The Fit

We use clothes to help us fit in.

Period.

Even if we are brimming with confidence, many of us feel the need to look the part. One of my NYC friends will be attending a wedding in ruralish North Carolina this fall. When I was talking to her the other day, she was already obsessing. And the wedding isn’t till October.

“I have nothing to wear!” She whined.

“How about that cute black dress” I asked

“Gee. I won’t stand out like a New Yorker at all in that…”

And this went back and forth for awhile, her ruling out every dress she owned and me asking her to video chat her closet to me so I could talk her off the wall. She became obsessed with wanting to fit in, though she had absolutely no idea what fitting in would entail. I asked  her “what about the nice navy, just wear it with a chunky heel neutral shoe”, because I’m betting outdoors will be involved in some way. She started trolling clothing websites no matter what I said. And I could already envision her putting the new dress up for sale on her local Mom website because she was going to buy a dress she didn’t like just because of her need to be part of the group.

This is where dressing for yourself and dressing for the occasion and location collide.

Sure- we have some sort of inbred desire to be part of the group. I’m going to say it’s probably something to do with our evolutionary need to survive- fitting in is sort of like camouflage- if we blend in we won’t get hunted. And by hunted I mean talked about. No one wants to walk into a room and feel that everyone is talking about them. And if we don’t feel comfortable in what we are wearing, if we feel out of place, we’re going to think that every conversation entails people saying “Can you believe she’s wearing that?”  Every time someone looks at us we think they’re staring with disdain and derision. If we don’t feel like we’re part of the group we’re going to check the mirror about a thousand times, pull down hems, readjust sleeves….and be miserable…

I get wanting to fit in via clothes. And traveling to a different environment cements this in. I can tell a tourist in NYC by their clothes. Just like you can tell I’m a tourist when I visit someplace else. Different parts of the country have different dress codes. But how much do we accede to regional dress? If we visit the southwest do we immediately put on cowboy boots? If we go south do we wear pastels? Do we automatically shift to our environment? Change the camouflage? Seek to fit in?

I will tell anyone visiting NYC in the spring to have waterproof shoes and layers. But that’s not to fit in: that’s about being comfortable with the varied weather patterns that NYC presents. I would never tell someone to just pack black. To me fitting in means being ready for the weather.

When we visited different parts of the country last summer I did not bring “Southern” clothes or “Midwest” clothes. I brought my clothes. My collection of black, grey and olive t shirt dresses. My comfy black sandals. My white sneakers. I did bring a function over form bag that I don’t normally use at home, but that was because I really needed the function. And I didn’t care that people knew where I was from before I opened my mouth and my accent spewed out. I was OK with my way of dressing. I am OK with my way of dressing.

When you travel, you travel. The person that you are. Just wear what makes you comfortable and happy. The rest will fall into place.

Though really- there’s nothing wrong with a nice pair of cowboy boots…

 

 

 

 

 

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What Should I Wear?

Yesterday one of my friends texted in our ever going group chat:

Friend: OMG Just got asked to speak at a national conference in x.

Me: Congrats! So awesome! Love that city! What an honor! What are you going to wear?

So no matter what I say or do, it really all comes down to “What am I going to wear.”

Ann said the same thing yesterday. She stated that she now knows who she is, knows what makes her comfortable, but there are times when you inevitably ask that question…Yes- most of us have reached the age where we have our look or our uniform. We have stores we frequent and styles we prefer. We know who we are and are confident enough to own it.

Yet…

There are still moments when we look at our date book, look in our closets, and just go “Hmmmm”

I have my evening event look, and I have my day event look. That’s easy. I don’t even think about what to wear to a wedding or funeral. But what about those curve balls? My tea society is having a summer event in June- the invite says dress or suit please. OK. I can do that. But then it says “Hats optional.”

Hats optional?

And I don’t mean baseball caps. I know what kind of Kentucky Derby, Sunday church hat that is being spoken of. So do I buy a hat for the occasion? Or do I sit there and be the only person not wearing a hat? It really doesn’t matter: I don’t think anyone is going to .point at me and hiss “Traitor!” But should I wear a hat?

Where do I even buy a hat?

The colleges that my daughter has been accepted to have meet and greets. This was a troubling one for me. Do I go business like, or is that too much? How casual is casual? What’s the proper middle of the road look? (For the record, I went with black dress, grey long cardigan and black flats) Yes, I was far too worried about what the other parents would think of me.

What it comes down to for me is that I want to be myself, so I stick to my neutral palette. Fine. But I neither want to stick out, nor blend in the crowd. I want to have my own individual stamp, but I don’t want everyone staring at me when I enter a room. Unless of course I’m winning an award and then stare all you like. Sort of like a non conforming conformist…

Yeah.  I know. That doesn’t really make sense. But do you kind of know what I mean?

I wonder if I’ll ever be completely at ease as far as wardrobe is concerned. I’m in capris and a t shirt right now and I am content and comfortable. It is the perfect outfit for writing and errands. And 98% of the time I am totally confident in my look. But that other 2%? I just think there will always be that little sliver of time when I have that little sliver of doubt. I think that 98% of the time I dress for myself and myself alone: but that little tiny 2%? I think that I’m dressing for someone else. And whenever you are doing something for an audience you have that certain hesitation- You second guess yourself. You wonder if you should take a risk, or if you should play it safe. What will X think of me if I wear this outfit? Will they think I’m beautiful, sexy, smart, powerful? Or will they think I’m trying to hard? Or not trying hard enough?

