Author Topic: keeping up appearances?  (Read 12943 times)

deciduous

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keeping up appearances?
« on: July 25, 2012, 10:20:37 AM »
A short story provoked this question: I was getting lunch and groceries in Whole Foods yesterday when a beautiful woman caught my eye. As we both made our way around the perimeter of the store, we made eye contact a few times but I didn't say hello. As I walked back to work, considered why. Part of it was that she was very well dressed, whereas I was in typical summer attire: cargo shorts and a tee. I thought about how in winter, I'd be more likely to be wearing a dress shirt and fedora, and thus be a little more confident trying to flirt with someone fashionably dressed.

And now, I am wondering how nice-looking clothes jive with an efficient, frugal lifestyle. It seems there's a spectrum: on one end are subsistence farmers and the like who don't have the means of making a decision here, and on the other end is someone who (say) bought a mansion with a credit card and insufficient income. (Interesting to note that the opposite end of the spectrum also includes no choices: bankruptcy is coming.)

The point of this post is not so much, "how do I find nice clothes for cheap?" but "should rejecting a lifestyle of conspicuous consumption imply that we also avoid all appearances of same?" What about the impacts that might have on our behavior? The oldest garment in my closet is a 15-year-old tee that I might wear for a jog or yard work; the nicest is a tailored suit I brought while traveling abroad. Naturally, I conduct myself very differently in those two getups.

Oh, and as I walked back to my office I saw her again, parking her SUV and going in for lunch at a French bistro. This time I did smile and say hello, and we laughed about how we'd both gone 3 blocks in identical time. (I'm sure everyone will point out what a terrible person she is and how it would never work out, yadda, yadda... don't worry! I'm just philosophizing.)

Kriegsspiel

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2012, 10:35:26 AM »
Also consider that well made clothes will last longer and still look better than less well made clothes, so you will get more wears out of them.  Really, you don't need that many clothes, either.  Check out affordablewardrobe.com, he has reviews and notices for when clothes are on sale.

ECrew28

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2012, 10:39:13 AM »
Site doesn't work.

grantmeaname

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2012, 11:14:10 AM »

velocistar237

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2012, 11:34:19 AM »
The social side of MMM/ERE is difficult for some people. It's hard to cut expenses if it means that you won't fit in. On the ERE site, Jacob has talked about passing as one way of adapting. If you want to fit in, you can figure out how to do that without sacrificing ERE. The MMM way is to obtain about the same lifestyle for a fraction of the cost.

I follow AAW, and I've met the author and bought some stuff from him. Mostly I just learned from his blog that I could find nice stuff at thrift stores if I put the time into it. Right now I'm wearing a $200 shirt that I bought for $5, and it looked new when I bought it. I'm also wearing $300 shoes I bought for $70 on ebay. Dressing well for less is just another skill you can pick up, like fixing up your own house or car.

kisserofsinners

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2012, 11:46:13 AM »
should rejecting a lifestyle of conspicuous consumption imply that we also avoid all appearances of same?

I would caution against what would seem as judging. We're all in a self selected group of (let's be honest) freaks who've had a "come to Jesus" moment about money.

Who's to say that woman isn't moments away from the same realization herself?

More importantly, just because we think this is "the way" does not make it so. We exist in a world with all sorts of people and processes. Deciding we know "it" (whatever "it" is these days...) only leaves us complacent when the new "it" arrives that has just as much potential to improve us and our lives.

Sylly

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2012, 11:47:56 AM »
Quote
"should rejecting a lifestyle of conspicuous consumption imply that we also avoid all appearances of same?"

I don't think so. IMO, you should dress how you want to, within reason. For example, I believe in paying for quality. I don't believe in paying to have your brand plastered on my body. If your taste in clothes, and not your desire to impress others, leans toward the more fashionable spectrum, there are ways to achieve it at a reasonable price.

