I seem to be missing the style gene. I lack the knack of knowing what looks good on me. I find coordinating outfits a nightmare, which is probably just as well, since coordinating seems to be out of style these days. To make matters worse, I'm overwhelmed by department stores—there's too much to choose from. Still, a girl's got to wear clothes, so I've developed a three-pronged formula I try to follow:
First, keep it simple. Neutrals. Jeans and black slacks, with maybe an occasional pair of gray, khaki, or brown thrown in. Solid tops, preferably black, but sometimes with a hint of color.
Second, find a good salesperson and stick with her. For several years, I bought virtually all my clothes from Karen, who managed a small boutique near Boston. Under her tutelage, I occasionally even deviated from my neutrals mantra. One notable season, she actually convinced me to buy a couple of tee shirts with sparkles on them. She assured me they looked great and I believed her (I'm both gullible and extremely susceptible to flattery). When I wore them, I felt terrific. Sadly, the economic downturn put Karen out of a job. I'm hoping she'll find another position soon and send me a note. Until then, I seem to be on my own.
Third, find designers you like and whose clothes fit you well. Sadly, the designers I like all seem to be the expensive ones, although I had success a few years ago with Target's Mossimo line of tee shirts. Having specific designer labels to look for helps me avoid department store overload. And once I find a nice pair of jeans or a top I like, I can order more online without even having to enter a store.
I tried to adhere to my formula recently when I went in search of tops to wear with jeans. My current tee shirt collection only works well if you like the over-washed, shapeless, faded look. I hoped to to buy a couple of new tees in solid colors, maybe a vee neck or a scoop neck, that I could dress up or down. But I was in for a disappointment.
First, there were no decent tees in neutral or any solid color. I found a vast selection of wild prints with necklines down to my navel, but no simple, elegant, nicely draped solid-color tees.
Second, the salespeople, while friendly, tried to sell me all those wild prints and plunging necklines. None of them is destined to become my new personal shopper.
Third, the designers I usually like have all started designing ugly clothes.
OR, as seems more likely, the tops I saw were gorgeous, the salespeople had great taste, and the designers know exactly what they're doing. That is, the problem is me—I have no sense of style. Perhaps the time has come for me to embrace my lack of style. Let's face it, I'll never be a fashionista. As soon as I sign off, I'm going online to L.L. Bean and Orvis to buy a few sensible, un-stylish tee shirts.