Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How I Get Dressed

I'm writing this post wearing these fake eyeglasses.  It makes me feel authoritative.  I'm going to wear them while I write this, because I want to feel authoritative.

Are you convinced of my aptitude?  (Even though I had to re-spell aptitude three times right then?)

My friend and former neighbor Kelly (Hi, Kelly!) suggested a while ago that I share something about how I dress.  I found this request very perplexing.  I had no idea what to say.  It's taken me a while to think about what I think about how I dress.  (This is called meta-dressing.)  (Little Psychology joke for you, there.)

I finally sat down and made a running list about how I do it.  For me.  Not sure if this is wrong or right, but it's how I roll.  Fasten your cufflinks.

I do my best to be realistic about my body's size and shape.  I will never be 5'10".  I will never look good in skinny jeans, but I can still wear things that look good on me.  I have learned this from watching hours upon hours of TLC's What Not To Wear.  Time well spent?  Perhaps.

When shopping, I ask for help from the sales people.  Most of those folks are clothes junkies and quite good at styling.  They've seen your body type a million times before and are happy to point out things that would work for you.  I especially do this with jeans.  I don't want to try on 50 pairs, so I ask them to recommend 5 or 6.  They're good at it.  Trust me.

I try on things I don't think I'll like.  I try to stay out of ruts with my clothes, so if I'm gathering stuff to try on in a store, I grab something I wouldn't normally pick.  Sometimes it turns out that it's the only thing I like.

I try not to buy things just because they are on sale.  VERY HARD LESSON TO LEARN.  MANY SMACKINGS OF MY FOREHEAD UNTIL I GOT THIS ONE.  I try to think of the cost of a clothing item like this: If I buy a great shirt for $40 and I wear it 138 times before I give it away, the cost of each wearing is 28 cents per wearing--cheap!  If I buy a sort-of good shirt on sale for for $8 and wear it twice before I realize that I was fooling myself about its goodness and give it away, the cost of each wearing is $4.  Not worth it.

I buy cheap jewelry and sunglasses.  This comes from many, many years of not having much money.  I love my cheap, colorful, practically-disposable jewelry from Target, Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, Old Navy, Steve & Barry's.  (Although, I have to say that my dear sister-in-law DeDe has given me two darling necklaces from Darlybird that I wear all the time and forever get compliments on.)

I wear dark jeans.  It's just a good idea, in my opinion.  It looks more slim and more dressed-up.

I can't stop buying red shoes.  I wear red shoes all the time, and with almost everything in my closet.  I try them on with most things I'm wearing, and I'm often surprised at how much they go with.  I suspect this is true of many colors, I just happen to be a sucker for red.

I give away stuff I don't wear anymore.  Sometimes this is devastating because I SWEAR I'm going to lose those ten pounds and fit into that dress again, but the problem is that I've been swearing that for three years.  Here is one of the greatest of life's truths: If you love something (that doesn't fit), give it away.  You'll feel better if the stuff staring back at you in the closet is stuff that fits you.

I don't care about matching.  In fact, the older I get, the more I think that matching is boring.  We've been matching things since we learned to play Memory in preschool.  Snore.  I try to think about the color wheel and pick a contrasting color.  For example, I have an orange and white t-shirt that I always wore with some gold/brown jewelry.  Kind of boring.  Then I decided to wear my orange and white t-shirt with a turquoise necklace and earrings.  It was pretty cute.

I browse catalogs and see how clothes are styled.  I can't afford anything from J.Crew, but I sure do like the way they dress those skinny little models!  Seriously, though, I look through catalogs and magazines and take mental notes.

I like interesting coats and jackets.  I have a yellow car coat that I bought at Target a couple of years ago.  I love it.  There was a black one for sale, but a black coat can be so....forgettable.  And I want to be unforgettable.  Like Nat King Cole.

I use a full length mirror to check things out after I get dressed.  I figure that I should probably inspect the whole package, since it's what everybody else is going to see.  Many times, I change or adjust something after checking it out.  And every now and then, that's when I notice my zipper is down.

