I'M AFRAID OF FASHION Or Help Me Overcome My Fashion Rut!

When you have some advice, you can find me at Target, buying my 100th $7.99 "Favorite Tee." Heeeeeeeeeeeelp.

May 6, 2013 at 10:00am | Leave a comment

I miss working in an office for all the wrong reasons. 
 
I miss the free coffee, I miss the free toilet paper (oh come on, you do it too), I miss the pastries/fancy salad/cake that would magically make its way into the kitchen a few times a week. I miss copious hours of socializing bookended by some meetings attended and emails sent. 
 
But more than anything lately, I miss getting dressed for work. 
 
On most days now, if I'm going to work at the pet store (which don't get me wrong, I still love), I throw on some jeans, one of many black or striped tanks or tees, a pair of puke-colored Tom's (my "shop shoes" -- shoes I don't mind getting dog pee on), and my grimy crooked glasses that are indestructible. I need to wear clothes I can really use my body in, and not feel like I'm always tugging at or fixing in some way. 
 
What is this "makeup" you speak of? 
 
My hair is the only thing I give more than half a thought to lately. Since defeating dandruff (clarifying shampoo, tea tree oil, once a month sea-salt scalp scrub, and apple cider vinegar rinse -- it worked for me), and fearing a receding hairline, I've been wearing my wavy hair down lately, instead of wearing "The Bun of Unsexy." It's not much, but it's my sole stab at feeling pretty. Sometimes that doesn't even work. 
 
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The hair wasn't really working today. And that's my favorite black shirt. I have three of them. I WILL WEAR THE SAME THING FOR THREE DAYS. HELP. 

 
Things get a little sloppier when I have my days off and I spend my days writing and procrastinating. 
 
Yoga pants or if it's extra sweaty out, little terry cloth shorts I bought copious amounts of a few years ago. You may remember them from this post right here. Top with last night's tank top, and I'm ready to go. 
 
What's a hairbrush?
 
I've tried to jazz up my work outfits with cute shirts and even skirts, but when I'm slinging 30-plus pound bags of dog food all day, my clothes have the unfortunate habit of tearing -- specifically around the "boobage region." My skirt-wearing at the pet store ended when I knelt down to clean up a puddle of pee and my skirt dredged through the sitting urine. So I defeatedly returned to the "Striped Tank Top of Sadness" and the "Functional Jeans of Dismay."
 
I wasn't always like this. 
 
I used to shop with glee for cool clothes that would make me feel unique as I swished my way across my office lobby. I wore jewelry. I took pleasure in seeing my completed ensemble for the work day. I wore a real bra on a regular basis. 
 
I used to wear shoes that had straps and heels and zippers and metal on them. Shoes that I didn't buy at Whole Foods. 
 
I owned lipstick that wasn't three years old. 
 
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This is from some fancy gala or something a few years ago, but I used to get excited about clothes. This is the last time I wore that dress. 

 
I must admit, at first this freedom to dress like I was at summer camp every day was great. I could roll out of bed 15 minutes before I had to leave the house, throw on whatever was stretchy and still have time to get my medium Americano, no room, at the coffee shop. 
 
But lately I want more. I want to wear pretty clothes that I care if I spill my coffee on. I want there to be a relatively consistent difference between the clothes I wear to work, and the clothes I wear to yoga/sleep in. I want there to be powder on my makeup brushes, not dust. I'm in a rut. 
 
I have no style. 
 
I acknowledge that part of my problem is that I am a chronic, almost obsessive, "save it for good" person. I'll buy something I really like, then hide it away in my closet until the PERFECT time to wear it, thus being afraid to EVER wear it in case I do something to it. 
 
I save my style for special occasions. "Special" being this bizarre otherworldly event that nothing on this green earth can ever live up to. It's really quite defeating. 
 
I recently reached for a dress that I'd been saving for 2 WHOLE YEARS, an adorable little drop waist 1920's seersucker summer dress I found at a thrift store in San Diego. As I slipped it on, I imagined myself entering the party my husband and I were attending and demurely catching the approving glances of other stylishly dressed individuals. 
 
The damn thing didn't fit anymore. It might as well have been a seersucker muumuu. I'm not going to lie, I cried. 
 
Since then, I've been silently plotting my return to daily style. "Silently" being the operative word. 
 
I know, "Just do it Louise, and quit your bitching!" But combine the ability to obsess and fixate on the most trivial things, with a deep-seated perfectionist mentality, and you have a woman who has built up her personal style into this treacherous mountain -- fraught with judgment and naysayers -- that she is afraid to climb. 
 
Try as I might to motivate myself to actually put together an outfit, I have taken no action. Every time I'm clicking through my old favorite shopping sites (I don't even know where to shop in O'ahu. Anybody have any ideas? Anybody?), I find myself dissuading myself from buying cute clothes because they aren't "practical" or I start thinking "Where am I going to wear that?"
 
EVERYTHING DOESN'T NEED TO BE PRACTICAL LOUISE! AREN'T YOU THE WOMAN WHO BOUGHT THE NEON COLORED GEISHA GIRL PRINT DRESS WITH THE ENORMOUS PURPLE CRINOLINE BECAUSE YOU WERE GOING TO JAPAN FOR A WEEK?!? (By the way, neon dresses with Geisha Girl faces printed all over them don't go over all that well in rural Japan, just FYI.) 
 
There has to be a happy medium! Functional doesn't have to be boring! Stop dressing like you've given up, Louise! 
 
Somewhere along the way I equated "feeling pretty" with "being wasteful," but upon further examination what's so wasteful about making yourself feel good? 
 
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You can't tell here (candid photos are never a good idea with me), but here's the last thing I bought for myself that I would categorize as "pretty". It's my wedding rehearsal from over a year ago. 

 
There is something about the image you present to the world that is very closely tied to your self-esteem. I'd like to think my demeanor is that of a confident, witty, creative adult woman, but I have a feeling my appearance says, "I hope I pass the midterm" more than "I can helm this project."
 
I miss lace and pencil skirts and the occasional ruffle and boning and patterns and animal prints and polka dots and stitching and things that aren't all-cotton-all-the-time and buttons and sparkle and detailing and clothes that require hangers. 
 
I think I'm actually looking for excuses NOT to wear exciting clothes. "It's too hard, it's too expensive, you're too busy, who are you trying to impress?" are the constants in my clothes choosing barricade. If I don't try, I can't fail and I get to continue complaining.
 
Fashion is supposed to be fun, right?
 
So I turn to you, stylish, beautiful, savvy xoJane readers: HELP. 
 
Have you ever been in a style rut? Have you ever felt that your job precluded looking the way you wanted to in your mind's eye? Has utilitarian clothing ever overtaken your wardrobe? How did you overcome it? How did you find a way to take joy in getting dressed again? What ways have you found to feel pretty, even if your job doesn't necessarily call for it?
 
Have you ever had a fear of fashion?
 
Please advise me!
 
When you have some advice, you can find me at Target, buying my 100th $7.99 "Favorite Tee." Heeeeeeeeeeeelp.