I often think about how great it would be to be a police officer or a flight attendant.
I’m not particularly brave and nor do I really want to work with the public on planes, I just think it would be awesome to wear a uniform.
Every day I go through the “what am I going to wear” crisis. Every. Single. Day. And I work from home. In theory, I could wear anything – fun, funky clothes, cute not-work-appropriate dresses, chunky, loud jewelry. But inevitably, I wind up wearing either workout clothes (sweaty, gross) or the same, boring mom uniform (jeans, flats, tunic).
About a year ago, I, along with half the country, became obsessed with Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I went after it with a vengeance. I dutifully followed her orders. I removed everything from all my closets (and attic) and asked myself if each piece sparked joy. It turned out that most things didn’t spark any joy whatsoever. I got rid of about two-thirds of my wardrobe. I even folded my remaining garments according to plan. I felt appropriately smug and gratified. I clearly had this figured out. Now, I told myself, it would be a snap to put myself together every day. I pictured myself looking stylish and breezy – like one of those chic moms in Big Little Lies, just without the mayhem.
Fast-forward a year later and I was no closer to cool, casual chic. I hadn’t completely restocked my closet, but I still had too many clothes and nothing to wear. When I did “get dressed,” I would default to a few favorites because I just couldn’t figure anything else out. For the record, when I travel for work (ironically, in the fashion industry), I don’t have any issues. I have great work clothes (or so I thought).
To celebrate my 50th birthday, I decided be be a grown up. I hired a stylist/wardrobe consultant, to put me on the right track, once and for all. However, it turned out to be the closest thing to therapy I’ve ever experienced.
I filled out an extensive online survey – what did I like, what did I not like, what do I do, what stores I like, even my hobbies. I had to rank several outfits in my order of preference and we spent 45 minutes on the phone. What did my perfect dressing day look like?
Then she rolled in, literally, with a garment rack and full length mirror. We took every piece of clothing out of my closet and I tried on Every. Single. Piece. After two-and-a-half hours, we had gotten rid of half of my clothes.
Sure it was good to get rid of the clutter, but more importantly, I learned to shop my closet. I used to default to dresses because they’re easy and I didn’t think I looked good in pants. Wrong — pants work for me when they are the right size, but skirts, big surprise, do not. We got rid of all of them. I was ruthless.
Dress purchased in France that just wasn’t working? Out it went. A but-I-got-it-on-sale-and-it-was-such-a-deal jacket that I wore once? Gone. That awesome cocktail dress I could fit into but was clearly something from my 30s – buh-bye.
Then she made a shopping list – good white blouses, three pairs of white pants (skinny cropped, flare cropped and flare jeans) and dress pants in any color but black.
The experience was so liberating, I brought her back to weed through my accessories – shoes, purses and jewelry. I tossed 20 pairs of shoes, a huge trash bag full of purses and donated a bag of jewelry after her meticulous weeding.
Every time I talk about this, people look at me like I am either insane or an overly-indulged dilettante. The reality is that I’m neither. But I am closer to dressing in the kind of uniform I want to wear.
Months later, the question arises… how has this stayed with me? Well, I can’t say I am a chic Parisian grande dame every day. And there are still days I am in workout gear in afternoon carpool. But, I take comfort in the knowledge that at any given moment I can put together a cool and fashionable outfit. And more often than not, I do actually get dressed for the day and feel cool and confident all day long. This is what sparks my joy.