8 Rules for Conscious Shopping

I’ve been as guilty as anyone of amassing a ton of clothes.

In a coming blog entry I’ll review the book Wear No Evil.

I read this book straight through in one week. It’s great to have on hand as a reference guide to responsible fashion.

My Fashion Challenge is to not buy another shirt, pant, skirt, sweater, or dress for the next two years.

In my own way I do use and wear about 30 to 35 items of clothing per season.

To make it easier to choose and use wardrobe items I’ve come up with 8 Rules for Conscious Shopping.

It really isn’t that great to lose track of how much you spend and what you spend it on. Whether that is clothing, food, or entertainment.

My contention is that you don’t need to have hundreds of items to choose from to be well-dressed.

Editing out the skeletons of wardrobes past that you no longer wear or fit into is the start of reclaiming your style power.

Here I offer my 8 Rules for Conscious Shopping:

  1. An item of clothing you buy should be able to be worn with at least two or three other items in your wardrobe.
  2. Shop to fill in missing items in your wardrobe instead of shopping for impulse buys as a weekly hobby. If you have ten sundresses and work in a corporate office, maybe you need to buy a power suit.
  3. Buy clothing that flatters your body and your color type (a warm or cool undertone).
  4. “Shop in your own closet”—the guiding principle of personal stylists everywhere.
  5. Reject buying clothes that don’t fit your lifestyle—that either don’t fit your life or your style. For help figuring out your style I recommend two books: The Curated Closet and Nothing to Wear? The 5-Step Cure for the Common Closet.
  6. Treat your clothes kindly, and they’ll remain in good condition for the long-term. This will save you from having to constantly replace fast fashion items that can’t withstand numerous wash cycles.
  7. Just say no to a neon green coat. Is neon anything a great look? Only if you’re a pop star touring America with an entourage.
  8. If you’re iffy about purchasing an item, leave it on the rack. The clothes you buy you should absolutely love at first sight. You’ll wear the clothes you love often and get more compliments.
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Shouting to Be Heard

I’m a Visionary who first advocated for recovery over 16 years ago. And I’ll continue to champion the rights of people who historically haven’t had a voice.

In 1988 I shouted to be heard–in my choice of wild clothes and then in my fight to have a better life. This is chronicled in Left of the Dial.

It’s no coincidence that achieving fashion freedom and female power are inextricably linked as drivers of recovery–either from a mental illness or any societal illness.

How you style yourself is an act of love for yourself. Dressing well–in your own inimitable style–is empowering.

What you wear can change the dynamic between you and another person.

I’ll write about this in more detail in the next blog entry.

Sometimes investing in an item of clothing is a way to invest in yourself. It gives you confidence to meet the challenges that arise in your life.

In this holiday season I want to write about the true spirit of our humanity, which must override greed, religion, and political ideology if humans are to survive for another millennium.

My experience simply wearing a new coat attests to the power of kindness.

Creating Yourself at 50 and Beyond

I find myself wanting to talk about fashion more often in here. To talk about topics central to being a woman in today’s world apart from fashion too.

I will recommend again the book Nothing to Wear? A 5-Step Cure for the Common Closet. In it Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo walk women through the steps of discovering our style and dressing in a harmonious way.

Julie Morgenstern is quoted in the book after the two consultants gave her a makeover:

“Wearing clothes that nurture and embrace me is a way to love and care for my body.”

I couldn’t have said this better.

I checked this book out of the library and have been reading it over and over for its sage advice. At some point I’m going to buy a copy of the book.

At 53 I reckon with not wanting to wearing stilettos and a cleavage-bearing mini skirt.

In the September issue of Bazaar jeweler Gaia Repossi talks about gender fluidity and fashion choices.

Perhaps you can relate to thinking that you fall down in terms of what is accepted in the mainstream?

Using Nothing to Wear? to find your style and having the courage to flaunt it could be the antidote to feeling sub-par in mid-life.

I say too: having the courage to flout convention in a sartorial or other way shouldn’t be frowned on.

Am I the only woman who has hit mid-life with the sudden desire to remodel her self and her life and her clothes?

I want to talk more about mid-life matters in the coming blog entries.

Cleaning out your closet and restocking it with a few stylish pieces could be the start of feeling better.

