My friend Liz the personal shopper calls the assembling of a series of interconnected outfits “wardrobing.” She does this for clients all the time. Sometimes clients who have long since moved away from Ottawa contact her and ask her to put together a seasonal wardrobe for them. She then ships it to them, they try everything on, and send back whatever they don’t want. Cool, eh?
That’s kind of what I do for myself each season. Of course I don’t buy a whole new wardrobe. Perish the thought. But I do try to add selected new pieces which, when combined with other pieces in my closet, will create a coherent wardrobe. So, wardrobing. And to avoid eventually ending up with a whole closet of black or brown or navy, every few years I hive off in a slightly new direction.
The all-navy closet was a near miss last summer. I have a navy spring coat from Moncler, a navy pant suit from Veronica Beard, an old dark denim skirt from Burberry. And when I resurrected a navy Max Mara pant suit from 2002, it suddenly seemed that I was all about navy. So I began to add red accents, a red tee, a scarf, a bag. You see where I’m going with this. And this year in my spring shopping, I steered clear of anything navy.
This spring I was determined to add some colour to my closet. “Maybe orange or red or yellow,” I remember saying in this post. In the end, I bought a white linen blazer from Theory. I know, I know white is not a colour. But it’s not black or navy either. And then I bought a pair of cropped, yellow linen trousers, a cream and tan striped tee, both from Theory, and a Free People yellow gingham scarf. It seemed to me that these pieces would add a new colour palette to my wardrobe. And they should work together. “Should” being the operative word.
Of course, the white linen jacket goes with tons of things in my closet. I wore it here with a pair of checked pants from Rag and Bone, and my red loafers. I wore it here with the new striped tee, the yellow scarf, skinny jeans, and a pair of really old block-heeled raffia sandals. So, the new jacket fits right into my current closet, and adds new dimension to old pieces. But those yellow pants. Sigh. What am I going to do with those yellow pants? Much as I love them, they are proving to be problematic.
But just as Liz doesn’t give up when she has a problematic client … I was not going to be defeated by a pair of problematic yellow pants. And in that spirit, I spent a couple of hours today trying on outfits most of which will never, ever be worn. I assembled almost all of my summer tops and jackets on the bed, and tried them on in various combinations and permutations with my yellow linen pants. Do you ever do that? Have a “fashion show”, as Hubby calls these outfit try-on binges? A day when you start with high hopes, maybe you’re even a little bit excited. You are finally going to come up with the perfect outfit for a heretofore problematic piece in your wardrobe. Instead, at the end of it all, you ask yourself what the heck you were thinking buying those stupid yellow pants.
I’ll admit I might be overstating things just a tad. I did find a couple of outfits today that I’ll probably wear. The outfit below is unfortunately NOT one of them. I thought the blouse tied at the waist with the yellow neckerchief would look sort of fifties style. But because it has some stretch in it, the blouse would not stay in place. And when I moved, I flashed parts that I’d rather keep hidden. I could maybe see a loose, straw-coloured jacket with this outfit. But I don’t own such a thing. Plus the sandals are too dark in colour. I wish I still had the gold metallic sandals I owned a few years ago. But I don’t. I’ve looked and looked this season for sandals that are not black. I’ve even found lots of lovely pairs in the stores. It’s just that NONE of them fit me.
Maybe I should give up and go barefoot like Jackie Onassis in Capri in the seventies.
You see, this is the problem with wardrobing. Reality. It’s easy to dream up hypothetical solutions for what I need to wear with these pants. I can come up with a dozen possible options. It’s the reality that is proving difficult. I’m forced to work with what I have in my closet. Or try to find alternatives that fit me, and which work with my body shape. And sometimes reality does NOT measure up to the outfit dream in one’s head.
Eventually this afternoon I gave up trying to be creative and fell back on tried and true. My black Vince tee and my old black sandals. I’d wear this outfit and feel fine in it. It’s simple. The tee covers enough of my middle to feel comfortable, but isn’t too long. I tried my Eileen Fisher white linen tee and it looked dreadful. The proportions were wrong, the longer tee with the loose pants looked frumpy. I think I’d prefer something a bit brighter on top, maybe a print. But, I’d wear this outfit. And the pants look great with my Eric Javits bag, don’t you think?
I’m okay with the outfit below too. My Theory white linen blazer, my white tee from Vince, and my old faithful Stan Smith sneakers. I’d wear this shopping, running errands, meeting friends for coffee or lunch. I like the white on white look on top. I think the weight of the sneakers balances off the jacket. And I like the structured jacket with the loose pants. And the bag, well, that bag looks good with everything in my opinion.
So my adventures in wardrobing will be ongoing. I may strike it lucky in a summer sale and find a little pair of strappy sandals that work with the yellow pants, or a simple white peasant top that works with the pants and suits my frame. But knowing what I should be wearing and finding it are two very different things. Wardrobe dreams and wardrobe reality, not the same. Ha. Don’t I know it, people.
In fact this whole exercise reminds me of the thrill of finding a picture of a wonderful haircut in a magazine and taking it to your hairdresser and hearing her say that there is no way your hair will go like the hair in the photo. Not that I do that anymore. Ha. I learned that lesson long ago.
And speaking of wardrobing. As far as I’m concerned that term has always meant the act of assembling a wardrobe, hopefully a coherent one. But apparently it now also means the act of buying a piece of clothing (or shoes or accessories or whatever) wearing said piece to an event, and then returning it for a full refund. It’s tantamount to fraud or shoplifting in the eyes of retailers. And from what I’ve read today, quite common. Apparently one in six women admit to returning worn items, and lying about it in order to obtain a full refund.
Seriously? I was kind of shocked when I read that. And in this article in the The Guardian the columnist defends the practice, blaming the high cost of high fashion and the constant barrage of advertising for driving poor women to do such things. “Come on. As if we don’t have enough of a brain to resist that which we can’t afford,” I thought when I read that. Is it just me, but isn’t the whole idea of committing fraud so you can look good at a friend’s wedding, and then blaming the media, just a teensy bit silly?
Sure, sometimes I may find wardrobing (the original kind) a bit frustrating. And a bit disillusioning, when outfit dream and outfit reality don’t meet. I admit that sometimes I’ve purchased in haste, and I just know I will repent all season. But I’ve always imagined that to be my own fault. Does that make me naive? A goody-two-shoes? Maybe.
And unless I have developed a recent and serious shopping addiction, I’ve no one to blame but myself for buying those yellow pants. I guess now that I’ve had the hem let down I can’t try to return them for a refund. Ha.
Now enough about me and my shopping misadventures, what about you folks? Have you made any problematic purchases lately?