(Re)making friends

April 1st, 2011

This Saturday I will have the delightful experience of helping a friend of mine select a new wardrobe! The Traveling Psychologist has not bought new clothes in three years, and is finally up for a bit of refurbishment.

Ladies — and I am afraid this post is geared toward the women, although I’m always happy to hear from the gents — if you are fashion-challenged, or simply in a rut, don’t ever hesitate to ask a stylish friend to help you clean your closet, or shop, or simply sit down and figure out what you ought to be wearing, already. (In general, don’t be hesitant to ask for practical lessons from friends. Spending an afternoon teaching or learning knitting, auto maintenance, clicker training, or souffle-making is cheap and practical entertainment.)

The Psychologist and I are starting with the “sit down and figure out” bit at first. There’s no point running off shopping when you don’t know what you’re shopping for. Trying things on and buying what looks good is a nice way to wind up with a closet full of lovely garments that don’t get along with your lifestyle or each other. Here are some questions I sent my friend to think about:

1. You bike every day. What constraints does that put on what you can wear?
2. What kinds of clothes feel best on you: fitted, flowing, or structured?
3. What parts of your body do you prefer to cover, and which do you like to highlight?
4. Do you often have to go from one level of formality to another without having time to change?
5. Pick six colors that you like best: three neutrals, three colors.

The Traveling Psychologist is never going to be a woman who cares a great deal about clothes. She likes to look good, but the hunter-gatherer thrill of shopping is lost on her, and I don’t think she enjoys putting outfits together as much as I do. So my goal is to figure out a couple of basic silhouettes that will work for her, which she can then change up with various accessories. The “Traveling” part of her moniker ensures an appropriately Cantabridgian wardrobe of exotic earrings, shawls, and bracelets.

Have you ever asked a friend to help you revamp your look, or done the same for someone else? How did it work out?


7 Responses to “(Re)making friends”

  1. Carolyn on April 1, 2011 6:53 pm

    This effort is overdue in my life (to put it mildly) but the last time I thought about it, I was seized with anxiety that my friend would urge me to give up things I was still emotionally committed to, even though I believe she knows better; so it would be frustrating for both of us. Probably I haven’t found the right person to ask for this help, or I’m too darned sensitive, or both.

    I need a whole lot of deep breaths to the tune of “That was fine then; this is better now.” And “Giving this away doesn’t mean you’ll ever go naked.”
    Gaaah.

    Looking forward to hearing how it goes.

  2. WhirledPeasPlease on April 2, 2011 10:08 am

    I’ve always wanted to be nominated for that show “What Not to Wear!” While challenged, I don’t I think I’m at that level of unkemptness, but yes, I will take fashion lessons and then go on a NYC shopping spree with thousands of dollars of other people’s money. :)

  3. Jerry on April 2, 2011 2:41 pm

    Wait, there are six colors??

  4. veronica on April 3, 2011 10:07 am

    My biggest fashion problem has always been I have Ann Taylor tastes on an Old Navy budget. So clothes I like to wear that fit me well I have to scrimp and save to buy. I’ve tried other more affordable brands from Macy’s, but I’m shaped like the average high schooler so I have to shop the juniors section.

    I also don’t have the hunter-gatherer thrill of looking for clothes. I usually only go clothes shopping when I know what I want and can make a strategic assault.

  5. Robin on April 3, 2011 10:17 am

    Veronica, try eBay. Ann Taylor clothes run true to size, and I’ve gotten many, many nice skirts and sweaters for a fraction of retail that way.

  6. WES on April 4, 2011 9:02 am

    My sister had for years lamented her wardrobe and while I am not a huge fashionista I do have a bit more style than her (her words not mine). Our first outing was when she was looking to reconfigure her professional wardobe, it was a good experience overall. We were able to mix and match a lot of her existing pieces and she took notes so she could do it on her own. There was a lot of pushing but in the end she was happy and comfortable and followed our advice and even added pieces on her own. So when she lamented her wardrobe again, now that she was in FL and a SAHM I said I was willing to help out via long distance.

    I knew she was big into comfort and not into heels. I had put together a picture book of ideas from cute keds rather than clunky cross trainers so that she had comfort with style (just as an example there were other footwear options as well). I suggested some different cuts of t-shirts so it was easy care rather than your generic work out style t-shirt. I even bought her some things as well for Christmas that matched what she said she wanted. She returned them all. I have given up, and was very bummed. I had a lot of fun putting together a guide for her, which she said she wanted, but I was still annoyed that she didn’t even take the advice she asked for.

  7. Bubu on April 6, 2011 12:49 pm

    oh we should compare notes! I was so flattered when a friend asked me to do this with her (and her husband asked me too – he was tired of hearing her put herself down and knew he couldn’t help her on this one) – we had a blast and seeing her face light up when she saw stuff look good on her was just amazing! I loved the challenge of figuring out flattering shapes for a body besides my own – she and I are similar in some ways and opposite in others- so for the opposite’s i thought “what’s the worst thing for my broad shoulders -it will probably be great for her narrow shoulders” we are still planning a follow-up trip to address undergarments, but definitely a good time.

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