I experiment with my closet--colors, patterns, textures.  I have a brightly patterned yellow and green skirt that I'd worn a lot with a green top.  A few weeks ago, I paired it with a blue and white striped button-up shirt, and, hey, whaddya know?  It worked.  It was the darndest thing.

I shop anywhere and everywhere, but I would say that an awful lot of my wardrobe has come from the lower-end stores, including Target, Old Navy, and Forever 21.  I also love to shop at small businesses; they have so much personality.  My favorite spots in Utah were Hip & Humble and Whimsy--great stores with unique finds.

I dress up, even if I'm alone.  Other than the occasional day when I end up in my pajamas at 6:00 p.m., I get dressed every day.  And, people, I sit in my house alone all day working.  I think it makes me feel better about myself, and although they haven't said anything so far, I think the walls in my house really appreciate it.

I don't overdo jewelry.  I have this friend Linda who wears 33 pounds of jewelry every day--amazing necklaces (three or four together) and huge earrings, bracelets (again, three or four) and giant cocktail rings--and she looks fantastic.  I mean, just fantastic!  But I can't pull it off.  If I wear a bold necklace, I wear subtle earrings or no earrings at all and vice versa.  But, that's just me.

I have fun.  As I thought about how I dress myself, it's not unlike how I write or how I decorate my house or how I cook--I always try to go for something fun and interesting.  Sure, it's not the most important thing in the world, not even the 5789th important thing in the world, but I have to get dressed everyday--why not make it a fun experience?

OK, I've given my ideas. Please give me yours.  Please!


Heather said...

Thanks for the great tips!! I also love What Not To Wear...such great advice!!

Leslie said...

Thank you! You are a fashion inspiration. I dress mostly in the forgettable department. But, I'm starting to get a little more adventurous!

Kami said...

You know I love this post, I have always loved your style. My favorite bit of advice is the no to matchy-matchy bit. I need to think outside the box more on that one.

Kristina P. said...

WNTW changed how I dress, completely. I used to watch for the entertainment value, and now I watch for tips.

I shop a lot at Target, Banana Republic, and J. Crew.

And my main tip? You can never have too many cardigans. I wear cardigans probably 5 days a week. I think they just add extra oomph and they are adorable.

Christy said...

Oh my gosh, loved this! THOROUGHLY ENTERTAINING & helpful. It just made me smile & miss you!

Current Friend, fomer neighbor - Kelly said...

Hi back! I love, love, love all the
advice you've just given. I noticed how you wear scarves quite often so I started buying scarves. But they sat in my closet, neglected, unworn because I felt I couldn't pull it off. Well, I had surgery, gained weight, and needed something to cover up my buttons on my shirt that looked like they were ready to burst, and what do you know? I wore my first scarf! And I loved it! I also love TLC's What not to Wear. They've taught me a lot about fit and fabric. Sometimes, when I have extra time on my hands, I will try things on together so that I have an "outfit" down to the shoes ready to go out a moments notice instead of standing in front of my closet in a skirt and wondering what it goes with. Sometimes I will actually try to visualize Stacy London wearing something that I'm wearing and if it looks like her style, I know I look okay. Love love love the post!!

Erin said...

Hi Tiffany!

I found your blog from Kami's and just love your witty writing style. This post was so great! I completely agree with all of your tips, especially the one about not buying something just because it's on sale. I do that all the time! Buy something I don't LOVE just because it's cheap and then hardly wear it. Well no more!

I'm off to go through my closet and attempt to pair something orange with something blue...

Kim said...

I just bought a purple satin coat! Dare to be bold.

Becky said...

I have to say that most, who am I kidding, ALL of my fashion sense came from spending time and shopping with you! To this day, when I wander around Gateway, a tear comes to my eye as I think of all the good times we had shopping there. :) I still have my first pair of $100 jeans that you helped me pick out! I will be walking through Forever 21 and see something and will ask Nicole, "who does this remind you of?" and she'll answer, "Tiffany". There's just something about Tiffany. Thanks for your advice- great post!

