I am not a morning person. I can be, but it is not my default setting. But for the past few months, I have become more unpleasant because instead of the total quiet I typically require to adjust to the new day, I’ve filled my morning air with expletives as I attempt to find a decent outfit in my wardrobe.
Granted, getting dressed when it’s yet another cold day becomes repetitive. However, the real struggle is feeling like myself when I put on my clothes. Even more of a challenge is feeling beautiful in those clothes.
This is not the story I intended to tell when I began my blog a year and a half ago. And I’m slightly embarrassed how often I feel compelled to write on this topic, but I thought I’d share where I’m at, because I have a feeling that I’m not the only one.
Right now, I have a list of several key pieces that are missing from my wardrobe and/or pieces that would make a big difference. They include:
– leather work-appropriate handbag
– black fitted blazer
– white blouse
– white jeans
– black ballet flats
– sandals to replace these (RIP after the India trip)
And beyond the specifics, I’m keeping my eye out for:
– feminine skirts
– easy dresses that keep me looking put together
– fun colorful and/or printed shoes since most of my wardrobe is black and gray (and will stay that way because of where I work)
But each of these items feels overwhelming, not just because of the cost or how picky I am with design and fit, but simply finding an option that works within my values. I have yet to find a store or brand that fits me perfectly AND meets my standards for values and quality.
When I first wrote the list of “would-helps” for my wardrobe many months ago, the top priority was a work backpack since my hiking-friendly backpack kept my back comfortable during the commute but also helped me look like a college student at work. It took me approximately six months to make a decision. Six months! I ended up going with the “perfect” Tumi backpack that fits like a glove on my petite frame (and will therefore keep my spine healthy!) and is built to last. But it took a long time for me to get there, because I kept thinking there must be a better option out there. And in the meantime, I did little work to fix other wardrobe gaps and instead just cleaned out more.
The problem? I’ve been searching for perfect, and I’m doing it with incomplete information since the trend in “ethical fashion” is e-commerce rather than your neighborhood boutiques. Taking the tactile and trying-on opportunities out of shopping makes decision-making a lot more difficult.
But what about “good enough”?
A recent book I read (which I can’t remember) talked about the personality types that have to know ALL the available options before making a choice. And because they’ve exhausted themselves with choices, they are less likely to get as much joy as others from their final decision, even if it’s a well-researched one. I am absolutely that type. And however genuinely thrilled I am every time I look at my backpack, I wonder why I torture myself in searching for perfect.
And “perfect” has started to feel a little risky. When you love something SO much, it’s suddenly easy to be unprepared when unexpected things happen. The perfect pair of pants that rip beyond repair? Not only did they prove to be imperfect but since you were so dependent on them, you have nothing else to wear while they wait to be fixed or replaced. I want to love everything in my closet, but I certainly don’t want my stuff to own me.
Truly, I wish making a sustainable/ethical buying decision was easy, but factoring in cost and taste constraints seems to make my own decisions more like a game of pros/cons and ultimately indecision.
Yes, it’s been hard, but I’ve already learned a few things:
– Trying things on is essential. You’ll never know what works until you put something on your body and see if the magic is there. Style takes time to find and it isn’t permanent.
– Shopping locally and from small batch designers is one of the easiest places to start.
– Start small: aim for one aspect of ethical fashion and if you get more, it’s the icing on the cake. This can include everything from local production (smaller footprint and supporting local economy) to respect for workers to organic and sustainable fibers. It’s up to you how you prioritize them.
– As many clothes as I’ve pulled out of my wardrobe and donated/shared/consigned/recycled, I don’t miss any of them, so I know I’m on the right path.
In the meantime, I’ve become totally obsessed with others’ quest to find their style. I’ve been particularly loving this post by Breanna Rose and this whole series by Madelynn Hackwith Furlong on her blog, Wide-Eyed Legless. Knowing that others are in the same boat makes the struggle a lot easier.
What are your searching for? I hope you’ll share with me what’s on your list too.