author: colormusing

I'm a writer, color palette creator, and designer of fashion, costumes, graphics, knitwear patterns, and yarn.

11 thoughts on “Makeover Monday, Meet Closet Confessions: Who Am I, Anyway?

  1. Lovely post! I’ll look forward to hearing more! 🙂

  2. I love this post. I’m super excited about the paper doll / silhouette thing, and I’ve always tried to mirror Helen Mirren. I like her general flair!

    When I lost all that weight from changing diets, I was really unhappy with how I looked till I realized I just hadn’t faced up to it. I did something similar– looked at myself in a mirror, and then went out and changed the way I dressed. Once I was comfy in my clothes again, I felt better… but I’m still learning. I’m constantly playing with shapes that work better on my new shape.

    I love the arrows from different perspectives… lovely lovely post! 🙂

    • Thank you for your kind comments, Rara, I really appreciate it! (I know you understand how hard it can be to post such personal things.) It does seem to be about accepting more or less constant evolution… but sometimes I wish I could just make one decision (e.g. I want to emulate Marilyn Monroe) and have that last me for the rest of my life! For some people, that kind of signature style really works (think Paloma Picasso), but I suspect in reality, I would get bored with the same look after a while… Change is good, it’s just the process of going through it that’s sometimes uncomfortable, like right now for me.

      I love Helen Mirren too– proof that a woman can not only look fabulous at any/every age, but have a thriving acting career!

  3. I just got done a two day shopping trip and I struggle with the same things. I’m not fat but I”m not as skinny as I used to be and it is hard to find clothes to fit like they should. And I’ve always had a much smaller waist than hips so no matter what size I am it’s a struggle to find bottoms that fit everywhere. Plus I’ve noticed they make the sizes smaller. I’ll walk in with clothes a certain size I got a couple of years ago and I can go up a few sizes and still not find something that fits. It just doesn’t jive.

    I think you were being too hard on yourself though it was nice that you showed what you thought was positive as well. 🙂

    • Thank you for your comment– I appreciate the support! And it is also so helpful to hear about your own experience (it’s always nice to know I’m not the only one!). You’re right, the sizing of clothing has changed, and sometimes it’s really hard to remember that the problem is not with my body; it’s all too easy to blame myself when clothes don’t fit and/or flatter me. I’m hoping that this process of figuring out my style will also give me a more positive view of myself. It’s actually surprising to me how differently I felt after seeing the photos of me from this post; it was almost like just deciding to face the truth about how I look made it easier to accept myself (the opposite of what I thought would happen). I’ll get into that a bit more in my next post in this series. Thanks again!

  4. I too have gone through body shape changes, more so than weight changes – still a dilemma in knowing what works and what no longer does, and yes, age appropriateness is a factor. I have a lot of clothes in my closet but only wear 20% of them – a constant classic battle of what to put on. I like the change in thinking too to make changes positive!

    • Thanks so much for your support on this, Kim, it truly helps to know that this is a shared experience. I’m at least doing better about the percentage of clothes that I wear; probably not a coincidence, since I’ve been making a lot more of my own clothes lately— I’m sure better fit has a lot to do with it. More to come on this!

  5. Pingback: Who Am I, Anyway? (Part 2 of… many) | Changing Your Clothes

  6. Pingback: Who Am I, Anyway? Part 3: Style Icon Found! | Changing Your Clothes

  7. Pingback: Who Am I, Anyway? Part 4: ‘Do-ing It Differently | Changing Your Clothes

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