I struggle with cardigans. They’re my most versatile year-round outer layer, and they seem to come in a thousand varieties. Cropped, boyfriend, fitted, drapey, v-neck, crew neck … it’s ENDLESS. And different shapes and styles have different applications and work best with certain underlayers. I always seem to be able to justify buying another one. Especially since they are fabulously thriftable little beasties. I will never stop using my cardigans, and may live in an endless cycle of trying new ones and donating or consigning old ones.
But there are several other wardrobe sectors that feel decidedly complete. There is absolutely no reason for me to ever purchase another mid-weight coat. Spring lasts about 10 seconds here in Minneapolis, and fall is even shorter. The rest of the time it’s either very hot or very cold. Unless a mid-weight coat can double as a topper/blazer, I will use it so seldom as to make its purchase decidedly unnecessary. I feel similarly about sandals. I saw the pair pictured above during one of my many side-trips to the mesmerizing land of Pinterest, and had an immediate, “shiny, pretty” reaction. I mean, look at those. They’re stunning. Chunky heel, unique and interesting design features, vaguely futuristic-looking, sexy but walkable, graphic, cool … these sandals are right up my own personal sandal alley. And two or three years ago, “shiny, pretty” might’ve won out. I might’ve found these sandals so irresistible that I’d have snapped them up before really thinking about it. But today? Today I know that I have many pairs of sandals and that they can only be worn for a fairly short window of time. (Unlike closed shoes, which get year-round wear.) I know that white shoes are the enemy of a klutzy gal such as myself, and that shoes with multiple colors are far harder to style. I know that I adore the distinctive shoes I own, but that the classic, simple, timeless ones are the ones that get worn and worn until they need new soles.
I was a late-comer to fashion. I didn’t give a hoot about it for most of my young life, and when I finally did take an interest I was a gainfully employed adult. It felt fun and exciting to indulge in my, “shiny, pretty” urges and nab items that looked and felt unusual or edgy. I think it was important to my understanding of a functional wardrobe and of my own preferences and needs to work through that phase. And although I cave to the occasional item that is far too shiny and pretty to resist, I’m happy to have moved beyond feeling like every gorgeous goodie I see MUST be mine. Those sandals? I’m happy to admire them from afar.
I see many other late-comers with closets full of shiny, pretty items that feel difficult to style and wear. My guess is that, if you’re a woman who has been indifferent to fashion for much of your life, a new interest in clothing and style can feel intoxicating. Realizing that dressing can be fun makes you gravitate toward fun pieces – garments, shoes, and accessories that are eye-catching and expressive and feel fun to wear. This can create an imbalanced closet full of frosting with no cake to support it. Luckily, this can generally be dealt with by adding some plain, classic basics … and some gentle culling. Shiny, pretty things are important to most wardrobes, but they can’t be the only things in there. And it takes time and trial and error to figure out which plain, classic basics will work for your style and your figure and your life.
Have any of you gone through this cycle yourselves? Maybe earlier or later in life? Ever look in your closet and see nothing but shiny, pretty things that don’t work with each other? How did you cope? What do you do when you see something that pushes your own personal “shiny, pretty” button that you know won’t get used enough to justify purchase?
Image courtesy Shopbop.
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