progress – noun | \ˈprä-grəs, -ˌgres\

: movement forward or toward a place
: the process of improving or developing something over a period of time

For the past few weeks several months most of my life, I’ve been a fashion nightmare. I know what looks good on others. I see an outfit on a mannequin or in a catalog, and I think, “Great style!” Occasionally, I’ll go shopping and see a sweater or a dress or a pair of slacks, and I’ll snatch them up, thinking “finally, I’ll look nice in my clothes.” And the first time I wear the outfit just as a I saw it in the store, I do look nice. Colors match or coordinate. All the seams and hems and lines flow together well.

Then, the outfit goes into the laundry, gets mixed with the rest of my awkwardly assembled wardrobe, and the next time I wear any piece of the ensemble, I seem to mix it with the wrong jeans, the wrong jacket, or, almost always, the wrong shoes.

Part of the problem lies folded in my laundry basket down in the basement. As Steve or I (mostly Steve) wash, dry, and fold our family’s laundry, each person’s items go into a separate laundry basket. On the weekends, we take the baskets upstairs to our room and put the laundry away. Or at least I make the boys put their laundry away. Half the time mine stays downstairs and I just dress from there, creating outfits out of whatever happens to be in the basket.

ashion Runway My Word of the Week ProgressAnother problem is that I tend to like individual pieces of clothing but have never had a sense of style. So my colors, cuts, fits, and hems are all over the map. Some are totally wrong for my body shape. Most aren’t recommended together. But for some reason, I go right ahead and wear the oversized sweater over the maxi skirt or the button up shirt with the high-waisted skirt, which seems like a wonderful idea until I happen to catch my reflection in the window as I’m heading to a meeting.

Last summer, I started reading about and experimenting with the 10-item wardrobe, or “capsule” wardrobe. Basically, a person chooses 10 or so high quality, versatile items and builds daily outfits out of those pieces, plus some accessories. I didn’t stick with 10 items exactly, but I did pull out every item of clothing I owned, filled several garbage bags with shirts, dresses, sweaters, and pants from my dresser, armoire, and a few storage tubs in the basement, and then ordered a few items to fill in the gaps. Walah! I had my very own capsule wardrobe.

It was a start, but there was still a problem. I had kept items of clothing that didn’t go together and didn’t fit well or look good on me. And even though I have stuck to my guns about keeping a small wardrobe — even to the point of donating an item of clothing anytime I bought something new — my sense of style hadn’t improved one iota.

You may be confused about now. Blog posts about clothes and fashion isn’t my normal fare here. And it’s not something I usually spend a lot of time thinking about, even. But when I showed up at my professional coworking space a few weeks ago wearing leggings and a sweatshirt, I realized I had a problem bigger than preference or a personal sense of style. Whether I like it or not, my clothing says something about me, both professionally and personally. And looking back, I don’t really like what my wardrobe is communicating.

So, much to, Steve’s, amazement, I pulled out all my clothes again — and really, I don’t own many — and shaved off another garbage bag full. Then, I ordered just a few items online, all on sale and this time in colors and styles that coordinate with the few things I kept, and began to imagine a look for myself that would carry me from my home office into town for errands and even to client meetings.

The leggings may appear again, but only under a tunic and with a nice pair of flats. The sweatshirt is reserved for cool nights in the backyard this summer. And that recurring fashion nightmare I’ve been living most of my life? I’m not sure it’s behind me. But at least I’m making progress.

What’s YOUR word of the week? Drop it into the comments section, or share it on this week’s Facebook post. If you post about your word on your blog, please slip the link into a comment below so I can stop by and join you.

Photo by Kris Atomic via Unsplash. Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.