Last weekend I opened an e-mail from MatchesFashion.com which outlined the “essentials” for great weekend style, and offered advice on how to “elevate” my “off-duty wardrobe.” That gave me pause. “Off-duty wardrobe. I don’t have an off-duty wardrobe anymore,” I thought. Simply by virtue of the fact that I don’t have an on-duty wardrobe. When I was still working, my closet was filled with clothes I wore to work, and clothes I wore on the weekends. Now it’s all weekend wear, all the time.
Retirement created a seismic shift in my closet. It took a while, but after five years, my wardrobe has changed significantly. Gone are the skirt suits, all but one of the dressy pant suits, most of the pencil skirts, the serious blouses, and the conservative underpinnings to slip under suit jackets. I hung onto a couple of favourite skirts, and my high heels. I love the look of jeans with heels, even though I don’t think I’ve worn jeans with heels since the day I quit work.
Since I don’t need five different outfits every week, my wardrobe is much smaller. I kept some of my work-y pieces, like blazers, that look good with jeans. I’ve replaced other pieces with more jeans. I’ve added a few more coats, way more tee shirts, nice ones, not just for working out or camping, and some interesting flats and sneakers. I’ve tried some new, more casual, combinations in the past couple of years, like sneakers with a skirt. I find I wear more scarves now, choosing which scarf will work best with my coat, and with what I’m wearing underneath. I take greater care choosing which bag I’ll carry each day, too. That’s because outer wear is much more important in retirement. I want the coat and bag to be part of my outfit. Not just something I remove when I arrive at work, or stash in my desk drawer for the day.
Having said all that, paring one’s wardrobe down can make dressing somewhat boring. I do wear much the same thing, much of the time. Often choosing to reach for the same few pieces. Like this pink sweater from Vince which I bought last spring. I love this sweater. It’s great for this time of year, and because it’s made from light cashmere, adds warmth, but still looks “springy.” Since it’s cropped I frequently wear a longer tee under it, or a shirt, like this one from Lafayette 148.
I wear this sweater a lot with jeans and sneakers. And now with my new Montcler anorak. This is my everyday wear. My running errands in the village, or meeting a friend for coffee outfit.
So, it seems the change in my wardrobe has all been in the one direction, from dressy to more and more casual. I think I’m getting lazy, and that maybe I should try a bit harder. If I’m going downtown shopping, or for a fancier lunch, or meeting a friend for dinner, maybe I should… ah… elevate my look. I’m not talking about party wear, and I don’t want to venture back into the realm of business wear. But… still… trying to look a bit smarter, now and again, can’t hurt.
For instance, what if I swapped out my jeans for my black leggings, and my sneakers for my patent loafers, added a vintage necklace, my pastel painterly floral scarf, and my fuschia tweed Max Mara coat? I like the pink sweater with the coat and, with the white blouse and black pants, this outfit feels fresh and springy to me.
Don’t get me wrong. I know this isn’t cutting edge style, not even close. I’ve worn all of these pieces before, just not all together. But putting them together makes me feel more polished. Like I’m upping the ante a bit. Elevating my off-duty style you might say.
|Elevating my look.. at least a little.
It sounds as if I’m making contradictory style pronouncements lately, doesn’t it? Last week, I talked of not buying a classic, structured trench, opting instead for the casual anorak. I said that the trench coats I’d tried felt more suited to my former work wardrobe. Too serious and dressy for my retirement life. And here I am now talking of “elevating” my everyday style. But, you see, a really nice casual coat does help me to elevate my everyday off-duty style. When I reach for my jeans and sneakers and a tee, I’ll have a great coat to pull on top. Plus, I intend to try to use the anorak to make a couple of my dressy pieces feel a bit more casual, and more current. More suited to my off-duty life, you might say. I’m hoping the very casual coat will help to unify my closet.
|Off to the library style
So. Should I elevate my off duty wardrobe? Maybe. A bit. I found my new spring coat, but I’m still looking for a few pieces which will spruce up my everyday running around look. Maybe a couple of new sweaters to wear under the coat with jeans. A new pair of casual shoes. And a great new bag.
When I find all of those, I’ll be all set for spring. I’ll be elevating my very off-duty everyday style for my off-duty everyday life.
And… once in a while, I’m going to try to up the ante a bit. To elevate my style beyond what I wear everyday. If for no other reason than to prove that I still clean up good.
So to speak.
I’m still trying to figure out this retirement wardrobe thing. And how about you, my friends? Has your closet, your style undergone any seismic shifts in the past few years?