In Which I Lament the State of My Closet

I’ve been watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries (I’m just a couple of years late, I know, I know). And their clothes are so cute. So cute. Anthropologie, mostly. Banana Republic. Ann Taylor. All my favorite brands. All more expensive than I can afford. 

So, I started thinking about how I don’t have many cute articles of clothing. It was only a month or so ago when I realized that people don’t really wear turtleneck sweaters anymore. (But who am I kidding…? I like them and will still keep on wearing them.) I have two pairs of jeans that I love from Old Navy, which was my most recent clothing purchase (on sale, last July). I also got two pairs of shoes online (on sale), and although I think they look super cute, I can see why they were so inexpensive (they smell like some weird faux leather/formaldehyde mixture). Anyway. The last clothing items I bought for myself were the two pairs of jeans and the two pairs of shoes in the summer of 2013. I think before that, I hadn’t actually bought anything for about 6 months. 

What do I currently wear? 

Tops: 

  • Faded, stretched-out cardigans
  • Too-big tank tops (that I hide under the aforementioned cardigans)
  • One black cowl-neck sweater from Banana Republic that I love (but is getting pill-y)
  • 3 school shirts – t-shirts that advertise my school – woohoo.
  • Two turtlenecks (one black, one brown) that I love during the winter
  • A brown v-neck sweater
  • A dark green dressy polo shirt (I can testify that there is such a thing) that I got from a thrift store – generally I wear it underneath the brown v-neck as the sleeves are a little too short for me to feel comfortable
  • Two long-sleeved t-shirts from Target (one in teal, one in purple) 
  • I can’t actually think of any more tops that I wear right now? I know there are probably more….?

Bottoms:

  • Two pairs of black jeans my mom bought me from somewhere that I would never consider shopping at for myself, but actually are kind of cute and don’t even look like jeans, so I wear them to work anyway (though they attract cat hair like…. a cat-hair magnet?)
  • One pair of black pants from Target that actually fit, woohoo!
  • One pair of too-big khakis that always show every little wrinkle
  • One pair of fit-in-the-waist khakis from Target that are extremely unflattering because the legs are too wide and long
  • One pair of blue/grey corduroys that don’t really match anything but were from the JCrew Outlet store and totally fit when I bought them but now don’t
  • One pair of brown corduroys (also from JCrew outlet) that still fit
  • Black pencil skirt from Target (rarely wear to work, because then I have to shave (TMI?) or wear cute tights – which I don’t own – or leggings)

Shoes/Accessories:

  • A bunch of scarves (some knitted by my mom, some light/frilly ones that I purchased)
  • Black Mary Janes that never really were cute but I thought they were practical… but now the tread is worn so low that I skid every time I walk on smooth surfaces)
  • Two pairs of Target flats (one dark pink, one gray) – love these!
  • One pair of black Crocs flats (love these way more than I thought I would – I even wear them with black socks because my feet get cold and I don’t want to wear the black Mary Janes anymore – not really stylin’, but whatever)
  • Sneakers
  • Unattractive brown flats that are extremely uncomfortable – only worn when necessary
  • Ass-ugly brown old-lady type shoes that are pretty comfortable but are exceptionally hideous 
  • A pair of crappy cheap boots I bought online – cheap is as cheap does?
  • Super cute brown boots that were from Boden but I found at a thrift shop (I still felt bad about spending whatever amount I spent a while ago) – slightly too small for me, but I couldn’t turn them down

Lounging/Weekend Clothes:

  • Navy sweatshirt from Hershey Park in PA that I bought when I took a school trip there and it poured down rain and I was freezing – that thing is about 10 years old now, and still going!
  • Gray-ish brown hoodie that is part cashmere (from a friend!!!)
  • Pajama pants (I kind of hoard these, but I just got rid of 3 pairs recently, so that’s a step in the right direction)
  • 4 or 5 t-shirts that are pretty hip (but I can’t wear them to work)
  • What do I have in my closet that I only rarely wear but will still keep?
  • Black dress (from Target) that I wear for special occasions/work
  • Button-down Oxford-type shirts (three – one orange striped [what was I thinking?], one blue, and one short-sleeved maroon)
  • Dress shoes (brown pumps that are coming apart but I can’t bring myself to throw away yet – they are super comfortable and super cute!, and open-toed sandals that I rarely wear because my toes are rather long and those kinds of shoes make me feel uncomfortable)
  • Green corduroy blazer (turns out I like wearing blazers, but green corduroy isn’t as versatile as I’d like…ha)
  • Other stuff I can’t remember, probably

So, here’s the thing… there are many, many resources online that tell you what the “essential pieces” are for a woman’s wardrobe. So I know there are certain pieces that I kind of have (as in, technically I own a pair of khakis, a black dress, flats, and pumps), but I’m not sure that most of them are flattering or well-made. In fact, I’m pretty much sure that most of them do not fall into either of those categories.

But as long as the clothes cover my body, why should I worry about buying other clothes? I don’t think I look like a bag lady. But it’s at the point where my students are now making comments about my clothes and shoes. Leaving aside the fact that they shouldn’t feel comfortable joking about my attire to my face, I’d like to just point out that if middle schoolers think I look like crap, then they’re probably somewhat right. I know I don’t look “put together,” in a professional way, but I don’t look UNprofessional. Definitely not wearing low-cut shirts or skinny jeans to work. But it’s started me thinking about when I might be able to afford some new pieces for my wardrobe.

I think I may form a plan: maybe once we have the Citibank credit card paid off (currently at $1000 – yaaaaaay!), the car loan (about $2400 at the time of this writing) finished, and H’s private loan for his doctorate ($6000+) paid off…. maybe I could justify purchasing a few new items that are actually high quality that will last forever and be more versatile than the pieces I have. Maybe every once in a while. Because it would be more than a year before I would be able to justify getting new clothes (at that rate).

But how about I only buy one awesome piece every couple of months? But when I think about that approach, I feel like it won’t actually be helpful. Just one piece at a time? How would that work? Shopping is hard anyway… I think I would be better off saving up a good amount ahead of time, then saying I could spend $500 and finding outfits that could be mixed up. I know myself enough to know that I don’t do well trying to buy individual pieces – I really need to buy outfits that I can visualize. I have trouble putting together outfits by myself at home…. I might need a consultant. (But who could justify paying for that?!)

I often open my closet and think, “Really? What do I actually have in here that makes me feel good to wear?” The answer is, “Nothing.” But then I imagine spending money on new clothes (or even new-to-me, used clothes) and I think, “That money could totally be better spent paying down our car loan!”

I dunno. I might be getting close to the point where I need to make some investments in my wardrobe. There would have to be much planning to avoid overspending at some point. Do you know, I once bought a beautiful green jacket/blazer at Ann Taylor? And it wasn’t even on sale? I wear it every once in a while. It’s dreamy. But seriously. I teach middle school. Why dress up for them? Should I dress up for me? There’s gotta be some solution, short of someone nominating me for “What Not To Wear” and getting a weekend of shopping in NYC.

Musing on clothes and spending money on a Friday night is my idea of a good time. What are the things you dream of spending money on that are NOT necessities? Do you ever give in and just splurge? And with clothes – do you buy one piece at a time or go on a mini (or big?!) spree?

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6 thoughts on “In Which I Lament the State of My Closet

  1. I’ve mostly gotten over my dislike of shopping. Now I psyche myself up to shopping by watching a few episodes of TLC’s ‘What Not To Wear.’ It’s funny how buying a couple of new blouses can make you feel much better about your entire wardrobe.

    I hate shopping for shoes, they’re always so comfortable in the store, and then I wear them out and it turns out that they aren’t comfortable at all!

    I put aside money every month, and then go on a shopping spree -at least it feels like a spree to me, usually it’s one or two items – at the end of each semester. As a sort of reward to myself.

