What to Wear on Weekends?

Saturday my family and I went to an open house for the neighborhood nursery school. This is an amazing school – great teacher to child ratio, walking distance from the house, co-op, encourages parent involvement. The open house began at 10:00 but we didn’t arrive until after 12:00 because my husband teaches yoga Saturday mornings. While he was at his class, I got dressed for the event. We were walking to the open house, so I had to wear something that worked with my walking-friendly DUO boots. Too cold for a dress, and anyway it’s too difficult to crawl on the floor with a toddler in a shift. I decided on tucking a dark pair of jeans into the tan boots. Now for the top – I didn’t want to look too glam – they may think I am a distant mother who can’t handle a sticky finger handprint. I also didn’t want to wear a long pendant necklace that could hit Emerson or another kiddo if I bent down to help them with a toy. However I didn’t want to not look like myself, and I am not a woman who regularly leaves her home in hoodies or tee shirts. I ended up wearing a black and white Breton-stripe tee shirt with a short black coral necklace, and my Lands End black quilted coat.

My husband came home and asked me how long it took for me to put together a look of jeans, a tee shirt, and my go-to boots. Um, about 30 minutes, and during those 30 minutes I tried on five different striped shirts.

It may seem ridiculous to worry so much about what I wear to such a small and informal event, but people are judged on first impressions no matter the situation, no matter the time. You could make a late-night dash to CVS for cough syrup for your little one and bump into your college sweetheart. You could be in line at Starbucks and meet someone who could offer you your dream job. While pumping gas, you may see your favorite celebrity at a different pump and have the opportunity to meet him and snap a photo. Who hasn’t bumped into a neighbor when shopping at the grocery store or picking up takeout at the nearby pizza parlor?

While deciding on a striped tee, I was glad that I had a pared-down wardrobe. No stained, oversized, or embarrassing items in the collection. If it’s not wearable, it’s repaired or removed. No “skinny jeans” taking up real estate in my drawer, no “bummy” clothes to wear lounging around the house. Just options.

I used to have a drawer full of “lounge” clothes. Faded yoga pants, old tee shirts, hoodies, fleece pullovers. These were clothes I would change into after work or slip on Sunday mornings. They were comfy, warm, cozy, and it didn’t matter if they got splattered with bacon grease or baby spitup. The thing is, when you have a collection of such clothing, it becomes very difficult to separate them from your gym attire, and your street attire. It’s easy to justify wearing old sweatpants and your husband’s windbreaker to the grocery store when it is readily available. If you start your weekend day in loungewear and then have to run to the bank or to take your child to a play date, it’s too easy, and takes less time to leave your attire as-is for such an errand.

I still have a drawer of “lounge” clothes, but they are all clothes that are in good condition. Two pairs of dark black yoga pants, and a few scoop-neck tees that nip in at the waist and are in bright jewel tones. Two hoodies – one dark black, one in a gorgeous shade of berry – both in great condition. A pair of padded bike shorts and two moisture-wicking tops for when I go for a ride with my husband. A couple band tee shirts – most with the neck cut out to have a more flattering silhouette. One sweatshirt – a navy crewneck from college. One pair of vintage jeans that are a length that works with sneakers and flat shoes. One pair of olive chino shorts.

That’s it. From this collection I have something to wear to the gym or a yoga class, something to wear when painting a piece of furniture on the back deck, something to wear when working in the garden or on the car.

On weekends I wear a pair of jeans with Lycra so I can crawl under furniture to dust, chase after Emerson and still look pulled together. On top I wear a tank or tee with a layer on top – a cardigan, soft jacket, sweater. The bottom layer keeps the top layer from having to be laundered after every wear; the top layer is of a flattering yet machine-washable fabric and usually of a solid color. Many times, the same sweaters and tops I wear to work with trousers and pencil skirts are worn on the weekend with jeans. Come summer, I spend most weekends in cotton sundresses – I find gems for less than $15 at shops like Ross and Marshall’s.

As previously mentioned, I don’t wear sneakers unless I am going to the gym. I have a pair of tall flat boots (the DUO boots) that can be worn under bootcut jeans or pulled over narrow denim. I add a waterproofing spray twice a year so they can survive spring showers and winter slush. In the garden and when doing dirty projects like spraypainting or getting in the attic, I must admit I wear a pair of Crocsir?t=whaevewomneei 20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B0036OSI2Y. Come summer, I love leather sandals – each year Lands End and Lands End Canvas sell a flat leather sandal that looks great with shorts, skirts, and pants and is as comfortable as a pair of Old Navy flip flops.

messy closet
When you have too many options, you have too much opportunity for error.

I encourage you to take an evening this week (or an hour or two of your weekend) and go through your comfortable garb. Do you really need eight pairs of sweatpants? How about those smelly Chucks you have owned since college? All those tee shirts from college – consider having them made into a quilt and head to Target or another discount retailer for some new tee shirts in feminine silhouettes and flattering colors. Base the size of your collection on the amount of activities you do where you can’t afford to ruin your street clothes. It’s appealing to save specific ensembles just for painting your home or washing the dog, but I bet the apparel for these events can be consolidated into one or two outfits.

