I am really overwhelmed by your kind replies and support, you don’t know how much it means. I had a feeling you might understand my situation. From reading here in the past I’ve gotten the sense that this is such a warm and supportive community, and I was absolutely right. And so many great suggestions, you have given me lots of ideas, and new hope!
My thoughts so far, after reading and trying to digest…
As far as colors go, I’m not expecting to go full on rainbow, as I do love my neutrals, and I also don’t think I suit a lot of colors (I have pale olive skin that can VERY easily look sickly in the wrong tones), but have found a few that I like - soft, earthy greens are a favorite. I already have a mossy green wool winter coat, an olive trench coat and a light/soft olive spring jacket, so green is a safe color for me. I would also like to introduce some blues, like muted navy and indigo/denim blue, and maybe some kind of lighter blue. I do also have some beige knitwear and trench coat, and some white tops that I can still wear (I used to wear A LOT of white shirts and blouses, but most of them are now too structured/rigid - these days I need to be nap ready at all times). And I am keeping my black because I do like it, just would like some more alternatives.
I pretty well stocked on basics, that is actually the one area where I’ve been able to stay updated, so underwear, socks, basic camisoles and tees, etc are pretty well covered.
Thank you to those of you who mentioned accessories - I could definitely up my accessory game, that is a great idea for somewhere to start. I’ve never been great at accessorizing, as I don’t like feeling too fussy. Bracelets, and to some extent necklaces, are a bit difficult for me due to sensory issues, but I love earrings. I have one pair that I wear most days (diamond studs with an ear jacket add on, so semi-statement-y), but I would love to expand my collection (I do own more earrings, I just rarely wear them). I actually used to love wearing statement earrings once upon a time, though I am not sure what that would look like now…You got me thinking, maybe also hair accessories…I try to do my makeup most days, but I don’t always have the energy to wash and style my hair, so I am trying to come up with new, easy ways of putting my hair up.
Scarves are also great for me as I have difficulty with temperature regulation, so layering is always a good idea. I have some large blanket scarves (a couple in wool, and a few lightweight ones in linen and woven cashmere), but they are all in neutrals (of course - charcoal, camel and dove grey). This could be a great way to introduce a little color.
My activities these days are limited - I stepped down from work after Christmas and am not sure when/if I will be back, so for now I am at home most days. I try to get out for a little while every day, whether that’s going for a walk or doing an errand or two, but I also need to rest/nap a lot in between activities (most activities being very slow ones like reading, knitting, cooking, etc. Also trying to get a very gentle yoga routine going). So I definitely want to be focusing on homewear at the moment. In an ideal world I would have a wardrobe that is soft and comfortable enough for lounging, that also feels presentable enough to pop outside in OR is easy to dress up if going outside by just swapping or adding an item. I know that athleisure has been big since covid, but that doesn’t really feel like me, as my style has always been more dressy and structured. In my head a good combination would be a wide leg or flared soft pant, a stretchy top that is slightly more elevated than a basic tee, and soft knitwear for layering (sweater/cardigan/scarves). For those of you who recommended adding color through tops and toppers, I think that’s a good idea.
One of my most recent orders were the Hampshire Jersey trousers from Boden. I got both the wide leg and the slim ones in black in UK size 12P. The wide leg ones were way too big, so I sent them back. The slim ones were better, but after wearing for about an hour they stretched out and started sagging, so I really regret keeping them now. I might as well wear my joggers (which are slim, without ankle cuffs, and with back welt pockets, so look slightly more dressy than regular sweatpants). I’m really tempted to re-order the wide leg ones in a size down (and in navy), but since I am in a non-EU country the shipping and taxes are really high, so making a mistake gets expensive quickly. For the last Boden order I paid about €60 total for the shipping and the return. I also just saw that they have added a flared version of the Hampshire trousers, which I think suit my shape even better (I am 5’4, with slightly short legs, pear leaning towards hourglass shape).
I am also considering the Gaspard Cardigan from Sezane in the Vintage Blue. I think it could be a versatile piece both for layering as a cardigan and wearing on its own as a sweater. I also love the color and think it could work with both black, and also navy if I decide to introduce that.
Roberta - I think a personal shopper is a really great idea. I would love to do that, and have actually tried to find someone, but sadly it doesn’t seem to be a thing where I live (small European country). I have considered doing something online, but I’m not sure that would be equally worth it, as a big hurdle for me is actually getting out there and doing the shopping.
rachylou - I am so sorry you had to go through that. I can definitely sympathize! I’ve had days where I can’t leave the house because my pants just hurt too much! I do realize that it will take a lot of time and money to rebuild my wardrobe, and I think that is part of what overwhelms/paralyzes me. But like you say, maybe getting a few outfits to begin with, without thinking *too much* about the big picture, is a better way to start. I think I might have been too focused on planning and having it all figured out from the start, that it has made it difficult to get going with anything.
Suz - Yes, changing silhouettes is also a whole new challenge! I am kind of loving a lot of the trends I am seeing at the moment, probably because it’s a throwback to the 90’s when I was a teenager and was first starting to experiment with my style, so it feels safe/familiar in a way. I do want to dip my toe into it and want to feel more updated, but am also worried about looking like I am trying to hard (having visions of my own mother in the 90’s being excited that the flared pants from *her* teens were coming back - I was so embarrassed!).
Sloper - So sorry to hear that you are also struggling with chronic health issues. It really is tough. Now is really the first time in 4 years that I have felt like I wanted to or even been able to put effort into style and getting dressed, and it really does feel like a milestone. Stepping down from work has given me a little more time and energy, but I also think it’s partly thanks to the group therapy that I’ve been in (related to my condition), where the doctors have really stressed the importance of life quality, and that even though we are ill we also have the right to spend time on things that make us feel good. For me I’ve realized that clothing is such a huge part of who I am that I do want to dedicate more time to it when I am able to. I hope you are also able to, in time. <3
Joy - I am sorry to hear about your health struggles. I can empathize with your challenges, and that is A LOT of them at once. I also moved 8 months ago - not downsizing, but I think it has contributed to my feeling a bit lost as I don’t feel quite settled and organized yet. I have spent a lot of time cleaning out my wardrobe and have gotten rid of things that are old and outdated and things that I will likely never fit into again. Pieces that I love but can’t wear because of health issues I’ve put in storage, that way they are not distracting me, but if my circumstances should change they are available to me.
So a game plan so far, based on your comments:
- Try to get at least one full outfit to start with - preferably a homewear outfit that is more dressed up than sweats.
- Using toppers (like cardigans/knitwear) to introduce some color, but also agree with Angie that bottoms are first priority.
- Focus more on accessories, look for earrings, scarves and maybe also hair accessories.
Again, thank you so much for all of your replies and ideas! Would love to hear all and any other feedback you might have.