    Thankfully, I’m a computer programmer, so my workplace dress code is more relaxed than in other departments. I try to dress business casual, but I know that there have been a few misses…

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    • I like the idea of putting aside a bit of money each month and then going on a mini-spree! Maybe if I keep paring down my closet (taking things to consignment stores), I’ll eventually feel better about spending money on new, or new-to-me pieces. I really don’t love shopping at consignment stores myself, but I have found a couple things that are worth it every once in a while. I think maybe I need to spend less time looking at Target and more time finding things I really like, then saving up for them while waiting for them to go on sale!

      I agree about shoes. They seem so great when you only wear them for about 5-10 minutes… then they turn out to be awful when you wear them for 8 hours. Ugh!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had a roommate that shopped at Target a lot. She always looked so hip, I was jealous! However, every time I go to target I feel like they are only selling the equivalent of potato sacks.

        If you want an outsider’s opinion. Perhaps you should just wait until the credit card is paid off. It won’t take too long to pay off the last $1k.

        Whether you like it or not, people will judge you for the way you dress. I usually try to get my tops/dresses on clearance/cheap. However, I’ll spend a bit more money pants, since you can wear the same pants more often than you can wear the same blouse. As long as you budget for the shopping, then you shouldn’t feel bad about spending money on yourself. Also, just because you budget money towards shopping doesn’t mean that you have to spend all of that money right away.

        Do you have any outlet malls near you? I’ve only every been in a thrift store a couple of times in my entire life (my mom has an aversion to them), but we scour the clearance racks at places like JCPenny’s and Kohl’s. Places like Ross and TJMaxx sometimes have good dresses, but I have trouble finding work clothes there.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I was recently in a JCPenney’s with a friend who tore through about three department stores in search of clothes she could wear for interviews, and I was pleasantly surprised at the selection. I remember JCPenney being for old people, but I was probably 12 at the time. Now, apparently, I AM “old people.” My friend is an inspiring shopper – she really knew exactly what she wanted, she knows her body type, and she was efficient and ruthless in the changing room. Now she’s my role model for when I get the funds together to go shopping.

          I agree with TJ Maxx and Ross on the dresses. Almost everything else I’ve bought there I’ve decided I didn’t really like very much and either gave away or sold at consignment stores. Those experiences have taught me not to buy things that I just “kind of” like. Might as well wait until I really like something before deciding to drop money on it, whether it’s inexpensive or expensive. It’s all wasted money if you don’t wear the clothes!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I would suggest taking an inventory of your needs. For example when you are getting dressed in the morning, think about that item in your wardrobe that you would wear “if” you had X thing to go with it. Then write it down. Build your list while you build your shopping money to at least 500. For example your beautiful green blazer: could go with denim (blue or white), a pencil skirt (in black, khaki, or a neutral) or over a versatile dress (maybe a print). Could also go with your existing black pants that you like. Invest in a great well fitting crisp white shirt and you can wear it with any of the above. Buy some gold or silver (or mixed metallics) jewelry – it goes with everything. And YES you will find that it is worth getting dressed for you every day. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • BayareaBrandi, that is a fantastic idea. Maybe I’ll figure out a way to put a pad of paper & pen in my closet (because I would probably just end up enthusiastically thinking to myself, “I’ll remember it and write it down later!” and we all know how that would end).

      I love building outfits around jeans. All the fashion blogs I follow (not that there’s a ton on my list, but I need clothing inspiration) have really cute – and even professional-looking – outfits built around jeans. I’m just not allowed to wear them at work (and since I work with kids, I also try not to wear anything tight, like skinny jeans/pants). So I feel restricted – I’m reduced to finding something else that looks cute. Is there such a thing as cute khakis? Should I just skip those and try to get some brown professional slacks? Do people even wear khakis anymore?

      Thanks for the reassurance that it’s worth dressing for oneself. I feel selfish thinking about spending money if I don’t technically need new clothing, but I also feel kind of… I don’t know. Completely out of fashion – maybe by 10 years. Ew.

      I do need the button-down white shirt, for sure. Any recommendations on brand???

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