Last month I shared a journey through the recesses of my brain, or at least, the clothing and appearance-related recesses of my brain. If you haven’t read that post yet, I recommend you go there first since today’s article is the second in this mini-series. Today I’ll take you on a journey through my closet, with far less emotional toil and far more practical lists.
Now that you all know how I FEEL about my clothing, I know you want to know what clothing I wear. Right?!?
Given my past penchant for bizarre outfit concoctions, I never pictured myself as a uniform person. But now, with two kids, one job, nine chickens and one homestead? Uniform me up, baby. I didn’t intentionally set out to create a uniform, it just happened as I realized that I want to wear comfortable clothing every single day. In the past, I was willing to suffer for fashion. Now? 0% interest. Less than 0. Negative % interest. Here’s something I’ve learned about myself: I don’t do small screens or high-waisted jeans.
Since we enjoy all four seasons here in rural Vermont, my uniform rotates commensurately. I’ll take you through my closet for each season, which is actually the same closet because all of my stuff now fits into my side of our master bedroom closet.
I wear leggings every day. I gave away every single pair of pants I owned for the simple reason that I DON’T LIKE PANTS. I have NEVER liked wearing pants because I find them so uncomfortable. I can remember in first grade begging my mom not to buy me pants. I don’t know why, I just hate how they feel. But, I used to wear jeans (skinny ones, even) because they were of the fashion. Now? Hells no.
I found two pairs of Felina leggings (unopened in their package!) at a yard sale like 4 years ago and loved them so much that I bought this 6-pack online (affiliate link). Also, not going to lie, they’ve added 6 new colors since I last bought them and, uh, no comment on whether or not I am right now, at this moment, clicking over to buy them… Ahem.
Here’s what I love about them:
- They are extremely comfortable.
- They have a soft waistband that doesn’t dig in, roll down or slide around.
- They are not “slimming.” In other words, they don’t try to compress my natural stomach region. My stomach is what it is, I don’t need some piece of spandex trying to hem in my natural state.
- They aren’t baggy or bunchy
- They’re cheap!
- They seem to be incredibly durable, especially in light of how cheap they are and how many times I’ve worn them over the past four years. I will note that I don’t put them in the dryer, I let them line dry.
I wear them for:
- Fancy occasions!
- Non-fancy occasions!
- All the occasions!
- Under my snowpants in the winter for outdoor recreation!
- Doing yoga!
Over my leggings I wear a dress. Every single day. As aforementioned, since I HATE pants, I love dresses. I do not wear skirts because then I’d have to coordinate a shirt with it and that is too much effort. A dress is a complete outfit all in one! Pair with leggings and you are done! I also like dresses because I feel like they translate well to different situations: fancy enough for church, comfortable enough for grocery shopping, nice enough for a dinner out.
I am not comfortable wearing a shirt with leggings because I do not like my bum riding out there in the wind (unless I’m doing yoga).
Here are the types of winter dresses I own:
- Long-sleeved turtleneck dresses
- Long-sleeved scoopneck dresses
- Long-sleeve cowlneck dresses
Essentially, I own the same dress in different colors and different neck lines. All of my dresses are:
- A-line (flowy?) without a waist band, without zippers or buttons and without patterns.
- I’m allergic to wool, so they’re all synthetic or cotton.
- They all have fully long sleeves because it is way too cold here to mess around with partial-sleeve situations. I’m going to pay the same amount and not get the entire sleeve?? I think not.
I’m not opposed to patterns, but I never seem to find any that I like. Plus, with solid color dresses, I’m able to mix and match everything with my different-colored leggings and my…
Being in Vermont, I need to top my dresses off with a sweater.
All of my sweaters are:
- Open in the front
- Different colors and patterns
- Not wool
I’m able to mix and match the sweaters with the dresses and leggings for near-endless combination possibilities.
On very cold days–or for outdoor recreation–I wear a synthetic long-sleeved shirt underneath my dress and/or snowpants. I’ve tried many different brands and I like this one the very best (affiliate link). They’re smooth and slim enough to go under all my dresses without being bunchy and warm enough to wear while skiing/snowshoeing.
I slip my bib overall snowpants* either over my dress or over my leggings and long underwear top and I’m good to go (affiliate link). I prefer overall snowpants because they keep me warmer and snow doesn’t go down the back. I like them roomy so that I can tuck a dress in if I want and, they provide plenty of flexibility when I’m skiing/snowshoeing.
