What your clothes say about you, part two

The second part of a three-part series.

Yesterday, I looked at the first part of the questionnaire from What your clothes say about you by Jennifer Baumgartner. That dealt with your past and your clothing influences. Today, let’s look at what she asks about the present. 

Present

* How would you describe your style now?

* How do you feel when you get dressed?

* Why?

* How do you feel when you shop for clothes?

* Why? 

* How often do you shop? 

* Why?

* Who is your style inspiration?

* Do you find getting dressed difficult?

* If so, when did the difficulty start?

* What is the most difficult part of getting dressed?

* Do you find that you have nothing to wear?

* Do you wear the same thing all the time?

* Do you wear a new outfit every day?

* Do you dislike most of the clothes in your wardrobe?

* Do you have a specific style that is ‘so you’?

* Do you wish you could improve the way you dress?

* What is your favourite colour?

* Do you have that colour in your wardrobe?

* Is your style classic or trendy?

* Traditional or modern? 

* Clean or adorned? 

* Fitted or loose? 

* Short or long? 

* Do you wear what other women in your cohort wear? 

* Have you ever tried to get help in creating a wardrobe? 

* Is your closet full of old or new items? 

* Is your closet neatly organised or messy? 

* Is your closet empty or crammed?

* Do you wear your clothes? 

* Do many of your clothes still have tags?

* Do you feel that your clothes represent who you are?

* Do you feel that your clothes flatter your body?

* Do you feel that your clothes enhance your age? 

* Do your clothes function well with your current lifestyle?

* What is the most common fashion mistake you make?

* Have you tried to change that?

* Has your style changed with a time of major transition?

* Are you happy with this change? 

* Are you content with your current wardrobe. If so, why?

—————- 

And here, for the record, are my answers:

PRESENT

* How would you describe your style now?

Comfort dressing. Practicality HAS to come first, especially winter warmth. In winter I’m bundled up in thermals and fleece layers. In summer, I like a dress but it’s hard to wear dresses, because of the grass and nettles. Shoes have to be flat. I suffer from hot flushes, so I have to layer my clothes. Jeans, tees, vests, cardis, boots, wellies, waterproof coats and warm knits are my life – in summer, a linen dress with a blouse or cardi, or trousers with a tee. I don’t like to show my arms now that I’m older and I don’t feel comfortable in short skirts because I like to sit cross-legged and I also loathe tights. Jeans and a long-sleeve tee, or pull-on pants and a tunic, that’s me. 

* How do you feel when you get dressed?

Comfortable but often frumpy. 

* Why?

Because I’m not wearing the clothes I want to wear, I’m wearing the clothes my lifestyle dictates.  I’d like to look elegant, sophisticated and more urban but my lifestyle doesn’t support that look – not only are those kinds of clothes not practical for my life, I’d look totally out of place if I wore them. I thought when I came to the country that I could wear unsuitable clothing because I’d be in the house all day, but in fact the COLD in the house pretty much dictates what I wear. Even in summer, it’s cold inside the house –  I usually have to wear a cardigan. In summer I can wear prettier things, but in winter I yearn for things that don’t exist: stylish fleece, Viyella, knitwear that’s actually warm enough. My indoor clothes are most people’s outdoor clothes. 

* How do you feel when you shop for clothes?

In shops, frustrated: I just don’t bother any more – I buy nearly everything online. Half the time, the clothes in shops aren’t in my size, and choice is limited here, to either mall-style cheap things or expensive boutiques. I’m astounded by prices – 40 euros for a completely ordinary blouse, for instance. I can find things that I like and things I can afford but not both. French clothes aren’t cut for my shape either – they have very narrow sleeves and the French don’t wear full skirts. I tend to buy from the UK and stick to a few labels: Wall, Orvis, Boden, Land’s End, where I can guarantee the quality and have some idea of the cut. I get excited when the catalogues arrive and enjoy browsing around the sites. I’m quite good at interpreting a look at a lower price level. 

* Why? 

Frustrated because fashion isn’t designed for women my age, my shape or who live my lifestyle. French clothes are terribly, terribly expensive, other than cheap rubbish at the supermarket. I love my specialist clothes – my swimwear and my trekking clothes – they’re beautifully made and fit for purpose, but they’re not stylish. I find shoes a complete nightmare these days. 

