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.
Hope news trousers
Madewell Chambray top | size small
Everlane Belt | I’m wearing a small
(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:
Accepting what really works for you and what you really wear and what really makes you feel good is tough!
I have a fantasy that I work in an office in NYC and “need” to dress up everyday. The reality is, I work in Silicon Valley and go into the office at most three days a week. And my favorite outfit is straight-leg jeans, a blazer, tee, and brogues or loafers. Maybe swap out for skinny pants if I’m dressing up. And all in black, white, with for real excitement. And no obvious patterns.
So I just returned the Vince silk dress and the full skirt with the leather trim that I don’t really have tops to go with, and really will not end up wearing much, and spend my money on getting a new pair of jeans and a white top that go with everything else I actually wear. And if I come across a great blazer or necklace that I want this fall, fantastic, but I won’t be swayed to “try” the new culottes, or brown, or whatever is new in the stores that might look great, but I won’t be interested in six months down the road.
mean to add “olive” with my radical color palette 😉
Grechen Reiter says
it is the hardest thing; recognizing what we actually wear and separating that out from our “fantasy” lives. i think it’s great to have a few items of clothing that we may not wear all the time, but most should be in heavy rotation. i’m still not there yet…but that’s my goal.
no culottes for you, huh? 😉
i guess my black crane pants are sort of culottes? i don’t know, but i guess i was ahead of the curve then? or black crane was anyway…i still love them, hopefully will wear them more as the weather cools off, they’re really warm…
Not that I have any issue with culottes, but then I get into the whole “I don’t have tops that go with culottes, I don’t have shoes that go with culottes” dilemma that prompts a new shopping “needs.”
It’s like I keep trying to buy tapered slouchy / harem pants, and there’s the same issue, plus, they really don’t look great on me either.
I agree with you. There are SO many trends that I love, but I simply cannot pull off. I try to focus on what does look good on me and find quality pieces in that realm. I’m really trying to go the whole quality vs. quantity route as well. I’ve rid my closet of the cheap crap (Old Navy, Target, etc.) and am refusing to purchase anymore throw away clothing. My closet is sparse now, but I actually wear what is there now.
Ashley´s last blog post ..Denim Shirtdress
Hi Grechen, I love the belt you’re wearing. Where could I buy one?
Grechen Reiter says
it’s by everlane! i’m wearing a size small…sorry i didn’t link in the post. will edit that right now 🙂
This is my constant battle too! I see items that I think are great, but I know that don’t work on me. More than that, because of my constant admiration of fashion/design, I see things I like, but that don’t actually fit my personal style. Before I would just buy things I like, such as this bright orange Rachel Roy dress, because it was cute. Now I’m careful about where I put my money and assess how I could incorporate it. My rule is that each piece must coordinate with at least three other items in my closet.
Lindsay´s last blog post ..American Apparel Denim Leisure Shorts Review
Mine is more .. shopping at stores that aren’t really for me (Zara) .. and buying stuff on sale (because it’s on sale). This weekend, I’m just hanging at the house so I’ll go through my closet piece by piece and really make an effort to clean stuff up.
I don’t think I’m a chambray shirt gal either .. although I do have a nice one from Eddie Bauer that I’ve never worn.
Mona Vernon says
Coincidence. I just returned the Everlane chambray shirt. It has no flaws, it is just not me, not the idea, the color, the shape It was not perfect. I did instead get a funnel neck linen sweater at Eileen Fisher Factory it is an odd xxs but fits me (I wear medium or small)
“we can appreciate things on others, without having to emulate the look on ourselves”
Thank you for this! It really resonated with me. Whenever I see a great look on someone else that I think I can reasonably pull off, I start to become fixated on it until I procure all the items, and then disappointment inevitably sets in when I realized that the outfit just doesn’t look good on me. Or isn’t “me” enough to reach for on a regular basis.
Funny enough, I have the opposite button-down struggle that you do (or had). I haven’t met a chambray shirt that I didn’t like or keep (a slight exaggeration), but I have always wanted a white button down. I think they look so cool/chic, but have never found one that looked or felt great on me. Even when I was in grade school, with the mandatory choir outfit being white button down/black bottoms, I always felt awkward in a white shirt. But I still covet them, and always hope to find the “perfect one”. I wonder if it’s time to let that fantasy go…!
BTW, I respect your decision to take the chambray shirt back, but this outfit does look terrific on you!!
Ahem to that!!!!!
I too have come to accept that i’m unique, there honestly isn’t a whole lot of blogs out there with woman the same shape as me. I was drawn to yours as you are similar shape and style as myself. It took me along time to accept that what looks good on other people will probably not look good on me, or feel like ‘me’ i have a formula, it works, it keeps my purchases down, and i look okay. I’m never gonna look like a supermodel, but comfy in my own skin is where am it. :0)
I’ve got two gorgeous Equipment shirts that I have NEVER worn, but thought I should have…well, because every fashion magazine (Who ARE these people?!?) said I should have them. They’re just really impractical for my lifestyle. And shoes…I buy for the look, rarely for comfort. And I’ve got multiple foot issues! So, what am I thinking?!?
So, let’s hope that “knowledge is the beginning of wisdom”!
I love fashion magazines but never look to them for my own personal fashion inspiration. I wear items that look best on me and invest in items that last me a long time. Whenever I’ve strayed from my own unique look, that’s when people notice and the feedback isn’t positive!