Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Great Closet Clean-Out, Summer 2012 Edition

Well, as you can see from my previous posts, I've been goofing off on Polyvore.  It's tons of fun.  I can combine items and outfits that I already have (like the navy blue pants and jacket and white top in the previous post) with things from Polyvore, or anywhere else, and see how it looks together.  I don't think I'll be going out in that outfit anytime soon (too much PINK!!!) but it was a fun-looking combo.

Anyway, I need a memory card for my camera, so this post will be lacking in photos.  When I get a memory card, I'll take pics and post them.

I got rid of many, many clothes - they didn't fit anymore, or they were worn out or I just had "wardrobe exhaustion" from them.  Consequently, now that it's summer (officially, Happy Solstice everyone!), I have plenty of room in my closet and armoire, so I was able to store more of my summer clothes that I actually use, plus I have additional storage for items that I'll be retiring for the summer, until it's time to take them out again in autumn, like my duvet cover and afghan.

I have enough clothes to see me through the summer, so I've been concentrating on what to get for fall. I learned an important lesson from this last closet clean-out:  Only purchase items you will use.  Last spring, I bought a lot of skirts:  a khaki skirt from Coldwater Creek, which is pretty versatile (if somewhat ugly), a gored denim skirt from LL Bean, and two beautiful skirts from Lane Bryant, one in a "mosaic" print, which was purple, blue and pink (very pretty), and another skirt that had a tropical floral print, with a matching cardigan.  I really loved both skirts, and I wore them on some occasions, but they no longer fit me.  I am disappointed to say that I did not use them to the best of my ability.  I just don't have that many occasions in my life that call for me to dress up.  When I wore them for casual occasions, I felt overdressed and overexposed.  When I wore them for dressy occasions, it was fine, but as I said, I don't have many of those events in my life right now.

Today I took some time to reflect on the kind of occasions for which I may need to dress nicely, and what I could wear that would allow me to be comfortable, function well, and look presentable.

I'm a Board Member for the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  I have three regular events scheduled throughout the year that would call for me to be dressed up, and those are the NAMI Gala Dinner in October, the NAMI Holiday Party in December and the NAMI Jazz Brunch in April.  It's a rare year when I'm able to make it to all three events (I get too tired or I get too sick to attend all the events).  However, each event requires different attire.  The Gala Dinner is a more formal event, as it happens in the evening and is a fundraiser as well as an awards dinner, and as a NAMI Board Member, I have to look professional and respectful of the occasion.  Last year the weather was bad and I wore my navy suit (see previous post) and my new Doc Martens dress boots.  I was also having a sciatica flare-up, so I needed to be comfortable.  Consequently, I didn't dress as glamorously as I could have.  This year I hope it will be different, if the weather and my health cooperate.

The Holiday Party is a bit more relaxed and casual, but it is festive, so a little glamour is called for.  The Jazz Brunch is in spring, and is a daytime occasion.  Also, it's not usually considered a fundraiser, and it's more of a social get-together for people to get to know each other, or to socialize with their families and friends.  There's dancing and live music, and it's in spring, so there's a light and fresh atmosphere at the event.  I wore my "mosaic" skirt to this event in 2011, and I received many compliments, and I have to say I think I looked pretty good, too.  It's definitely an occasion where black or somber, neutral colors look out of place.  It calls for an outfit that's bright and uplifting.

Those occasions pretty much cover anything that I would have to wear for any formal occasion that would happen throughout the year, whether it be a wedding or other social event.  I could change up my outfits that I would wear to a NAMI event to suit any occasion.

I also am a presenter and the coordinator for the NAMI In Our Own Voice program, where people go out and speak to audiences about their experiences living with a psychiatric diagnosis.  So far we've presented at colleges, community centers and health fairs.  My personal feeling is that the attire varies from venue to venue; for colleges it's more acceptable to be casual, but still professional and polished; for community centers and health fairs, where we are presenting to a wider audience, it's better to err on the side of caution and be a bit more dressy, but still comfortable, because I have to be able to get around and be active.

I also sometimes speak to large audiences at conferences, and for that, I definitely need to look professional and polished.  No casual attire here!  When I presented at a college this past October, I wore the navy pantsuit in the last post.  I was also working the conference that day, since I was one of the organizers, so I had to be comfortable.  I wore my Dansko sandals, because I was on my feet most of the day, and those were the most comfortable dress shoes I had.

Those are my requirements for my wardrobe throughout the year:  It has to be professional, polished, and comfortable, and be able to go from glamorous and formal to casual and approachable, but still authoritative.  I prefer pantsuits, if only because I don't have to worry about revealing anything untoward while I'm moving around and being active, but for occasions like the Gala Dinner, the Holiday Party and the Jazz Brunch, I'd like to be able to wear dresses or skirts.  However, the weather in NYC is a factor.  It can sometimes be rainy, cold or snowing, so it would be best to have a backup plan in case I can't wear the outfit I have planned.

Now that I know what I need to wear to most occasions throughout the year, I can plan my wardrobe for fall and spring accordingly.

Do you know what events you're looking forward to in the coming fall season, and what you'll need to wear?