Some Days You Don’t Want To Live Up To Your Clothes. Am I Right?


Some days I just don’t want to live up to my clothes.

Perhaps the physical fails. My hair isn’t clean enough, my eyes not bright, I’m tired. Perhaps it’s the emotional. Every now and then I misplace my will. Don’t want to soldier on. But, well, that’s what they pay us for.

In those moments, I need to degrade gracefully. I want to raise no hopes, wave no flags, make no promises. On these days, I’m in navy. It’s cultural, and complexion-based. High WASPs like navy blue, ruddy Sturdy Gals especially. These clothes don’t challenge, at all. Sometimes defining the negative carefully is more useful than attempting the positive.

I get that this isn’t stylish. That’s kind of the point. Surely you have a similar fallback in your closet? Appropriate to your situation, your coloring, and your culture?

Yes, we wear old jeans in my office. Trust me on that one.

Not only am I in navy, I’m in navy and a  light blue shirt. While on a good day, I’ll pair navy with orange, on a rough one, I retreat. This Brooks Brothers button front has the additional good sense to require no ironing at all.

It’s a good thing they pay me to think, not feature pops of color.

A full reversion to the mean would imply pearls as well. But I almost always can locate a little reserve of audacity, if I’m careful. In fact,  preserving a seed encourages the full flower to return. Probably High WASP audacity blooms like wisteria, dropping purple petals all over the back patio chaise longue. I could imagine other personalities breaking out in peonies, or birds of paradise.

These are dragon earrings, from San Francisco’s Chinatown. The jewelers use 24K gold, and it’s very red gold, almost orange.. Doesn’t matter if no one else notices. One dresses for oneself, at the end of the day. Earrings are the final gate. I surrender until you get right up close.

In centuries past, dragons flapped wings and fire through faraway, unexplained regions. These days, the most mysterious region is our self. Onwards.

49 Comments

  • 05/24/12
    7:27 am

    Reply

    kathy said...

    I have many days like that, and my clothing is about the same as yours – only I can’t even muster up a real shirt – a white tee under the sweater.

  • 05/24/12
    7:44 am

    Reply

    Pat Hoar said...

    you still look great – believe me….Pat

    05/27/12
    9:12 am
    Lisa said...

    Thank you Pat.

  • 05/24/12
    7:53 am

    Reply

    Mary anne said...

    Yup,yup, only switch khakis for the jeans. That and I do wear pearl studs almost daily. Ahhhh, comfort during blah times.

  • 05/24/12
    7:55 am

    Reply

    tishjettt@yahoo.com said...

    You’ve got a great profile — I’m speaking of your neck/head area.

    Black or navy for me. Right now I’m in black with my medium sized gold creoles and sunglasses doubling as a headband (I was outside, it’s not solely an affectation).

    Et voila. I think you look perfect.

    05/27/12
    9:12 am
    Lisa said...

    If only one could face the world always sideways:).

  • 05/24/12
    8:22 am

    Reply

    hostessofthehumblebungalow said...

    I’d be in a white Tee jeans and black ballet flats…there may be a scarf tied casually at the neck or a rope of baroque pearls.
    Simple, easy and one can almost get dressed in the dark!

  • 05/24/12
    8:33 am

    Reply

    DaniBP said...

    My clothes certainly make me tired. I’m going to copy this outfit of yours, and I love the earrings, what an interesting touch.

    05/27/12
    9:12 am
    Lisa said...

    I’d be honored.

  • 05/24/12
    10:27 am

    Reply

    Tiffany said...

    Love today’s post! I had a hard time living up to my clothes today. Funny how I too resorted to my navy blue’s and a Ponytail too! Cheers!

  • 05/24/12
    10:35 am

    Reply

    Eli said...

    Your jeans look great! I resort to black vneck sweater and a white tshirt or long sleeve tshirt. So have my wardrobe is black. Not sure if that is good or bad!

  • 05/24/12
    11:16 am

    Reply

    Jane said...

    Love today’s post as well. I resort to wearing black and brown together with some earrings that have had for a long time that I love wearing. From reading your post and the responses I feel like I’m in excellent company!

  • 05/24/12
    11:20 am

    Reply

    Jan's Sushi Bar said...

    Nothing in my closet is stylish – I’m just not a stylish person. However, navy blue works for me when I want to go largely unnoticed; browns work too, unless I pair it with gold or orange, combinations I’d never dreamt of when I was younger and believed I didn’t look good in anything except black.

