LET’S GET REAL
Time to be real with you for a hot minute: I’d rather sit around my house doing nothing than go out wearing something uncomfortable (I’m guessing if given the chance, most of you would say the same). I’m currently trying to juggle a life of being chronically ill and being an adult that actively contributes to society. I know I’m not the only one performing such a stressful circus act every day. Lets face it, we are all under pressure to be our best selves under own unique circumstances. Why would we want to wear something that makes us want to crawl out of our skin while do it? As we get older, the concept of self-care becomes an important aspect in everyday life. What we wear ties directly into self-care and we find ourselves being more mindful of what we grab every morning before taking on the day, whether you’re heading to the office, taking the kids to school, or heading back to bed because you’re feeling unwell. If you’ve found yourself in a fashion rut lately or torn between style and comfort, I’m sharing my own personal TOP TIPS when stocking your closet, plus my favorite fashion finds that will have you feeling like a your best self next time you get ready to face your day!
NEVER PAY FULL PRICE
*Quick note before we get into my top tips: I worked in the clothing retail industry briefly after I graduated college. I learned two important points while working behind the scenes:
A.) the markup on clothes is over 40% so there’s plenty of room for discounts
B.) retail stores are constantly trying to keep your attention on their merchandise so they’ve evolved way past offering 4 lines of clothing for the 4 seasons of weather. They usually transition new lines of clothing every 4-6 weeks, meaning they are constantly rotating clothing and holding different sales. Something could be on sale today, full price tomorrow, back on sale by the end of the week at 30-50% off. Bottom line? If you like something but it’s full price, don’t be scared off! Keep an eye on it and watch for sales. Observe sale patterns of a certain store so you can hit the lowest price possible and do not be afraid to ask for price adjustments. You work hard for your money, you deserve to get you money’s worth whenever you purchase something!
1.) Go spend some time in your closet and bag up all the clothes you deem “uncomfortable”: I am dead serious. Go check out your inventory to see what you’ve got to work with. Anything that’s not comfortable, put it in a bag and get it out of your sight (please don’t throw it away. Just go put it somewhere safe, but out of sight. We’re not purging like there’s no tomorrow here). This step is meant to zone in on what you’ll actually wear every day. When you’re looking at a closet full of uncomfortable clothes, the feeling can be overwhelming and counterproductive. We don’t want counterproductive!
2.) When purchasing new clothing items, go with comfortable neutrals. The more neutrals you have in your wardrobe, the easier it is to pair items together (especially when you’re half asleep). DISCLAIMER: This step is not meant to dilute your uniqueness or sense of self. This is only a tip to help make getting ready easier for those who would rather get a root canal than figure out what to wear for a family function, dinner date, or work meeting. Have no fear! There are other steps listed to ensure your personality will shine through in your fashion choices, I promise!
3.) Practice “easy on, easy off” as your new mantra. I purchased one pair of jeans last year with exposed buttons and ended up returning them a week later… Unbuttoning them to try them on and then buttoning them back up hurt the joints in my fingers. I couldn’t imagine having to do that all day long just to go to the bathroom… Screw the hooks and loops and extra buttons and zippers if possible. If you can’t pull it on in under 5-10 seconds, you’re not going to wear it.
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4.) Pick pieces to be your “work uniform” and be done with it. There’s a reason Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs wore the same thing to work everyday. They don’t want to worry about trivial things! Take the worry out of your day too, whether it’s work or something else you do routinely, identify pieces you can wear regularly and comfortably and make them your “uniform”.
5.) Buy clothing that is machine washable. I made this promise to myself a few years back when I tried to convince myself that merino sweaters labeled “dry clean only” could be washed on delicate cycle and laid flat to dry. No matter how delicate you wash something and how much time you spend laying it out to dry, it will never be as perfect as it was on the first day you wore it. Save yourself the time and hassle (and trips to the dry cleaners) and go with machine washable.
6.) Wash everything with cold water and dry them on low temps. This helps to maintain the integrity of your fabrics for as long as possible and it also helps prevent colors from fading and bleeding onto other each other. If you buy something because you thought it was comfortable to wear, you’re going to want it to come out of the washer/dryer feeling the same way (and not like a piece of 220 grit sandpaper).
