Confession: Last night it took me about 37 attempts to put on clothes.
One of the secret little things I pride myself on is being able to get ready quickly, and make an outfit that looks like I put a lot of effort into it, without much actual fuss. I shop deliberately for items that will help me pull off this effect. I went to Vegas on a girls’ trip with one bag and a mix-and-match of clothes that all went with each other. I can go from 14 hours on the E3 show floor to Magic Castle in 15 minutes. When my plan for my work Christmas party outfit failed due to weird laundry residue on pants, I swapped every piece but the jacket, called a Uber, and was still at the party on time. And then every once in awhile.. there’s last night.
I had an outfit in mind, based largely on the coolest Calvin Klein Black bra ever, and the idea of wearing that bra in a visible way. I thought I’d put the bra with a sheet top. some skinny but not too skinny jeans I just got, a felt hat, and a (faux) furry vest. But it just didn’t come together entirely right, and I didn’t feel quite right in it. I kept trying to swap out one piece or the other, but between the way pants interact with shoes, the way jeans interact with tops, and trying not to wear either more than one item a pimp would wear, or more than one item a vampire would wear at a time, I just couldn’t make it work. I was at the point of feeling like disregarding my plan to dress up and just going out for a good time.. but Thom was already dressed up.
Bra – Calvin Klein Black
Hat – Micheal Stars
Jeans – Joe’s Jeans
Boots – Steve Madden
Fur Vest – Amaryllis
Sheer Top – Sparkle & Fade
After about two hours of failing to get ready, at the end of my patience (and probably Thom’s) I threw on exactly the kind of effortless outfit that I usually make.. just two hours later than I can proudly admit. In the end, it was a black cotton body con dress from Target, circa 2009, a Nasty Gal sequined jacket, Puma heeled sneakers, and a tiny silver bag that I’d gotten to avoid the arbitrary yet draconian bag rules at Cowboy Stadium.
The black dress probably cost me $15 originally – in 2009, I was broke and staring down the barrel of a gig at Quakecon which needed “clubwear” that I didn’t own. After digging through discount stores in a wardrobe panic and landing at Target in a very “fuck it” mood, I bought a gray cotton bodycon mini dress with short sleeves. I made a statement necklace out of washers, nuts, mesh and metallic thread and.. it worked. I was wearing that dress when someone said that I had “an ass that only Al Pacino could describe.” Later I went back to Target and bought the dress’ black twin, and the two of them were staples throughout what remained of my alleged modeling “career”. I was wearing the black one as an extra on The Deep End when the main actress in the scene asked me who made my dress. When I said Target, she said “You’ve got to be shitting me” and made me show her the tag. I put them away after I gained my “game testing 15” a couple of years later.
But by the time last night came around, I’d already accepted that I’m probably never going to be a legitimate size two again, and the black dress agreed to stretch a bit more than it had previously. Nasty Gal Sequined Jacket #2 (which I bought because Nasty Gal Sequined Jacket #1 has been a workhorse piece) was ready to do its part as well. With the addition of a bag to compensate for my lack of pockets, and sneakers to assure the world that I wasn’t really, REALLY giving any fucks, I was ready to go.
In the end I wound up with pieces that were picked by knowing what works for me – exactly the kind of things that make making an outfit easy. So why was getting there so hard? I think its silly to let yourself be unhappy because something can’t look perfect, and I know its not a good use of time to spend hours failing to create an outfit, and I know that getting frustrated because things don’t look how I wish they did on me is a waste of time… but every once in awhile I still do all those things.
I think I am supposed to sum things up here with a full-circle rationalization of what wardrobe failures mean, or how I will resolve not to have them in the new year, or something else wise that I don’t necessarily have. The best I can do is admit that every once in awhile something doesn’t work out and then I’ve got to have the personal style equivalent of a hissy fit over it. The only justification that I have is that I do think that style is important as a form of art and expression, even more so because its one of the most accessible forms of art and expression. Its an art that has taken me from the loneliness of high school to the upward climb of “changing your stars”, so I know its power, and I won’t be dismissive of what it means.
I also know the value of a few less fucks given, though, and next time I hope to balance respect for both principles. Let that always be the guiding light of my #StyleGoals – Respect the impact and weight of appearances, with the lowest fucks-given ratio possible.
Dress – Target, circa 2009
Bag – ???? from Nordstrom Rack
Jacket – http://www.nastygal.com
Shoes – Puma