Operation Ruffle: A Wardrobe Pursuit

It’s an interesting situation. Have you ever heard of a husband who says,  “I think you need to go shopping?”

I don’t think so….

…particularly odd because I do shop…

More directly what he meant was: I’m not loving what you’re putting out there in the style sphere all the time.” Now, if you happen to possess the protective gene do not ruffle your feathers in my honor.  He is not being mean. You need not worry.

Let me explain, and as a matter of fact, save all ruffling inclinations to channel into this pursuit …. a pursuit entitled “Operation Ruffle.” P.S. Aside from the name it’s not all about ruffles, but they do evoke the spirit of the mission quite nicely.

Here is the pursuit- The Parameters- as I understand it:

-more heels (this is major struggle bus)

-a more fitted wardrobe in general

-more “glam”- ie blow dry hair, wear makeup, more zhoosh!!

Eeek. (I’m whispering) But why should this be so difficult? Shopping is shopping. Shopping is fun… right? Except for when it’s not? How could this be?

Of course, I can fantasize endlessly pin by free pin on Pinterest

But what I mean to say is- budget is not always an obstacle. And many of my pins would fail this pursuit. (All of the above are major successes though) Budgets allow framework and as a problem solver that can spur creativity- at least when it’s working well. I feel vindicated while watching episodes of Top Chef where after weeks of intensive constraint they give the chefs free reign only to watch some of them absolutely fail because of it. Too many options, not enough direction. Even they can get tripped up overcomplicating things. I can relate.  So it’s not like, “well if only I could buy this or that it would be easy”- No. It’s something else.  Because the more time I spend wondering what it is I should buy, the more I keep wondering why I am having problems with this task? It’s a situation no?

For starters, I think the secret strategy to winning in that kind of Top Chef freedom, as well is in all kinds of freedom, is simplicity.

“The Classics”

But because the most winningest form of simplicity, ie elegance, is achieved through a developed eye, history, flair,  some nostalgia, and definitely a clear identity, it’s difficult to shortcut and succeed. It most definitely cannot be purchased all at once and be real. While I do think the desire for simplicity helps you achieve simplicity,  it’s different for everyone. It is still a meandering path full of trial and error, at least for me. It’s not available to “buy with one-click” and if I’m not careful I tend to end up with a closet full of separates and solids and not too much spunk. So these reminders are actually fun. But combine my general tendency for over-enthusiasm with toddlers, inconsistent sleep, exercise, geography and weather into the mix and now we are really working within some interesting framework.

The Back-story: 

To be clear, this request to shop did not occur in a vacuum. The groundwork was laid by every non-sexy costume I’ve ever worn (always the Golf Pro, Never the tennis hoe) as well as this neoprene amazingness my mom lent me for a wedding. My husband thought the dress was an actual joke before likening me to an Oscar Meyer weiner. The good part is that it’s an awesome dress, I’m telling you- no regrets-zero. And I’ll wear it again for sure.

The bad part is that he thought I looked like a weiner. This is just never a thing you want to look like, but for the record I wore it better.

But what tipped him over the edge post-weiner lewk, was a boating incident paired with the fake news he is fed daily on Instagram about what boating looks like.

He was particularly moved to instigate a shopping spree when I decided to wear a purple, below-the-knee Mexican dress with a green baseball cap (from a wedding welcome bag in Kentucky) on a boat ride. Now, I know this wasn’t a fine moment. I know. But! It was very sunny and I am on retinol and every single person has warned me that this requires I hide from the sun, so, that’s how the two came together. It was a sacrifice for my skin which is problematic enough without setting it up to be super sun damaged.

Now perhaps you already know exactly what you’d buy if given a green light by your budget-keeper (and props if you are your budget keeper,  apologies for being so provincial over here). If the light is all you need, you may not need to read far beyond this paragraph because I have discovered the strategy for you- it looks like this:

and will prompt just the right response to have you shopping in no time. Please report back what you find-both musings and actual items please.

Perplexed: 

I’ll attempt to get to the point. What happened when I actually tried to shop was an unexpected surprise. I could rarely pull the trigger. First, there is the factor that you always want more “stuff” (eek) when you feel like you can’t get it (double eek). I’m pretty sure that I can swear that, even though it’s embarrassing and bad-natured (comparison trap). So being told to shop can sometimes work like reverse psychology. But I also think there’s something else at play here.

The week following “The Request” my sister came in town. She is the pattern, ruffle, zhoosh queen of internet and real life shopping. She was thrilled at the task, but no joke, after a day of shopping we returned with practically nothing. Unfortunately for her, I actually reasoned her out of a pair of shoes only for us to realize later that while I had enlisted her shopping skills, she ended up catching mine instead. The irony.

I have had a few small victories, but nothing that has really satisfied the task.

