Now that I have a "real" job for the first time in 12 years, and by "real" I mean one which requires me to leave the house every day dressed in something besides yoga pants, I find my overall wardrobe lacking any sense of direction. This is partly because my fashion style is not really a recognizable category. I'm not traditional, I'm not modern, I'm certainly not couture. I'm still the thrifty fashionista* that I've always been, meaning that I'll buy scarves from the Target dollar bin, and then try and figure out an outfit around it. I do this with any number of clearance items, jewelry, shoes, etc.
It's not really the best fashion plan, trying to build an outfit around one particular piece. And yet I keep doing it. Mostly because I like to claim that I don't do very much shopping. The reality is that I do a lot of shopping, when calculated at the end of a year, but because it's an item here and an item there without any planned reasoning, I end up with a bunch of random crap that I don't wear, and then I spend a lot of time frustrated with the options ( or lack thereof) in my closet. It's the same frustration I get while playing Words With Friends, when I end up with all vowels and no words to play off of.
Probably ten years ago I began wearing mostly all black. This cut back on the frustration for a while, as I know that no matter what time of year, I have a black shirt or a black sweater that I can wear with jeans and be all set. I stopped trying to be trendy, and just went with basic, and it worked. It works when you travel, it works when you're going out, it works when going to work. It's almost like dressing by number, or Garanimals.
Basic is kind of boring.
But I'm terrible at putting together outfits, and trying to do so makes me anxious. Enter Pinterest.
Turns out all I needed was someone to lay out clothes for me, and upload it to the internet.
You guys, I have most of that crap in my closet. Maybe not every piece, but enough of it that I could get pretty close to most of these outfits, allowing for some minor substitutions. The good news here is that I feel better about my initial vision when I first spot something and decide to buy it. It's getting it home and matching it to something else where I lose confidence in that initial vision, and just hang it up and leave it to gather dust. So maybe my habit of buying individual pieces works after all, sort of.
The more I find these outfits on Pinterest, and find the individual items in my own closet, the more I realize that I do have something of a style. It's a style I like to call "Leawood Boho" mixed with "Hippie Thrifty Mom." Start with a pair of jeans, add a cotton shirt, layer a flowy blouse or a long cardigan sweater, add a bunch of seemingly random but slightly matching cheap jewelry, and either flats or boots. Tada! This, I can do. And I get something of a kick out of actually doing it cheaply, as opposed to the many Leawood moms who drop a lot of cash at places like Standard Style Boutique on outfits that make them look nearly homeless effortless. (There's a difference between "Boho" and "Hobo" but sometimes It's a very thin line.
(Mary Kate Olsen picture from msvixenmag.com, which is not a link I recommend clicking outside of the google image search function unless your pop-up blocker is made of titanium. Just sayin.)
But I digress.
Here's the other thing that's kind of new for me: jewelry. When I had babies, I practically stopped wearing jewelry. Earrings and necklaces are the kind of things babies love to grab a hold of and try to rip off your body in order to put it into their mouths, sometimes forcefully. So I stopped wearing anything except stud earrings, for years. Now that I'm teaching little people I don't have to hold in my lap, however, I notice that all the teachers wear a shit-ton of jewelry, all the time. Big earrings, layered chains of necklaces, tons of bracelets. It's kind of...weird. As always when I don't understand something having to do with women, I asked my mother. "Well, your grandmother was a teacher, and she always said you had to wear shiny things to keep the kids attention."
Aha. It's the "Look! Shiny!" method.
So now I wear a lot of my grandmother's jewelry. None of it has any value, but it's bright and shiny and retro, and goes decently with my Boho taste.
I still wear a lot of black, I still find safety there. But I'm trying to stretch. It's a start, I guess.
*fashionista is a little strong when discussing the Target dollar bin, methinks.