Wednesday, January 9, 2013

An Intervention: The Plan

It's an addiction.  I love clothes.  [...]  I have lots of costumes.  You never know when you're going to have to dress up like a milkmaid from the 1600s.  
~ Zooey Deschanel

I never dreamed it would get this bad, but I finally faced the truth and realized that it had to be done.  I have arranged an intervention for… myself.  I singled out one of my friends who, in my opinion, always looks classy and “put together” and asked her to play Stacy and Clinton (Stacon?  Clintacy?) from “What Not to Wear” with me. 

My wardrobe is hopeless – I have a closet full of clothes, but I never have anything to wear.  Nothing goes together and even if it did, I wouldn’t know how to combine things.  I end up wearing the same old handful of standbys all the time and, while I will grant you that I’m usually easy to spot in a crowd (!), I don’t think anyone would ever say that I look “put together”. 

So, I asked my friend, W., if she would take me on a shopping trip and help me start from the ground up to assemble a good, solid wardrobe and learn how to dress myself.  Once she realized that I wasn’t expecting her to provide the credit card pre-loaded with $5,000, she was happy and excited to sign on.  (Poor W. – I don’t think she knew what she was getting into – the money is likely to be the least of the difficulties!) 

We each did our homework ahead of time.  W. picked out the stores that she wanted to include in our shopping extravaganza and I looked up and aggregated a bunch of different lists of “basic wardrobe staples” from the internet.  (A good one is at Real Simple.)  

Oddly enough, when I showed her my initial list of over 50 items (just the basics, folks, nothing but the basics), it was not received with overwhelming approval and satisfaction.  Apparently she wanted me to “prioritize” or some such nonsense…  She didn’t even give me credit for the fact that I had already weeded out the velvet jacket!  ;)

What!?!?  We can’t purchase a basic wardrobe of about 50 items in a single shopping day?  Humph…. 

After a painful and brutally ruthless editing session, (cue triumphant Rocky theme song), I was able to get it down to about 30 items.  Yay! 

Here, then, is my prioritized list:

Top Priority
  1. At least 1 camisole in a neutral, skin-tone shade
  2. Tank tops – 1-4, at least 1 in black
  3. Short-sleeve t-shirt – at least 1 white & 1 black, possibly a couple more in other solid colors
  4. Long-sleeve t-shirt – 1 white & 1 black
  5. Pinstriped oxford shirts (2)
  6. Silk shells (at least 2)
  7. Cardigans – possibly 1 in black and 1 in white
  8. Fitted jacket/blazer
  9. Skirts for work – possibly 3 – maybe 1 solid/neutral and 2 patterned
  10. Blue jeans (2-4 pairs)
  11. Work slacks - 3-5 pairs, to include khakis, grey & tweed
  12. Solid color shirtdress
  13. Printed dress
  14. Belts – at least 2
  15. Flats – at least 2 pairs

Second Tier
  1. Graphic sweater
  2. Short sleeved white blouse
  3. Bold blouse
  4. Ruffled shirt
  5. Denim jacket
  6. A-line, wool skirt
  7. Little black dress
  8. Black suit – I own one suit and there are not many times in my job when a suit is necessary
  9. Summer suit – ditto
  10. Black pants – I already have a pair, but 2 isn’t bad
  11. White button up shirt – I already have one, but 2 isn’t bad

  1. Polo shirts (1-3) – meh…
  2. Black turtleneck – I live in Florida – there are enough warm tops on my list already
  3. V-neck sweater – ditto
  4. Patterned jacket - ditto
  5. Sparkly top – I’m not a night-life kind of a gal
  6. Cocktail skirt – ditto
  7. Party dress – ditto
  8. Sun dress – I can make these, plus, it’s January!
Besides the obvious (i.e., insane), what do you think about “my” (internet-plagiarized) shopping list?  Luckily, W. is a frugal shopper, so I’m counting on her to help steer me towards the bargains.  Although, I do believe that you get what you pay for, so I don’t want things to be too cheap. 