7.) Choose one or two (or 3) signature colors or patterns for accessories to help liven up your outfits. This is where you can add detail to your outfit and accessorize to make sure the real “you” shines through for the World to see. Some accessories don’t play nice with some people and I am well aware of that since I struggle with some myself (my skin reacts to certain metals, swelling makes it difficult for me to wear certain jewelry). Play around with nail polishes, headbands, and hats! I’m a sucker for a good hat, especially on days I’m not able to wash or style my hair.
8.) Do not worry about wearing heels to formal events. This is not mandatory, nor should you feel obligated to put your feet through hell just to show up to a function (or worse, to show up to work!). If you feel the need to own a pair of heels, go for the classic black heel that can take you from weddings to funerals with the snap of a finger and choose a rounded or almond toe box over a pointed toe box whenever possible. Anything 2 inches or less will be much more forgiving to your feet, trust me the difference between a 2 inch heel and a 3 inch heel is night and day.
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9.) When looking for new denim, pay attention to the fabric content. One of the side effects from my nerve damage is the malfunction of the nerves I still have that aren’t damaged. The tiny nerve endings responsible for your sense of touch sometimes become overactive and the slightest friction from any type of material sends them into overdrive. If the material causing the friction is thick and rough, forget about it. Most days, I barely make it through my front door after work, before ripping my pants and socks off to find relief. That may be TMI, but it’s the truth and I aim to keep it real here. I’ve found over the years that the best denim content has been anything that contains 98% cotton and 2% elastane. The cotton allows my skin to breathe, but the key is the elastane. It allows the material to stretch and move with me and it gives the cotton a more softened feel (especially if they have to be lined dried after a quick 15 minutes in the dryer on low).
I’ve also found some amazing pairs of black denim that have passed for tailored pairs of black dress pants, minus the inevitable wrinkling that always happens with dress pants and the rough feeling of “dress pant” material.
10.) The updated sweatshirt is the MVP of all clothing items when it comes to dressing stylish, yet comfortable. Heck yes! It’s appropriate to wear a sweatshirt wherever you want! When major fashion labels FINALLY started making fashionable sweatshirts, it was like the stars had aligned and the angels from heaven were rejoicing…O.K. not quite but pretty dang close! Nothing says “comfort” more than your favorite sweatshirt, freshly cleaned just waiting for you to throw it over your head and wear it proudly like a coat of arms. But that sweatshirt wasn’t exactly your first choice when everyone else was dressing up for that yearly family get together. What do you reach for when you need to dress up but you’re not exactly feeling you’re best? This is where your MVP gets tagged into the game. Now you can find sweatshirts that have been given an updated and more tailored cut, some have embellishments or lace detailing. Some are even embroidered or textured with different materials. Check out my favorite picks below!
11.) If you find something you really like, buy multiples! especially if it’s on sale! We buy thousands of items in bulk every day and there are stores dedicated to the art of shopping in bulk (I see you Costco and BJ’s). I don’t mean buy 15 of the same shirt, but if you find a piece you really connect with and you love the price tag, why not buy it in different colors? I practice this all the time and I don’t regret it one bit! Sometimes, I’ll even buy the same exact item more than once just in case I stain it or it gets discontinued (what can I say, I like to be prepared). Below are some of my latest favorites, linked in case you want to check them out yourself!
Like anything else in life, these tips are not meant to be followed word for word. They’ve worked for me at different points in my life, some together and at times I’ve relied on a lot of them to get my sick self out of the house. This doesn’t mean I don’t purchase unique pieces of clothing nor does it mean that I automatically pass on purchasing something I instantly fall in love with simply because it’s a bright color or because it has a crazy pattern. These tips are meant to be a base for the “everything else” you do. At the end of the day, you know YOU best and please always do what’s best for you. But if your wardrobe is holding you back from getting out and exploring everything that the World has to offer, take control of that closet, find your uniform, and when in doubt, just remember: People these days are wearing sweatpants out to the bars and nightclubs and calling them joggers!
What are some recommendation you have for dressing stylish yet comfortable? I’d love to hear from you!