It’s easy to overthink clothes, because clothes are so personal. When I overthink, I tend to lose track of the obvious. Have you ever been caught off guard by a ridiculously easy question? Like when you’re at a party and you’re a little nervous and a lot stressed and a stranger asks you how many siblings you have and you panic and just start listing numbers? I can get that way when people ask me what I like about clothes. Then my mind goes blank. What DO I like about clothes? Um, You get arrested if you don’t wear them in public?……They’re an aspect of art and culture that nobody can “opt out” of?…..They are usually made of cloth??….Okay, okay. STOP, Ashley.
There are lots of reasons to like clothes, but my reasons aren’t very complicated. I like clothes because clothes are pretty and interesting and can make people look really good. There doesn’t have to be a deep reason to be interested in clothes and our clothes don’t have to be separated from what we like in other parts of our lives.
If your house is simple and minimalist, white walls with gray accents, I’m guessing that your clothing tastes will veer toward simplicity and minimalism as well. If your favorite songs are all by Elvis, I wouldn’t be surprised if your wardrobe has some vintage vibes going on. I like all kinds of things and that shows up in my clothes. I love prints that remind me of my mom’s blue-and-white china pattern. I love colors that make me think of the ocean. So this week, I tried dressing in clothes that reminded me of other things I love.
I love classic children’s literature and I have a particular fondness for the characters who don’t quite fit in with the rest of the group at first, but grow into it. Usually the funny side characters. The little, strange, hilarious ones. Some examples:
- Beanie Robinson from Dog Friday by Hilary McKay. I’ve probably already mentioned Beanie on this blog, but she’s so great, I’ll mention her again. She’s six. She named herself Beanie, because she thinks a bean pod seems like such a comfy place to live. She wants to run a Bed and Breakfast when she grows up and my favorite part of the book is when she gets an opportunity to do just that. That little girl saves the day in such a nonchalant way that I want to be Beanie Robinson when I grow up.
- Dorothea Callum from the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome, which are all about kids who camp and sail and have adventures around the Lake Country in England. Dorothea and her brother don’t show up until later in the series, so the main group has already been established and everybody has a role. Dorothea wants to be a novelist and none of the kids really knows what to do with that at first, but she eventually becomes the one everybody looks to for ideas. By the time The Big Six comes around, she uses everything she knows about mystery stories to solve a real crime. She’s just the best. (EXCUSE ME WHILE I RUN OFF AND READ ALL THE BOOKS WITH DOROTHEA IN THEM.)
- Constance Contraire from The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. This book is about about a group of kid spies who are put in charge of shutting down a plot to take over the world, but Constance is the least likely child spy of all time. She’s tiny, weak, grumpy, sleepy, and spends most of the book insulting her other teammates. Her character development is such a surprise that I’ll just let you read it. On the spy entrance exam, one of the questions is “What is wrong with this statement?” The correct answer is that it isn’t a statement, it’s a question. But Constance’s answer was “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?” That still cracks me up.
This outfit feels old-fashioned and young at the same time. There’s something about the flats and the collar and the cardigan and the flowers on the shirt. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why it reminds me of some of my favorite fictional characters, but it definitely made me happy that day!
I love westerns and there’s a western trend thing happening right now, but let’s face it, I’m never going to look like Steve McQueen in The Magnificent Seven. That’s the tragic fact of it.
I bought these lovely fringed earrings last Saturday and they had a western vibe to them, so I decided to channel the kind of western I knew I could do. That is a glam western. A musical western. A Calamity Jane or Annie Get Your Gun kind of western. As it turns out, it’s way easier for me to channel Doris Day than to channel Steve McQueen.
I really loved this look. It’s cute and practical and packs a punch. Just like Calamity Jane. If there’s a trend you love, but don’t think you can do, alter it until it suits you! The trends aren’t the boss of you.
I bought this gray top in France last fall and I’m so delighted it’s warm enough to wear it again! It’s ruffled and voluminous and embellished and it has bell sleeves and is so all-out-feminine that it makes me think of a princess. Given the chance, I’d dress like a princess every day. The Child Within still casts a heavy vote and always votes in favor of MORE TWIRLY, PLEASE.
I wouldn’t want to wear a ball gown all the time. That would be cumbersome and inconvenient. But I love the idea of truly beautiful everyday clothes and I want to make it a thing. Princesses in the woods are still princesses and they are still regal and beautiful in hard circumstances. I always preferred Sleeping Beauty’s everyday clothes to her ballgown. Probably because the pink-blue-pink-blue gown color change confused me as a child. Anyway, I don’t know how I will make Princess a THING, but I really want it. I think that’s why I started doing fashion in the first place.
This look is based on one movie scene that shaped my aesthetics more than I can explain.
The movie is Disney’s The Three Caballeros and it’s truly bizarre. But there’s one scene where there’s a little choo-choo train going through a jungle and the background is completely black and the jungle and the train bright saturated colors. It was the first time I’d ever seen anything like that, with bright colors on a dark background, and boy did that ever speak to my soul. The old comic, Krazy Kat, holds a special place in my heart for the same reason – the black skies and bright desert of Krazy Kat world strike a chord with me.
So to reference Mary Blaire’s 3 Caballeros artwork, I paired my brightest tropical print top with a black skirt and black shoes. It’s dramatic, but playful. It’s an everyday party.
This one is easy. When I saw this romper, it made me think of a circus tent. And circuses remind me of summertime and popcorn and elephants.
I was so overjoyed about the first really warm day that I wanted to celebrate it! With shorts. But most of my shorts are very short. So this was an elevated short look that worked for the office. Win-win.
This was a fun challenge and it amplified all my happiness this week. If you are feeling a little bored with your outfits or just need some inspiration, take inspiration from things you love! What would your favorite book character pick out of your closet? What would an outfit based on toast with jam look like? What color reminds you of your favorite place?