The First 30 Days

The worst picture is the biggest because this was my favourite outfit of the bunch. I wore it to the Carly Rae Jepsen concert which felt like it called for something extra me, and I feel like I nailed it. Tulle, heels, gold, and a topknot is a recipe for outfit perfection, apparently. I cannot wait to wear this again.

Not a surprising colour palette; I know that I wear a lot of black, a lot of grey, a lot of olive green, and a lot of saturated jewel tones. This isn’t everything I wore by a long shot, but these were the times I felt like I had put on an outfit, not just clothes.

I started (for the second time, but I think I’mma stick with it this time) outfit tracking on August 21, 2019, and yesterday marked the first 30 days down. Last go I was using Excel, which was awkward and cumbersome. This time around I’m using Airtable and I am in love.

(Interested in trying out Airtable? You should! Please use my referral link so I can snag some credits to put toward upgrading from the free plan to a premium account. I owe a huge thank you to Margaret over at M Gets Dressed who has put together a ton of helpful guides on wardrobe tracking, including linking to her own Airtable base which you can helpfully copy and then use as your own.)

This first 30 days has been incredibly illuminating. When people say the best way to start dressing better is to take pictures of yourself they are so, so right. Firstly, now you have an audience (even if it’s just a camera), so that instantly adds a little (good) pressure to the task of getting dressed. Secondly, you see your clothes in the way that others see them, and not just your own skewed mirror view, so fits, proportions, and silhouettes really start to become apparent. Thirdly, now you can justify buying a tripod instead of assembling a precarious tower of books.

Here are the big themes for this first look back:

  • Capsules are not for me
  • Why I don’t own any blazers: an epiphany
  • Defaults and accidental uniforms
  • I have a loungewear problem

Capsules are Not For Me

During this first month I wore 130 unique items, of which 89 were clothing (and I don’t include jewelry in my tracking). This month was a bit of an atypical one in that it plummeted from summer to fall REAL QUICK and I was wearing things from different seasons, and also because I went to Seattle to watch the Jays play, which means my numbers are bolstered a bit by jerseys and hats.

But even if these numbers are a bit inflated compared to what’s typical, it’s clear that I’m going to wear 3-4x as much clothing in one month as is found in many seasonal capsules.

There are exceptions for sure, but capsule wardrobes really seem best-suited to neutral-loving slim women living in temperate climates, who don’t sweat or spill or have pets, and who seemingly have jobs and social lives that all require similar styles of dress.

Why I Don’t Own Any Blazers: an Epiphany

I really should have figured this out sooner. I think the reason that I never feel quite right in a blazer is because I don’t have any examples of what my body type should look like in a blazer. And the reason for that is because BLAZERS TYPICALLY LOOK TERRIBLE ON LARGER BODIES, ESPECIALLY VERY CURVY BODIES.

There’s a whole bigger post I could get into here about how bigger people are perceived as sloppy, particularly in the workplace, and there’s a lot of effort that goes into combatting that impression of sloppiness. Us chubbies can’t get away with as much, and because of this there isn’t a lot of room for garments that inherently look bad on curvier bodies.

Every time I’ve worn a blazer I felt like a phony. They’ve never felt like they fit right and it always felt like SO MUCH FABRIC. It’s like having two flappy wings to deal with all day because of the amount of fabric that’s necessary to cover my chest when the blazer’s done up.

Adding to my strugs is my height, of which I don’t have much. So those cool oversized boyfriend blazers? They’ll be down to my knees. The amount of money I’d have to spend tailoring a blazer to get it to look like it fits would be enormous, and that’s still to likely only get to a place of ‘just ok.’

Anyway it felt like everyone was wearing blazers and looking fire all the time, but then I realized that I don’t see blazers much or at all on people with plus-size bodies. Polished business formal looks are always blouses and cardigans and sweaters and very very rarely blazers. So I feel kind of validated in my frustration with them. I mean just look at this. Half of these pics are from Nordstrom so it’s not like it’s just fast fashion doing a bad job. They are universally unflattering on curvy women.

Blazer Hell
I could fit a whole ‘nother boob in there

By no means am I saying ‘don’t wear a blazer’ or that I don’t think bigger women can look good in them. Wear whatever you want. But it feels nice to have finally realized why they aren’t working on me, and now I can focus my business casual efforts on other, more flattering things.