  • 05/24/12
    11:51 am

    Reply

    rb said...

    Hmmm. I actually tend to dress up a bit more when I’m not feelin’ it. It makes me feel better.

    I love your dragon earrings! Very San Francisco.

    05/27/12
    9:13 am
    Lisa said...

    Very San Francisco indeed! Thank you.

  • 05/24/12
    11:52 am

    Reply

    first milk said...

    I wonder if the audacity is edible; wisteria petals are

    (or were a few years ago)

  • 05/24/12
    12:22 pm

    Reply

    Jen on the Edge said...

    Black for me. All black with a bright necklace, usually something made by a friend.

    05/27/12
    9:13 am
    Lisa said...

    Aw. I love that, by a friend.

  • 05/24/12
    12:46 pm

    Reply

    Ida said...

    Your thoughtful pose reminds me of the sculpture ‘the Thinker’.

    My daily wear as I live in the country is khaki pants/tee Summer/Winter alike,with the addition of a jumper.

    Have been known to wear same for a trip to the village…Ida

    05/27/12
    9:14 am
    Lisa said...

    I was imagining sitting in a meeting:).

  • 05/24/12
    1:53 pm

    Reply

    MJ said...

    Ah yes. For me it’s black pants, a black tee, and some jacket that goes with those (and more than half of my jackets do), and a black and silver necklace. If I need something to cheer me up it might be some brightly colored underwear – something no one else can see but that I know is there. And once in a while when I have a day like that I instead pull out something like my coral jacket so that the world thinks I’m a whole lot more lively than I am.

    05/27/12
    9:14 am
    Lisa said...

    The coral disguise, we shall call it.

  • 05/24/12
    1:58 pm

    Reply

    déjà pseu said...

    Yes, I can relate. Jeans, a navy jacket and loafers are my fallback. But the loafers are green patent leather.
    ;-)

  • 05/24/12
    2:33 pm

    Reply

    belledeville said...

    How wonderful that you can wear jeans to your office.
    I love the one color look with just the dragon earrings in 24K for accent…and fierceness!

  • 05/24/12
    2:37 pm

    Reply

    Sally said...

    Oh, I’ve so been there. I revert immediately to a dress. It looks “pulled-together” with almost no wearer effort.

    Glad the earrings snuck into this outfit. Hope they lifted your spirits!

    05/27/12
    9:14 am
    Lisa said...

    They did, fortunately.

  • 05/24/12
    3:01 pm

    Reply

    LORETTA said...

    Black pants on the baggy side; black comfy knit short jacket; or a big baggy sweater, like my grey fly-away cable cardigan. Baggy is the key for comfort and weariness.

    As for shoes, clogs.

    We have casual Fridays when we can wear jeans if not in court or with clients. I asked my lead counsel if we might have a pajamas day. She concurred but regretfully declined for corporate standards.

  • 05/24/12
    3:19 pm

    Reply

    Susan said...

    I had a day like this today. No office to attend, so a more casual choice. I wore jeans, a comfortable and soft khaki/white strip knit top and my Mephisto fisherman sandals. I didn’t care what anyone thought. I ran my errands, drove out to our farm, and here I am.

    05/27/12
    9:15 am
    Lisa said...

    Sounds perfect.

  • 05/24/12
    3:31 pm

    Reply

    That's Not My Age said...

    I’m sure we all have days where we don’t want to stand out or make a statement – and there’s nothing wrong with old jeans and a navy sweater. Good, reliable basics. I do like your ‘The Thinker’ pose!

  • 05/24/12
    3:49 pm

    Reply

    mademarian said...

    Lovely post! Those days don’t have to be weak days, just low-key ones. Khaki cargo pants, black close-fitting three-quarter sleeves tee, my round black cubic circonia “solitaire” ear studs and maybe a big silver or mother of pearl ring. Black walking shoes. That combination makes me feel very comfortable and appropriate but not dowdy or uninteresting. Denim or knit jacket to go with it if necessary.

    Good for creative work too because nothing distracts.

    05/27/12
    9:15 am
    Lisa said...

    I think that’s an important part to this, not distracting oneself.

  • 05/24/12
    3:51 pm

    Reply

    Megs said...

