Outfit // Body Conscious


James Perse dress | this one at Off Fifth is similar, but tucked, instead of ruched, and not double-layered
Birkenstock Arizona sandals
Admonish Bag | on loan to play with!
Dannijo necklace | sold out

Well, I go from one extreme to the other, don’t I? In case you forgot that I have a pear-shape (I sometimes do), here it is…in all it’s glory! The truth is it was still a bit cool to wear this alone, so I put a cardigan over it, but I wanted to show you the dress, so I took it off for the photo. And I will admit, I was more comfortable covering myself in this dress, which is very interesting, because it’s MY shape, MY curves and how this dress fits & accentuates them that made me buy it in the first place.

Which brings me to another issue, that is perhaps too deep for a Monday; my first impression of my “look,” myself, etc., is always positive. But the more I look – pass the mirror – analyze myself, my outfit, the faster it turns negative, and then I end up leaving the house wearing something different than what I started out wearing – or completely covering it up.

For me, what has worked was choosing what I wanted to wear by looking at it in my closet, putting it on, and keeping it on, no questions. I did that for a while (remember?) and I was very happy with it, but it was easy to stop doing, with all the recent stress of moving, losing Ozzie, etc. I know that everything in my closet is amazing, works together, and looks great on me; I’ve designed it that way!

But, as I am wont to do, I depend too much on how I feel that day, and how loud the negative voices in my head are, giving them too much opportunity to influence what I KNOW TO BE TRUE: that I look great (and am good enough) no matter what I’m wearing.

Heavy. Yes, but that is the truth. And my biggest fear. That I am not good enough, so I must create the impression – the perfect outfit – the perfect look – so that I at least APPEAR to be good enough. Which is the reason why I’m constantly trying to find the “perfect” thing. What is true is that I am already perfect – I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, of course – but spiritually, I am already who I am supposed to be. And I am good enough, just because I’m here.

Whoa. There it is…And now that I’ve named it, I can begin to conquer it. When you put words to your fear, and you bring it out in the open, it doesn’t have as much power over you. At least that’s what I’ve heard…!

So here goes. I don’t need the perfect pair of black pants anymore, or the perfect whatever…I just need to buy what I love (and less of it!!). I am already perfect.

Oh, and thank you everyone for the new blog suggestions on my Blogs we Read post – Already I’m inspired, especially by this latest post on Recovering Shopaholic on finding your ideal wardrobe size, and Janice’s personal exercise related to it on the Vivienne Files. I look forward to doing it myself and determining what my ideal wardrobe size is…I’m sure it quite a bit smaller than what it is now!!!

Happy Monday!

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  1. RJS says

    Again, I can relate to this post. There are days when I change outfits a few times, even though everything I own works well together. “I designed it that way!” I’m not striving for perfection; I just want to feel comfortable in my clothes. (Obviously, I also want to look good.) It’s hard, though, to ignore that niggling little voice: “Maybe these linen flood pants make my thighs look fat.” Turning off that “tape” is a slow process, and I appreciate your writing about these important issues. It’s one of the reasons that I read your blog, thanks!

    • says

      thank you for always taking the time to comment! i have got this idea of “perfection” in my head. i don’t want to “blame” anyone, because at this point, it’s all me, but earlier in my life, it was someone else…and has usually been someone else’s idea of perfection that i strive for, even knowing that i can never get there. so i’m finished striving for perfection – even though i still use the term perfect – i think more in a way that i mean “good enough” – or wonderful, just as i am…

      perfection and unicorns. two things that don’t exist ;)

  2. says

    As a pear shape .. I think the dress is great! One way to make it outstanding is heels. I find that when I wear flats and a dress, skirt etc .. I feel short. So when I wear heels I’m taller and I tend to walk taller and then I own that dress or skirt .. heels give me a little attitude change so I rock what I wear. If you don’t find heels comfortable, wedges are just as good ;-)

    MonicaP´s last blog post ..H&M online shoping

    • says

      actually – this was something i planned on talking about . SHOES. i do want to try and make more of an effort to wear heels, because i know how they can completely transform an outfit. BUT, i always reach for flats. it hasn’t always been that way, i have several pairs of heeled clogs that i loved, and wore all the time. lately though (or the last year or so), i’ve felt like they’re too “dressed up” for my lifestyle. they’re absolutely not. i don’t know why i struggle so much with heels vs. flats; maybe i’m trying to “fit in” with the rest of the women out during the day?

