For as long as I can remember, I have loved the look and sensibility that a trench coat offers. There were several years in the 80's when I tried to convince my mother to buy one for me from our local department store - a battle which I never won (apparently it made no sense to her for a 7 year old girl to go around dressed like Columbo).
In high school I finally got my first one - a solid black number, and massively over-sized for my small frame. The shoulders of the coat hit me somewhere between my actual shoulder and my elbow - but I loved it. It followed me to college in Boston and served me well for a number of years post-grad, until it found a new home with a friend moving overseas.
When The Hubs and I found ourselves in Paris, I casually brought up the idea of finding one that actually fit. We did some research online to see which shops sold trench coats, and then we hit the streets. We found what we wanted at Camaïeu - something that fit both me and our budget - and I accessorized with a simple black scarf from a neighboring French shop.
I'm pretty low-key in my clothing tastes (as the Keds in these photos clearly prove), but this red trench has two things going for it:
- It makes me smile whenever I put it on
- I get complements on it from total strangers whenever I wear it
I think #1 is really the key. No matter what you claim as your style, or how you define your "look", you should always have pieces in your closet that make you feel good when you put them on. In fact, I would go so far as to say that...
I don't have a lot of rules for what to wear, keeping in mind that people are as unique as their closets, but I have developed a few...
Carrie's Closet Guidelines
- Life is too short to wear things you don't like. Admit that you spent good money on the clothes you don't wear, but recognize that you're not getting that money back by leaving them in your closet. Donate them to your local charity and let someone else find a deal!
- OIOO - One In, One Out. In the first year of our marriage, Peter instituted the OIOO policy. Initially dismayed, over the last 15 years I've completely embraced the idea - to the delight of my husband AND our bank account. BONUS: it makes me choosy about what I bring IN the closet, because I have to already have something in mind to go OUT.
- That high school weight (or shape) isn't happening again. Stop dressing for the shape you remember or wish you had and start dressing the shape God gave you. I adore pencil skirts - but my thighs have moved on, and so must I.
- Know your style and ignore the trends. When I was 8 years old I informed my mother that I wouldn't be wearing any clothes that utilized snaps or velcro, or anything with butterflies stitched on the pockets - so basically clothing from a typical children's department. While this limited what I had on my shelves, I was happier in the clothing I wore, and I carried that independent style with me into adulthood.
- Wear your pearls. I wrote about this on the Busy Nothings Facebook page last year, but the point is pretty simple: if you're waiting for a special occasion to wear your good jewelry, you're missing out. My husband gave me pearls 11 years ago so I would wear them, not so they would sit in a drawer. If you lose them, it's no different than if they sit in a safe for 50 years and are never worn.
Yes, there are larger, more eternal issues in this world then wearing clothes that make you smile, and true, not everyone has the luxury of being so choosy in what they wear, and some people are grateful to have even one pair of shoes. But the majority of us are not in a position of having just one pair of shoes. If you are anything like me, you have a full closet of clothes with items you don't wear, can't part with, and a compulsion to buy more.
But here's a thought: if you and I were better stewards of what we spent our money on, we'd have more discretionary funds for helping others, less stress, and emptier closets. And if you're sitting there saying, "But Carrie, I like to shop and find good deals!" - I've got you covered! Start using your "power" for good - fill some Shoeboxes this year instead of filling your closets with another item you won't be wearing in six months.
Now off my soapbox... it's YOUR turn!
What's your signature style? Your piece of clothing that makes YOU smile?