Thursday, October 18, 2007

Home Keeper's Wardrobe

Charming the Birds from the Trees has a delightful article about what items should be in the wardrobe of a woman who works from the home. In the post, Emma invites other bloggers to share their thoughts on this subject.

So, this is my attempt to describe what I think works for me. I am a keeper at home and run a home business, plus am active in church and other activities. The challenge of my day is that I might be scrubbing a floor one moment and needing to look fresh and neat to have lunch with someone the next moment.

My basic list is similar to Emma's. Practically, a woman might add some other items to flesh this out. Anyhow, here goes:

One or two items that are -- shall we delicately say -- "eye-catching".
One or two items that are attractive and feminine, yet provide a little more cover and warmth than the "eye-catching" outfits. These can be silky, satiny, or of cotton, but they should be on the glamorous side -- not cutsey or dowdy. They should make you feel feminine and lovely. A long peignoir would be nice. These can be expensive, but, often, you can find one on sale.
A pretty robe
If your family likes to camp or stay in cabin-type atmosphere, one very modest night outfit, such as cute pajama pants with an adequately concealing knit top. You wouldn't just wear this around the cabin or tent, but it wouldn't be the end of the world if a child popped in to your sleeping space and saw you in it. You could also wear this on a day when you come down with a bad cold or something. But, don't take wear it just any old evening or night. Even when you are sick, as soon as you can manage it, slip on one of your glamorous outfits and brush your hair and teeth and slick on a little lipstick. You'll feel better about yourself as you recover.

pretty slippers and, maybe, one pair of old-fashioned feminine boudoir mules -- the kind that heroines in 1940's and 50's movies used to wear with a pretty peignoir.


Emma suggests a wardrobe of the essentials in nude. That's good advice for those of us whose skin ranges from fair to medium dark. Nude is the most economical choice, as it will go underneath any color. With my fair skin, I also do well in a light shell pink or a very, very light beige. I do have some black delicates, but I cannot wear them with white or other very light colors or some spring and summer-weight fabrics. So, in that sense, they aren't the most practical choice for me.

If you have skin that ranges from medium-dark to darkest ebony, nude may be too light for you to use as a neutral color for delicates. Try nude, then black, underneath a white blouse. If the nude stands out, but the black doesn't, then black may be your best choice for your essential delicates.

Whatever color you choose, make sure undergarments fit well, launder them gently, and buy new ones when you need them. I have learned the hard way that wearing worn out or ill-fitting delicates can make your outer garments look shapeless and sloppy. In clothing, as in architecture, a good foundation is essential -- even more so as you age.

When it comes to delicates, make sure you have everything you need to wear every outfit in your wardrobe. That would include hose and slips. When shopping for a new outfit, ask yourself if you would need to purchase special undergarments for it. That might be a factor in whether or not you buy it. Ask the same question about accessories. Will this outfit require new shoes, a new bag, a scarf, or some new jewelry? If so, do I really want to invest in all that right now? Or, do I want to find something else that works with what I already have.

Shoes: If you stick to one neutral, all you need is one pair of heels, one pair of flats, and one handbag, plus flip flops for the beach and any footwear you need for exercise or gardening. You could also add a pair of boots or even rain boots, depending on your local climate and/or what's in style. I have yet to stick completely to just one neutral! But, I am aiming to pare down to one or two.

Handbag: A dressy one and an everyday one. You also might want to invest in a stylish, large tote that you can take with you on an overnight trip or if you need to carry a lot of items to a certain event. Some fashion experts might look down on this idea. But, then, they are thinking what looks good in a boutique or on a runway, not what is pratical for daily life.

Also, you may want to find some sort of shoe that you use when cleaning house. I've heard a bootie recommended. Since flats are so in right now, a cute pair of neutral flats would work with all of your outfits, too. Try to save these "housework" shoes for mostly indoor wear, so that you don't track outside dirt on your floors and carpets as you clean the house.

Shoes do protect your feet as you work. How many times have we dropped a can or some other item on our toe or rammed our toes against something as we worked? Shoes prevent injuries in such situations. If you absolutely don't want to wear shoes when you do housework, at least try some presentable looking slippers. I must admit, though, that I'm barefoot as I'm writing this. Well, I am from Tennessee. :)

Coats: One stylish all-weather-coat with a removable lining in your best neutral will take you almost everywhere. It will be especially versatile if you can find one that has softer lines. You might want to add a dressier wrap of some kind if you attend a lot of dressy functions. Also, a lightweight spring/fall jacket is very handy. Of course, I live in a mild climate. Someone who lives in a cold climate might need a heavier coat than the all-weather-coat. Trench coats never really go out of style, but they are especially "in" this year. A trench coat could be your all-weather coat. But, buy one you love for itself and not because it's the trend right now. You want something that you can wear for five to ten years and still feel fabulous in.

