I’ve been asked, what about building a retirement wardrobe — while you are still working? Good question. Few people write about the topic; misconceptions abound. Am I the only one who imagines racks of lavender terry jogging suits and puffy white sneakers?
I suspect many here hope to enter their later years in style, but also to set aside uncomfortable shoes, too closely-tailored garments, and hair chicanery. We may not be fond of the overly-cossetted look.
I need two posts to fully answer, today is State of The Union. On Thursday (or Friday) I’ll give an account of what I kept from my on-the-job purchases, what I got rid of, what I’ve bought, and what I’m still looking for.
As always, we ask which Use Cases are we addressing? And, what is our Release Charter? Release Charter here meaning Top Priority. Only one thing at a time can be the Most Important.
What Is Your “Release Charter?”
For me, comfort is paramount now; self-presentation a subordinate but persistent goal.
What Then Does The Use Case Methodology Tell Us?
I write, I clean house, I garden. I cook, I work out, I do errands. I occasionally go out with my husband, or with my family. You may live otherwise; engage in more formal socializing, take a volunteer position, run, bike, or practice Bikram yoga.
For now, when I’m home inside I wear flannel PJ bottoms and tanks and sweatshirts. We’ll put that stake in the ground. Housework is remarkably kind about my jammies. In retirement you dress for yourself and your own life.
Now let’s jump directly to the clothes I wear outside the house, taken from my actual drawers and closets. All High WASP ancestors, raise an eyebrow.
What My Closets And Drawers Look Like Today – By Clothing Category
From cashmere MaxMara, through an assortment of menswear-inspired light jackets, past a 10-year old $25 parka from Shanghai, to an old fleece in case I ever ski again. Californians need layers, outerwear can define our style.
Californians also, as I have said, need jeans. We can survive an entire year without putting on a single pair of wool pants. However, I’m in the process of deciding whether I have aged out of shorts except when temps top 85℉. Perhaps.
I find it easiest to put what I wear daily in one place. Hence, drawer tops vs. hanger tops. I have more drawer tops than you see above, several sweatshirts and a few cashmere v-necks but trust me, they are all gray, purple, or shades of blue. I wear the leopard tee, which is from Paris and 20 years old, once a year when the mood seizes me. Last year, with Doc Martens.
Will I ever don a pencil skirt again? The gold sequin one, sure, of course. The J. Crew stalwarts, perhaps no. I am not ready to say. The amorphous dark fabrics to the left are a pair of J. Crew black silk trousers and old Armani navy linen wide legs. In case of Texas.
The metaphoric forest to the far right is Issey Miyake. 20 years old. I wear it once every 2 years, because it’s scratchy. Works of art are allowed to scratch.
For social outings of one sort or another.
Need I say more? Am definitely aged out of those seersucker Sperry wedges with ankle ties. How quickly things change.
Fancy. Dresses and a skirt for warm weather resorts, my Italian suit just in case, a Mexican maxi from some time in the 1970s. I begrudge no piece its space; this is where I stash my vibrant color and large-figured patterns.
The True Categories
The thing is, clothes are not software. And so, on top of the use cases, we layer categories of the heart. Here are mine.
- Sentimental Keepers: A cheongsam I bought for my daughter’s prom, even though it arrived stained, and unwearable; Carolyn Charles two-piece gown; my wedding dresses; a long brown columnar silk velvet shift I wore for Christmas when my children were young; a Bruce Springsteen t-shirt; others.
- Special Occasion To Make Me Feel Gorgeous Even Now: Dresses by Tory Burch, Narciso Rodriguez, Christopher Kane, Prada, Dries van Noten; pleated top by Issey Miyake; tweed and velvet jackets by Chanel and Jaeger; shiny shoes by Rene Caovilla, Jimmy Choo and J. Crew; black silk pants; family jewelry.
- Errand Clothes: Faded jeans and khakis; so many tees; cotton or down jackets; raincoat; wool and cotton scarves; big earrings & small necklaces; JORD wood watch; flat shoe brands that young women wear.
- Nifty Items To Dress Up Errand Clothes For Social Engagements: Wool, velvet and tweed jackets; dark wash jeans; tops of the constructed or embellished variety; Valentino Tango pumps and Dickers ankle boots; more jewelry
- At Home Inside: Flannel, tanks and sweatshirts
- At Home Gardening: Random clothes, all too large, all good for protection from sun and prickers
- Workout & Swim: As one does
- Currently On Probation: Pencil skirts, slightly-constricting button-front shirts, my beloved Commes des Garçons fierce heart tee, as it shrank and now shows my stomach, motorcycle boots and Sperry wedges, a pink cardigan. I love it in my closet but never manage to put it on my body.
I am curious, do you all keep clothes you know you will never wear again, for sentiment? It’s not a habit I plan to change – low downside. But I do not know if others do likewise.