Monday, May 20, 2013
Where is my fashion compass?
When warmer weather comes to stay, I always reluctantly go thru my clothes and see what I have that: 1) still fits and 2) isn't hopelessly outdated, ripped or stained and 3) I still like. Sometimes numbers 2 and 3 fight for dominance, with 3 generally edging out the lesser number because, truth be told, I hate shopping for clothes. Don't get me wrong, I love having attractive, stylish outfits. I just find it confusing to shop for them. Every year I feel compelled to check out catalogs and fashion magazines to see what I should be wearing this season and every year I have the same reaction...where are the models my age? With very few exceptions, fashion magazines do not feature women much over the legal drinking age. Heaven forbid we see a woman who has a line on her forehead or (gasp!) gray hair. So how do women my age find stylish, contemporary and age appropriate clothes? It's easier when you are younger. As a teenager I was surrounded by other teenagers who wore the same clothes I did (sometimes literally) and who could talk makeup, hairstyles and fashion non stop for hours. If I wore something that made my butt look like a Volkswagen, friends could always be counted on to describe that vision in cheerful detail. As I moved into my 20's, I worked in office environments where it was easy to see both good and bad clothing options in the surrounding cubicles. And, since the young, working woman is exactly the demographic magazines focus on and market to, it was easy to envision myself in that cute outfit in Glamour. But as I moved along in life, got married, had children, I lost that fashion compass. Glamour Magazine became completely irrelevant to my life. Clothes had to do double or even triple duty, be stain resistant and cheap. Rather than a closet full of office-to-evening clothes, I had Mommy clothes and one good outfit, bought on sale, and hung up immediately upon return home from whatever event I had to attend lest some horrid fate befall it. Note (from experience): you can only wear a special dress so many times before you are forced to admit that no, the Teriyaki stain does not blend with the color of the fabric and yes, people will notice and remember it from the last time you pretended to have just spilled chow mein on it. Eventually my daughter grew up and could tell me what to wear. She became my personal shopper, one who could zero in on the 3 outfits out of the gazillion at Macy's that would fit me and look good. Immensely practical and with an eye for good design and balance, she perfected the firm and decisive "no", uttered within 10 seconds of me emerging from the dressing room. No amount of "but it's a great color" or "it's on sale" would sway her. She was also just as quick to tell me "buy it" if it met her standards. But as she moved into her 20's, then 30's, and her life became more about herself and less about me (sigh), I had to venture out into the fashion world by myself. Left to my own devices, I have ended up with oddly colored blouses that have nothing to recommend them other than that they fit. I have a pair of jeans, tags intact, that are 4 inches too long but they were such a bargain and I could easily hem them. I once bought 4 of the same cardigan in different colors, thinking they would bring great variety to my wardrobe, only to find they made me feel like I was wearing the same outfit over and over. My daughter would have told me that blouse is ugly, you will never hem those jeans and who on earth needs 4 cardigans. But that's what happens when you let a woman like me shop without a fashion compass. I flounder around Nordstrom's, dithering over this top and that sweater, making silly purchases I'll probably have to return, before finally giving up and doing what I really wanted to do all along....shop the makeup aisle!