Trash my closet and start over? I don't know how to dress myself.
January 15, 2014 11:16 AM Subscribe
It's embarrassing to admit to being a 33 year old woman who can't dress herself, but my frustration is outgrowing my embarrassment. I have pretty much nothing in my closet that I like to wear, and that I feel I look good in. I wear nearly the same thing every day: jeans, sneakers/tennis shoes, t-shirt or slightly fancier t-shirt, and one of several ratty hooded sweatshirts, each of which has a hole in the left elbow. I dress like slob. I do not feel this look suits me, and I want to change it, but don't know how.
posted by polywomp to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (68 answers total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
There are a number of issues which are contributing to this sad state:
1. I have no understanding of the basics of putting together an outfit, a style, shopping correctly, etc.
These are likely skills that should have been imparted growing up, but for various reasons, I missed those lessons. I've tried to research this on my own. I've read how-tos, searched the intrawebs, and even discovered /r/femalefashionadvice on Reddit, and I haven't been able to integrate any of that knowledge in a useful fashion. That subreddit skews very young—though I am not interested in looking, well, old—and is not useful in the way that a manual on a given programming language won't be useful to someone that doesn't understand the basics of programming.
2. I am *literally* unable to visualize what something would look like on me, and I have some unpleasant shopping anxiety.
I am tall, with narrow hips, and am relatively thin. I feel as if most clothes are made for women with some curves, and fit me poorly. I can't tell if something would or would not look good. If I try it on, maybe, but due to some longstanding body and self-image issues, my automatic expectation is that it'd make me feel awful, even though I know my overly critical view of myself is unrealistic and biased. This makes online shopping hard, but also in-store shopping, since I can't even decide what to try on. In the past, I literally relied on having best friend pick out my clothing. I don't live near her anymore, and I don't have any female friends whom I could ask for help.
Clothes shopping in general fills me with anxiety, and I am not able to think about the task at hand, and I get to the point where I am in a rush to just leave, even if I have only been in the store a few minutes.
3. Everything seems really expensive, even if it's not.
I grew up dirt poor. I have been very poor my whole life, until recently, where I somehow arrived at a middle class income. This history has colored my perception of money and value. I don't know what the "normal" price for anything is. Paying $100 for a pair of shoes, or $300 for a purse or dress or whatever seems highly extravagant, though I get the impression this isn't the case. I have a lot of $10 t-shirts from Target. The most I've ever paid for jeans is $30, and I felt guilty doing it.
I could budget out a few hundred a month to update my wardrobe, if I wanted, so I think this kind of fear of spending is going to hinder me more than help me, but it is kind of ingrained.
4. I don't know what I want to wear or what kind of style I want.
I used to dress goth, until my early 20s. It was easy, and there were no scary uncertainties, as it only required long black skirts, ripped up black jeans, black t-shirts or lacy black tops. This probably didn't look good, but at least I didn't have to think about it. Currently, I don't even know what I want. I mostly never notice what other people are wearing. If I do, and it looks good, what I am most likely to think of is how it wouldn't fit on me, etc.
I have mostly shopped out of the juniors section of a given store, as the jeans were more likely to fit, but lately, regardless of the store this stuff has all seemed really juvenile. On the other hand, the "adult" women's section seems almost the opposite extreme, like things I'd expect to see on an elderly person, or soccer mom (no offense to either groups meant). Bright, garish patterns that could be some kind of BLIT, and gross feeling fabrics. I want to feel attractive without coming off as trying to be a teenager, I suppose. I have nice legs, but don't own any skirts. I am self-conscious about my figure but it's objectively not bad. I own no jewelry. I don't know what to do with any of this.
I basically have never been able to overcome any of this, and as such I kind of "missed out" on some things. My body is no different than it was 10 years ago, so I'd like to make the most of what I put on it before things start sagging, fat starts accumulating in weird places, or my head caves in or whatever. This is all really overwhelming, and what I would like most is some kind of formula where I put in my measurements and the result is "Buy this item of clothing and wear with this item of clothing and these shoes. Now do this for each color you don't hate." This doesn't exist.