    I really want some of those Brooks Brothers buttons up. Especially now that I have a job where there is a much more rigid dress code. And I really need to develop a fallback outfit for the days where my heart is just not “into” being dressed for success.

    05/27/12
    9:20 am
    Lisa said...

    The BB shirts are truly awesome. No Ironing, No Kidding.

  • 05/24/12
    4:10 pm

    Reply

    RoseAG said...

    If a person is a dress-wearer a fallback dress can be helpful. A sweatery dress with tights in the winter, or something that pulls on and doesn’t take a belt in the summer. If it doesn’t wrinkle or show spots all the better.

    05/27/12
    9:21 am
    Lisa said...

    No spots!

  • 05/24/12
    4:13 pm

    Reply

    Sandra Jonas said...

    Lisa, that is such a classic outfit! I wear something like that on good days.

    Love the hair too.

    05/27/12
    9:20 am
    Lisa said...

    :)

  • 05/24/12
    4:54 pm

    Reply

    Mia said...

    We all have those days don’t we. Lulu lemon yoga pants or jeans and bright hoodie with a down vest over depending on the weather. I live in the Pacific Northwest so people dress like this a lot for errands and beyond. The hoodie is the key because the right colour can brighten one’s complexion or add a little richness to the hair colour.
    I suppose there is the question of whether or not these are “clothes”.

    Your blog is a treat!

    05/27/12
    9:21 am
    Lisa said...

    We are going to say these count as clothes, in your region. Love the idea of hoodies as accessories. Thank you very much.

  • 05/24/12
    6:40 pm

    Reply

    Flo said...

    “Doesn’t matter if no one else notices. One dresses for oneself, at the end of the day.”

    Judging by the radiance of your smile in photo #1, I think you may have answered at least part of the question posed in your previous post: in building Attractive, dress for yourself rather than some hypothetical looking/judging member of the opposite sex. And in dressing oneself for Attractive, find your smile first because there is no building Attractive without a sense of inner confidence and enthusiasm.

  • 05/24/12
    7:00 pm

    Reply

    ChristineB said...

    Lately I find that I’m not living up to my workout clothes. You see, I put them on in the morning with the best of intentions, but somehow Life always intrudes and suddenly, there I am at 3:35 waiting for the school bus and, oh well, tomorrow’s another day…

    05/27/12
    9:22 am
    Lisa said...

    Ha!

  • 05/24/12
    7:20 pm

    Reply

    Terri said...

    I think this is the first semester in 20 years of teaching that I got through the entire 16 weeks without resorting to jeans, but I fully understand the sentiment you are describing here.

    I think the side pose/the profile has to be my favorite photo of you EVER.

    05/27/12
    9:22 am
    Lisa said...

    Why thank you Terri!

  • 05/24/12
    10:42 pm

    Reply

    Allison said...

    I LOVE those earrings. Next time we’re in Chinatown, I’m on the hunt for gold earrings that color. Think I’ll check ebay, might happen sooner than Chinatown. The picture in profile is good, reminds me of “The Thinker”.

  • 05/25/12
    7:07 am

    Reply

    windy said...

    I don’t dare wear all navy with a collared shirt on a schoolday, it looks too much like my daughter’s school uniform. For the next few years, khakis or black trousers must be my default.

  • 05/25/12
    7:19 am

    Reply

    Patsy said...

    We call the little pop of something fun a ‘secret Maria’ after my very stylish friend named…..Maria!

    A little something to lift yourself, but not standout-ish.

  • 05/25/12
    9:02 am

    Reply

    mette said...

    My wardrobe is really so simple, I guess I always wear about ” samish ” clothes.
    With makeup I most times feel like wearing only the essentials.
    How dull.

  • 05/25/12
    9:18 am

    Reply

    Sandy said...

    You always look classy. Those earrings take it to another place. Just the right amount of fillip!

    BTW, went to find some tops. Always a oproblem for my ample girls. Stood next to my girlfriend before a mirror and was shocked to see what broad shoulder and expansive chest I had. I had never compared myself to another. Suddenly you have a friend in broad sholderness. Wow. I’m a grandma and just discovered why I have to always putchase a large in tops. You thought your shoulders were broad, well let’s have a competition!

  • 05/25/12
    9:26 am

    Reply

    Hannah said...

    Haha! I’ve been living in navy all year. It’s a good place to hide.

