Look Ma', No Cash!

Life, The Arts, Fashion and Food on a Budget

From Boho to Betty, Clearing Out the Closet

For my college years, I dressed in style I’ve seen described as “Boho”. Long skirts, spaghetti strap shirts layered with cropped jackets or long, belted, cardigans. Sandals in the summer, slouch boots in the winter. Jewel tones, blacks and various shades of brown. In my early twenties, I added some skinny jeans to the line-up, along with linen or cotton skirts that ended just above the knee or mid thigh, ked knock offs in the summer and thicker material dresses in the winter worn with leggings and leg warmers. I was obsessed with short sleeved pull over hoodies and layering with long sleeved undershirts.

At 25, I don’t really do either of those looks anymore. Last spring, I starting sneaking vintage bits and pieces into my daily wardrobe and culling more modern fair. I worked at a bookstore with a lot of vintage loving coworkers and customers who were very vocal when they liked an outfit. With my Grandma’s house dresses quickly filling up my wardrobe I had to make room for more finds. So I made a deal with myself. The deal was this; wear an outfit to work, if I went the whole day without a compliment or comment, it went into a donation bin. By the time I moved to L.A. I had a pared down my closet considerably and was excited to try out some more daring outfits in such a big city, but for the first four months, I was stuck at a job with a uniform, and a strict rule of “natural” makeup and hair only. It did not last.

Then I got my coffee shop job. I cannot begin to tell my excitement when I read the “dress code” email. Ties, suspenders and trousers for the men, blouses and skirts, or dark jeans for the women. No t-shirts, no baggy jeans. Make-up and hair color/style polished but otherwise free reign. I started a pin-board, freed my pencil skirts that were once only worn as interview clothes, cuffed my jeans, and dug out my red lipstick. My first few days at work the customers were amazing. Old gentlemen in suits telling me I looked like a poster from their heyday, young business women in expensive suits asking me for style advice, young men saying I should be behind a typewriter instead of an i-pad. And all of them telling me I was beautiful, and making their day with my cheery smile. With compliments like that, how could I not smile?

So I started expanding my wardrobe with thrift store finds. Button up blouses with 40’s sleeves, more pencil skirts, A-line dresses that belted at my natural waist. Pastels and bright colors mingled with the old jewel tones. I began penciling my eyebrows, put my prescription in my Grandma’s old lenses, let my crazy curly hair be just that, because women back in the day spent hours making their hair look like what mine does when I roll out of bed and spritz some water on it.

Today Gibby and I did a mass cleaning of our closet and dresser. I finally retired the legwarmers, the mid thigh ruffle-y skirts and the hip hugging “Boho” skirts. They’re just not me anymore. And I’m happy with that. I am more comfortable now with my body and what I’m wearing on it than I have ever been. And you know what’s interesting? There are still items in my closet that I’ve had since middle school and high school and my early twenties. Items like the dark blue knitted short sleeved pullover I stole from my mum, the argyle cardigan that took me years to find in a fabric other than wool, my first two pencil skirts, the first shirt dress my grandma gave me, the grey mod dress I bought in Portland. I was always attracted to the fashion, I just didn’t think I could pull it off as daily wear back then. I know better now.

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