Tuesday, 27 March 2012

In a Smart Closet - Banned Items

In about my seventh year of island living, I realized flip flops had taken over my day-to-day footwear. I had some great shoes in my closet, but other than for special occasions, they went unworn. Errands to run? Put on some flip flops. Dinner at a friend's house? Flip flops will do. Casual work event? Eh, why not? Over half the other people there will be wearing them too. That's when the realization hit me. I had lost my mid to late 20s to flip flops. Sure, I had also learned to spearfish, drive a boat, and jump off 30' cliffs into turquoise water. (Don't read that last one, mom.) But without realizing it I had lost a good 7 years of my life to year-round flip flops. I didn't want to lose my 30s too. My sister was a dancer her entire life and can't even wear heels anymore because of bad knees. I also don't see many 60 year olds in 5"heels and I'm assuming there's a very good medical explanation for that. The writing is on the wall. I have a limited window in which to wear fabulous shoes. So that's when I did it. A couple years ago. I banned myself from wearing flop flops, other than to the beach or on a boat, for 30 days.

These are actually Seth's. I don't have any flop-flops of my own.  I do need a new pair for beach use only. The last two times I've gone to the beach I've had to do so barefoot.
At first it seemed impossible. Everyone else was so casual that even just ballet flats felt over-dressed for most occasions. People would ask me why I was so dressed up. In ballet flats and a t-shirt. I'm not even kidding. That's island living, folks. Eventually people stopped asking and me showing up in actual legit footwear was the norm. So then I ramped it up even more. We're talking heels people. While grocery shopping. Running errands. Five inch wedges for dinner with friends and their two kids under the age of three. At their house. No one to admire them but the 3 year old. But boy did she admire them. After 30 days I didn't even miss my old flops. They've stayed out of my day-to-day wardrobe ever since. A new question formed in my mind. What else had I been using as a "it's too hot, i sweat all the time, why does it have to be so hot here, i'm on an island and nobody cares" crutch? I'll tell you what. Tank tops. The Old Navy style vacuum.

Actually, that one's Gap. I'll stop giving just Old Navy a bad name.  J. Crew will let you wear one of their style-vacuums too. But for twice the price.
So I banned those too. Well, since I have the one pictured above I guess I didn't ban them completely. But I stopped allowing myself to wear them unless I was working out or doing housework. Seriously what was my mental mind block with wearing an actual shirt in public? It only took about 30 extra seconds to pick a different shirt to wear. And that shirt usually allowed me to add earrings or a bracelet that the tank top wouldn't have allowed. And don't forget the heels. Suddenly instead of a tank top and flip flops being my daily uniform I was wearing real shirts, jewelry, and cute footwear. Do you know what happened then? Strangers on the street started stopping me to compliment me on what I was wearing. I'm serious. Not just once. Frequently. Just because I had forced myself to back away from what was comfortable and easy. So onward I went to my next project.

Basic shorts. I've still got three pairs of your basic, run of the mill, standard shorts. Nothing fancy. Nothing interesting. Over the past year I've also acquired three pairs of interesting shorts. One pair is linen with a weirdo 80s elastic waist. Another pair is military/marching band-ish. The final pair is high waisted. When I wear those I have to put thought into what goes with them. When I wear the standard basic shorts I can throw any old thing on. And I feel like I just threw any old thing on. All day long. When I wear the shorts with personality, I get compliments. From strangers. Multiple times daily. So I'm on a mission to not replace those boring shorts as they wear out. I'm not about wasting clothing. Just replacing it with something better when the time comes.

Who says you can't wear marching band shorts and ballet flats while doing some impromptu exploring of ancient Indian caves in Puerto Rico? Certainly not me. 
Other items I don't allow myself to wear are athletic shoes or give-away t-shirts. Unless I'm working out. Or cleaning. These are the rules that work for me. Maybe yours are different. Maybe you have different crutches that you lean on. All I know is that as I phase the more basic boring everyday items out of my wardrobe and replace them with more interesting personality-infused items that I love, I'm much happier with who I'm showing outwardly to the world.

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