BY JEAN MARIE JOHNSON
One way that I satisfied my “passion for fashion” was by browsing the “dressy” clearance section at a high-end consignment store in Connecticut. Feasting my eyes on those finely-detailed pieces and gliding my hands over the supple fabrics made my heart swoon. I’d eventually get my fill, let out a sigh, and move on to the more “practical” racks. Until one day I came upon a fitted, crushed velvet Betsey Johnson jacket. This just-right jacket appeared to be made for my inner Goldilocks. For one thing, it was purple – my color. It had super cool buttons -and I love embellishment, and finally, the fit was divine. How can I wear this? To spend good money on this “bauble” would be nothing short of frivolous. Put it back on the hanger! But I couldn’t. My heart said Go for it. And I did.
I’m glad I listened to that knowing part of me because that jacket and I were a glorious match! It challenged me to figure out how to integrate a seemingly frivolous piece of clothing into a life of work and casual leisure. I wore that divine jacket with:
- gray work slacks when I was on the road with clients
- a white tee shirt and black jeans for drinks out on a Saturday night
- a midi length black skirt and high-heeled boots to a dinner affair
I wore it over and over again without once having to purchase “something to go with it.” The lesson here isn’t to start buying “fancy” clothes just to see what you can do with them. It is instead to:
- Use what you have and love in new and different ways
- Listen to your heart and buy that “frivolous” piece now and then.
Given that you probably have lots of things that you no longer wear or now reach for infrequently, consider what you can do with what you already have. Yes, this is a nod to “green frugality”, to “waste not, want not,” but more than that, it’s you taking charge and expressing yourself in new ways. You may be thinking I don’t have many “dressy” items and they don’t appeal to me anyway. Got it. Do you have business clothes or vacation wear that takes up real estate in your closet while you consider what to do with it all? That’s YOUR good stuff and the same ideas apply.
To begin putting your “good stuff” to good use:
Take a fresh look at what’s sitting in idle, or on perpetual pause
Go through every hanger and pile and pull out what you no longer wear. Take a good look at that “collection.” Maybe you notice a theme or a trend and realize that it still resonates with you. Put aside these items in your “Love” pile. Other items, things that once served a purpose but no longer provide joy go into your “Lose” pile. After all, you need to know when to break up for good; it’s a life skill! Once you’ve narrowed down in this way, you are ready to give renewed attention to your loves.
Think outside of the box
You’ve just confirmed that you love a piece. Now it’s time to consider how you can make it work with the things you wear. Think in terms of mixing things up in new ways. Discard the notion that a piece of clothing is work or leisure; casual or dressy. That will only keep you confined and limit your options. Thinking outside of the box means working your clothes, footwear, and accessories in fresh ways.
The possibilities are endless. Consider that:
- A little black dress (LBD) that leans casual can be paired with a funky pair of leggings and short booties
- A traditional “work” blazer can be paired with torn jeans and a cool tee for a contemporary vibe
- A silky blouse can be paired with a pair of worn jeans.
And don’t get me started on accessories! Case in point: a tunic dress can be belted and paired with flat sandals for a more relaxed look. Or how about an all black outfit, such as jeans and a top paired with your most colorful handbag and bangles? Very cool…
And finally, I have a stunning, Italian made, merino wool shawl that never really worked because it swallowed up my petite frame. Instead of bidding adieu, I repurposed this investment piece; it is now my winter cuddly “blanket,”because, why not?