Quote
What about the impacts that might have on our behavior? The oldest garment in my closet is a 15-year-old tee that I might wear for a jog or yard work; the nicest is a tailored suit I brought while traveling abroad. Naturally, I conduct myself very differently in those two getups.

I think the better question is why should it impact our behavior at all? Aside from dressing for the occasion (i.e. don't wear shorts and t-shirt to a formal affair) we should be ourselves. In your example, cargo shorts and a tee is perfectly fine grocery shopping and you shouldn't feel any less confident in them just because the girl is fashionably dressed.





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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2012, 12:45:34 PM »

I think the better question is why should it impact our behavior at all? Aside from dressing for the occasion (i.e. don't wear shorts and t-shirt to a formal affair) we should be ourselves. In your example, cargo shorts and a tee is perfectly fine grocery shopping and you shouldn't feel any less confident in them just because the girl is fashionably dressed.

+1 on this. Confidence comes from within and how you carry yourself, not what you wear.

Jamesqf

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2012, 12:51:06 PM »
...cargo shorts and a tee is perfectly fine grocery shopping and you shouldn't feel any less confident in them just because the girl is fashionably dressed.

Might depend a lot more on whether that tee covers a set of washboard abs, or is stretched over an 8-months-pregnant beer gut :-)

You might also stop and think about this: if that fashionably-dressed woman really cares that much about your clothes, is she someone you'd really want to spend time with?

deciduous

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2012, 01:27:56 PM »
You might also stop and think about this: if that fashionably-dressed woman really cares that much about your clothes, is she someone you'd really want to spend time with?

Right, and no of course not. I've had more direct run-ins with that phenomenon in the last year or two and can definitely say that seeing the world in a compatible way is a clear prerequisite to a solid relationship.

I see that my OP seems to make me out to be someone with confidence issues. I don't think that's really the case--certainly not at the "hi, my name is" stage. This isn't a dating forum, and that wasn't really the discussion I was trying to start, although it's welcome, I'm not uncomfortable with it or anything.


Whole Foods is an interesting place, drawing all sorts of people. Sometimes I think it serves a purpose of letting us feel good about ourselves for paying more for food, almost as a substitute for making a more substantial change. I once encountered two women in the parking lot there, loading their cars and sneering at the sign that encouraged people to go without cars for a day. "As if!" they were saying. I smiled and told them that I'd been doing it for about a decade... but I'm a single guy, not feeding a family. Who am I to judge?

galaxie

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2012, 01:31:38 PM »
My perspective on this might be different, because I am a lady myself (and sometimes I am fashionable).  I view clothes in two ways: first, they are functional objects that keep me from being cold.  Second, they are a costume that signals my membership in a variety of social/class groups.  They're one of the few things I do still spend money on, for a variety of reasons:
  • I care about the quality of my clothes.  I think that well-made clothes that fit properly make me more comfortable both physically and socially.
  • Well-made clothes also usually last longer and are easier to alter if I change shape.
  • My dad always told me, "dress for the job you want, not the job you have," and since I'm pre-retirement I still have a job and would like promotions.
  • Clothes help tell other people who I am and how I want to be treated.

The last point is tricky, because "who I am" for the purposes of this interaction with this person is variable.  Sometimes I'm "Young Modern Professional Engineer Lady Who Wishes Engineers Would Dress Nicely Like Back in the Day."  Sometimes I'm "Martial Arts Gym Rat" and sometimes I'm "Sporty Cyclist Urbanite."  Sometimes I'm "White Daughter-in-Law of Indian Family No Seriously I Don't Need Help Putting This Thing On."  It matters how people see me, and I'm willing to dress to get my point across.  It can be more like a costume or a suit of armor than just clothes.

On the other hand, I choose my clothes very carefully and buy them on sale.  I've started going to these clothing swaps that help make sure I have nice things to wear for way less money (disclosure: it's my friend's company).  And I have a monthly budget for clothes, bike gadgets, and other "optional" stuff that I stay under.

zoltani

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2012, 01:32:32 PM »
You might also stop and think about this: if that fashionably-dressed woman was dressed in sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt, would you still think she was beautiful?

velocistar237

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2012, 01:38:58 PM »
Confidence comes from within and how you carry yourself, not what you wear.