I have no idea how much progress we’ll be able to make in one day, but this will be the first time in my life that I’ve ever shopped with a wardrobe plan – so wish me luck!  :)

And stay tuned, to see how it all turns out…  ;)


  1. Sounds like a plan, but are you going to sew any of your new wardrobe???

    1. Good question! The short answer is, "Yes, of course!" I go into a little more detail in tomorrow's post... :)

  2. You're braver than I am-- I wouldn't want to start my wardrobe over from scratch! Especially with all of the sewing that I do. I've often found that the internet "every woman must own" lists aren't really me, especially since I don't work a traditional office-type job either.

    Good luck with it! Also, what does this mean in terms of your sewing? Will you be making any of these, or more using that to supplement your RTW finds?

    1. Hey Becky,
      I should admit that I am aided in my decision to "start over" by the fact that I've gained quite a bit of weight and many of my current clothes don't fit any more... And I do work in an office setting...
      But I am hoping that I work from these lists and still find a way to keep my personal "style" - whatever that might be... ;)
      We'll see - fingers crossed! :)
      Oh, and I'll talk about how I'm thinking that sewing will fit in to my plan in tomorrow's post. :)

  3. I have been thinking about doing something similar to this. Definitely keep us updated.

    You might be interested in my friend Brenda's blog about fashion for techy women -


    1. Thanks for the link to Brenda's blog - I'll check it out! :)

      I will DEFINITELY be posting updates so that you can see how it all turns out... At this point, there's no telling! ;)

  4. I hate to shop, so I wish you good luck and hope you find what you're looking for. Great idea, shopping with a plan.

    1. I generally hate to shop too - but my typical shopping experience is a frantic rush to find something - anything! - that will work for an imminent event.

      And I've never shopped with an eye toward a coordinated wardrobe.

      Most importantly - I've never had a friend who dresses well agree to take me under her wing like this!

      So, I'm hopeful that this time will be different. :)

  5. I've been sewing a swap, my first, (almost done) and I can tell you it does help.It's so much easier to pull out a pair of grey pants and know that I've got three or four tops that will go with them. One more piece and it's done. This one was based on black and grey as neutrals. When this one is done I'm onto a brown based swap.

    It is a good idea and I wish you luck. I hate shopping for clothing. That's one of the reasons I sew.

    Looking at you list I will ask you one question. Will you wear everything on them? Is everything on those lists something that you really and truly have a need for based on YOUR life? Just because some list somewhere says you "need" an item doesn't mean you need it unless it fits your lifestyle. That's the problem I have with these must have wardrobe lists.

    1. Hey Debbie - I'd love to see pictures of your SWAP - are you posting them anywhere?

      I've seen those SWAPs many times, but because I never thought about my wardrobe that way before, I wasn't drawn to them. Now that I am moving in that direction, maybe I'll give one of them a try... :)

      Good question - I will try to keep that in mind as I continue to prioritize and go shopping... But, I would like to point out that I DID remove the velvet jacket from the list... ;)

    2. I'm not participating in a formal SWAP, so no, they're not posted anywhere. ;(

      My decision to sew a loosely based SWAP came after reading a blog post that hit home. The gist was that the sewist was sewing orphans. She'd get inspired by a fabric and make something and then realize that it went with nothing in her wardrobe! Her vow was that anything that she made had to work with something she already had. That was me in a nutshell!

      Using existing garments,shopping the stash, and two or three additional fabric purchases I had a SWAP.

    3. Oh man, what a perfect phrase - "sewing orphans" - is there room for me in your nutshell? ;)

      You know, if you want to blog about your informal SWAP at some point and show off your garments, you are welcome to be a guest blogger here. :)

      Of course, I don't have a very big following yet, but if you think it sounds fun, I'd love a chance to see your SWAP! :)

  6. Gwen! Wow!
    Did you go through your closet first to see what you wear more of? What you have that'll work into your plan? How much did you take out of your closet?
    I've gotten into the idea of sewing coordinates and filling in holes... But getting rid of the orphans is hard. Especially when you made them. Can't wait to follow along on the journey!

  7. Hey Sarah,
    No, I haven't gone through my closet yet - honestly, I am thinking of this as starting over from scratch. I have never organized my wardrobe around a plan and the state of my wardrobe has been slowly slipping into shambles for the last few years... Basically I've hit bottom - that's why I'm thinking of it as an intervention. ;)
    But for the first time in a long time, I'm feeling optimistic and excited, so, fingers crossed! :)
    Thanks for keeping me company! :)
    All the best,