A Tale of Two Outfits; or, Context Is Everything

Here are two outfits I’ve worn within the last week. If you were following my 10×10 challenge, I bet you can guess which felt more “me”:
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Left: blouse by Lucky Brand; chinos by Gap; sneakers by City Sneaks. Right: blouse by Talbots; blazer by Charlotte Russe; pants by Alfani; cuff by Monet; wedge slides by Bandolino. Everything thrifted. 

Well, it’s kind of a trick question.  The outfit on the right is definitely more “me” for work. It has clean, polished lines and the pattern and necklace (close up below) give it some interest without being crazily funky. PS It features the pants I thrifted to fill the “navy dress pants” slot in yesterday’s thrift list; together with the blazer I think it a good informal “suit.”

As you can probably tell from the background, though, I wore both to work. And I felt “meh” in the more casual outfit, even though I wore it on a Friday when my work environment relaxes a bit. All day I was wondering whether I needed to donate this shirt since I felt so lukewarm about it, a feeling I’d had before. (Yes I think about my clothes more than is strictly necessary/normal.)

But then I asked myself why I wasn’t loving it – because on paper I dig the silhouette, the popover neck, the roll-tab sleeves, the color palette, the fabric detail (below), and even the embroidery.  Turns out I simply felt too casual, not polished enough for work.  (I think it was all the cotton – apparently I need fancy synthetic or silk fabrics to feel dressed up.)

Well, then my conundrum morphed into an altogether different question: why couldn’t I just move this shirt from my closet rack to my casual/weekend drawer? I wore it with shorts after I got home to play outside with my child, and suddenly I liked it again. I stored it that night in my drawer and felt a sense of cohesion and relief. (Again, yes, I emote about my clothes a lot – in the name of feeling GREAT about them all the time!)

Funny what asking the right question plus a simple change of context will do for your outfit.

Here’s a closeup of both blouses (necklace up top from a childhood trip to New Mexico; necklace below belonged to my Grandma):

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Which outfit do you prefer?  When has context changed your feelings about a particular piece of clothing or an outfit?

2 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Outfits; or, Context Is Everything

  1. I certainly feel uncomfortable if I feel I am dressed inappropriately for the occasion. The outfit might please me but, from my point of view, I just don’t fit in with the rest of the ‘crowd.’ It just evokes an uneasiness that undermines my confidence. Sometimes, though, it just happens. Smile and carry on, I suppose. I do like both of your outfits, but can understand how you would feel more ‘woman at work’ in the second one.

    1. I’ve felt less self-conscious over the years about being a mismatch for the event but I definitely still feel it! And you’re right – sometimes there’s really no way to know beforehand. Thanks for sharing, Jill.

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