Defaults and Accidental Uniforms

You know what else is helpful when taking pictures of yourself? Realizing how much of the same thing you wear. This is not necessarily a bad thing; I know what silhouettes work really well on me and I am wearing them regularly and that’s good. But I’ve also realized that all of my pants are skinnies. All of them. Even the paperbag pants are fitted through the leg. And like, I knew this? But it’s different when you’re actually looking at the pictures.

So heading into fall and winter I will be attempting to diversify my pant options and trying to find some wide-leg pants or culottes. Maybe some high-waisted pleated trousers, although with my waist-to-hip proportions this last one may be a pipe dream, if not a hefty tailoring bill.

I Have a Loungewear Problem

This is probably its own separate post, and honestly if you are still reading at this point you deserve a break.

So that’s that. I’ll do a proper September roundup at the end of the month, but I wanted to capitalize on my wardrobe tracking motivation and take a good look at the first 30 days. More to come!

Loungewear Lamentations

I wear a lot of clothes. Two or three outfits per day is totally normal, and a single-outfit day is generally rare. There are several reasons for this, most of which are totally valid.

I’ll get home from work and change out of my work clothes because a) they’re likely still clean enough to rewear (but won’t be once they’re covered in dog hair or an inevitable food spill) and because work clothes often are terribly uncomfortable to lounge in. Or I’ll get changed into a date outfit. Or I’ll throw on an athleisure outfit to run errands, and then later change into ‘real’ clothes for a concert.

But what I noticed is the number of outfit changes that happen when I’m exclusively wearing loungey at-home clothes. I’ll change two or three times on a day when no one sees me.

I finally stopped to consider this and had a bit of an epiphany. The primary reason I’m wearing multiple loungewear outfits per day is because I fucking hate all my lounge clothes.

This should be tremendously obvious but apparently is not. My lounge clothes are generally the clothes that I don’t like enough to wear in my real life but they have a lot of life left in them, so they get demoted to be worn only for walking the dog or working from home.

In some instances this is fine. I have some super soft black t-shirts that stretched out a ton in the wash, and they’re still comfy as hell. I have bulky sports teams sweatshirts that aren’t really for the office. I have faded cotton tights that are still so, so cozy.

But the majority? I’m wildly uncomfortable in them because they’re ill-fitting or made of crap material, so I just cycle through outfits until the day is over.

I also have a grey cocoon dress that I love the shape of but absolutely despite the gritty polyester knit fabric. It’s pilly and gross and a dog hair magnet and multiple times I’ve considered paying someone to make a copy of it in a non-offensive material. I have an oversized cotton sweater with too-short sleeves. I have a bunch of ill-fitting t-shirt dresses from H&M. I have too-big socks and ill-fitting cardigans and just a bunch of garbage that I apparently forgot to put in the trash* where it belongs.

I realllllly should have considered this sooner. I’ve been doing a lot of unnecessarily laundry and being unnecessarily uncomfortable, and probably needlessly wearing out clothes that someone else may love as-is.

So I’m adding loungewear to my thrift list. Cotton sweaters. Joggers. Linen pants. Things that I buy because they feel great and are meant to be worn at home, but aren’t so embarrassing that I can’t go outside in them, but not nice enough that I deem them too nice for lounging.

And I’m saying good fucking riddance to that god-awful grey cocoon dress made of fabric from hell.

*I donate things that still have life in them, don’t worry.

Refusing Loose Hangables

Hello, I am a sartorial fledgling.

Throughout my life I have gone through several style phases, none of which have been particularly good. I haven’t had any tremendously embarrassing clothing eras, but thinking back through all my style iterations there is an ongoing theme of not feeling great about how I dressed.

This is due in large part to… well, being large. I’ve always been shopping from the back of the rack, digging to see if there’s still an XL in stock. I didn’t buy a bikini until I was 22 when I finally realized that you don’t need to look like a model to dress like one. No one on the cover of Cosmopolitan looked like me. On TV you were either rail-thin or Rosie O’Donnell. Dorinha jeans definitely weren’t made with a body type like mine in mind, so it followed that they didn’t make my size.

Screen Shot 2019-09-17 at 4.13.36 PM
Dorihna jeans: not available in fat

Not that I wanted those stupid things anyway. The fuck is a 1″ zipper for.

