Posts Tagged ‘rules’

My Rules

The advantage of age, I hope, is experience and wisdom.  If you make enough of the same mistakes over and over you should start figuring out what works for you, and what doesn’t.  At least that’s been the case with me.  And by starting to cut out certain things from my wardrobe, shopping has actually become much easier.  There are still pieces I’m working through and trying to figure out but these are the things that I absolutely know:

No turtlenecks or collared shirts

I think this is because I was strangled or hung to death in a past life.  I can’t stand having anything around my neck, even jewelry.  Also, by narrowing in on my neck these styles emphasize by comparison my large breasts, which I am now trying to deflect attention from.  I know that tailored fitted shirts that are the right size won’t gape at the breast area but this is just something I’ve decided for myself not to deal with.  Also, it just isn’t ME.

No whites or pastels

I know myself.  I have a true story from college involving myself, three identical cute white Banana Republic shirts, fruit punch, multiple wardrobe changes, and much hilarity.

No special treatment

No dry clean, no line dry, no hand wash (This tends to eliminate a lot of sweaters, which is ok because I tend to run hot).   I don’t have the time.  I have 3 cats and a toddler so I need things that can get barfed/peed/pooped/drooled on that I can throw in the wash and dryer without worrying.  This wasn’t always the case but for the time being I’ve decided shirts can be my disposable item.  They can still look good if the cut and style is right.  Then I balance it out with higher quality denim and shoes.

Long enough shirts

Even though I’m only 4’11” I am long-waisted.  I am proud of my butt but I don’t like exposing my butt crack to the world. I also know a little something about muffin tops.  Therefore I never buy tops that will expose any part of my mid-section.

There are more but that’s all I have time for tonight. After a while you’ll see a sort of a “uniform” start to emerge (More on that later). It is nice to have rules, but rules that are tailor made specifically for you.  There are people who look fantastic in white, or turtlenecks. But you won’t see me in them because I feel uncomfortable and therefore will not look good.

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Hello, I’m deathmama.  You may not know it from the way I look today but I’ve put a lot of time and thought into this question over the years. I dress to look and feel good, for myself.  I don’t dress to be trendy, fashionable, or to attract attention (though there were times in my past when I dressed for all of those reasons!).  Now at 36, I just want to be comfortable but not look like a total cow.

To achieve this, I’ve had to impose some rules for myself.  I’ll be using this blog to throw out these little thought nuggets from time to time. Here’s the first one.

Only keep what you wear

It’s harder than you’d think but saves a lot of time and grief later. If I haven’t worn it in a year I probably will never wear it.  There’s a reason why I haven’t worn it.  It’s too small, it’s too loose, it’s not the right color, the fit isn’t quite right, the fabric feels weird, there’s a stain on it, the button’s missing, etc.  If something in my closet looks good only on the hanger but not on me, then it has to go.  I realized this when I did my big closet purge of 1997.  I had so many sentimental pieces.  A book I was reading at the time (“Simple Isn’t Easy” by the late Olivia Goldsmith and Amy Fine Collins) said something like “It’s not a diary, it’s your closet!” which struck a chord with me then and stays with me still.  Clothes are for wearing.  I don’t have a lot of time thinking about what to put on each morning.  But if I know that I can wear everything I own, then I only need to reach in and grab a top, bottom and go.  I already know they work on me.

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As soon as I mention “Fashion Rules,” people start arguing with me.  I guess rules beg for resistance.  I never was trying to impose a ban on clothes I don’t approve of (except MAYBE visors . . . more on that later).  I’ve noticed that everyone has their own self-imposed fashion rules, anyway.  Our UNwritten rules about what we’ll wear often don’t make sense and usually hold us back.  And most of us are walking around unhappy with the way we dress.

My story: In 2008 I went back to work after 18 months home with my kids.  It was time to give away my maternity clothes (hard to do — I love those stretchy waists, and for reasons that are sort of difficult, I can’t have more kids). I started unpacking my old work clothes and realized: 1. They were stretched out, worn out and didn’t fit and 2. I never really liked them in the first place. They represented a time when I didn’t like my job and fought the requirement to dress professionally. Sometimes I wore the same thing two days in a row because no one noticed me anyway.  These were bummer clothes.  

In those days — the “what can I get away with” days — I had unwritten rules that limited what I would or “could” wear — this was in my Business Casual (lawyer) wardrobe:


  • No heels.
  • No pantyhose.
  • Actually just wear boots with thick athletic socks, or sandals in summer.
  • But not heels.
  • Nothing that tucks in.
  • Nothing that needs to be ironed.
  • Actually, let’s stick to knits.
  • Nothing that doesn’t match my one pair of black boots.

As part of my obligatory Mom-goes-back-to-work daydreaming, I was browsing catalogs.  There are a lot of cute clothes out there, and it started to dawn on me that maybe I could wear them.  Could I actually Dress Well at a new job?  Could I wear a suit without looking like an elderly high school principal (I’m 36?) Could the clothes I’ve resisted all my life –heels and skirts, nice handbags and blouses – actually work in my favor?

Did I have a prayer of ever pulling it all together?

This was a bigger revelation than it sounds.  It actually kind of changed my life and the way I think about myself.  I became a devoted disciple of What Not to Wear, and I adopted their idea of “rules.” Here was my first list:


  • No juniors department
  • No. Polyester.
  • No clothes from Costco, Target or Fred Meyer. At least until next summer.
  • Try EVERYTHING ON before buying. No catalog/online sprees.
  • Buy pants and skirts that look good in the butt and get them hemmed (they are always too long)
  • Dark neutrals other than black
  • No elastic waists — buy clothes that fit and then don’t gain weight
  • No schlumpy sweaters (I got rid of this Used-to-be-beautiful striped cardigan when I realized it looked just like an awful one someone was “too attached to” on What not to Wear).
  • Keep copies of InStyle and Vogue in the bathroom so I get used to people looking stylish

Since then I’ve added some rules and ignored many.  More on that to come . . .

Dressed and ready for new job!

Dressed and ready for new job!

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