Monday, January 7, 2013

Neutral basics in the life of a non-office dweller

If you work in an office environment, the clothes that  you wear – the mood, let us say, of your clothing – is determined by that office.   You can notch your clothing up a squidge, perhaps by dressing like your boss or your boss’s boss, but you don’t go completely against the grain… at least if you want to be promoted.

If you don’t work in an office, if you are a housewife or self-employed, you have to do a bit more thinking about the mood that you want to convey. 

Mood is *always* conveyed by your clothing, and if you mix too many moods at once, you’re just going to look confused and clashy, even if you’re wearing a monochromatic outfit. 

I think that determining the mood of your clothing is the trickiest thing that we do in this modern world, where the fashion trends encourage mood-mixing.   We have very few one-mood outfits these days.  You don’t see feminine tailored suits at church or out to lunch with the ladies.   You *might* see a feminine tailored skirt with a crisp buttondown, or a tailored jacket with a pair of jeans. 

First figure out what mood you want to convey, then figure you figure out how to do that.  Yes, you’re going to mix moods – but if you mix more than two, you’ll look odd.  Trust me, I manage to clash this way more than any other. 

What will you be doing, most of the time?  How will you be presenting yourself?  With whom will you be interacting? 

If I am the mother of toddlers and I am going to spend at least an hour on the playground chasing my children, then I will look most appropriate in something with a casual (or sporty) edge to it.    If I’m going to be meeting clients of any stripe, I will want to convey a certain professionalism.  If I’m going to be staying at home with a good book,  I can indulge my softest side and go cozy.  Am I on a date with my husband?  I’m probably dressing in something feminine and tactile.

Who are you, and what style suits you best?  I spent a lot of time on pinterest figuring this out.  I run feminine-natural/sporty most of the time.   I can go quite feminine – but if I lose the natural edge, I look a bit costumey.   Likewise, if I don’t temper the natural items I like with feminine style, I get a bit lost. 

I convey that message through the fabrics that I wear, the colors that I choose, and the lines of my clothing.  Long A-line skirts are certainly feminine – but the A-line is much more natural than a tulip skirt would be!  My bubblegum pink skirt isn’t very natural, and my denim skirt isn’t terribly feminine. 

But back to neutrals.  If I’m trying to convey “feminine and natural” – probably my neutral of choice isn’t going to be a navy wool blazer.  How about a soft ivory or camel?  Maybe some denim?  Your second mood determiner is the fabric and weave.  Satin is always ultra feminine and/or sexy – it’s certainly not sporty!  Fabric choice is also determined by lifestyle and where you live.  I might adore wool (and I do) but very little of my wardrobe can consist of wool, because I live in a very warm climate.   Linen and cotton are more my speed.  I do a lot of cooking and cleaning and very little sitting around chatting – so my clothing tends to be quite washable. 

Where does that leave you?  Pick something and work with it!  You want to have forgettable pieces that you can mix with interesting pieces, just like the office dweller – it’s only that you have more choices in the base.  Will that be a few pair of great jeans?  Maybe khaki skirts?  Even shirtdresses can be mix and match basics, with a little finagling. 

Figure out your life.  Figure out what makes you tick and happy.  Figure out what you want to tell the world about yourself.  Figure out your colors.  And then get to work creating a wardrobe based on basics that you can wear into absolute shreds with no one the wiser.

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