This is not frivolous. It’s also not the only worthy goal at mid-life.

Coming up I’ll talk about other things I think might strike a cord in readers.

 

Fresh Lipstick

In extolling fashion and beauty in this blog it’s not my intention to dwell on fluff and not substance.

In my Visionary way I simply wanted to branch out from the typical standard mental health reportage because there’s so much more to life than the pain a person can be in.

If dressing up and wearing makeup is going to make a person feel better I’m all for this. It’s precisely when we’re in pain that we should do what gives us joy.

From my view today I understand what it’s like to be going through “the Change” or menopause.

Our bodies and our looks are evolving. Some of us don’t like that the direction everything’s going in is south.

There are genetic wonders among us who have creamy flawless skin and look good without makeup.

There are other women who simply choose not to wear makeup at all.

I honestly believe that everyone living on earth is beautiful.

I admire women who can rock their natural face and look good without makeup.

I say: to hell with what other people think of you, your body, or your face.

Living in menopause is precisely the time to tell our critics: “I’m hot. Are you blind? Can’t you see I’m hot.”

We need to look in the mirror and like what we see by the time we hit mid-life. If we agonize over our looks or our bodies now it’s only going to be worse when we turn 60 or older.

I’m a 53-year old woman. I don’t feel so hot going out without wearing lipstick. My new favorite tube cost more than I care to admit.

This week I checked out of the library Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism.

The book flap inside Fresh Lipstick:

“Argues that wearing high heels and using hair curlers does not deny you the right to seek advancement, empowerment, and equality.”

In here I will argue too that dressing in your own authentic way and taking pride in your beauty can empower you to take risks to achieve other goals you have in life.

It’s a double-edge: looking good to feel good and feeling good to look good.

Let’s face it: post-50 most of us aren’t going to have bodies that are Thin AF.

This is precisely the era in our lives when we should think about remodeling ourselves from the inside.

We benefit from asking ourselves now:

Where do I want to be tomorrow? What can I do today to get closer to that goal?

Is there a habit holding you back? Are there negative thoughts persisting in your head?

Changing what we’re able to and accepting what we can’t change–the Serenity Prayer–is a good solution.

At 40, at 53, at however old you are, this isn’t the time to give up on yourself.

I say: make your own happiness a priority at mid-life. Do what gives you joy.

If that’s swiping on fresh lipstick or putting on your dancing shoes, by all means go for it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Number on the Scale

I want to write about how following trends in fashion is a mistake.

Not every item of clothing offered in stores or online will fit and flatter every person’s body. This shouldn’t deter us. In the Bobbie Thomas book The Power of Style she has a section on determining your body type and the clothing choices that will flatter it.

Now Loft and Banana Republic online have Plus sizes as well as Petites. It has been a long time coming for this victory.

Repeat after me: the fit of your clothes is what counts not whether the clothing is popular this season. Going to a tailor for alterations will perfect the fit of your clothing.

If you’re in a store trying on clothes refrain from attempting to squeeze yourself into a smaller size because it’s “your” size. Size doesn’t matter: only the fit of the clothing item does.

To wit: I have four different sizes of pants and jeans hanging in my closet.

It’s also a mistake to rely on a single number on the scale as a barometer of how healthy you are. Some experts believe each of us might have a “set point” where our body stays in a certain weight range.

This is undoubtedly true. I’ve been lifting weights for over 7 years so far and I’m the same weight I was as before I started this intense exercise regimen.

The difference is I dropped one pant and skirt size because I gained muscle.

If you think you have to be or should be “skinny” that’s a mistake too.

I’ve excoriated Bethenny Frankel in here before for writing a book that claims you can be skinny forever.

It might not be realistic to want to weigh 127 pounds when you weigh 200 pounds now. Even losing just 10 or 20 pounds to start can be perfectly fine if you ask me.

Improve your health by exercising in some fashion and you’ll feel better even if you don’t lose a significant amount of weight (according to research).

Thinking in terms of having “functional fitness” is the way to go.

I’m happy that I’m fit, energetic, and can carry packages home from a store.

Yes–I’m not naturally thin. I’m “thin” because I exercise and eat mostly healthful food.