    • says

      so true lisa. i think for me, good is perfect. and perfect is wherever i’m happy and satisfied right now. my whole life, being “perfect” has been important, but never attainable, because it was someone else’s idea of perfection, NOT mine. so, while i don’t believe in “perfect” anymore, i use that word to remind myself that i am good enough just exactly as i am…

  3. says

    Haven’t got time to comment in depth this post deserves, but I’ve similarly been thinking about how photographing my OOTDs often results in dampening my happiness about an outfit I know I feel good in — and, quite honestly, believe I look good in. Thanks for articulating some of your own reservations and pushing my thinking a bit further. I may pick up the torch on this one, in a future post.

    • says

      oh, i would love to read more of your thoughts on this. especially the impact of photographing ourselves…i’ve often thought after taking a photograph of an outfit I JUST WORE ALL DAY that i shouldn’t share it – i don’t like the way it looks. and for heaven’s sake…i just wore it and LOVED the way it looks!!! photos are always deceiving i think – no matter if we see them negatively or positively…

  4. says

    Lots of things to ponder here. 1. I think the dress looks great and I can’t wait for my similar JP one to arrive.

    2. I’m still thinking about the notion of perfection in clothing. I don’t think it’s too much to ask, when spending over $100 for things, to expect a certain amount of perfection. I wish designers would pay more attention to what real women want, like fabric that’s not see-through, pants and jackets with actual pockets, tops that are long enough so that you’re not hiking them up all the time, T-shirts that don’t get holes in them the first time they’re washed, etc. So, I guess everyone’s definition of “perfect” will be different. I always seem to find fault of one kind or another with my clothes, and I don’t think I’m being fussy. A lot of it is a quality issue but also one of lifestyle (e.g., wanting a pocket to put stuff in or belt loops on pants).

    3. I think it’s perfectly fine to have different moods on different days and different comfort levels and notions of what outfits work and what don’t. I think it only becomes an issue when one can’t ever leave home without changing 10 times and nothing seems to feel right. So just go with the flow and know that on some days you’ll want to feel covered up and on other days you’ll feel like showing off your bod. I have days like that, too.

    4. If you’re not a heel person, don’t force it. Have you tried on any of the cutout flats that are trendy these days, the ones with the pointy toes, aka d’Orsay flats? I think they’d look great on you. They’d have that elongating elegance of heels without the trouble. I am thinking of trying some out because I rarely wear heels for day-to-day activities. If you do a round-up, let us know if you try any of them and what you think!
    Laurel´s last blog post ..Minimal toiletries for a winter getaway

    • says

      i’ll go in order LOL

      2. i agree with you on this – i do have very high standards for quality in clothing, which i think should be expected for a certain amount of money. any money, really, within reason. when i refer to “the perfect pants” though, i’m usually referring to the perfect silhouette. or they make me look exactly how i want to look right now, along those lines. and i don’t think that is “perfect” necessarily, because it’s always going to be changing. so in that sense, i don’t believe in “perfection”

      3. i do agree with you – but i’m tired of having those days where i change a million times and nothing is ever right. i suppose i’m trying to figure out “easy” ways of getting over that. maybe having fewer things to choose from is the right idea?

      4. i’m not sure i’m NOT a heel person. if you look back several years, you’ll see that i wore heels ALL THE TIME, hardly ever wearing flats. then i think flats had their “moment” or came “back” and i just ran with it!! i do love flats, but i also love heels. somehow over time i’ve started to think that heels aren’t comfortable, or too “dressy” for my lifestyle. which is ridiculous, because i have heels (clogs) that are comfortable. the idea that they’re too “dressy” is just my inner voice saying ‘no. you cannot wear your heeled clogs to target’

      i do have a pair of pointy flats that i like, and they are definitely elongating. those, are just not as comfortable as my repettos or sandals. but they do look phenomenal with jeans/pants…i did actually make a note the other day to work them back into my wardrobe. thanks for reminding me!