As you would do with your regular wardrobe, make three piles – keep, donate, repair. Rarely can loungewear be repaired, but sometimes you can stitch up a loose seam in a pair of yoga pants or re-thread the drawstring on a hoodie. If the item is in condition where you wouldn’t want to be caught dead in it, it shouldn’t take up real estate in your wardrobe.

Often you will complete this purge and realize you don’t have enough of what you really need – well-fitting yoga pants when you have old terry sweatpants, moisture-wicking tops when you only have ratty tees, a rain-resistant pullover when all you have are old jersey sweatshirts. Make a list, carry it with you, and slowly buy quality pieces that fit, flatter, and can handle a beating.

Life is an amazing adventure, and takes place whether or not you are up for the ride. Being dressed well for the journey makes it all the more enjoyable. When you have a well-stocked wardrobe, you can spend your life living, not dreading the chance to bump into your ex.

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27 Comments

  1. March 7, 2011 / 6:54 pm

    I love this post. I wish people took some effort on themselves even if they are just running out to the store! I miss the days when people would dress nice out of respect. Oh well hopefully many will be inspired by you 🙂

  2. March 7, 2011 / 6:54 pm

    Awesome! So glad to hear when people get the items from my closet! I need to get in my attic and add items to my online shop! 🙂

    It is amazing how you can do more with less, have more style with less!

  3. March 7, 2011 / 6:54 pm

    I loved the Essential Jean from Gap because it was in-between a wide leg and a straight leg. Fit more like a classic trouser. Lucky for you, wider leg styles are very in style this spring. Sailor styles have a nice wide yet fluid leg.

    Have you tried men’s jeans? My mom wears men’s jeans because they are more stright up and down and fit her silhouette better. I find men’s jeans great for me because they have a more relaxed leg so it doesn’t suffocate the calf or thigh.

  4. March 7, 2011 / 6:54 pm

    “When you have too many options, you have too much opportunity for error.” So right. Some of my friends have such big closets, they can’t get their style right. My closet’s pretty small, but I work them so many ways, and I’m familiar with all my clothes so dressing becomes easier. 😉

  5. March 5, 2011 / 7:10 pm

    “When you have too many options, you have too much opportunity for error.” So right. Some of my friends have such big closets, they can’t get their style right. My closet’s pretty small, but I work them so many ways, and I’m familiar with all my clothes so dressing becomes easier. 😉

  6. March 3, 2011 / 3:53 am

    Yes! Great post. Many writers have encouraged readers to pare down their closet. But you actually motivate us! Your personal example describes the real benefits of fewer choices. Thank you. As a former teacher, I also want to commend you on your intentional attire. Teachers DO notice a mother’s manners and clothing. A good first impression benefits both you and your child.

  7. March 2, 2011 / 5:47 am

    Awesome post, every word, so so so good.

    Standing ovation!

  8. March 1, 2011 / 9:53 pm

    I loved the Essential Jean from Gap because it was in-between a wide leg and a straight leg. Fit more like a classic trouser. Lucky for you, wider leg styles are very in style this spring. Sailor styles have a nice wide yet fluid leg.

    Have you tried men’s jeans? My mom wears men’s jeans because they are more stright up and down and fit her silhouette better. I find men’s jeans great for me because they have a more relaxed leg so it doesn’t suffocate the calf or thigh.

  9. March 1, 2011 / 9:49 pm

    Do you have any jean recommendations for someone with VERY LARGE calves? I have yet to find a boot cut jean that isn’t tight on my calves. I even bought a pair several sizes to big and had the tops of them taken in just so my calves wouldn’t be squeezed. And I haven’t found any trouser jeans that fit either.

  10. March 1, 2011 / 8:22 pm

    I agree about the gym clothes – I also got rid of all my oversized and stained gym clothes. You can get nice, decent exercise clothes at JCPenney and at Marshall’s. The Penney’s line goes on sale for half price all the time and even cheaper when it hits the clearance rack at the end of a season.

  11. March 1, 2011 / 6:09 pm

    Isn’t Polyvore fantastic? I love that striped jacket you have in there – such a great way to be comfortable yet chic!

  12. March 1, 2011 / 5:57 pm

    I so loved this post! I admit I put on my most comfortable clothes the minute I get home but I didn’t know how to look put together. Since I am extremely visual I created two polyvores with your suggestions to follow those guidelines while slowly building my new comfy home wear/sportswear wardrobe. Thanks so much for this post!
    Btw, the polyvores are here http://www.polyvore.com/allys_sportswear/set?id=28845662 and here http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/set?id=28848095

  13. March 1, 2011 / 5:17 pm

    I think gym clothes are just as important as any other pieces – shop slowly, get pieces that fit and flatter and slowly replace. I love Old Navy yoga pants – you can get great items at all pricepoints. It’s worth it – you spend on the gym, you should feel confident while there!

  14. March 1, 2011 / 5:12 pm

    I’ve been noticing lately that the clothes I wear to the gym are pretty embarrassing, but I feel really silly spending money on new gym clothes. What do you think about gym wear?