You would be a unique individual if what you wear did not affect you. Besides, why express yourself with sweatpants when there are better options?

http://putthison.com/post/665640307/why-this-matters

Quote from: Jesse Thorn
[P]resuming that aesthetics are only “superficial” is a horrible mistake.... clothing has much more content than just aesthetics.  Clothing is a way we represent ourselves to others.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2012, 02:20:42 PM by velocistar237 »

deciduous

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2012, 01:42:42 PM »
Quote
What about the impacts that might have on our behavior? The oldest garment in my closet is a 15-year-old tee that I might wear for a jog or yard work; the nicest is a tailored suit I brought while traveling abroad. Naturally, I conduct myself very differently in those two getups.

I think the better question is why should it impact our behavior at all? Aside from dressing for the occasion (i.e. don't wear shorts and t-shirt to a formal affair) we should be ourselves. In your example, cargo shorts and a tee is perfectly fine grocery shopping and you shouldn't feel any less confident in them just because the girl is fashionably dressed.

Of course we shouldn't. But context and setting are very powerful. When I go out to a fine dinner, I don't have to constantly remind myself not to lean my chair back on two legs--it's just not an impulse I'd have there. In this case, it's not like I was walking around the store, entranced by this woman, sweating out whether or not to introduce myself. I was buying lunch and groceries. The question of why I had acted one way and not another  only occurred to me after further reflection.

I think clothes change our behavior mostly in ways that we're not consciously aware of.

zoltani

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2012, 01:49:18 PM »
"should rejecting a lifestyle of conspicuous consumption imply that we also avoid all appearances of same?"

Short answer: no

I cannot even count how many $200+ designer jeans my wife has that she got at the thrift store for $7, nor the countless designer sweaters, boots, and accessories.  She has an eye for quality that is for sure, I am just lucky she uses that eye at the thrift store instead of the designer boutiques.  Most that see her would not know the difference, so I guess she is keep up appearances of conspicuous consumption.


Perpetual_Student

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2012, 03:07:34 PM »
Zoltani has a point...you seem more intrigued by her mode of dress and implied "class" than anything else.

Clothes do convey the amount of care that we put into grooming and self-care, as well as any other messages we want to convey at a first glance.  I'm often guilty of lazy dressing.  For me, comfort is second in line after looks, and brand name comes just about dead last.

I grew up shopping thrift stores with my screamin' thrifty mom, and I know for a fact that you can dress snappy as hell in secondhand clothes.  It may also behoove you to learn to sew, so that you can self-tailor garments to get an even better fit.  Clothes that fit are most of the battle, and if you aren't shaped exactly like a mannequin you'll probably benefit from some fitting.

And while confidence comes from within, blah blah blah, confidence arises a LOT from self-care.  For example, when I'm taking an early, long flight, I dress as well as I can.  Looking great helps me feel great even after I get off the third flight and am all bleary and greasy.  And others treat you better too - not just because of your dress, but because of how your dress makes you feel and act.  It's one great way to be bumped to 1st class - LOOK like you belong there!

So skimp on the pricetag, but not on the look and fit and quality.  Buy secondhand, learn to sew, etc.  Learn to prize quality and a flattering fit over empty brand names.  That's my advice!

amyable

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2012, 03:24:19 PM »
  It may also behoove you to learn to sew, so that you can self-tailor garments to get an even better fit.  Clothes that fit are most of the battle, and if you aren't shaped exactly like a mannequin you'll probably benefit from some fitting.