      • Jen says

        I feel like shoes are where the issues of comfort vs. flattering really collide. Personally, I hate wearing uncomfortable shoes and always want to feel like I’m fully mobile and not hampered by my footwear. So I generally wear flats, or lower (and usually stacked) heels on a day-to-day basis. I feel very strongly about not having uncomfortable feet, and it does verge into a political issue for me. I’ve tried many different kinds of heels, and no one can convince me that they are ever as comfortable as a pair of sneakers or oxfords or other flats.

        So as much as heels might look more flattering in an outfit, flats are going to be the shoes that I physically feel better wearing. There are definitely some situations where I will wear heels because of the impression they will make and if I will be wearing them for a short period of time (i.e., big work presentation or formal social event), but more and more I don’t feel like it’s worth the effort.

        It doesn’t have to be about “giving up” on looking good or not “making an effort,” but I fully endorse wearing what is comfortable on your feet and otherwise. And while the dress might look good with heels, it looks great with the shoes you have on.

        • says

          i feel exactly the same way. obviously, i’ll wear things that aren’t THE MOST FLATTERING because they’re more comfortable, or what i want to wear ATM, regardless, but i think i’ve also been using that as an excuse to a certain extent. my clogs are very comfortable, but i’ve stopped wearing them as much as i used to for one reason or another – probably out of more of a desire to “fit in” than i’d like to admit. and maybe i needed a break from them?

          and i laugh because when i was in college and very overweight (not that that is relevant, really), my favorite t-shirt was one that said “life is too short to wear uncomfortable shoes” – which was my motto, and still is. of course, i wore it with one of my many pairs of birkenstock sandals and way-too-baggy jeans ;) my uniform back then. of course at that point, i WAS trying to cover up as much as i could, with my clothing, my hair…whatever…

          but you will NEVER find me in a pair of uncomfortable shoes, for any reason at all. and yes, my clogs are comfy, but my birks, mephistos, or vince sneakers are WAY more comfortable than anything with any sort of heel.

        • Mamavalveeta03 says

          Sing it, Sista’!!! ???? ( As a 5’10″, 53-yr old woman with foot and back problems, flats ALWAYS win!)

  5. Luna says

    Cover not, Gretchen, you look great! And what a perfect shade of gray : ) This issue with too many clothes, constantly looking for the “perfect” item, we all have it. Even self-proclaimed minimalists (myself included…). I remember years ago growing up overseas and as a yound adult, I had maybe 8 to 12 outfits maximum to wear for normal activities, school, work, regular outings, and it was plenty. It never occurred to me that more was needed. And 3 or 4 pairs of shoes for each season was more than enough. There is something to be said for the cultural pressure to have more and buy more. And in all of this we end up buried under our clothes, if not physically, mentally and emotionally. I figure with my “pared down” closet, I have enough not to need to buy but the absolute musts for the next 5 years, maybe decade. But does it stop me wanting more? I’m working on it, especially on realizing this is not my desire, it is the desire of marketing forces and cultural norms.

    • says

      this is so true. and i don’t know how to reconcile my TRUE love and passion for shopping with my desire to HAVE LESS STUFF. i know i feel weighed down by the things i have and don’t wear, and would probably be happier – more content – with just a few outfits, and variations thereof. do you think you were more “content” when you only had 8-12 outfits to choose from?

      i think what i need to focus on is the thrill of the hunt instead of just the acquisition of STUFF – and just enjoying shopping for the joy of just looking (and touching and feeling) at what’s new, and perhaps focusing more on the “art” of fashion and style. i can’t not buy anything new for the REST OF MY LIFE (LOL), but limiting it from now on will help. and also, practicing getting rid of something whenever i bring something new in…

      • RJS says

        Oh, the “thrill of the hunt.” I went to Goodwill today, specifically looking for a faded jeans jacket. And I found it! While it was wonderful to score it, part of the satisfaction was searching for it.

