Do you ever have moments when you just want to rebel against your carefully cultivated and curated self? When you look in your wardrobe at all your well-chosen basics and your wonderfully tasteful classics and staples and you’re like “ARGH I NEED SOME HOT PINK AND LEOPARD PRINT, STAT!”
(Okay, maybe it is just me.)
Now, I am all for simplicity and mindfulness in fashion. We’ve well established I’m a major Everlane groupie. And I’ve long been super interested in curating ideal capsule wardrobes for the season, for myself and even for my toddler. It’s kind of a weird Virgo-rising obsession of mine.
But sometimes you just need some spice, fun, joie de vivre. Sure, you could probably get your kicks in another way — but sometimes you want to physically wrap yourself in something groove-inducing, you know?
I have a theory that sometimes you’re in a systems-building foundational mode in terms of life and wardrobe — and sometimes you’re in the “spice it up and make it sing” phase. (Of course, you can hit both phases in the same week.) I’ve spent time in the trenches uniforming and capsuling, and I’ve put together a pretty cohesive wardrobe that works for many aspects of my life.
But lately I find I need some verve. I don’t want to spend investment-level amounts sometimes on things to spice up the wardrobe, though, so that’s when I start looking at things like scarves, sunglasses and the like — my favorite (and reasonably economical) ways to bring the noise in terms of a wardrobe. I tend to pick them up, too, when I’m dashing about getting stuff for my toddler Budge, which is why you might see a lot of items from Old Navy, Target, JC Penney and the like in the dark corners of my wardrobe. I used to be such a cute boutique-y kind of shopper, but they just don’t exist in my town…and I don’t have the time to idle about and shop anymore. Mom problems, right?
Anyway, here are my current slate of boredom prevention items, for all those out there who get just a bit restless with a bit too much ‘good taste’!
The whimsical dress
There are investment dresses, of course, but I do find sometimes you just need a little “thing” to toss on when it comes to dresses. The whimsical dress, as I have come to think of it, is really a way to add a twist and explore a different style, even if it’s for a day.
These can be the wardrobe outliers, though there is an art to making them harmonize with other parts of your wardrobe. If you break down your style into materials, silhouettes, and color palette, I tend to like to stay within one area while exploring in another. Example: I’m very fond of black-and-white small scale patterns and swing silhouettes overall. I might choose to try my typical swing silhouette, but in a new color — or I might stay with my typical patterns but try it out as a jumpsuit, for instance, or a tank dress.
But of course, that’s just a rough suggestion — the point is to be whimsical, imaginative and try something different! So if you are suddenly like, “OMG I NEED A LEOPARD PRINT MINIDRESS!” then by all means, indulge!
Lately my favorite fall whimsy dress is the pintuck swing one at Old Navy. (The style I have above is sold out, but this is the same style in another print.) I got a beautifully happy yellow one last year (here’s a similar one) that I wore the heck out of, even though my sisters called it a ‘pilgrim dress.’ This year I picked it up again in the dark floral print, which got tons of compliments when I wore it out the first time. It’s swingy, swishy, forgiving and a great value at the price point. I wear it now bare-legged with my tan ankle boots and a cropped jean jacket, but when it gets colder I’ll probably bust out the black tights and black Frye or riding boots with my trusty black leather jacket. I will always have a bit of a goth within me, I suppose, and my boredom prevention items tend to speak to that.
The quirky shirt
Everything I wrote about the whimsical dress above can be applied to the quirky shirt. I think quirky shirts are a bit more versatile, since you can mix them with pants, shirts and skirts, so I like to have at least one a season. I found this Old Navy one a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t resist the little bunnies in the subtly intricate print. (My blouse is sold out, but here’s one at Old Navy that is another dark-based intricate pattern in a swingy style.) I did make a mistake and ordered a size too large, though, so I’d order a size down — it’s pretty flowy and Old Navy’s sizing is always on the larger size.
I’m finding these quirkier, more whimsical elements are the most “storyworthy” when it comes to my life — Budgie seems more fascinated by them, especially the little animals and flowers and graphics. I realized recently that my clothes will probably help form Budgie’s future childhood memories, in the same way I remember my own mother’s 70s floral dresses and groovy bellbottoms and knit turtlenecks. It adds a sweet dimension when it comes to thinking about what to wear, but also an interesting “responsibility,” because you’re helping to form your child’s visual memories and imagination. Just a thought I’m beginning to pursue, which I might expand upon for a future post…
Yes, I love a classic Ray-Ban frame: their wayfarers, clubmasters and aviators look amazing on almost everyone. But sunglasses are where I think you can take just a bit of a risk, even if they sit on your face. Lately I’m into these Karen Walkerish frames that I snagged at a local Forever 21. (A similar style in a lighter palette is still available.) But I’ve found fun frames at Charlotte Russe, Old Navy, Target and so forth. They may not last forever, but they sure are fun while they last.
Bags and shoes!
I remember a former sweetheart of mine being mystified about the intensity that women often have with their bags and shoes — and how expensive they could be. I launched into a lecture about craftsmanship, materials, and all that, but ultimately I think I nailed it down to one thing: women’s bodies can change a lot over the course of a lifetime — despite great efforts on the part of some — but great bags and shoes generally fit forever. (Unless pregnancy has done a number on your feet! Which it can!) I find particularly if your bag game is strong, you can wear any old thing, but your bag announces you still know what’s up.
I once was an ‘investment bag’ kind of girl, but I find more and more now my bags take much more of a beating as a mama type. (I remember my pangs of agony when Budgie chewed on the strap of a Marc Jacobs bag when he was younger and constantly teething…and so it was off to storage heaven.)
Honestly, I’m anxiously awaiting the time when I don’t have to lug a separate diaper bag around. (Someone please send the toilet-training angels my way!) Until then, right now I bought a gigantic tote for work and workout combo days. For shoes, I really try not to buy many — it’s probably where I am most conservative, sartorially speaking. But I picked up these tan strappy ankle numbers at JC Penney, of all places — they are surprisingly comfy!
Scarves are basically the easiest, funnest way to bring in the funk when you’re in a wardrobe rut and need to try something new. They are generally inexpensive, can be found anywhere at any price point and come in a bazillion different styles, patterns, colors and the like. Some people are not scarf-wearing types, of course, but if you are, then this is probably the easiest way to play around in a wardrobe.
I have plenty of scarves, so I don’t feel the need to get more this season. But I’m kind of feeling the long oblong scarf in a kind of classic colorblock pattern, or a more modernist abstract print. But I might hold off on this. Because sometimes you don’t need a lot to stave off fashion boredom — especially if you get just the right thing that settles nicely into your established wardrobe but brings some zing.