In my opinion, someone with basic, high quality clothing that has been tailored to fit always looks better than someone who follows the current trends--I've had friends drop $200 on a pair of jeans that didn't even flatter them, because the brand and cut were "in" at the time.     

zoltani

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #17 on: July 25, 2012, 03:53:59 PM »
In my opinion, someone with basic, high quality clothing that has been tailored to fit always looks better than someone who follows the current trends--I've had friends drop $200 on a pair of jeans that didn't even flatter them, because the brand and cut were "in" at the time.   

Tell them to keep buying those jeans so they can end up in the thrift store for us to buy, lol.

deciduous

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #18 on: July 25, 2012, 04:16:57 PM »
You might also stop and think about this: if that fashionably-dressed woman was dressed in sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt, would you still think she was beautiful?

There are plenty of people who make themselves look much better, or worse, by how they dress and groom themselves. But in this case I can confidently say she would have caught my eye in pajamas or whatever.


Zoltani has a point...you seem more intrigued by her mode of dress and implied "class" than anything else.

Nah, that's just the only aspect of this story which has any relevance on this forum. In terms of what I find attractive, "fit and sporty" is ten times more potent than "high class."

Jamesqf

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2012, 04:22:58 PM »
You might also stop and think about this: if that fashionably-dressed woman was dressed in sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt, would you still think she was beautiful?

Yes!  And I would also think she might be someone who would enjoy going for a hike or bike ride with me.  The acid test, of course, is whether she still looks beautiful after riding a century.  Or, like a couple of my horsey friends, still manages to look attractive after cleaning stalls :-)

sol

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2012, 05:02:45 PM »
I think this is largely a matter of geography. 

Some parts of the country, namely the east coast and parts of California, are very image conscious.  They flash brands, they wear stylish hats and peacoats, they consider the latest fashion an integral part of their self image.

Other parts, like the Pacific Northwest and Colorado, seem a little more laid back.  People can still be pretentious, but it's usually attitude and not dress.  Walking through downtown Seattle or Denver, it's hard to guess who's a millionaire CEO and who's a struggling artist.  The "designer" uniform is much more informal, and so people's class is more easily concealed.

If you're the type to value communicating your social status through dress, I don't think anyone here will criticize you for your choice.  People value all kinds of different things, and my impression is that this website is more focused on getting people to recognize what they truly value and what they can reasonably live without, instead of getting people to adopt a specific set of values about something as trivial as wardrobe.

Perpetual_Student

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #21 on: July 25, 2012, 05:53:48 PM »
I think this is largely a matter of geography. 

Some parts of the country, namely the east coast and parts of California, are very image conscious.  They flash brands, they wear stylish hats and peacoats, they consider the latest fashion an integral part of their self image.

This is so true.  One company that I worked for in CO had a CEO who lived in New England, who we flew out a couple times a month.  He always made fun of us for how we dressed and boggled at our backward ways - most of us didn't even own clothes irons, quelle horror!  He dressed like a dandy and was a huge clotheshorse.  I'm reminded of this attitude every time I visit the upper East coast and get looked down on for my non-designer duds.

It grates, but eh.  I suppose if I lived there I might try to keep up appearances, but out here no one cares that much.  More room for self-expression outside of the peacoat straightjacket.

englyn

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #22 on: July 25, 2012, 07:48:46 PM »
Anyone know a good ladies' version of Put This On? I need lessons on dressing like a grownup. :( Or in my case, Young Modern Professional Engineer Lady.

I've read a few books about what not to wear, investment pieces, etc and they're totally impractical. If I could find that stuff in the flaming shops I wouldn't need the book. The choices around here seem to be cheap, fashionable, flimsy, polyester, unflattering and poorly made; or expensive, fashionable, flimsy, polyester, unflattering and poorly made.

I'd need to go shopping much less - following Vimes' Boots Theory - if I could actually buy well made, classic clothing, not stuff that falls apart after a couple of months.

Sorry. Off topic, again.

Sometimes I'm "White Daughter-in-Law of Indian Family No Seriously I Don't Need Help Putting This Thing On." 