Pedaling said...

i mix gold and silver and don't even care.
i wear open toe shoes whenever i want.
i really like your style and this was great advice
and a most wonderful post.
i'm glad kami shared it.
i shared it, too.

Kate said...

I heart red shoes. And I wear them with everything too. Thanks for the ideas! :)

Kellybee said...

I had to laugh about the red shoes! I adore red shoes as well! They are the first thing my eye goes to in a shoe store. I loved this post, because I am in serious need of some fashion help. I find myself drawn to the same old uniform everyday...t-shirt and's easy, comfortable and kid friendly, but I think it is time to be 30 (or 32 if I want to be really honest with myself) and step it up a notch! Thanks for the great ideas!

ern said...

This post reminded me why, even though I've never met you, I think you are rad and I love to read your blog.

Annie said...

i have a hard time with not only sale items, but clearance items! i have, however, found lots of great stuff on clearance. i dress boring, i know it, i admit it. boring=comfort. dressing cute just looks uncomfortable! and i just don't think i can pull it off. maybe one day i will wander over in to the non-sale items part of the steps!

The Coolest Allen Family said...

Thank you for the advice on the sales rack stuff. I am going to change my wicked ways.

Also, I love, love, love red shoes! I too, wear them all the time.

Angie said...

Wow, that was really cool. I've been stuck in a rut for a loooong time, and when I got shopping for fall I am going to remember some of this. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Tiff - You always look incredible!
Great Tips!

heidi b

Soul-Fusion said...

love your orange and turquoise combo and love your style. Amen on the dark jeans.

rychelle said...

i loved this post! excellent advice.

i must own five pair of red shoes, and i'm going to start wearing them more often!

marta said...

loving this. am seriously in envy of your fabulous fashion sense. thanks for sharing.

summer said...

i feel so good (equipped, unafraid, wanting to go shopping) after reading this post. you are one smart girl. thanks for everything you said!

Petit Elefant said...


Were we twins separated at birth? Perfect description. The *buy it just because it's on sale thing* was a hard, hard lesson indeed.

alison said...

Now I don't have to call you every time I get dressed. Thank You. I love coats too but it is because I am not always dressed up nice at home like you and I can just throw it on with a pair of jeans and go. It's a problem in the summer. I need to move to the north pole. And coats cover up those extra 10 lbs you have been trying to lose since last winter.
I also look at magazines and exspensive stores and then try to copy. Also I have bought alot of shoes at Ross and then see the exact same pair at Nordstrom or Dillards a week later for way more money. I also think a good piece of jewelry gets alot of use. Remember my brown necklace? I wore that with everything and everywhere. Thanks for the post. It was great!

tiburon said...

Such great tips! Would you believe that I don't own a full length mirror?

I am a big believer in spending more money on a couple of nice key pieces instead of going the cheap route and having them fall apart.

MiaKatia said...

Thank you for these tips. They are all really good. I started forcing myself to get dressed every day a while back when I did FlyLady. It changed a lot for me and helped me get over the postpartum blues with my first baby. There is something to looking nice for yourself. I am desperately trying to break my clothing rut. I used to buy one shirt in three colors.WHY DID NO ONE STOP ME?!?!?!

shannon p. said...

I always think I might figure out something about fashion when I grow up! Getting dressed for me is ususally just grabbing whatever isn't dirty, hoping it looks as good as I can imagine it looking when I was 15 pounds lighter and trying NOT to look in a full length mirror (especially not at my back side). Thanks for all of the tips! I'll try to implement them so that someday I can be almost as cute as you are!

Omgirl said...

So many great ideas. I like the one about not trying to hard to match stuff. That's good advice. I also really like to dress for my body type. I'm very hippy. And whenever I tell people that, they swear that I'm not. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Amanda said...

Wow awesome advice!

I also, along with every other woman, have those head-smacking things that I've bought.

Thanks for the post!

Miranda said...

dang, this is an awesome post! thanks for sharing your wisdom...and yes, the glasses, authoritative.

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