* How often do you shop? 

Quite often, really, at least once a month. 

* Why?

Because I keep buying things that don’t quite work, then I end up having to buy more, different styles. 

* Who is your style inspiration?

Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. Tina Chow, and any of Balenciaga’s models – elegant, a little severe. Talia Shire in Godfather III with her beautiful velvets and wraps. The women in MadMen – so glamorous and beautiful. I love Inès de la Fressange, but her style wouldn’t suit me – she’s rake thin and six feet tall. I’m short and voluptuous but I don’t want to dress like an Italian bombshell. 

* Do you find getting dressed difficult?

On a daily basis, no – I just pull on my clothes and go. But I don’t look nice and I try not to leave the house in these clothes. Looking nice, I find more difficult. 

* If so, when did the difficulty start?

When I gained weight again after my illness. I hate being over 8st 7lb but am currently much heavier than this. I have large breasts and a pot belly. I don’t so much mind having a big rear and hips, thighs, etc, but I hate my matronly bosom – it spoils the line of clothing. 

* What is the most difficult part of getting dressed?

Shoes. My feet absolutely kill me and comfortable shoes require trousers when my body looks better in a dress. I cannot find flat shoes or boots that I like and can walk in. And bras are hopeless. What I really want is smaller breasts – an A cup would suit me just fine, thanks. 

* Do you find that you have nothing to wear?

Yes when I’m going out. At home, dressing is easy but when going out I often change multiple times to find clothes that are comfortable and flattering. I am too fat to wear the things I really want to wear. 

* Do you wear the same thing all the time?

At home, yes – either pull-on denim bootcut jeggings/jeans and a long-sleeve tee (summer), or thermals and fleece layers. Out and about I try to ring the changes, and I like to make an entrance with colourful, beautiful coats. Most of my coats are vintage – 1950s styles suit my shape better than modern clothing. 

* Do you wear a new outfit every day?

No – I very often gather the clothes from the day before off the bedroom floor and only change my underwear. 

* Do you dislike most of the clothes in your wardrobe?

Not really. I have some beautiful clothes, I just don’t get to wear them. But I’m bored with my everyday clothes. There’s only so much black, navy and chocolate brown a girl can take, but any other colours show the dirt so much… 

* Do you have a specific style that is ‘so you’?

When I dress up, I’m classical rather than frou-frou. Simple. Vintage. A little arty. I’m perceived as stylish by some of my friends, but they don’t see me at home, where I spend 90 per cent of my time. 

* Do you wish you could improve the way you dress?

Yes. 

* What is your favourite colour?

Sky blue. 

* Do you have that colour in your wardrobe?

A little bit. Not much because it quickly soils in our brown water. I do wear turquoise a lot, which is an easier colour to find and wears a lot better. 

* Is your style classic or trendy?

Classic.

* Traditional or modern? 

Traditional. 

* Clean or adorned? 

Clean. 

* Fitted or loose? 

Skimming – not loose but not tight either. I don’t like tailoring and anyway it would seem stupid to wear a jacket at home. I can’t bear to be restricted in clothing – I need to be able to sit cross-legged, do my yoga, etc, without getting changed. Jeggings work better for me than jeans. 

* Short or long? 

Long. I like to keep covered up. Even in summer, as I burn instantly.  

* Do you wear what other women in your cohort wear? 

No. Most of the women I know are horsewomen, smallholders, etc, so they are pretty scruffy – breeches, jeans, wellies, stained teeshirts, baggy sweats. One friend wears fleece pyjama trousers now instead of real trousers, as she can’t get comfy otherwise. Many are short of money. Most aren’t bothered by the lack of ‘glamour’ but some are and feel a bit disheartened by it. 

* Have you ever tried to get help in creating a wardrobe? 

No. Clearly I should….

* Is your closet full of old or new items? 

Quite a lot of new, actually, as I have bought more in the past year or two, as I’ve had more money. I am happy with most of them but I still struggle. I feel that I make a lot of mistakes. 

* Is your closet neatly organised or messy? 