Hahaha! love it.

Sylly

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #23 on: July 25, 2012, 11:13:50 PM »
I see that my OP seems to make me out to be someone with confidence issues. I don't think that's really the case--certainly not at the "hi, my name is" stage. This isn't a dating forum, and that wasn't really the discussion I was trying to start, although it's welcome, I'm not uncomfortable with it or anything.

I'm sorry if I came off implying you are. I, like you, was simply.. philosophizing. I'm just thinking outloud of what the ideal is.

I tend to go with 'clothing reflects you' than 'clothing makes you'. How you dress is one of the first impression you give people. If you really, really don't care how others perceive you, and don't care to spend the time to make yourself look presentable for whatever occasion, even if it's just getting out of the house, that's certainly a message you're conveying. I certainly won't go out dressed like a slob, but is it because I don't want people to think I'm a slob, or because I don't want to look like a slob? I like to think it's the later, but I'm probably not free of the former either.

galaxie

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #24 on: July 26, 2012, 08:16:52 AM »
Anyone know a good ladies' version of Put This On? I need lessons on dressing like a grownup. :( Or in my case, Young Modern Professional Engineer Lady.

I like this one: http://geekthreads.blogspot.com/ -- she posts examples of her outfits, and it's a real person so she often links to previous uses of the same items.  "Last week I wore this jacket with red pants," or whatever.

If I need a "classic" or "all-purpose" piece of clothing I often default to J. Crew (on sale or at a thrift store/swap).  They have things that come in "tall," which is important to me, and they mostly use natural fabrics.

Jamesqf

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #25 on: July 26, 2012, 12:58:34 PM »
Some parts of the country, namely the east coast and parts of California, are very image conscious.  They flash brands, they wear stylish hats and peacoats, they consider the latest fashion an integral part of their self image.

There is also, especially in the tech world, an inverse of this, where people effectively say "I am so highly competent & successful that I do not need to try to impress you by wearing stylish clothing & designer brands."

velocistar237

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #26 on: July 26, 2012, 01:01:50 PM »

Mr Mark

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #27 on: July 26, 2012, 08:10:18 PM »
The social side of MMM/ERE is difficult for some people. It's hard to cut expenses if it means that you won't fit in. On the ERE site, Jacob has talked about passing as one way of adapting. If you want to fit in, you can figure out how to do that without sacrificing ERE. The MMM way is to obtain about the same lifestyle for a fraction of the cost.

I follow AAW, and I've met the author and bought some stuff from him. Mostly I just learned from his blog that I could find nice stuff at thrift stores if I put the time into it. Right now I'm wearing a $200 shirt that I bought for $5, and it looked new when I bought it. I'm also wearing $300 shoes I bought for $70 on ebay. Dressing well for less is just another skill you can pick up, like fixing up your own house or car.

One can always dress appropriately,and with panache.Thrift stores and second hand stores are excellent sources. Everygirl crazybout a sharp dressed man.

velocistar237

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #28 on: July 27, 2012, 06:28:42 AM »
One thing that helps (which someone already mentioned) is learning to repair and alter clothing. I'm taking an alterations class, but if you know your sewing basics and just want a book, you can try to find a used copy of the Vogue Fitting book, or get one of Mary Roehr's books. I don't have experience with either one, but my class instructor says the Vogue book is the alterations bible.

igthebold

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #29 on: July 27, 2012, 06:41:18 AM »
I just read this post on Put This On that made the following relevant point:

Quote from: Derek at PTO
If I could only give three pieces of advice to a budding clothing enthusiast, they would be: find a good alterations tailor; learn how clothes should fit; and set a plan for your purchases.