  • 05/25/12
    10:35 am

    Reply

    moi said...

    Blazer, jeans, sunglasses, scarf
    …and Mother taught me lipstick every time I leave the house! Always make the effort on behalf of others.

  • 05/25/12
    10:51 am

    Reply

    Susan Partlan said...

    I’m wearing my version of comfy today as I catch up on blogs. You don’t even want to know.

  • 05/25/12
    11:45 am

    Reply

    bigBANG studio said...

    As you know I am unabashedly partial to navy, a), and b) the Chi-town earrings are the zing. THE. ZING. Love them. (Also makes me wish I’d splurged on more baubles in India, but alas. Next visit.)

    Also, in Garden State news, have you been to Peony’s Envy Flower Farm in Bernardsville? Probably no reason to go back to your papa’s old neck o’, but thought I might as well ask. It’s SERIOUS peony time in NJ right now. xo

  • 05/25/12
    1:33 pm

    Reply

    Whitney said...

    I wish I could wear jeans to work… sigh.

  • 05/25/12
    6:52 pm

    Reply

    Cynthia said...

    I used to retreat more completely, the default being — maybe — black pants and dark colored top. I honestly almost can’t remember what I used to dress like 5, 6 years ago. These days, now that I’ve worked on my style some, not so much. I retreated into slim black crop pants, a drapey cream and grey geometric patterned cowl top, and a red and cream striped cardigan during my travels for the last few days.

  • 05/26/12
    1:30 am

    Reply

    Ruth said...

    Hey–it’s always a good for jeans, especially if you just have a case of the “blahs”.

  • 05/26/12
    2:31 am

    Reply

    mademarian said...

    Well, I have to say thank you for bringing this to my awareness!

    Today is such a day – I still have to go to work for a low-key office day after a stressful month and with two free days ahead of me. Energy levels subterranean.

    So, having proclaimed my “formula” here I just grabbed said items and put them on without even trying to go fancy. (I’m much too exhausted for that.) Good decision – makes me feel good.

  • 05/26/12
    3:08 am

    Reply

    Rosann Hague said...

    Hi, I am new to reading your blog. I love it. As a woman who just turned 50 I was so tired of reading blogs about babies and being a new mom. Your blog is just what I needed.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • 05/26/12
    7:09 am

    Reply

    Helen said...

    love your blog and how honest you are…yes, yes, yes…there are days when blue, navy blue is comforting and sturdy and freshly pressed so I don’t have to be…thank you for the navy-validation!

  • 05/26/12
    7:13 am

    Reply

    Emma Peel said...

    You look so good in the shirt and sweater! You suit navy.

    I wear the same basic outfit all the time – polo or button front shirt with slim fitting jeans or khakis, flat shoes (usually topsiders or Bean bluchers without socks). Makes me happy.

  • 05/29/12
    9:30 am

    Reply

    Luna said...

    You still look great! This reminds me of the beauty of fallback outfits (same with neutrals and basics), they are giving, not demanding. A uniform that can help one be centered when needed.

  • 05/30/12
    9:34 am

    Reply

    miss mindless said...

    I have a very similar outfit for icky days. A navy crew neck cotton sweater, except I always wear a white shirt underneath instead of blue. I wear either medium blue jeans or white ones, depending on the weather. Navy and white is the combo I am always drawn to when feeling off. I also agree with a previous poster, the profile picture of you is one of my favorites ever!

  • 06/09/12
    7:34 am

    Reply

    englishvers said...

    Being stylish is so overrated these dasys – I prefer to be different. Mind you – I do love a good healthy spot of the traditional navy blue – reminds one of my formative years at boarding school. On the other hand – I do like to add a spot of colour to my navy, though. I don’t live up to my clothes – I simply wear them.

  • 09/08/12
    9:18 am

    Reply

    jane said...

    Beautifully posted. Your flower characterization I found surprisingly striking and accurate, too. (For instance, I find myself very much a peony bloomer: when the audacity is out, it’s all out–but it doesn’t last too long.)

    I’ve never met a navy on anyone that I didn’t like (or at least accept)–it may be THE universal color. But it’s crisp and a tad dramatic on my complexion, and all my navy pieces reflect that feeling. I’d rather slip into earth tones–especially soft, dusty browns.

    Your earrings are tiny treasures. Of course you’re right, we must dress for ourselves. Anything is else is just called wearing clothes.

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