ANYWAY. Last year I got fed up. I was tired of always feeling underdressed, or of panicking when I needed to be onsite with a customer for two days and couldn’t wear my go-to superboring grey sweater and black pants two days in a row. We don’t have a dress code at work, but despite that (or maybe because of that) people generally dress really well, and I just felt sad in the corner wearing my jeans and a black t-shirt.

So I decided to make a big, strategic investment into my wardrobe.

I know there are a lot of people who are opposed to the word ‘investment’ when it comes to clothes and blah blah blah I don’t care. Listen, the amount you can sell something for later is not the only possible positive return you can get when it comes to clothing. Confidence, happiness, and polish all have value, and in some instances can open doors to cheaper apartments or high-paying jobs, which are monetary returns. Also, buying nicer, higher quality things can result in having to buy fewer things overall, which is also!!! a monetary return, so don’t tell me buying Chanel bags and then flogging them when they’re vintage is the only way to get a good ROI.

So I shopped. I bought things a notch above what I was previously buying and wearing. I bought my very first merino wool and cashmere sweaters. I bought leather boots and (even more) leather bags and real, actual, Vancouver weather-appropriate outerwear. (👏🏼 Two 👏🏼parkas 👏🏼 and 👏🏼 a 👏🏼 raincoat!!! 👏🏼) I built a wardrobe of high-quality clothes that I feel good in, and now when I have to plan what to wear onsite with a customer I am overwhelmed by choice.

I also ventured out of my comfort zone. I bought my first crop top, and then bought six more. I bought a pleather miniskirt and a skin-tight bodysuit. I bought boxy cropped tees which is one of the worst possible shapes for my body type and I look like a cereal box in them. But you know what cereal can be? A snack.

I spent thousands of dollars on making serious upgrades to my clothes.

And let me tell you, it is paying off. Fall descended fast and hard on Vancouver this year, and for the first time in my entire life I had zero panic about what to wear. Instead of mourning having to put away dresses I was excited to make the switch to sweaters. I can’t remember the last time I worried about what to wear to a party, date, or customer meeting.

What’s worse, is that although it felt like I was bleeding money, I didn’t actually spend much more. I’ve been keeping a complete record of where my money goes since 2016, so I was a little astounded when I compared last year’s super spendy investment to the year prior.

2018 total: $7,528.38

2017 total: $6,049.07

Difference: $1479.31, or only a 24% increase.

This was upsetting. The year that I *intentionally* set out to spend a lot was really not that much more than the year prior. And looking just at only clothes (excluding bags, shoes, and accessories) it gets even worse. In 2017, I spent $4,027.28 on clothing. 2018? $4,660.89 – $633.61 more. A measly 16% increase.

Considering the medium leap in brands and big leap in quality these are really astounding numbers from 2017, and I think the reasoning for this is emotional shopping at fast fashion retailers. I’d feel like I didn’t have anything nice, so I’d drop $200 at H&M or order $350 worth of stuff from Old Navy, and my closet continued to bloat with ill-fitting cheaply-made garbage that was intended to be disposable from the moment a factory worker in Bangladesh was given the pattern.

Clearly intention is a good thing overall. I feel better. I have nicer clothes that will last me a long time. My closet mostly makes sense, with very few gaps.

And for the gaps I do have, I can concretely describe what I need to fill them in. A knee-length belted peacoat in grey, ideally with a hood. A pair or two of closed-toe comfortable heels that can withstand unexpected rain. Leather flats that aren’t ballet flats, and also a new pair of ballet flats because mine are dying. Wide-legged pants. A white camisole. A bra that fits because apparently I am wearing one that is four cup sizes too small?????

I will fill these gaps in thoughtfully and with the right pieces, because I can make do without them for the time being. The wardrobe emergency is gone, the shopping urgency is gone. I’m thrifting instead of buying new. I have so many nice things to wear now.

And most importantly, I still feel like me. If anything, I feel more like me than I did before. I still have fun and whimsical things in my closet. I have colour and feminine skirts and boots with studs on them and several adidas tracksuits.

I have clothes for pretty much whoever I need to be. And it feels nice. But I still can do better. I can be more adventurous, have a more defined style, put in more effort, and come up with more interesting outfits. So here we go.