  15. Monica
    March 1, 2011 / 4:38 pm

    Another option for a t-shirt quilt is a t-shirt photo book. I recently did one using Shutterfly, and an added bonus was that I could write down a memory from each shirt under the picture. Plus, I love that an exploding plastic bin of t-shirts is now an 8×8 book.

  16. March 1, 2011 / 3:58 pm

    I agree with everyone; this is a great post. I’ve go a whole drawer full of crap that I no longer wear. I’m giong to clean them out tonight. Thanks for the inspiration!

  17. March 1, 2011 / 3:47 pm

    Awesome! So glad to hear when people get the items from my closet! I need to get in my attic and add items to my online shop! 🙂

    It is amazing how you can do more with less, have more style with less!

  18. March 1, 2011 / 3:46 pm

    I love this post!!! Recently I have been doing alot of paring down and its made such a difference. I seem to feel better all around when things are in order in my closet. Also, just wanted to tell you how much I love the brown and red wrap dress that I got from your “Shop My Closet”! So cute!

    Have a great day!

  19. March 1, 2011 / 3:33 pm

    It’s so true that you get better service when you’re dressed well. Respect yourself, you are more likely to be respected by others.

  20. March 1, 2011 / 3:29 pm

    This is so true – before I lost weight, I had a closet crammed full of clothes and nothing to wear. Now, I’ve removed everything that’s too big and have only things that work. Out-of-season clothing is in a different closet so that I don’t have to worry about it when getting dressed. That, and the addition of several dresses to my wardrobe, makes getting dressed in the morning a snap.

    I used to run out to the grocery store in yoga pants, running shorts, or other shlubby clothing – but recently stopped (partly because your advice and partly because of my mother’s excellent example). And, boy was I glad that I did, because I ran into an ex at the grocery store unexpectedly and was so happy that I was wearing a nice pencil skirt and blouse (I was on my way home from work) and not sloppy workout clothes.

    I realized that could have easily happened on a weekend and vowed never to go out looking less than well put together – which was fortunate because I ran into another old friend at the store and was doubly glad that I didn’t look like a mess and was dressed appropriately to go out to an impromptu luncheon with her.

    I’ve also noticed that I get much better customer service when I’m dressed nicely (even if it’s just a nice long-sleeved tshirt and dark washed jeans) than when I’m not.

  21. March 1, 2011 / 2:12 pm

    I don’t have a problem with running shoes – they just look really silly on me and I don’t have any jean silhouettes or lengths that work with jeans. 🙂

  22. March 1, 2011 / 1:57 pm

    I totally agree with what you’ve said here, but I have to say that I sometimes wear running shoes with jeans when I am taking the kids to the park or running errands. I have two pairs of the same shoe–one dedicated for running and another for that purpose. They are New Balance Trail Runners, and are a very low-profile runner and in a dark gray so they blend in with my jeans. I think if you do it right, this can be a good alternative to boots. And then you never have an excuse not to go for a brisk walk with the kids!

    This weekend I took my kids to a big indoor playplace/arcade (like Chuck E. Cheese on steroids), and I saw lots of folks dressed poorly. Unfortunately, though, just as there were lots in faded tees and hoodies, there were just as many in uncomfortable “going out” clothes. They looked ridiculous. I wanted to direct them all to this blog so they could find comfy basics!

  23. March 1, 2011 / 2:03 am

    I’ve been meaning to go through my closet and dresser for the past week or so and just haven’t gotten to it yet, but I think I will make a point of doing that tomorrow! My closet definitely isn’t overstuffed or anything, but I do have too many items in there that I never wear, mostly because they’re stretched out or faded. I have this perception that keeping those items gives me more choices every morning, but I always ignore them in favor of my nice clothes. So why keep the old stuff there to complicate my day?

    I also have some comfy clothes I keep around for days when I’m not really feeling “on it,” but whenever I wear the ugly comfy clothes, I don’t feel comfy–I feel ugly! I just try to make sure that my everyday clothes are plenty comfy. If I’m truly sick or something, I’ll be in bed in my pajamas–no need to keep clothes that make me feel bad around for that.

  24. February 28, 2011 / 11:05 pm

    I love this post. I wish people took some effort on themselves even if they are just running out to the store! I miss the days when people would dress nice out of respect. Oh well hopefully many will be inspired by you 🙂

  25. February 28, 2011 / 10:00 pm

    You have completely inspired me to go through my “comfy” draw! I have all of these and more – I hardly wear them but when I do, I feel like poo. Thanks for being such a constant source of positive and helpful advice!

  26. February 28, 2011 / 9:54 pm

    Amen, sister! I’m glad someone else gets it. How we look affects not only how we are treated, but also how we see ourselves.

    “In the garden and when doing dirty projects like spraypainting or getting in the attic, I must admit I wear a pair of Crocs.” Double amen! Crocs are appropriate footwear in those scenarios you’ve mentioned, also in operating rooms, kitchens, and on boats. And if you’re a kid. Everywhere else, just say nooooo!

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