Friday, March 14, 2008

Part 1: In which I disclose my insecurities

I was informed today that my boss is “tired” of going to book parties, and she’s sending me in her stead from now on.


Actually, this makes me nervous—I’m sort of shy and not very experienced with networking, but what a great way to get practice at it (plus getting to go to some fun/swanky parties where I don’t have to perform!)

But, in that vein, I realized that I need to do some shopping.

I’m not terribly fashion-conscious. As a teenager, I had “my own style”, which is a nice way of saying I wore whatever I wanted and called it a style. I was partial to baggy guys’ jeans and oversized t-shirts, with a lot of knee-high patterned socks (I still love those!) and Converse All Stars with everything (including my prom dress). Things didn’t change much when I went into college, although I did get a terrible black “suit” from some store like Rave to wear on interviews. I call it a “suit” because it was made out of lycra (seriously!).

Then I got my first real job and needed a lot of conservative suit-type stuff, so I got a job at Casual Corner and spent all my paychecks on building up a “grown-up” wardrobe (yay 30% discount!). Unfortunately, and I didn’t realize this until years later, I was too young for Casual Corner. Their clothing is cut for adult women and assumes that these women have borne children—everything, even when it was actually my size, was too big for me in the hips and bust. I looked like I was playing dress up in my mom’s clothes.

My next job was at a casual tech company, so back to jeans and t-shirts it was! I donated all the Casual Corner stuff to Dress for Success. Then when I started my current job, which requires business casual, I spent a few hundred bucks on cheap professional clothing from Joyce Leslie and similar stores and have been trying to add quality pieces to my wardrobe ever since, but it’s taking a long time. I almost consistently feel underdressed (in terms of being too casual), or that my clothing looks as cheap as it was, or that things look like they don’t fit me right, or that I just look hopelessly out of style (like I'm shopping in the juniors' department, which, technically, I guess I kind of am).

I have a hard time judging my own size. For some reason, I always seem to get stuff that’s way too big, and then later I wonder what I was thinking when I find a pair of pants that I can pull on and off without even unbuttoning them.* My frugal tendencies also definitely come out when I go clothes shopping and I wind up getting stuff that won’t last a long time or isn’t well made instead of dropping more money on fewer pieces that will last for years.

There are other silly issues—I have crazy, wild curly hair that will not be tamed (and which I refuse to straighten for many reasons). I have problems with my feet (probably from dancing) and can’t wear heels for a long time or when walking long distances—I most definitely tend towards clunky but comfortable. And I can’t wear any shoe that doesn’t have either a back or a thong between the toes (i.e., flip flops are ok, but mules are not). They just won’t stay on my feet!

And the way all this ties together?

I don’t feel prepared to attend these professional book parties looking as juvenile as I feel. I just need a few really, really good complete outfits to wear to these parties. I need some jewelry that’s understated and mature but not boring. I need shoes that work, and I need a really good bag that’s big enough to carry work home if I need to, not so big that I’m going to knock someone over with it, and that I didn’t get for $5 from some guy’s stand on the street.

In short, I need some quality stuff, and quality stuff costs money, and I have not budgeted money for quality clothing to attend book parties.

In part 2, I will address how I plan to remedy this situation.

*This might be hitting close to home still because I haven’t gained back the weight I lost a few months ago during my breakup, and even my favorite jeans require a belt now. I know most people would be happy to lose some pounds without working at it, but I didn’t have the weight to lose in the first place, and I am having a hard time gaining it back without going on an all-ice-cream, all-the-time diet. It’s as hard to gain weight in a healthy way as it is to lose it. I’m tired of being told to go eat a sandwich because I look too thin. Skinny people have body issues and problems too, you know.


  1. I have crazy, wild curly hair that will not be tamed (and which I refuse to straighten for many reasons)

    I also have curly hair that I refuse to straighten! It doesn't need taming, though--just proper care. What's your hair-care routine?

    Seriously, though, buy some new clothes that fit you. Hang on to the old stuff if you're planning on gaining the weight back, but buy a couple of outfits that fit you where you're at right now. It's shitty for one's body image to wear clothes that don't fit.

  2. i know what you mean, i'm 5'1" and weigh 120 lbs but i look like i'm about 90 lbs so i get a lot of flak from people about being
    "anoxeric" or being "too skinny" when in reality i eat a lot! im pushing to gain 10 more pounds but it's sooo hard!

  3. Initially, focus on purchasing a few well made, quality wardrobe staples. For example, two pair of pants, one skirt; one cocktail dress; kitten heel pump or a ballet flat; handbag, clutch, and a fashionable blazer/wrap that are age appropriate (does not age you),yet offers a glimpse of your own unique style. Check out the fashion blogs from other frugal and fashion-conscious young women who offer advice on purchasing wardrobe staples, handbags, jewelry, cosmetics, etc for less. It is always a great idea to mix and match. For example, if you purchase The Editor pant from Express, you can pair it with a less expensive top or blouse from Target or H&M. (Target also has cute and affordable jewelry!)And never under estimate the possibilities of finding great bargains at more expensive retailers or(sample sales). Also, find yourself a tailor. She/he will become your best friend! Once things are tailored to fit your body, you will feel more confident and look more polished. Once you learn what compliments your figure and looks good on you, etc, it will become easier to shop. Also minimize shopping for trendy items, by purchasing one or two inexpensive, trendy pieces per season; however, spend the bulk of your fashion budget on timeless, quality pieces; for example, a great skirt or slack that you can wear for many years while still looking contemporary. Ask your readers how they manage to accomplish looking polished on a budget. I'm sure you will have many surprising and wonderful answers. Also, observe those whose fashion sense you admire and develop a signature style of your own. Good luck and keep us posted! Remember, fashion and style are also a part of our growth and development. Congrats on being so young and realizing that you need to make wardrobe improvements. Many never realize this, hence TLC's 'What Not to Wear'.

  4. English Major, I do an amalgam of the curly-girl routine and my own devising. I wind up washing my hair 2-3 times per week, staying away from -cones, using lots of deep conditioners, and mousse coupled with trying not to run my fingers through it or pull it back too tightly (which ruins the curl). I love my hair and I wouldn't change it, but it is a little unruly!

    anon, I'm glad someone can feel my pain!

    teemee, thanks for your suggestions. I LOVE What Not to Wear! (It's the only reason I'd consider getting cable right now).

  5. Go to for the video podcasts, previous guests, and the mannequins.


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