In the end, I think I will always be plagued by those four little words “What should I wear?”

 

 

 

I’m Just Being Myself

Yesterday I wrote a post about how I realized that I have created a uniform of sorts: I have a basic layer and then I add something to show the direction in which I need to carry myself for the day. Ally mentioned that we should always be ourselves when we dress, which I agree with. We should always wear what makes us comfortable and feel confident.

Except…

I love the show “Modern Family”. There’s an episode where the family goes to Disneyland, and Gloria (true to herself) go in high heels. To Disney. After complaining for awhile, Jay guys her slippers. After she puts them on she is much happier. Now I know this is a sit com, and I know they go to extremes to prove a point, but think about the underlying principle: Gloria is an incredibly sexy character who is always dressed sexy, including heels. It is who she is. But…she’s going to an amusement park. Does she need to totally be herself in this environment? Or should she adapt?

Say you’re a jeans and t shirt kind of person. Say you get invited to a cocktail party. Do you show up in jeans and t shirt? Do you proudly walk in with your levi’s and proclaim “Hello world! I’m just a denim sort of person?” Or do you wear something different? What about a wedding? Funeral? Holiday?

Are there times when we need to adjust who we are by wearing something different?

Dress codes in schools or work places? You know I hate them because I think they rip the individuality out of everyone and are maintained by an arbitrary board which actually has no rhyme or reason to it. But does a school or employer have the right to tell you what to wear? Or are you allowed to be true to yourself?

What about dress codes at events? A few years back we were invited to a 40th birthday party where we were told we had to wear white. I wore a white dress and hated it. I felt uncomfortable the whole night. In this instance, it was a party that I had to attend- there was no going around it. But what do you do in this instance? Do you not go to the party? Do you wear what you want and stand out? Or do you suck it up?

How far do we go in order to be ourselves?

So….do you have a look or style that defines you? Do you dress to suit the occasion or yourself?

 

Back In Time

I was at a party recently, and I was talking to the host.  He was telling me that he was so happy he discovered the TV show “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”.  He said it was the first time he’d turned on his television since “Mad Men” ended. And he proceeded to tell me things about the show that he particularly loved. And he was right- I watched the show and found it very entertaining.

But I started to think about what drew him to these particular shows. Did he just love all things “M”? Was he drawn to the sixties in NYC? What was it about these shows?

And I thought back to the party.  A cocktail party.  A true blue, all American party with expertly made cocktails and hors d’oevres. All served on beautiful platters, or matching glassware. Like they served at those parties. And he was impeccably dressed in a suit and tie, even though it was a Saturday night, while the majority of men were in jeans.

And I thought about how he reminisces fondly of going to the opera and how people wore formal wear.  And how people dressed up for the theater.  And they dressed for dinner…

And I realized he wants to live in a world that is slightly less casual.  He doesn’t like wearing jeans to work.  He likes hats and stylish overcoats. He loves carrying a briefcase, and having a real pen in his pocket.

So for write my blog Thursday I ask the question? Has the world gotten too casual?

I’m currently reading a book about the French lifestyle- (no worries- when I finish there will be an entire blog devoted to my thoughts and feelings on this book) The author discusses how she is always trying to maintain a certain standard of civility.  She states that as she was writing a particular chapter she was in black slacks, black long sleeve t, taupe cardigan and loafers.  Jewelry, hair, make up.  The full ride.  As I write, I am in a grey velour sweatshirt that is about a thousand years old, leggings with a hole in the thigh, and my sketchers furry slippers….(ok- I am wearing make up and my hair is half blown out) But…would I me more productive if I were dressed less casually?

Should jeans be worn to an office environment?

Should we dress up if we are going out for the evening?

What’s the line between casual and sloppy?

Do your clothes really say something about you?

Discuss…

Superdress

See this dress?20181015_0749598299606371136416558.jpg

This plain, non descript dress? Well, to me, it is anything but a plain, non descript dress.  to me, this is Superdress, my equivalent to a flowing cape.  When I wear this dress I feel like I can take on the world. Needless to say, I’ve worn this dress a lot lately.

This is my Holly Golightly attire.  I wore this to curriculum night with flats and a long cardigan.  It strolled around Chelsea galleries with a cord jacket and a big scarf.  It took me to dinner at a funky restaurant with a big silver necklace and a black moto jacket. It is quite literally my perfect dress.

What is it about this particular dress, which didn’t cost much?  Maybe because it was relatively inexpensive.  Maybe because it’s not too loose to be dowdy, not too tight to be uncomfortable or showy. Is it that it’s easy to dress up or down? The perfect backdrop for accessories? Does it matter?

I think everyone needs a piece of clothing like this is their wardrobe, an article that just makes them feel better when they put it on. Sometimes life is crazy or unpredictable, and it’s nice to have something that’s just easy- something that doesn’t require thought.  When your insides are churning, it’s satisfying to go into your closet and breathe a sigh of relief- you don’t have to stress about what you’re going to wear, you just pull out that trusty garment that sort of says it all…

Sometimes, appearance does matter.  To you.  If you think you look great, it’s going to positively affect your mood.  If an outfit feels great on your body, it’s going to make you feel better.  Sometimes the wrapping is important….

And yes.  I’m probably pulling this dress out today (knee high boots and a pink leather moto jacket) And yes, I will instantly feel like I can take on the world….

Find your dress. Or denim jacket. Cowboy boots. Whatever.  Find that one article of apparel that helps you kick ass.  We all need a little boost every now and then.