      • Luna says

        I think so, Gretchen, because I feel at times now so much of my energy goes into it, buying stuff, returning it, thinking about it, wanting more instead of pursuing so many other things. In a sense, believe it or not, finding your blog has been a turning point for me. Firstly, I do love your love of clothing (and there’s nothing wrong with that) and your style speaks to me. Which crystalized a whole lot of things for me. And together with my searching of the last I don’t know how many years, I know feel my sense of self can be reflected on my clothing (or vice-versa : ). After that, what else would one need? So I would say what you do and how your present your favorite bits of clothing and show different things is very helpful to me, helps me think things through and focus on continuing to (re)discover a sense of personal style.

        • says

          wow, thank you so much for that luna. it sounds crazy, but maybe part of the reason i keep doing what i do (buying/shopping) is because what else is there? what ELSE would i do? i don’t have kids, i don’t have a dog anymore. my family is spread out, i’ve yet to make very many friends here…so what do i have if not shopping? and my work? (also my husband, let’s not forget about him LOL) that is the scary thing…and what i think i need to figure out! but whoa. it was your comment just now that made me recognize that….so thank you :)

          • Luna says

            Thank you, Gretchen : ) Yours and Janice’s blog at The Vivienne Files are favorites. I can relate to, I can learn from, and your posts have even sparked spiritual and philosophical ruminations that I very much enjoyed! Both suggest to me the role of (the right) clothing in one’s life (and it isn’t a meaningless one), and by “right” I mean that which as an extension of our outward appearence can propel us to live more authentically and with greater zest. Perhaps a stretch, but this what I truly believe : 0

  6. Shannon says

    First off…you look beautiful…all of you. Very flattering! I too can relate to this post. I am a pear shape, not the skinny thing I was a few years ago, and I struggle with that everyday. I am not heavy, but gave gained 20 pounds over the last two years, and I am very petite, so I feel very plump! At almost 48, I am trying so hard to just accept myself, as myself. To love my curves, to embrace who I am right now.. I have days where that works….and days it doesn’t. I just bought a JP long ruched skirt at Off Fifth on Friday. It looks great, but also shows my curves…maybe more than I want. I keep trying it on…hey I look nice…..no, wait….do I want people to see THAT. LOL. Still haven’t worn it out of my house, but I will eventually. We are harder on ourselves than each other for sure.

    • says

      shannon i do EXACTLY THE SAME THING. i did it with this dress. i do it with my ruched pencil skirt. i do it with everything! more often than not, sadly, i take the “offending” item of clothing off and wear something else. which always makes me wonder: what is the TRUTH? how do i REALLY look? do i really look how i see myself when i’m having a good day? (like when i bought this dress, in the dressing room at TJ MAXX?), or do i really look how i see myself when the negative voices have taken over? is what i see in the mirror the real me? or is what i photograph the real me? is how my husband sees me how i really look? DOES IT EVEN MATTER????

      i think not. ultimately, it matters that we feel comfortable, good, happy, beautiful in our own skin and by extension in the items of clothing we have fallen in love with and choose to wear. as they say, self-confidence, and positivity are the most important accessories – with those, your attitude and outlook take over and no one else will see your saddlebags (my saddlebags, i should say, as they’re my most VEXING body part!!), or anything else but your air of contentment and happiness. that’s what i hope at least. and what i aspire to…

      • Shannon says

        I think you are right on the money.. I see people a lot larger than me carrying off an outfit. It’s their attitude…they own it. I want to be that person, who just rocks whatever I put on. And to do that..,,,I absolutely have to love myself! Life is short…

        • says

          it certainly is. i actually had a complete breakdown this weekend thinking about this – all the time i’ve spent up until now worried about how i look IN COMPARISON with others and if i fit in, and if i am good enough to do what i’m doing. it made me incredibly sad. and angry. somehow i thought that by the time i was 40 i’d have it all figured out and could just enjoy my life from now on, just sailing by…but what i’ve realized is that you have to BE OLDER, and have the life experience to actually appreciate WHERE You want/need to go and what you STILL have to accomplish before you can move in the direction.

          you don’t just flip a switch…and while i do agree that these are my best years yet, it’s not a cakewalk!! and honestly, i thought it would be. all those women who say that their 40′s – 50′s – 60′s are their best years mean it, but not in the way i thought.

          now i know that it’s not about getting somewhere and being “done” learning or growing, or having achieved everything you wanted to achieve…it’s about a journey to always getting better, and NEVER being “done” learning or growing. and achieving one thing then moving on to the next…

