Do we use clothing as identity? The struggles of me and my wardrobe

As many readers of this blog will know, one of the biggest areas of minimalism I struggle with is the reduction of clothes. I am longing for a capsule wardrobe and for one blessed season I did indeed have a successful winter capsule wardrobe a year ago.

Then it all spectacularly fell apart. The spring capsule felt messy. It didn’t spark joy, and it didn’t speak to what I wanted to feel. Most of it was blue. I then started having a bit of a think and a trawl of my favourite source of inspiration Pinterest, and thought I’d give the idea of a personal uniform a go. Cue a choice of only five colours, stripes, nautical prints and key shapes. It worked in some ways; less shopping because lots of things didn’t meet the requirements, well co-ordinated colours. Clean lines. In many other ways, though, it didn’t work. Ignoring prints that sparked joy because they didn’t fit in with the concept. A very sober looking wardrobe for someone who does loves navy but also loves colour and is loud and bright.

At this point I start to look around for a more fun style and hit upon rockabilly. Cue polka dots, leopard print and 50s style outfits. But calf length dresses and boob displaying tops are just not my thing.

If you’re worn out by all this , think how I feel. Luckily I don’t/cant afford to buy premium brands, but I have spent a lot of money this year on trying to strike a chord. What frustrates me is that in other areas of minimalism I excel. I only read library books, we have been working on a much more minimalist environment so we have probably removed around 40% of our belongings. I have a minimalist make up bag. I even had my bags down to a few chosen ones. But clothes? I just can’t solve it.

So I am starting to ask myself why? What is it that leads me to lurch from a uniform to a polka dot circle skirt, and from a pair of jeans with turn ups to a digital print shift? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I turn 40 next year (and beware there are likely to be more posts about approaching the 4-0 before it actually happens next November). I think in your late 30s-mid 40s you don’t really have a place to call your own. No longer in the flush of youth, and not really in today’s middle age, we are stranded in the desert of in-betweenism. It no longer feels appropriate to wear a neon crop top (not that I ever did), yet elasticated slacks and a comfortable velcro shoe are certainly not on my radar.

So yes, I believe this has an impact on my thoughts about my identity. Clothes to me say a lot. I like to feel happy when I put them on. I like to feel comfortable. I like to feel like I haven’t just dressed in the dark, and neither do I ascribe to  ‘mum dressing’ (sorry Mums- there are lots of stylish ones out there but you do know what I mean). I do want to feel like others don’t look at me and wonder if I’ve ever heard of the word style. Perhaps that’s where I am going wrong. There’s too much ego in my dressing.

Also as a plus size woman things that look great on one woman with a certain shape can look awful on another. I am blessed/cursed (delete as applicable depending on how I’m feeling) with a very disproportionate belly to the rest of me. So much so I have often been asked ‘When’s it due?’ much to the embarrassment of the asker. (I suppose that is one thing age is good for; not so many pregnancies in your 40s and 50s.) This can make dressing an art form as you drape, pluck and rearrange to avoid the look of sausage meat getting stuck on one of those machines that feeds the saugage skin. I could wear one of my chosen ideals, a simple pencil dress and it just isn’t going to do it for my shape. I am not straight. So many things to consider.

The other thing for fat women like me who are in their late 30s is that we remember the days before the internet, when it was Evans and Etam as an option for clothes and very little else.  Style was more of a coincidence rather than an opportunity. I am delighted to see so many options now and even big high street shops like Dorothy Perkins and River Island opening up their offerings to those of us whose arm would fit into one of the legs of their trousers. About time too. And don’t worry those of you who think this will spark an obesity epidemic – direct your upset instead at the manufacturers who create food that is specifically formulated to make people eat more – the salt/fat/sugar triangle as it’s known.

Luckily one of my most admired capsule and wardrobe guru’s – Caroline from Unfancy has updated and issued her new capsule planner this week. I am going to have another go at this capsule business. It is after all my goal.

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The capsule looks at so much more than what goes with what which is what I love about it. It encourages people to look at pieces they own and love to wear, what’s working for me, what’s not working, lifestyle , events, colours, brands. You do this season to season. It’s a real look on what you’ve got and reflection on what you want to achieve. I am going to give it a go, and I will display the results on a future blog post so you can help me analyse just where I’m going wrong!

Let me know if you have a go on the capsule planner and what you think, or if you have any of the same struggles as me?

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