Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al (livredor) wrote,
Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al
livredor

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Reinventing myself

I'm coming to the conclusion that I need a change of style. Various things have triggered this: a friend commenting that I dress "conservatively", and another pointing out a really horrendous dress, a shapeless monstrosity covered in busy floral patterns in green, brown and yellow, the sort of thing a 50-year-old who thought she could get away with looking "cute" would wear if stuck in a 70s timewarp, as being similar to my sort of style. I should emphasize that neither of these people was being anything other than friendly, but it made me think.

The truth is that last time I thought seriously about my style of dress was as a young teenager, when I first started choosing my own clothes and wanted to look like a young adult rather than a child. So my basic mode of dress since then has been long, full skirts, usually patterned, and long, loose tops, usually in plain colours. Lots and lots of layers. I've branched out a little bit since then; I own a few smart suits and a few party dresses that I didn't have when I was 14, but basically, I haven't really moved on sartorially.

I don't have to wear the same kind of clothes all the time, obviously. So I think I need to extend my wardrobe in a few directions. Maybe some outfits that are a bit more smart without being completely OTT power-dressed, so that I look like a 28-year-old professional rather than a teenaged hippie. Definitely contemplating things that are a bit more fitted; loose fitting clothes are very much easier to buy, and I think they do suit me, but I don't have to wear them exclusively. Some outfits that are somewhat more intentionally sexy, obviously not trying to look as if I'm hoping to sleep with everything that moves, but just showing off my body a bit instead of trying to hide the inconvenient fact that I don't look like an androgynous child any more. I think at least some nod towards fashion, I certainly don't want to become a sheep and do intend to keep on defining my own style, but there's no good reason to be deliberately untrendy.

I don't know what to do about my hair. I really really really really don't want to cut it, but at the same time, waist-length, completely ungroomed hair can look childish. Maybe some more sophisticated hairstyles than just the single long plait I normally do for convenience would help. But probably, I have to resign myself to getting professional attention somewhat more regularly than once a decade, at the very least keeping it trimmed and neat, and it might make sense to go in for some degree of layering or colouring. Last time I had my hair "done", I was really pleased with the result, it ended up a lovely colour and a very neat shape, and although I missed the length something terrible, halfway down my back isn't short. The thing is that cost £80 and took an entire morning, and no way on this earth am I going to follow the hairdressers' recommendation of doing that kind of major operation 8-10 times a year. I'm also a bit concerned that dyeing it regularly will damage it. I think I could realistically think about going to the hairdresser once or twice a year, though.

I am absolutely not going to wear uncomfortable shoes. Putting a bit more effort into my clothes, even on a daily basis as well as for special occasions, I think is probably worth it, but I am not even slightly willing to souffrir pour être belle. And of course, my appearance shouldn't matter, people should judge me for my talents and personality, but in practice it doesn't work like that.

I don't want to spend vast amounts of money. For a start I don't have vast amounts of money, and even if I did, there are so many things I would rather have than lots of nice clothes that devoting a serious proportion of my budget to clothes would just make me miserable. It's also pretty important to me to consider the ethics of how my clothes are produced. It's not something I've really thought about before, because I bought so few clothes that I felt it didn't matter. Does anyone have any good resources for finding out the origins and labour conditions of clothing manufacture? I sort of naively hoped that upgrading to slightly more expensive clothes would also entail supporting less exploitative manufacture, but that's just not the case; good quality clothes seem just as likely as cheap ordinary ones to be made in China and other places where manufacture depends on near-slavery. Even buying stuff that I could be sure came from Europe would be a start; are there any brands where that is known to be the case? (I don't particularly want to subsidize hippie-dippy brands that make a marketing ploy of being more ethical than thou, either, but I'll go for that if I have to.)

Maybe one solution is to look for second-hand stuff. Still, I'm not sure that really squares with trying to look smarter and be better dressed generally. I think it's probably doable to dress well from charity and second-hand shops, but it would take a lot more shopping time than just going to the high-street, and I still hate clothes shopping. I suppose it's the usual paradigm of cheap, fast and good not all being possible at once.

Anyway, I made a start on inventing the new Liv today, by going shopping with ploni_bat_ploni and letting her divert me to racks that I would never normally look at. It's the very tail end of the sales, which meant not a lot of choice, but what is still hanging around is absolutely dirt cheap, (and often mislabelled wrt size). I ended up with a really cool jacket, and I'm already imagining building a whole new style around it. It's black velour, short, very tailored, with two rows of (fake) silver buttons. It's alluding to old-fashioned military dress uniform, but in that decidedly feminine way of "I'm dressing up like a boy because I'm ever so very cute in drag". Reduced to 200 Kr (slightly under £15), woot!

Despite what I said above about hating shopping, it's a lot less hateful with good company. I haven't had a girlie best friend like ploni_bat_ploni since pseudomonas in 1998, and even that doesn't properly count because Pseudomonas is not actually a girl (besides the fact that we ended up dating, which rather spoils it!) It's an expensive hobby, certainly, but I think having a more varied and more stylish wardrobe will pay off in the end (as long as I don't go overboard with it!)

So, any advice or suggestions? Even if you've never met me, general advice is still appreciated.
Tags: self-improvement
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