That first piece of advice could be amended with, "and learn how to alter clothes yourself." The first two items are very important, and have little (directly) to do with money.

velocistar237

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #30 on: July 27, 2012, 06:44:28 AM »
Very true. Even if you wear shorts and a T-shirt all the time, at least make sure they fit. If only I had known this in high school.

grantmeaname

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #31 on: July 27, 2012, 06:50:47 AM »
I'm taking an alterations class, but if you know your sewing basics and just want a book, you can try to find a used copy of the Vogue Fitting book, or get one of Mary Roehr's books.
Is that at a community college or high school career center? That's an appealing idea...

igthebold

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #32 on: July 27, 2012, 06:55:08 AM »
I have a friend who is an excellent seamstress and she's giving alterations classes. Once I get some of the basics under my belt and fail at things a bunch, I'm going to take her up on her offer of private lessons.

Grant, you might actually know somebody who would be willing to do that. Not sure how to go about asking around, but community college also sounds like a good place to start. They often go at an infuriatingly slow pace, but I wonder if you could speed it up and get more out of it by showing passion, quickness, and being friends with the teacher.

velocistar237

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #33 on: July 27, 2012, 07:58:54 AM »
It's at an artist's co-op, but I imagine you could find classes at community colleges and continuing ed centers. You can also teach yourself. I actually haven't learned much new stuff, but it has been helpful to see someone who knows what they're doing, and I was also interested in the co-op itself.

The class started out really slow, but after some feedback, it got better.

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #34 on: July 28, 2012, 05:03:03 AM »
Anyone know a good ladies' version of Put This On? I need lessons on dressing like a grownup. :( Or in my case, Young Modern Professional Engineer Lady.

I've read a few books about what not to wear, investment pieces, etc and they're totally impractical. If I could find that stuff in the flaming shops I wouldn't need the book.

I spent a few months immersed in the ladies'-clothing blogosphere and it was like taking a course on dressing, something they should really teach you in school. I liked the following websites (they are consumer-y by nature but they have tutorials galore:)

alreadypretty.com
thechicfashonista.com
youlookfab.com

I know what you mean about trying to find good quality. My options are also limited and I'm outside of the US so online shopping is not practical. If you have the inclination you could try your hand at sewing, although its time-intensive and can get expensive. Take a look at:

blogforbettersewing.com

My current strategy is to have a "uniform" for work, do lots of alterations/reinforcements and treat my average-quality pieces as if they were really good. I found that I can carry off items that were originally poor quality (shoddy seams, etc) if they've been fixed up a bit fit well and suit me.

I used to buy into the investment piece idea but I think it's just a scam to get people to buy overpriced luxury items (e.g. handbags.) If something isn't making me money then it's not an "investment," thanks very much.

Hope this helps a bit.

englyn

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #35 on: August 02, 2012, 08:43:03 PM »
Thanks for the reply Osprey! I am not in the US either, and I haven't found any internet shopping here that is either worthwhile or pays postage both ways. The nearest J.Crew is approx 15000km away :P

I can fix a shoddy seam myself but I can't fix crappy polyester or fashionable cuts that are really unflattering on my shape.

I agree about the 'investment piece' term - it's not by any means an actual investment - if there's another term for clothing that's classic, good quality and will last a while, I will use it.

I'll check out those websites, thankyou! I liked geekthreads a lot but I'm not nearly brave or outgoing enough to carry that style off :)

mm1970

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Re: keeping up appearances?
« Reply #36 on: August 02, 2012, 09:09:49 PM »
This is interesting.  I've been invited to a wedding on Saturday "california casual".  I asked what that means.  Nice, but not a tie (for me).

Well, here's the problem.  I had a baby 4 weeks ago.  Nothing fits.  So many people think I deserve to feel "pretty" and should go shopping for a nice dress.

I hate shopping.  I have a cold.  And, I hate shopping.  I need to shop with an infant, a 6 year old, and my MIL?  For one wedding.

I'm going to wear a skirt with an elastic waist and a maternity shirt that's not too loose.  I know I won't be fancy.  But at least it will fit.

That's a hard thing about having a baby...the clothing issue, it's really hard to have a small closet.  Pre baby, pregancy, post baby.