          • Shannon says

            You got it girl! That’s it. You never stop learning, yearning, growing and morphing. Life never sits still…we keep evolving…our mind keeps creating new ideas, new thoughts. My early 40′s were some if the funnest times in my life, thus far. My later 40′s…not so much. I have gone through some pruning if you will. Made a major move, lost my bff, my Cavalier King Charles, my husband went from making a very large amount of money, to a very small amount. Personal pruning…and it has been rough…especially on my wardrobe lol. But…the best thing that has come out if it is that I have had loads of time to think. And in that thinking I have realized that i will always be on a journey. And actually, isn’t that perfect? How boring life would be if suddenly we knew everything. In that journey that I was forced to take, lol, I have learned to love myself a little more. I don’t have to look like I am 25.. I’m. not. It’s ok to be me! Easier said than done some days!

            And, hugs to you! Sorry you had a little breakdown.. ??

  7. Juli says

    Ooooo…..our dress! If you recall, we both bought that dress on the same day in different parts of the country! You look fabulous in it! This dress is also our of my comfort zone and I needed to call my mother into the dressing room to evaluate as I was trying it on. She approved {“va-va-voom”, specifically! Don’t judge her-she’s 70!} so I bought it to wear to my anniversary dinner. I had to have a talk with myself before dressing to say, “Listen girl, if you are going to wear this, you are going to stand tall and rock it!” And I did! And you should also! You have every right to look and feel you look fabulous. Acting uncomfortable in clothes one is unsure of is not an option!

  8. Mamavalveeta03 says

    Are you sure we weren’t separated at birth??? I can relate so much to your comments about constantly striving for perfection and berating myself when I don’t achieve it. I used to think it was just a typical “first born” trait, but now I think it’s genetic.???? My youngest daughter is the same way, and of course, it couldn’t be that she’s spent years hearing me put myself down for “mistakes”…
    I struggle to be happy with “good enough” without seeing it as a personal failure. But for the sake of my own well-being, and that of my daughter, it’s imperative that I be kinder to myself. Project of the Day, week, month….
    And you DO look great in that dress!!

    • says

      haha. sometimes i do wonder ;)
      it makes me so sad and angry to think that we’ve spent any time at all not thinking we’re good enough. of course we’re good enough.
      i talked to my husband about this over the weekend, and he truly doesn’t understand because it never crossed his mind that he wasn’t good enough – even when his father might have told him he wasn’t. no one ever told me explicitly i wasn’t good enough, but there were enough things said/un-said that made me feel that way, and that was enough.

      i hate that anyone could feel that way – i hate that you feel that way, i hate that i feel that way…it’s not right. but it’s a process to try and heal. yes, a project. here’s to projects!! :)

  9. Maryann says

    Well if we reach perfection what then? The fun is in the striving. Being happy & comfortable in your own skin is a far bigger achievement. I am in my 50s & a feel better about myself now than I ever have. I wear what I like, I make mistakes, I move on. Have fun with your new dress.

    • says

      true. the way i was raised, i thought i needed to reach perfection every day. and even though i realized early on i could never achieve perfection, and rebelled against the idea, a little bit of that has always stuck with me…

      • Mamavalveeta03 says

        I think what you just said, Maryann, about “being happy and comfortable in your own skin” is what I SHOULD be striving for, versus some fashion and beauty mag’s version of “perfection.” Like you, Grechen, I always seem to think that the perfect haircut, or the perfect lipcolor, or the perfect outfit would morph me into the BEST version of me. Logical? Hell no! Realistic? Hell to the hell no!!! And I’m aware of it, so as you’ve said before, “Self-awareness should bring change.” I’m still working on that part, and I WILL get there.

  10. says

    Wow, work those curves! Seriously, this looks good on you. I know what you mean about those days where nothing looks right. I have found that having those “fail safe” pieces and silhouettes helps. For me it’s a long, drapey top, my EF “Rockstar” ponte knit jeans, and a favorite pair of ankle boots. I find that periodically purging those pieces that I’m not always confident enough to wear, or that don’t feel like “me” also helps.
    déjà pseu´s last blog post ..Hair And There

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