The Year of the Dress

I dubbed 2021 the “Year of the Dress.” After the experience of an at-home pandemic year and a summer of working a full-time job and a part-time job in 2020; I decided I was done caring about fitting in with fashion and done dealing with abdominal pain caused by waistbands.

I have a few filler posts that were in the cue prior to deciding to stop posting during the winter, so I’ll sprinkle them in on occasion. I mean, I went to the trouble of writing them. They are not house related.

This post will contain pictures of some of my favorite outfits-and I how I style dresses for all seasons. (These are all dresses-even though sometimes they appear like skirts).

I was always the type of kid who didn’t mind wearing a crazy combo of clothing. Bright colors, crazy patterns, weird combinations, as long as it was comfortable. And while I had a time period of being both more boring (jeans and tees) and inventive at the same time (pleather tank top anyone?) in high school; fashion wasn’t ever super my thing.

In college I competed in the Miss America system for scholarships, and I had to become more fashion forward. This was easier once I lived in Boston and could actually see what was fashion forward (instead of my go-to 70s throwback hippie/grunge clothes). And I learned a ton about fashion, fit, style, etc. The experience of designer-clothing (that fit my body), modeling and being judged on-stage, and the mid-aughts obsession with fashion and thinness in general carried over into my adult life.

I do tie my shirts on the side-just like in these photos-when I wear them over top a dress.

But as I’ve aged, I’ve stopped caring at all about what people think about my clothes. Much more like when I was a kid. This is my favorite part about aging that no one ever mentions. You become less visible as you age, less likely to get cat-called or unwanted attention, so wearing whatever you want doesn’t stand out so much anymore. Why does no one talk about how wonderful it is to be allowed to be the crazy dress lady?

So I collected dresses in 2020 and 2021. I started with just four dresses I purchased and one I already owned for the first four months. And that experience allowed me to understand what kind of fit, sleeve style, size, and material I preferred. From there, I then expanded my collection so I would have lots of options and patterns to change with the seasons and never be running low based on my washing schedule. (I also have some overalls-because that’s a must on an acreage and they are basically dresses with an extra seam if you buy them baggy enough).

It’s been wonderful. And I decided, I wasn’t interested in the typical “minimalist” color scheme or neutrals. I started with some neutrals, but I really love wild colors and unusual combos. So if I was going to make a wardrobe that would actually last and make me feel like I always had something to wear, it needed to be something I actually loved, with every piece feeling special.

First, as I mentioned above, I have waaaaaaaaaaaaay less abdominal pain. When my digestive system distends, I can appear to be four months pregnant (not a bad look-but not one a non-pregnant, child-free person wants…uh….awkward conversations ensue). And this causes pain. Having your belly increase by ten inches at random is not the norm and is not pleasant. And makes wearing anything with a waist band a nightmare. No waist band that has to hold up your clothing on your body also means eating isn’t as painful. I don’t have to skip meals in fear of a distended stomach, or avoid spinach or apples, or be so restricted in my eating schedule.

Second, I can wear these dresses at any size in any condition. Picking clothes use to be a gamble. I would often bring a change of pants or skirt with me when I left the house; in case I started busting out of the size and getting crushing stomach cramps. Weight gain, weight loss, bloating, summer heat, winter deep freeze, running around teaching kindergartners ukulele, playing drumset…it’s all comfortable in a dress. This is because they are loose and wide enough to accommodate movement, no worries about the waist band sliding down and showing my undergarments, and can fit a lot of layers if needed for warmth without looking bulky-because they are already so voluminous.

Dresses are also a complete outfit on their own. This is a one and done wardrobe decision.

I’m really happy I challenged myself to get rid of, or put away, my waisted clothing items. I do have some leggings for warmth, but they are baggy and cozy. And I wouldn’t wear them in public as pants (aside from walking Gus).

Giving myself a challenge that will make my life better or challenge my views on what is societally appropriate was a great resolution for 2021.

I have a variety of tees, long sleeve tops, extra-long cardigans and sweaters and I just mix and match (or mis-match) depending on the weather.

And now that I have a solid wardrobe that should last for YEARS, that involved a bit of an investment, it’s time for what’s next. So here’s to 2022-The No Buy Year.

I have done these before, but haven’t in a couple of years due to needing to rebuild my wardrobe and figure out some health supports.

This is my “dressy” outfit. I also have the lace cardigan in all black-but that was hard to see in a photo.

But with the goal of paying off the mortgage in full-swing, I decided I’ve got what I need mostly figured out and it’s time to do another No-Buy. It’s pretty self-explanatory. You set a budget or limits to stop yourself from spending money in order to reach a financial goal. I’m actually really good at this. It’s how I saved $10,000 and paid off $5000 in student loans and went on a trip to Tanzania in the first two years of my marriage working three part-time jobs. It’s not a good long-term lifestyle; because it can feel limiting and depressing at times. But for a year or two, it can be super successful.

My sweaters are all crazy patterns and are extra, extra soft. They are so soft and fuzzy. It’s super comforting in cold weather and makes me excited for when it’s cold enough to wear them.

I won’t share my exact financial goals here. (I do have some internet boundaries 🤣). But I have an amount I want in my personal savings, an amount in my business savings, an amount to pay off (I have a car loan, etc), and strict weekly budget for things like gas, groceries, etc. I am allowing for some spending (like $25 for each of the three flea markets if I find something really neat and $150 towards any gardening seeds, etc, if a garden ends up happening this summer). But mostly, it’s about necessities. No clothes, no beauty supplies (unless a necessity like shampoo runs out), no stock piling cleaning items (replace only when you run out of an item), no buying gifts, no giving to charity (I regularly donate so a break isn’t weird), and using up what already exists in our freezer, pantry, etc.

So here we go 2022-I’m ready for the challenge! And…you can bet I’ll be doing it in a dress.

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