I don’t think I needed to tell you this post is by a guest because you’ve likely heard by now that I am completely without fashion sense. I either missed the gene or the boat, but either way the proverbial ship has sailed, so I rely heavily on the advice of others. Enter the fabulous, sage wisdom of my blogger friend Sheri. If you haven’t seen her other guest post on recession-era gardening, you should check it out; it’s one of the most popular posts ever. Also be sure to read through to the bottom of this post so you can check out her bio and a link to her blog.
Why is getting dressed so complicated? Even for women who work in a traditional office setting, there are still nights and weekends to contend with. And for those of us who work from home (either part-time or full-time), “casual” can easily slip into “I’ve given up.”
I’ve been self-employed for 10 years now, running my own landscape design firm from home. When I’m on a job site, my outfit consists of a t-shirt, cargo pants and gardening clogs. Easy. But what about the rest of my week? I have 3 kids –ages 21, 15 and 3 – and my “typical” week consists of working from home (on garden plans or my blog), meeting with clients, playground adventures, and the occasional lunch with friends.
On most days I wake up at 6am and am dressed and ready for the day by 8. My goal – as often as possible – is to NOT have to change clothes during the day. Which means that I have to look pulled together, be prepared for any number of scenarios, and of course – be comfortable. As I am also of “a certain age”, I’ve been getting dressed for a long time and have pretty much honed my wardrobing down to a science.
Here are my favorite “tried and true” wardrobe secrets:
Buy pieces that multi-task. You should own at least a few items that can serve more than one occasion – easily dressed up or down – and can span at least 2 seasons. A great example of this is a sweater dress. In a solid, neutral color, constructed from a mid-weight knit, this staple in my closet can pair as easily with jeans and sneakers as it does with pearls and heels. Take a look:
A summer equivalent might be a tunic – get one that hits mid-thigh and you’ve got a beach cover-up, dressy top (over leggings or skinny jeans) or cute alternative to a t-shirt (over board shorts or jean skirt).
Learn to layer. There’s no reason to have 2 completely separate wardrobes for summer and winter. With some clever layering, a sleeveless wrap dress or tunic – in a sturdy linen or cotton – can span every season. In summer, I’ll wear it alone or over white jeans and sandals. Come fall I’ll slip a t-shirt underneath, toss a jean jacket on top and finish with leggings or jeans. In colder weather, I’ll put a chunky cardigan or turtleneck over the dress and t-shirt. This won’t work for every item in your closet, but next time you’re shopping keep an eye peeled for items that will substantially extend the life of pieces you already own.
Know where to invest. And where not to. A few years ago I took my daughter to Rome for her 16th birthday. I decided to buy my first pair of “real” designer shoes and found myself in an upscale boutique. I immediately went to the high heels and dressier sandals and tried a few pairs on. But then I realized that I would actually wear them maybe once or twice a year. Instead, I bought a pair of black patent leather ballet flats. Which I have worn on a regular basis for the past 5 years. They give me so much pleasure and their design and construction really “step up” any outfit I pair them with. My point? If you’re buying a splurge-worthy item, make sure that you will actually get some use – and enjoyment – out of it. Sitting in a box all wrapped up is not so fun.
On the other hand, there are definitely items that you should purchase as inexpensively as possible. First and foremost? Basic white underpinnings. Items like camis, tanks and t-shirts show their age in record time – and there’s really no way to breathe new life into a yellowed top or saggy straps. I buy these items in bulk and on sale – and toss them as soon as they show their age. My “go-to” sources for these pieces are Gap, Old Navy and Uniqlo. As for basics, I also spend as little as possible on flip-flops, exercise clothes and socks.
Other items that should be purchased “on the cheap”? Of-the-moment trend pieces. Dying for that animal print belt or cut-out top? Go for it – but don’t spend a fortune. When the trend passes before the season’s even over, you won’t feel guilty relegating the piece to the Goodwill pile (or costume box).
Simple shouldn’t mean boring – with these basic tips I feel stylish and confident – as essential to the start of my day as my must-have iced coffee (1%, no sugar, please)!
Sheri is a mom of 3, a professional landscape designer, and creator of the blogdonuts, dresses and dirt. She writes about cooking and baking, gardening and what she calls her “favorite finds” – anything from the best hand cream to a must-have summer dress to where to find the most delicious doughnut in New York City!