Do you ever get so overwhelmed by the prospect of a big change that you find yourself doing nothing instead of something? Or so fixated on an unattainable “ideal” that you lose sight of a perfectly satisfying “good enough”?
But ever since I decided I wanted to put a little style back into my wardrobe, I’ve been fighting this tendency and fighting it HARD. I know how easy it is to fall into the mindset of, “why bother with a cute outfit when it’s just going to get spit up/poop/applesauce/car grease on it?” I also know how disheartening it is to face a closet full of clothes that don’t fit or aren’t in style and how sweet the siren call of yoga pants can be on those rushed mornings.
So a big part of my wardrobe makeover has nothing to do with getting new clothes and everything to do with kicking the “why bother?” mindset to the curb.
Why bother? Because I want to. Because it’s fun. Because I’m worth it.
In a way, this mindset shift has been (almost) as exciting as a bunch of new clothes. It has forced me to work with what I have and find ways to make it more interesting. It’s given me opportunity to make small, “good enough” changes when my ideal vision isn’t immediately possible for practical, logistical, or financial reasons.
And do you know what? Doing a little bit in the general direction of ideal feels a lot better than sitting back and sulking grumpily about why that ideal isn’t possible. Go figure.
Here are 4 “good enough” style fixes I’ve made recently when “ideal” wasn’t in the cards.
What I wish for (ideal): Funky, dangly earrings. I love accessorizing with earrings because I
often always wear my hair up. A great pair of earrings, for me, offsets the lazy look of a ponytail by saying “Hey! This look is TOTALLY on purpose.”
Why it doesn’t work (reality): I have an extremely grabby 7-month-old with lightening quick hands. Dangly earrings wouldn’t last a second before being viciously ripped from my lobes. (Shudder.)
What I did instead (good enough): I bought a pair of sparkly studs for $5 (pictured above). I also repaired a pair of jumbo pearl studs, one of which had come unglued. Instead of wearing no earrings or defaulting to my (lovely-but-kind-of-boring and almost two decades old) diamond studs, my ears now feel like an intentional part of my look.
What I wish for (ideal): New shorts. I wear shorts from March until October in Arizona and, truthfully, I rarely actually like my shorts. They’re just practical and weather-appropriate. I’ve been wishing I could update all the shorts in my closet.
Why it doesn’t work (reality): I’m still about a size bigger than I will probably end up when my body settles into its post-baby size. I don’t want to buy a bunch of new shorts in a size that won’t fit in a few months. Also, shopping for shorts is right up there with shopping for swimsuits – it takes time, money, and a lot of looking at your legs in three-way-mirrors. I just don’t have it in me quite yet.
What I did instead (good enough): I had several pairs of capri pants and bermuda-style shorts that felt dated and uninspired. They were headed for goodwill until I grabbed the scissors and figured I had nothing to lose. Was the final product ideal? Of course not. But I have FOUR more pairs of shorts than I did before, it cost me nothing, and they’ll get me through this season just fine. (The ones pictured above used to be capri jeans I bought at Old Navy circa 2005. They are now my favorite pair of shorts.)
What I wish for (ideal): Accessories, accessories, accessories. I dream of long necklaces, drape-y scarves, eclectic bracelets, and the aforementioned dangly earrings.
Why it doesn’t work (reality): Oh, let’s see. There’s the grabby baby, the constant babywearing, the 110° weather, and the general lack of funds and time to shop for a whole bunch of new accessories. But mostly the baby at this point.
What I did instead (good enough): I realized that the one accessory that isn’t affected by any of these factors is belts: specifically belts with shorts. I first noticed this trend (don’t make fun of me if this is like, sooooo 2011 – remember: 3 kids in 5 years and LOTS of maternity wear in between where belts were nowhere to be found!) on Pinterest when I started a Back Into Style Again board. Lo and behold, when I add a belt to a pair of shorts, I feel so much more complete, accessorized and fashionable.
4. Consignment Shopping
What I wish for (ideal): Everything in Anthropologie. If money and practicality were no object and I had to dress from a single store, it would be Anthropologie. Confession: I don’t actually own a stitch of clothing from Anthro, and what I’ve tried on there doesn’t even fit me that well. But we’re dreaming here.
Why it doesn’t work (reality): Well, duh.
What I did instead (good enough): Went shopping at a higher-end consignment store. We have a chain of consignment stores in Arizona called My Sister’s Closet. They’re known for taking only brand-name, higher-end stuff, so while it’s more expensive than, say, Goodwill, the higher standards make it much easier to find great clothes. And we’re talking $8.99 for very gently worn tops from high quality retailers.
What does this have to do with Anthropologie? Shopping at a consignment store did two things: one, it gave me a ton of variety of styles to choose from as opposed to the “look” of a single store; and two, the lower price made it easier to be more adventurous in choosing from those styles. I focused on “interesting, swingy tanks” – a phrase I got from commenter Kristi on my last fashion post, which so perfectly describes what I’m looking for these days – and I am thrilled with the tops I walked away with. So thrilled, in fact, that I’m going to write a whole post about them next up in this series, so stay tuned.
I think the lesson here isn’t really about fashion advice. It’s about taking small steps toward a bigger goal – even one as relatively superficial as revamping my style. And how those small steps almost always feel bigger when you commit to making them consistently, with intention and with one eye on the bigger ideal.