Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wardrobe Beginnings...Starting Out

For years I worked in industries where uniforms were the dress code and my only choice was which color scrubs I'd wear that day, or which pair of brown pants and blue shirt.  When I was interviewing, the woman whose job I would eventually get (as she was moving up) advised me on what to wear to each interview.  She called me just as I was leaving to my final interview and "reminded" me to wear a blazer.  I didn't own a blazer, and had exactly $36.47 in my bank account at that time.  I ran to Ross in desperation and grabbed the only black blazer that fit me.  It happened to be a Kenneth Cole blazer I paid $19 and some change for!).  When I got the job I have today, I didn't have a lot to choose from in the closet...I started out with two pairs of slacks, one black, one brown, and a couple of blouses I had picked up and, now, a very nice black blazer.  But none of these things were really "me"...they were sort of just another uniform; 'dressy' clothes that were appropriate to the job, but that was all.

As I began to have a little bit more money (and by that I mean an extra $20 here and there, nothing more!), I started reading fashion magazines and haunting stores like Kohl's and Dillard's just to get an idea of what I'd like to own, even though I couldn't afford to shop there.  Every once in awhile I'd run into a great deal while I was doing this 'homework', but more often than not, I just felt discouraged that I wasn't going to be able to afford to dress the way that I 'felt'.  I made myself a deal that I wouldn't buy clothes just to have them; I would only buy pieces that I really liked.  I also set a limit of how much I would spend on a single piece.  For instance, I still to this day will not spend more than $15 on a shirt, more than $10 on pants, and my only real splurge is my shoe clubs where a pair is $40.  Once I had a good idea of the clothes I thought I'd feel the best in, I went to the thrift shop "just to see". 

<insert heavenly music of harps and other ethereal stringed instruments here>   O.M.G.  I was shocked at the things that I found!  My first foray out, I found a gorgeous 100% silk blouse that I paid $2.50 for.  I'd found a green, black, and cream colored scarf that I'd bought awhile back and stuffed in the

100% silk Ann Pinkerton blouse

bottom of a drawer, and wore this with the black blazer and black slacks.  For the first time, I felt like a million bucks when I walked into work.

Over time, I've discovered what my own personal style is, what I feel best in.  When I walk into my office wearing a black skirt, white blouse with red/white/black silk scarf, and black and white spectator pumps, I notice that I look clients and coworkers in the eye, I smile more, and the set of my shoulders is straighter.  I've never felt like I've suffered from an overindulged sense of self having spent my formative years being bullied for wearing hand-me-down clothes.  But when I feel like I look
great, I've noticed not only is my day is brighter, but the way I react to those I come in contact with is influenced by my sense of self confidence. And knowing that I haven't spent a fortune on it makes me feel not just pretty, but smart :)  Bonus!

You really don't have to have a lot of money to be stylish and stand out in a crowd.  You just have to 1)  Know what you like, what makes you feel gorgeous; 2)  Know how to spot quality amongst crap; and 3) Be patient (sometimes the pearls aren't always the easiest to find).  But if you can figure out the first two, you're halfway there.