Friday, August 18, 2006

The Importance of Casual Clothing

Sometimes I wonder if there are a lot of people out there like me. Even though I’m a pro at wardrobe building – for myself and others – I admit I do have a serious clothing blind spot. I am one of those people who never seems to have enough casual clothes. I’ve always had my “investment” wardrobe full of suits and slacks and skirts and jackets. It works for everything from the highest level of business function to speaking engagements, TV appearances, luncheons, business social events, and nearly everything else imaginable. I must admit it takes care of about 75% of my clothing needs, which is fabulous.

But I have a perpetually lame casual wardrobe. When I say “casual”, I don’t mean Business Casual. In my life, “casual” pretty much means jeans and items I would wear with jeans.

I must tell you that being a Classic/Romantic fashion personality, I have had to learn to do casual wear – but on my own terms. I need tailored looks that are very “finished” from head to toe (my Classic side), and soft fabrics – crushed velvet, sueded fabrics, or cashmere - with feminine details to satisfy the Romantic side of me.

I run around much of the time – whether I’m going to the grocery store or to Starbucks or the Borders close by – in my cute little track suits. They either have matching sneakers for the cooler months or matching flip-flops for summertime. In many people’s eyes, a track suit may seem too dressed down, but when it’s neatly presented and looks like you have actually put some thought behind it, it’s generally quite acceptable.

I would never go out socially in a track suit, naturally. And this is where my wardrobe fails me.

First of all, buying jeans is a nightmare. It always has been for me. And it is that way for many, many women. It really takes patience to find the right jeans for one’s body. For me, it takes a shopping excursion for only jeans and nothing else. Discount stores are not the best place to buy jeans. While I am really into the “thrill of the hunt” at discount stores, they don’t work well for jeans. You want to shop a department store because you need to find the brand and cut that works for you so you can buy the same thing again and again (different washes, and details, of course). Shopping for jeans for me includes trying on about 15-20 pair. I am unapologetic about this. It’s too important to not get it right.

I was out today and bought three pieces that will take me far this fall and winter – three corduroy jackets to pair with my jeans. I bought a tan blazer, a black shirt jacket style, and a very wide wale teal cropped jacket (really cute). I had already bought a Nine West cream cropped corduroy jacket last week, so I am really ahead of the curve in terms of prepping for the cooler seasons to come. And I am excited that I am thinking ahead! I usually have my mind on the business events I will be attending, since they are generally planned more in advance. Social events can be planned at the last minute which usually prompts a mad dash out to the store to buy something (anything) to throw on with jeans and boots.

Now, I’m pleased to say that I will be at least semi-prepared for anything that comes my way this fall and winter. Now I just need to add several pairs of boots, more jeans, sweaters, turtlenecks, and various other basics. Just when I thought I was set…..

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