By appreciation I mean a couple of things: first, that we appreciate what we have ALREADY, and second that we can appreciate things on others, without having to emulate the look on ourselves. I have struggled repeatedly with both issues, but the second is what comes hardest to me.
Think about how many times we’ve scrolled through Pinterest, fashion blogs, magazines or online sites and dogeared a look, or pinned an image thinking we’d like to re-create it somehow. I’ve done it most often on shopping sites, like Shopbop, Net-a-Porter, or Totokaelo. And then we run across article after article on the “10 items every woman needs in her wardrobe,” or “what’s hot for fall.” I could go on.
My problem is that I’m simply never going to look like the women pinned, or featured in magazines, or the super-popular fashion bloggers. I’m going to look like me. Which is even better. But that means that boyfriend jeans are NOT nice and slouchy on me like they are on women who have smaller legs. And since I’m short, with short, thick legs, I’ll never look as effortlessly chic as taller, slimmer women in leggings and an oversized sweater.
So what? I’m not bitter about it anymore (but I was, for a long time…I definitely was); I love my short, thick legs, small waist and amazing shoulders. But it has taken me until now to fully realize that when I try silhouettes and styles that I sort of know won’t work on me, I won’t look like the pictures, or pins. I’ll look like me. Which, again, is great, but not the “look” I was going for originally.
Take chambray tops for example. I’ve had a few over the years in an effort to find THE PERFECT chambray top, but never wore them very often, and ended up selling/giving them away. Then, as I was thinking about fall shopping, I thought I’d like to finally find a really great chambray top so I can be done looking. Something I can just thrown on with leggings and sneakers and go. Or black jeans, or whatever. A top I can have for years, and wear forever.
Well, I found that top – at Madewell of course – and it’s great; it’s a chambray version of the white oversized shirt I have that I wear all the time. I love it. It fits nicely (I got a small, same size as the white one, although I don’t think it runs AS big as the white on). It could be THE PERFECT chambray shirt – if there was such a thing.
(yes, I LOVE THIS OUTFIT. It looks great on me, but I can’t keep the shirt to wear one way – no matter how great it is. I don’t like it with leggings or out with slim jeans)
But I’m taking it back. I have a few oversized shirts I can wear with leggings: the white Madewell one, and a couple by CP shades. And every time I try the chambray one on, I’m just not entirely happy with the overall look on me. Sure, if I wear it with black jeans or my hope news trousers and do the half-tuck (as above), it would look better – because I will have defined my waist – but I don’t do that very often; I don’t like to put that much effort into my look. And what I really wanted it for was to just throw on with leggings or sweatpants, or whatever, and again, I’m just not thrilled with that look on me.
Also…and this may be hard for some of you to hear…I’ve finally determined that I’m just not a chambray top kind of girl. I wanted to be, I think, but I’m not. I like white better. Or gray. I don’t even do well with denim jackets! There go all my fashion blogger credentials…
So, this brings me back to my first point, and a couple more things I’ve learned so far in my “minimal closet” process:
1 / I appreciate the wonderful tops I can just throw on with leggings that I ALREADY HAVE.
2 / Just because everyone else has a chambray top doesn’t mean I need to have one too. (I hear my mom in my head saying to me: “if everyone else jumped off a bridge would you have to do it too?” – thanks mom!)
By the way, the chambray top example isn’t isolated. I think there are quite a few things that “everyone” has that just aren’t me: denim jackets, fedoras, stripes….
But they key now, on my journey, is that I can learn to appreciate those things on others, and admire how they look on others, without having to emulate the look on me. I can try it, of course, but if I don’t like it, or if it doesn’t feel like me, then I can move on.
I am getting better at this, and recognizing what I don’t like on me more easily, but it’s very hard. As Val said in a comment, and I’ve heard many times before – we can look at art in a museum and appreciate it, for what is is, and where it is, then leave and remember how beautiful it was. We don’t have to have it hanging in our homes to appreciate it.
My goal is to feel that way about clothing and fashion; I’d like to be able to admire it from afar more often, without having the overwhelming desire to OWN it, or emulate it.
Work in progress…but I feel like taking the chambray top back is a huge step in the right direction!!
Have you struggled with this? Are there things you try and embrace on your body that don’t feel like you that it seems “everyone” has?
Food for thought for the weekend 🙂
read more in the The Minimal Closet series: