Pretty and practical.
When I think about the clothes that make me feel great, it’s a handful of pieces that get worn over and over. Things that are practical, but that also make me feel pretty. This winter it was a select few sweaters and a couple pairs of pants. Today it was this t-shirt, jeans, and a pair of sandals. Definitely not my most exciting look, but I don’t dress to be exciting.
No one wants to agonize over getting dressed each day, and the best way I’ve learned to minimize agony is to minimize choices. I continue to believe variety is a distraction.
Today, I knew I wanted to wear easy sandals, so I picked from either my black pair or my neutral pair and didn’t have to think any further. I wanted to wear a comfortable, easy top, so I put on this v-neck tee. I wanted to pair the tee with a skinny pant so I wore my one pair of skinny jeans.
Things I like about this outfit:
V-neck. It’s the perfect v — low but not too low, and I feel pretty in a v-neck.
Comfort. The jeans don’t constrict but they give me that snug feeling, and they are stretchy enough that I have a full range of motion. The tee is cut loose but not baggy/boxy. I’m not constantly readjusting anything.
Function. Even in the sandals, I feel like I could break into a run if I had to because they have an ankle strap. Climb a ladder, do a downward dog — I like knowing I can navigate the world even if the unexpected happens.
So this outfit satisfies both “Pretty” and “Practical.” That doesn’t mean each and every piece is either pretty or practical all by itself. The t-shirt is fairly basic and not inherently pretty, but with some minor styling (a front tuck into the jeans that drapes and highlights my waist) it transcends its basic-ness. Adding pair of earrings also gives a feminine touch to the look.
If you can refine your style down to it’s most basic parts, you’ll see what you really like. Think about how you want to feel — it doesn’t have to be pretty — and weed out all the things that don’t make you feel that way. If you remain conscious of how you feel when you wear things, soon you’ll have a strong wardrobe that reflects how you want to be.
I know not everyone wants to Kon-Marie away their wardrobes, and it can be fun to have some novelty, to keep things fresh. There’s no magic number of things to keep in your closet. But, always be mindful of how much you are consuming. Think about secondhand shopping or borrowing from your friends to get more variety without always purchasing new.
Speaking of being mindful about consumption, I loved Grechen’s thoughtful post that reminds us we can’t buy our way out of the environmental mess we’ve created. It’s true that no matter how ethical or sustainable or low-impact a thing is, it’s still a thing that has used up resources.
While I’m not perfect in my consumption habits, I try to be better than I could be. What that looks like is different for everyone. Without committing fully to the ascetic life, how do you strike a balance between personal desire and global impact?
For me, it’s making an effort to shop secondhand or to not shop at all (always working on that self-discipline). It’s the standard laundry list: recycle, try not to waste food, use reusable straws/bags/containers. It’s choosing to eat less (or no) meat. Perhaps more importantly, it’s giving money to organizations that advocate for change on a political level, like the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.). It’s talking to people I know about ways to do better.
I could list off all the ways I’m NOT being the most perfect wonderful citizen of the world, but then I’d get into a guilt and anxiety spiral, and I try to stay out of those when I can. It’s not helpful, and it’s a waste of time to spend your life feeling bad about things.
I don’t get dressed every day so I can be depressed about the world. I want to get dressed to go out and be EXCITED about the world. I want to be alive in it, to climb ladders and do downward dogs and break into a run if I feel like it. Clothing — even “ethical” clothing, whatever that is — isn’t going to solve all our problems. But we need to wear clothes (in our society at least!), so I’m going to try my best to clothe myself in a way that does less harm and makes me feel my best.
In lieu of an affiliate link to where you could buy the sandals I’m wearing new from Nisolo, I’ll link you instead to Grechen’s secondhand shop SLOWRE where I actually bought them!