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?
- I’m older. 52 years old, in fact.
- I’ve put on weight.
- I started Argentine tango 6 months ago.
Taking each of these individually, here are the issues as I see them:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
[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:
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.
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?