Some Factors to Explore:

-Must determine/explore/discuss: What I like vs. What Johnny would like- most importantly- Where does this meet? What’s in his mind and, actually, what is in mine?

-Pressing purchase: the easiest things for me to buy are of course my habitual purchases, but, do I actually need another button down? Probs not. Tell that to my shopping bag…

The Discovery: 

So there’s that. However, I am realizing that there’s a bigger thing. The thing that is really getting me. The thing that screams “Peep Attack!” & That thing is all this social media about clothes. Nordstrom sales and blogger vids. It’s a double edged sword. On the one hand I see something and think Oooo lala only to go to one party and discover that thing in the hands of sooo many.  It leaves me feeling lame as a lemming. Predictable as a peep. In this landscape, What is special?!

I think that in all the ways social media has digitized everything and granted endless accessibility and convenience, it also makes me less inclined to actually want to buy it sometimes. Sometimes being the operative word… because P.S. I love clothes. So it would be a cold day in San Antonio that I find myself truly uninterested in them. But it’s almost… depressing to feel like you can’t quite find something that isn’t being fed to thousands of people on Instagram. Absolute props to RewardStyle because it’s genius and awesome, but the saturation is profound. Even when you do find something that seems slightly off the grid- it’s sold out. All it takes is someone with a huge following and a Starbucks cup to say they like it and poof- they’ve Oprah’d it out of reach without even having endured and succeeded in any of the quote unquote framework that Oprah had to overcome for the honor of that retail power position. And btw, I totally participate in all of this but sometimes I’m like “whhhyy!?!?!?”

Flashback:

The last time I had a real eye-opening experience like this was in 2004: the year I went to college. It was before social media at first- Facebook came out my freshman year though- crazy! College was SMU (speaking of RewardStyle) and due to the death penalty, tailgating was the only important thing playing-out atop any field on game days. Very fun actually. But also, maybe one of the first times I had been around such a large number of concentrated homogeny- beautiful homogeny to boot because this was Dallas afterall. This revelation came in the form of no less than 100 girls wearing terry cloth tube top rouched dresses to tailgate. Remember those?!  The winning play for this game was Juicy Couture plus a logo’d handbag. So many G’s and C’s and no human genome map in sight.

Ironically, it was eye opening to be around so many people who were so similar to myself.  Now that I think about it, this was probably the beginning of the Peeps&Smores philosophy. Because I knew something was up with 100 people wearing the same damn thing. “This cannot be style!” my Marshmallow screamed. P.S. This is the line when clothing reflects consumerism more than personal style. 

Because these blogs are so successful, in some ways I feel like they are killing shopping for me. And while I love clothes- learning about them, reading, talking, pinning, flipping, perusing, blogging! – my mallow doesn’t melt unless there’s an element of the clothes being special or different in some way. And yet, it’s hard to find those things without putting some real work into it. Somehow it’s all so much. Am I missing something? Or in all of the convenience, is it actually making shopping more difficult sometimes? Is it possible that the more I immerse myself in the intake of style-blogging, the less I know my own!?

Where is this headed? 

So what happened? What is to happen? What’s the strategy here? How will I succeed on this mission? You will have to stay tuned… I do have some ideas.

Thus far, this is what I’m learning and where I am on this project:

-Zara is so often great, but it’s not always the answer if the blogging thing is the issue. I can’t not shop there, but I need to mix it up.

-My clothes can definitely determine my mood when it comes to seasons.  For example, I think I am in the process of overcoming summer seasonal depression one casual cotton dress at a time. Victory! Unfortunately, the breezy balloon aspect of some of these dresses has  contributed to this “predicament” if we want to call it that. Nay. Seriously give me a big balloon from Cos and color me happy. The Mister not so much.

-It’s tricky to factor in exercise, children, work, and general overall style successfully without planning, intention and trial&error.

-Faith and the philosophical aspect. Understanding and acceptance that reveals materialism and the emphasis on image are very far from the bees knees. That endless shopping is usually not about shopping. That helping people, and sharing what you have is a much better use of dollars than yet another anything. That when you spend your time focused on what really matters, there’s much less time available to think about clothing. That said, God and austerity fall on opposite ends of the spectrum I think. And style is a creative endeavor, a way to understand yourself and others better, and it’s fun!

-Lastly, A realistic goal that will help with the overall motives of Operation Ruffle: I’d love to start packing for a trip and not feel like I have to go buy anything. Never to look into my closet full of clothes and not see a single thing to wear.

I have a great wardrobe, but heading into the future, I want to shift it thoughtfully. It needs to build on itself, but not miss out on the fun. I want to be able to repeat repeat in a good way. Get dressed in 2 shakes. Build a wardrobe that is versatile and fashionable, simple, but unique and fun. And of course find some things that sometimes, okay lots of times, is approved by Operation Ruffle ie my husband. But trust me, not always. Never! Muahahaha.