Messy – I try, but I have too much stuff to be tidy. I do arrange things by colour and type though: stacks of vests, tees, polos etc. 

* Is your closet empty or crammed?

Crammed to bursting. There are clothes all over the house – in the office, in the sewing room, in the bedroom, in the living room. I have far too many. 

* Do you wear your clothes? 

Probably not most of them. Many of my clothes are ‘too good to wear’ for the life I lead. I hate ruining good clothes with dog hair and ash and fluff and soot, and yet that is my life. And I resent paying a fortune for more interesting basics, which is stupid, as these are the things I really wear. Many of my clothes hang unworn in the wardrobe, awaiting a suitable occasion, while I live in the same few things until they literally fall apart. 

* Do many of your clothes still have tags?

No. But I do keep my new clothes to wear ‘out’ on the first occasion because they never look as good once they’ve been washed.

* Do you feel that your clothes represent who you are?

No. They are a mixture of what suits my lifestyle and what I can afford rather than what I truly like. 

* Do you feel that your clothes flatter your body?

I don’t think my current body CAN be flattered – it’s too fat. But I do think I choose clothes quite well for my body. I don’t think people realise I weigh as much as I do. 

* Do you feel that your clothes enhance your age? 

I don’t know. Sometimes I think I dress quite well for my age. At other times, I think I’ve lost the plot. Dressing advice seems to be so much about looking sexy and that’s not really something I want to convey in my clothing – I’d rather my clothes say ‘hands off’, to be honest. 

* Do your clothes function well with your current lifestyle?

My everyday clothes are perfect – I just don’t like them or am bored sick with them. And the clothes I want to wear don’t suit my life – they’re too delicate.   

* What is the most common fashion mistake you make?

A: being unwilling to buy an expensive basic and wear it and potentially ruin it. I try to protect my clothes as if they were art objects, and in practice, that often means not wearing them.

B: I also still buy clothes that aren’t suited to my practical country life – I like glamorous, impractical clothes that don’t suit my life. 

* Have you tried to change that?

Yes to A:, no to B: I long for the glamour that would go with my clothes. When I dress up, I tend to overdress compared with everyone else. I get a lot of compliments but often feel out of place. 

* Has your style changed with a time of major transition?

Yes, menopause. My body has changed a lot this past year. 

* Are you happy with this change? 

No. I feel fat, frumpy and mannish. Huge boobs that spoil the line of everything. Sweaty and disgusting. I can’t wear cotton any more and have to dress in layers for when the flushes strike. I’m constantly pulling jumpers on and off. 

* Are you content with your current wardrobe. If so, why?

No. I can’t seem to marry what I need with what I like and find clothes that are beautiful, flattering and practical all at the same time. 

——————

Well, clearly I am in a bit of rut to say the least! I’ve put on a lot of weight this winter, as I do every winter, but it is hanging around more than usual, partly because I am rubbish at cutting down on grub when the weather’s so cold. But also I am utterly sick of my winter clothes now. It’s nearly April, for God’s sake. I tried wearing a cotton teeshirt yesterday (under a fleece polo) but soon headed upstairs to change into my usual ski thermals. It was 5 degrees outside, with a wind that could take your face off. This time last year, we were in the high teens. Still, could be worse, could be a sheep farmer, poor sods. 

I am also in a period of transition with my style, casting about to find things that suit me as I head into my 50s. Last summer I longed for pretty, floral things but when I put them on, I felt a bit like a man in drag – I prettied up the house instead, with chintz curtains, etc, as if I felt like I myself was past redemption. 

I have in my head what I want – beautiful wide-leg or bootcut cotton velvet, cord and tweed trousers in shades of grey, pewter and plum, with lots of grey and pink cashmere, pashminas with beads or sequins, sweaters with contrast detailing or beaded necklines, etc – something a little more glamorous than my everyday wear. Well-fitting indigo denim bootcut jeans with slender white shirts and cotton cardigans with some interesting detailing. Beautiful flat shoes in bright suedes and velvets. I just find them very hard to track down….

Still, at least this exercise has made me think about all this a bit more. I am now heading for Boden for a look round.

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Tomorrow, the Future.  

 

 

 

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