Friday, January 11, 2013

Clothing: Rules and Woes

I've talked about this before, and I'll talk about throughout the year.  Let's think about the basics, shall we?

1.  Clothing should be age appropriate.

2.  Clothing should fit well.

3.  Clothing should make you happy, bring you joy.

There's lots of other things we could add to the list, like clothing should serve a purpose (work clothes, date night clothes, etc) but let's keep it simple.  Besides, a good piece can serve many purposes.

Age Appropriateness.  I'm not always sure if my clothing is age appropriate.  I do try.   I've always been cautious with my hemlines, because I've seen too many women walking around in skirts that are way too short.   Sometimes women want to wear clothing designed with younger girls in mind, thinking it will make them look and feel younger, but it can backfire and make one look older, and in some cases, older than you actually are.  Less common, but still out there, are the women who dress as if they've raided their grandma's closet.  This includes themed sweaters, ones with cutesy animals, pom poms sewn on, or anything that you'd wear to the annual Ugly Christmas Sweater party.

How do you know if you're wearing age appropriate clothing?   Well, I don't want to name names, but if you're 50 and buying your clothes from the same place your 16 year old daughter gets hers, you might want to think twice.  I'm not talking about the women who find the occasional piece here and there, I'm talking about the women whose entire wardrobes still come from the juniors department, or if a previous decade's fashion becomes trendy again and you wore it the first time around.  Mutton dressed as lamb, anyone?  On the flip side, if you find yourself looking at the same blouse as an 80 year old with elastic waist pastel pants and a walker, or the Senior Citizen's Group is having a shopping trip in the same aisle you're in, you might want to try another department.

FitFit is an issue for all of us.  Petite, tall, plus sized, curvy, normal (whatever that may be), we all have difficulty, and I don't know any woman who can pull something off the rack and have it fit perfectly every time.  Please, ladies, stop beating yourselves up if something doesn't fit you.  Put it down and move on, and never, ever, take it personally. 

First of all, screw size.  Sizing's inconsistency is ludicrous, and vanity sizing actually pisses me off.  Buy what fits you and who gives a fig what the tag says.

Women's sizes are all over the place, plus we often have bodies that require different sizes in different areas.   I'm busty, have a smaller waist by comparison, and full hips.   I'd classify myself as curvy, or the supposedly desirable Hourglass Figure.  Which, btw, is a pain in my ample ass to dress.  I'm 5'7",  I weight 134 lbs, so you would think finding clothes for my body would be not so hard, right?  I'm not thin, I'm not plus size, I'm just regular, if maybe a smidge taller than average.   What size do I wear?  Beats me.   I have clothing in my closet that ranges from 2 to 12,  Small to Extra Large, yet it all fits me right now.  I have two of the same skirt, same brand, same style, same material, but in two different colors, that are two different sizes.  That makes no sense to me. 

Sorry manufacturers, but vanity sizing insults my intelligence.  I will not buy your item simply so I can tell everyone that I wear a smaller size than I do.  Hello, everyone can see me and it's pretty damn obvious I don't wear a zero!  I have a friend who is obsessed with wearing a zero, and  I want to slap her.  She's thin and pretty, yet completely worried about what the tag says.   I don't get much time to shop.  If I have three items I'd like to try on, that means I'm likely carrying in 6 garments (2 of the same item in 2 different sizes), and having to keep going back and forth for each item is annoying and wastes my time.

I don't wear pants.  I do have a couple of pairs of yoga pants that I wear while cleaning.  Those are a medium, and they're comfy.  Loose, but not excessively.   I probably could've bought the small but I don't like things tight, particularly since I wear these pants while I'm on my treadmill and moving about cleaning.  I don't own any jeans.  For those of you who live in jeans, I hope you didn't hurt yourselves falling on the floor over that. 

My hips are a size larger than my waist, so I usually go up a size for skirts.  Sometimes there's too much material at the back of the waist, and the tailor has been able to take care of that for me.   Those small alterations are reasonable, and I never mind paying for them.

I go up one or two sizes in dresses to fit my top half.  I don't like anything tight or too clingy, because I am a self conscious about my chest, which is a 30 G (and thank goodness for Prima Donna bras, who have a 30 band instead of the standard 32).  My dresses are 8's and 10's, mostly.  8's mean my chest fits and the rest of the dress looks good, comfy.  10's mean maybe I'll have it altered, and now and then I'll need to go larger to fit my chest, which means definitely altering the rest.  If I'm buying a dress online, I'll check their size chart, and sometimes email their CS to try and get some guidance, and always double check the return policy.   I have to balance out whether the cost of the dress plus the cost of alterations will be worth it in the end.  It's one thing to nip in the waist, it's another to alter a good portion of the dress.

I love camis.  When you have to buy a larger size than all of your body needs, sometimes the top is a bit too low cut (often an issue with wrap dresses for me) or shows too much cleavage, or any cleavage if you're in a conservative environment.   A simple camisole underneath, plain or lacy, doesn't add bulk underneath the dress but allows me modesty.   I was watching TV one day and saw the lovely Niecy Nash, who is large breasted and always looks gorgeous in her dresses.  She nearly always has on a cami, and I slapped myself and thought "there's the perfect answer!"

Certain styles fit my body better - retro / swing dresses tend to fit and flatter my body, with their fuller bust lines and fuller skirts that balance my body visually.   But like all trends, they come and go, so when I find pieces that work, I'll buy a bunch to get me through times when styles change.  Thankfully, finding these styles online is far easier than finding them in a brick & mortar store.

Shirts.  Shirts are my nightmare.  I shy away from button down shirts, because I end up having to get a shirt several sizes larger than the rest of me needs so the buttons across the bust don't look as if they're straining to remain buttoned, while the shoulder seams are halfway down my arm.   I buy shirts without buttons, t shirts or pull over shirts.  I don't buy any turtlenecks, mock turtles, high necklines, or thicker knit sweaters because they make me look more top heavy.   I favor v necks or lower cut (but not low cut) types which separate my boobs from my chin.  Shirts are always on my list of things I really need to buy, and rarely manage to buy any.  I know some of my issue is my own self consciousness with my bust, and I'm trying to learn to accept it.

Your clothes should make you happy.  It sounds silly, but I hope we all have pieces in our closet that make us feel beautiful when we wear them.   Ideally, everything in your closet should make you smile, but we all know that's rarely the case.   I have a pair of shoes that I adore, and no matter where I go wearing them, people always compliment them.  I wore them grocery shopping Wednesday and two people, a young man and a woman my own age, complimented them.   They make me very happy, and that's what counts, but when others find them delightful, it's icing on the cake.

My goal for this year is to improve my wardrobe.  I have a few pieces that fit all of my rules, they are age appropriate, fit well, and make me happy.  I have other pieces that meet one or two rules, but not all three.  Sometimes I'm willing to compromise on one rule if it meets the other two.  Life is all about compromise, but I try to make clothing one thing where I feel I need to make concessions on the least.  It's not the easiest thing in the world to do, regardless of our size and shape, so remember that we all struggle.

Thanks for reading.

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