Blazer/Fashion Jacket: As Emma says, a versatile blazer or fashion jacket can add polish to your wardrobe items.

Bottoms: Three great skirts and one great pair of pants, if you wear pants. If not, three to five great skirts should get you through a week. These should be in your best neutrals and one or two coordinating colors These should be items that carry you from housework to the store to lunch with a friend to the dentist, etc. Wear an apron and gloves when you clean! If you buy classic styles and materials, you can wear these to church functions, as well. Well-made knit items will work for some of your wardrobe basics, but be sure to include some well-fitting items in other materials, as well.

Tops: Three to five tops that coordinate with your bottoms. Aim for having a nice and freshly laundered top in your closet at all times, so that you can pull off a top you've worn during the day and add a fresh top for a family dinner or other evening activity. You may want one good sweater, as well. Twin sets are versatile, as you can wear the shell and sweater together or split them up to go with other outfits.

If you prefer dresses to tops and bottoms, have five versatile dresses in your wardrobe.

Apron: At least one.

One outfit to exercise in and, maybe, even to garden in. Otherwise, don't let yourself get in the habit of wearing sweats around the house. The only exception might be a really nice jogging or valour suit that you do not wear for exercise. This exception is for you only if you are the really sporty type and are in fantastic shape and you keep your hair and face fresh and pretty and you know for a fact that you look cute in the sporty look and your outfit is modest and you don't wear this type of thing every day. Otherwise, you will feel better about yourself and have more emotional and mental energy if you wear more feminine things for your daily activities.

Something you can wear to a funeral, to a wedding, to a baby shower, etc. If you choose well, you can accomplish this with one or great dress or one skirt and blouse. Perhaps, your daily coordinates will even serve this purpose. Just be sure to keep something neatly laundered and on hand, as these life events tend to pop up without much warning.

I'm looking forward to getting other ideas from Emma and her readers.



Julieann said...

Your attempt, was perfect!!! You were right on about everything!


Elaine said...

I loved reading your thoughts on this subject. Thank you for such an organized summary. It really does make it easier to keep a wardrobe on track when you have a plan...just lovely.

Anonymous said...

Great suggestions. I'd like to add headwear; perhaps a pretty, wide-brimmed sunhat and a nice hat for church (if you wear them). Also maybe a beret or nice beanie for winter.


Lilith said...

About bags, I'd like to add that this year like the past year, the big, even huge bags are very trendy ! Therefore you can have a very handy, spacious AND trendy handbag !
And about the trench Elizabeth, I think you're perfectly right : it has been trendy for around 10 years now, and it is not going to stop soon... That's a great purchase to do !

Elizabeth said...

Hi Julieann, Elaine, Our Red house, and Lilith:

Thanks for the encouraging words, Julieann and Elaine.

Our Red house, I'm so glad you thought to bring up head wear. In the past couple of years, I have collected several hats. Though I don't look my best in hats, I adore them and think they serve a purpose. I wish they'd come back into fashion full force. I think there's been a trend towards that, but it's been slow in coming.

I also forgot to mention other accessories, such as scarves and gloves.


Thanks for pointing out that the big slouchy bags are in right now and could serve as a tote.

Joanna said...

Thanks for realizing that your needs depend on your climate. Here in Minnesota, those boots (and hats, scarves, gloves, sweaters...) are a necessity! It always annoys me when I see magazine fashion articles that recommend coats the wind would blow right through...or, worse, say to transform your day outfit into evening wear by taking off the jacket. Hello! It's colder when the sun goes down! You're going to freeze!

nannykim said...

Hi--great ideas--thanks for taking the time. I left a comment on the charming the I won't repeat that here. But I do say I differ a tad on the bedroom attire--I think in all attire it should reflect a bit of your own personality since God make us all so unique. I tend to go with cute and comfort because I am a little old person ;-) and glamorous just does not feeeel like me---I would feel a bit phony (although someimes I go there ;-)