How would you describe your style?
I’d call it, “This is Becky. She wears clothes.”
How do you feel in that outfit?
I feel like I’m wearing a shirt.
Thus went the conversation with my sarcastic, hilarious, and eternally lovable best friend Becky as we organized her wardrobe.
Becky is a mom to three kids–ages 7 months to 6 years–which means that she has been pregnant or nursing for the better part of the last few years. And as all moms know, this results in body size fluctuations that rival the rapidly of Taylor Swift’s relationship status updates. Add to this the fact that Becky rocks the professional life as a full-time working mama, and you know that the last thing on her mind is what to wear each day.
Hence the comments.
But I was not deterred. I knew her self-deprecating sarcasm too well and we were going to tackle her wardrobe, whether she liked it or not.
The first step? Clothes mountain.
This is where I give a shout out to my good friend and aerobics partner Marie Kondo. (Okay… we may have never met… I may just be imagining how awesome it would be to meet her and then do Jazzercise together. But–and this is the 100% God’s Honest Truth–she did once like a post I made on Instagram. So there!)
If you’ve never heard of Marie Kondo, she is a famous Japanese organizer who wrote The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which, if you couldn’t tell from the previous paragraph, did seem kind of magical to me. Read it. Thank me later.
Kondo recommends organizing by category (ie “clothes”) and gathering together all items in that category into one glorious heap. We did that.
Then we started the much harder process of deciding what to keep and what to donate. Since Becky has three beautiful children to thank for the aforementioned body size fluctuations, this required lots of trying-on. Most of the clothes in her closet were too big, which surprised her. In the end, she donated 10 bags of clothes, approximately 80% of her wardrobe. That might sound shocking, but according to statistics I read on the Internet–and thus fully believe–most of us wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. So, like she has with most statistical targets in life, Becky hit that one about right.
Then came the fun part… shopping. We snagged another childhood homie, piled into Becky’s car, and headed to Nordstrom Rack. We arrived late in the game – 7:30pm. The Rack closed at 9:00. It was game time.
Armed with a list of must-haves, we spread around the store, grabbing clothes like unattended toddlers snatching candy at a grocery store checkout. God smiled upon us and granted us a dressing room attendant who cared not for the little card that says you can only bring 8 items in the room. We brought armloads.
As Becky tried on outfit after outfit, something magical happened–she started to like what she saw. She put on shirts and smiled, I dare say even pranced in front of the mirror. There were several times the three of us actually broke out in dance moves in the dressing room. It was like one of those 1980’s movies where a girl with glasses takes off the glasses and suddenly is a totally different, hotter version of her former self and everybody likes her and she likes her and a Cyndi Lauper song starts to play. (Note: Becky does not wear glasses and she started and ended this process smokin’ hot. She is also universally loved by all, all the time. No Cyndi Lauper required.)
As she figured out what actually looked good on her–black leggings, boots, and blousy tops in jewel tones, to be specific–her confidence grew. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her that happy about an outfit. (And I’ve seen her in a lot of outfits, including a silver unitard she wore for a colorguard competition in high school. But–and again, God’s Honest Truth–she still has the unitard. That was part of the 20%. For real. You don’t meet girls like this every day.)
Becky bought a bonafide completely new wardrobe in 90 minutes. Done and done. We, of course, celebrated our accomplishment with drinks at a local establishment, where we discussed in hilarious detail things I only discuss with good friends over drinks. (Buy me a drink, friend, and you may be the lucky recipient of such tales…) We laughed ourselves silly and closed the place down.
So what is the moral of the story? Since I’m a former English teacher, I believe there are several and I will forthwith expound upon them:
- Whittle That Wardrobe – Whether your body has spent the past few years growing and feeding children or not, you probably have more clothes than you need. Try them all on if you must, but keep it honest and pare your wardrobe down to clothes you truly love. It’s a cliche, but it bears repeating: less is more. A closet full of stuff does not a fashionista make. In fact, the most stylish folks often have the smallest wardrobes because they actually know what looks good on them and wear just that.
- Enlist Friends – I think clothes-sorting, in particular, benefits from the advice and support of a few good friends. It’s no fun laughing about getting your arms stuck in too-small dress all by yourself.
- Discover Your Style – Even if you think you don’t have one, you do. Again, the friends help here. When you know the general type of clothes that fit your body–Blousy Bohemian? Cool Classic? Retro Romantic?–shopping is actually fun and you can look around your closet with joy. (Note: I don’t really know if those are all actual clothing styles… but the alliteration felt right and I think I read something like that in a Seventeen magazine once, so I went with it. Real fashion people, feel free to correct.)
- Know You’re Worth It – I really think a lot of us just wear clothes because it’s illegal not to (except in rare communities to which we probably don’t want to belong). You really do deserve to look good every day. And you’ll feel better about yourself if you do.
So if you, like Becky, would describe your style as “wearing clothes,” it’s time to get yourself a pal, weed through that closet, and find yourself some style. And hey, drinks on me if I’m invited to join the fun!