In my twenties I used to be 20 pounds overweight. By changing what I ate, seeing an M.D. that had a private nutrition practice, and starting to exercise consistently, I lost the weight in six years and kept it off.

You’re going to be miserable if you aspire to be “skinny” because a reality TV housewife star tells you it’s possible to do this by adhering to her latest scheme.

I’ll end here by telling you: relax. You shouldn’t feel or be made to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re not a certain acceptable number on the scale.

When I was 20 pounds overweight in the 1990s, I wore nothing but Esprit mini skirts.

So there–your weight shouldn’t deter you from dressing in style.

Buy clothes with the perfect fit or that can be made perfect with tailoring.

Doing so you’ll look and feel like a million bucks.

Radical Chic

I’m fond of this sentence Kim Gordon wrote in her memoir:

“I believe the radical is more interesting when it appears ordinary and benign on the outside.”

This rock star/artist/author (the former Sonic Youth singer and bassist) wrote a great book, Girl in a Band. I urge you to buy this memoir.

Sonic Youth are my favorite band–I played them on my 1980s radio show.

Her words are prophetic, because you can’t judge a person. How we look on the outside ultimately tells others nothing about our character, our personality, and the things that matter.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s dressing in trendy clothes was my way of telling the mental health establishment: “Screw you, I’m not going to conform to how you think a person diagnosed with SZ should look and act and live.”

That’s the truth folks: I rebelled the role of mental patient. You should do the same–and the sooner the better.

I think of this now as 53 beckons in a couple of weeks. Not all of us are destined to get dressed every day like we’re Nicki Minaj performing on a concert tour.

There’s a benefit in only looking like we conform when in reality we’re rebels, dreamers, and free thinkers marching to a different drum on the inside.

It can be liberating to fool others with our persona. We don’t have to be who they want us to be. We can and should only be ourselves.

Acting true to yourself will always be in style. Act true to who you are today. Reserve the right to be who you want to be tomorrow.

You don’t have to dress like a Pop Diva to make a statement. You can be radical dressed in ordinary clothes like Kim Gordon admires.

I too admire everyone for having the courage to get up in the morning, choose clothes, and get dressed in a way that is true to who they are.

The older I get I’m less impressed by what passes for normal in society. The mundane–in thinking, acting, dressing, and living–isn’t something I covet having.

Thus the title of my own memoir: Left of the Dial.

So you could say I look ordinary–yet I’ll always be a Girl on the Left Side of the Dial.

You can be radical and chic.

A woman in her fifties should leave people guessing.

 

National Clean Out Your Closet Week

tie rack alternative use

The third week of March is National Clean Out Your Closet Week.

To free up space in your closet you can get creative with alternative uses for common storage items.

In the photo you’ll see a tie-and-belt rack has been re-purposed to store watches and a pocketbook as well as belts.

In the spirit of spring cleaning I recommend donating clothes and other items to the Salvation Army or the charity of your choice. You can get a receipt if you itemize deductions on your tax return.

Engaging in clutter control should bring a smile to your face. If you ask me organizing as you go along each week is the antidote to not doing it at all and facing a big pile-up down the road.

It’s harder to tackle a big mess so why not do a little every day to tidy up before things get out of hand?

I love the Container Store for a multitude of products.

The store even sells metal lunch compartment boxes instead of plastic ones. It sells reusable strong plastic bags so you don’t have to keep buying and using and throwing out the common plastic zip bags.

What did me in this time around? Counting up every pair of shoes I owned–37 pairs before I threw out a pair of booties with cracked heels.

Too I say the goal is to be able to keep your clothes long-term. Instead of buying things over and over and having to keep donating them because you don’t wear them anymore.

Buy what you love and will last for years. Keep your clothes in good condition.

As regards those shoes: an expert tailor can shine them so that they look like new after years of wear. I go to a shoe repair guy that is a miracle worker.

He’s going to waterproof two pairs of shoes. He can revive shoes. He can put taps on the heels. Absolutely–the shoe repair guy in your town is your best-kept secret.

Your shoes can make or break how you look. So can your clothes.

Now that National Clean Out Your Closet Week is here why not do a good-for-you spring clean?

In the coming blog entry I’ll talk about spring cleaning your life.