Lately, I’ve been going through an identity crisis. A sartorial one, primarily, stemming from the question, “Who am I if I’m not working?” combined with the dread of becoming invisible with the passing years.
As a freelance writer/retired (mostly) by choice, I could spend the day in ratty sweatpants and no one would notice. But that’s just not “me”; I worked in an office for 30 years and dressing for work is a difficult habit to overcome. Plus, I’ve always loved fashion.
This particular crise du jour is also accompanied by weight loss, which would normally be cause for celebration but is in fact cause for alarm/introspection/analysis as I have to decide: Since I have to buy new clothes that fit, WHAT should they be?
The delightful blogger Lady Sarah offers a brilliant suggestion: Create a pie chart for how you actually spend your time so that you can buy accordingly. Instead of shopping for a fantasy life, I’m taking this a step further to analyze not just how I currently spend my time but how I’d like to spend it.
• At home doing chores, scrolling through online articles, contemplating working out, watching TV, contemplating cleaning, actually working out, reading, actually cleaning
• At home writing (want to project a professional image, if only to myself)
• Running errands: Stained tees are a non-starter even though the chances of bumping into someone I know — since I know virtually no one in Texas — are slim to none
• Lunch dates: All too few. Goal: expand opportunities
• Dinner dates with husband and friends: Ah, safe ground here. Need to look nice but not overly fussed over
• Opera/Symphony: Unlikely to run into anyone here either but a good excuse to dress up
• Entertaining at home: What to wear that is chic but won’t get stained while cooking?
• Travel: My sweet spot, wardrobe-wise. I’m a big-city girl at heart and enjoy being able to wear my favorite pieces without feeling overdressed. Not that anyone’s looking – but it’s all about how you see yourself, isn’t it?
• Playing with grandchildren: Not the time for a silk blouse, but surely I can do better than an old band t-shirt and leggings even if the baby is likely to spit up
• Summer hiking/walking: Anything goes, as long as it’s waterproof
• Wine tasting (a favorite summer activity): Upgraded casual, mostly dark colors in case I spill something – a real possibility around Glass #3
All in all, what I’ve learned from this exercise is that I shouldn’t buy another leather jacket since I live in a warm climate (much as I adore them) and that I should create more opportunities that are appropriate for my favorite items rather than “dumbing down” my wardrobe to match my mostly-stay-at-home activities.
Sign me up for: adult education classes, more travel, more lunches/dinners with friends, more evenings out, volunteering at anything where you shouldn’t look like a slob, and so on.
Anyone else having an identity crisis as you change jobs, become a stay-at-home parent or approach retirement? Please share your solutions and insights with the rest of us!
I’ve been in same situation and addressed it by finally focusing on the problem, researching and paying attention to reality in order to avoid expensive mistakes. Decided I can continue to indulge–within limits–shoe and handbag preferences, ensure there are cute, stylish and figure flattering jeans in closet, a few basic color casual pants, and plenty of really cute tops. Jewelry, shoe and top choices can then be adjusted depending on occasion. I still run to grocery store in leggings and cute long tee and I’ve had to update wardrobe with a few dresses because funerals and weddings require those. Also, and this might be a Texas thing, I always apply at least some makeup regardless of where I’m headed because you are right–it’s about our own morale. 😀
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Really good points, Laura! I think awareness and research are key… slowing down to avoid those impulse buys that don’t work. And “cute” being the operative word, as opposed to “ripped/stained/perfect for painting the bathroom”! Also, YES re makeup: or if not makeup, lipstick and big sunglasses!
Iam constantly evaluating my wardrobe, it’s so easy to get into a rut. You would not believe the stupid things I bought over the years for ‘imaginary’ scenarios, hence the pie chart joke😃 was born.
I try to wear (and buy) clothes for the best version of ‘me’, even at home I aim to wear something I could potentially be seen if without embarasment…
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Dear Lady Sarah,
Your pie chart is such a funny idea but also a really clever and helpful suggestion for those of us who aren’t sure how we’ve managed to acquire so many unsuitable items.
I still can’t resist winter clothing even though it’s only cold about 3 weeks a year here. You will see me out and about in boots and a sweater if the calendar says January, even if it’s 80 degrees! I’d be so bored only wearing summer clothes. I guess that’s one reason I love to travel 🙂
Love your blog!
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