Back in May, I wrote a post titled “Neglected Wardrobe Areas,” which addressed the issue of people not shopping for the wardrobe items they need most. I wrote that even though I spend a lot of time in workout clothes and lounge wear, I generally spent less than 10% of my clothing dollars on such pieces. Until recently, I didn’t believe these types of clothes were important enough to merit a larger portion of my wardrobe budget. I now understand it’s important that we feel good about the way we look in all situations, even when we’re sitting at home in front of our computers.
Other Areas of Wardrobe Neglect
While I’ve successfully upgraded my at-home and workout wear in recent months, I’ve come to realize there are other areas of my wardrobe I’m neglecting for different reasons. Although I still have a large wardrobe, my closet is sadly lacking in terms of bottom pieces, especially pants. Most of my pants are at least two years old and many are from more than four years ago. I’m doing a bit better with skirts, but half of my skirts date back to 2010 or earlier.
Even though I’m someone who shops a lot, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with holding on to older clothes, particularly if they are still in decent condition and are a good fit for your body and lifestyle. However, I don’t love most of my pants. Many are showing their age, and most could really stand to be replaced at this point. So you may wonder why I haven’t replaced them during one of my many shopping trips this year or last.
Pants are My Nemesis!
I have certainly tried to find new pants many times in recent years. I even purchased several pairs last year, but they were all either returned or purged from my closet after limited wears (and probably should have been returned from the get go!).
Pants are my nemesis for several reasons. First of all, I’m 5’10” with very long legs and most pant styles are not offered in tall sizes or long lengths. Secondly, my waist is much smaller than my hips and thighs and most pants in recent years are designed for those with more of a straight shape. Third, I don’t like to accentuate my curvy hips and thighs in the skinny styles that have dominated the marketplace for at least the past few years.
Demoralizing Shopping and Opting Out
I know we should all embrace and love our bodies the way they are, but I have a very difficult time loving my larger posterior. I usually opt to camouflage my curvy hips and thighs rather than accentuate them, and that’s difficult to do in tight-fitting pants and jeans.
I typically have to try on dozens of pants before I find a pair that meets my approval, and I generally feel demoralized after the first few try-ons. I often order pants online rather than brave the harsh mirrors and lighting in store fitting rooms, but my success rate using that method is dismally low.
Since I have so much trouble buying pants, I’ve frequently opted out and focused my shopping instead on finding tops, jackets, and cardigans. These types of garments are very easy for me to find and shopping for such pieces is much more fun. I often shop to escape unpleasant feelings or to experience a “high,” and focusing on fitting my bottom half does not produce that desired result.
While I may set out looking for pants and skirts, more often than not I come home with several new tops and perhaps a jacket or two instead of a single bottom piece! How else do you think I started this year with 129 tops and 75 toppers (coats, jackets, cardigans)?
Most People Struggle with At Least One Wardrobe Area
Some of you may identify with my pants difficulties, while others may struggle more with tops, jackets, or even shoes. Although some people find it easy to find all types of wardrobe components, most of us experience difficulty in at least one area. When I was working with wardrobe consulting clients, I usually saw one of two situations. In some cases, closets were full of bottoms but included precious few tops. Other times, my clients’ closets were similar to my own, awash with tops and toppers but with very few bottoms.
Most women buy what comes easiest for them when shopping. For some women, it’s shoes. I remember the Toni Colette character in “In Her Shoes” and her enviable shoe wardrobe. She focused on shoes when shopping, as she struggled with weight issues and her shoe size was one area that never changed. Having fussy feet myself and a top half that remains slim even if I pack on the pounds, I focus my shopping efforts on tops, jackets, and coats.
Most Women Don’t Want Workable Wardrobes
When I sat down to write this post today, I was reminded of an excellent article by Bridgette Raes titled “Most Women Don’t Want Workable Wardrobes.” Bridgette points out that having a workable wardrobe means being realistic, restrictive, and responsible – and these things aren’t any fun. Women may say they want solutions to their fashion problems, but when we approach shopping as an escapist pastime, we end up with overly stuffed closets filled with surprisingly similar pieces and lots of “wardrobe benchwarmers.”
To cultivate a workable wardrobe, we have to engage our brains fully in the process of shopping. We have to shop with a plan and exercise discipline and restraint along the way. But that’s not how most shopaholics shop. Most of us with compulsive shopping problems don’t use lists or budgets (or if we have them, we don’t take them very seriously). We grab anything that looks shiny and pretty and try on whatever is the newest, hottest style or trend. We also focus our shopping efforts on what’s fun and easy. Why spoil the experience by shopping for our problem areas?
The Consequences of Shopping for Escape & Exhilaration
I have come to understand the consequences of shopping for escape and exhilaration. I bought a lot of very similar pieces, packed my closet full of tops, and neglected buying pieces for my bottom half. Then when I became frustrated by the lack of versatility in my wardrobe, I went out and bought still more tops and toppers in similar styles.
I aimed for short-term highs over long-term closet satisfaction. I spent thousands of dollars and still didn’t love what’s in my closet. I wasted lots of money on short-lived escapes and easy shopping, all the while neglecting to build a workable wardrobe for myself!
It’s Time to Face the Music!
No more! It’s time to face the music and take the time – and exercise the necessary discipline – to build a wardrobe that will work for me. That means I have to “bite the bullet” and try on as many pants as necessary to find a few pairs that I love and can’t wait to wear. I’ll have to do the same with skirts, although that will likely be far less painful.
I’ll have to endure harsh lighting and mirrors and the accompanying body image discomfort, and I may have to leave many stores empty-handed. I’ll have to put aside my preconceived notions of what will and won’t fit my body and what will look good on me, and try on pretty much anything and everything. Most pants won’t be long enough for my “giraffe legs,” but some will and tall sizes may be available online in some cases.
No Escape or High, But Perhaps Something Much Better
This shopping likely won’t be fun and won’t provide escape from the things I don’t want to think about. It likely won’t provide a “high” or lead me to feel more confident and happy about my life. I likely won’t feel a lot of connection to the sales associates, who might find my laser focus on pants – come what may – annoying.
But maybe, just maybe, if I focus on buying what I truly need, instead of what is easiest to find, I’ll end up with a wardrobe that works better for me. Perhaps I’ll have more outfits that I love from top to bottom instead of just top to waist. Maybe I’ll feel more confident and attractive for the events of my life and more ready to meet my personal challenges head on. And maybe I’ll start to feel love instead of lack when I look inside my closet. And one last maybe, a big one… Maybe I won’t want to shop so much. Then, instead of “white-knuckling” it in order to stay out of the shops, I’ll actually want to shift my focus more toward new activities and experiences.
If all of the above assumptions are true,
Isn’t it worth it to address those neglected wardrobe areas, even if doing so might be uncomfortable and not particularly enjoyable?
I think so and I’m going to put my money where my mouth is (or at where least my fingertips are). For the remainder of the year, I’m going to focus my shopping efforts on finding bottom pieces I love, both pants and skirts. I may even go crazy and buy bottoms in colors other than black, grey, and navy. Wonders may never cease! I’ll keep you posted.
What Are Your Neglected Wardrobe Areas?
Now it’s your turn.
- What are your neglected wardrobe areas?
- Are you ready to bite the bullet with me and address those areas in the coming months?
- Or perhaps you’ve already met this type of challenge head on. If so, what advice and words of wisdom can you offer to those of us who are venturing into these rocky waters?
I invite you to share your insights and challenges with me and my readers.