*Note: these are not the brand I have, so I can’t speak to their specific quality–they don’t seem to make mine anymore, but mine are the same basic idea as these.
6) Winter Gear
Since we spend a lot of time outside year-round, warm gear is a necessity. I have:
- This hat, which I’ve been wearing for at least 12 years (affiliate link).
Insulated, water-proof mittens
- Down-filled knee-length coat
- Ski jacket with down-filled undercoat layer
- Face mask:
- I have two and I prefer the one that goes fully over my head for skiing and the one that covers just the bottom of my face for snowshoeing.
- Insulated Muck Boots (affiliate link):
- If you live in a cold climate, DO NOT cheap out on boots.
Wearing all of this–with my leggings and long underwear top underneath my snowpants–I’m good to go in any weather. The only times I get cold are if it’s about -10 Fahrenheit and really windy.
You will be unsurprised to learn that my summer wardrobe bears a striking resemblance to my winter attire…
Yes indeed, my hatred of pants extends to a detestation of shorts. This is like a lifelong hatred, so why fight it? I own zero pairs of shorts and I have zero regrets.
Through the magic of the internet, a Facebook mom’s group, and a fair amount of research, I discovered my magical summer unicorn: short leggings! I have five pairs of these in black (affiliate link).
They are super comfortable, not compression or slimming, don’t roll or bunch and reach to just above my knee. Wearing these enables me to climb, hike, sit on the floor with my kids and not flash anyone. A real priority for me. I also wear these for hot-weather yoga paired with an old t-shirt.
I wear these every single day underneath…
Unsurprisingly, I wear a short-sleeved dress every day in the summer.
I have three light-weight, flow-y cardigans that I throw over my dress in the event of a petite summer chill.
For warm-weather outdoor labor and hiking, I wear one of my two pairs of men’s overalls, which I love (affiliate link). They are extraordinarily comfortable, roomy, and have tons of pockets for keeping tools in–very handy when I’m out working in the garden or cleaning the chicken coop. I also find them way more comfortable for hiking than traditional hiking pants. I’ll never go back!
5) Sun shirts
I own two of these sun-shielding, long-sleeved shirts, which I wear under my overalls for all exercise/homestead labor (affiliate link).
I own this long-sleeved, long-shorts swimsuit thingy, which I adore (affiliate link). I wear it when swimming and paddle boarding and it is the suit of my dreams. I’m fully covered from the sun and in no danger of flashing, which as previously noted is a priority for me.
I love that it has:
- Long sleeves
- Is made of a durable material
- Sown-in chestal-region foundation (no need to wear anything underneath it)
- UPF 50+ sun protection
- Knee-length shorts, which I appreciate for some real obvious reasons
The only other category of clothing I own are of the “lounge/pajama” varietal.
I have a few pairs of pajama pants and some of Mr. FW’s old basketball shorts, which I wear on the odd occasion that I want to wear shorts around the house (usually when I’m cleaning and it’s really hot). Rounding it out are some large, old, cotton t-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies.
And…. that’s it!
That’s The Full List
I’ve gotten rid of pretty much everything else because I never wore it. I saw no point in keeping stacks of jeans, skirts and tops that I never wore. I’ve realized that I need to dress for myself because no one else cares and life is too short to be uncomfortable. I think I look put-together and decent most of the time, thanks to my simple dress and leggings combos. I’m not forging any new fashion frontiers here, but I do feel confident every day.
It takes me about 2 minutes to get dressed because I have a U-Pick-3 menu every day:
- One dress (short-sleeved or long-sleeved)
- One pair of leggings (short or long)
- One sweater (heavy or light)
My system removes all the guesswork and effort. I have so many other things to spend time thinking about that my clothes do not rate. I’ve also accepted that I like modest stuff, not because I’m conservative (the opposite!), but because it makes me comfortable. I’m looking at dresses online thinking, “where’d the rest of the dress go?!?” My midriff will not be on display anytime soon and I’m fine with that. I feel confident, healthy and attractive in my full-coverage outfits.
I almost forgot about shoes. Yes, I do wear those.
- 1 pair of these black, canvas, low-top converse sneakers–purchased new 1 million years ago (affiliate link).
- 1 pair of these hiking shoes–a hand-me-down from a friend who needed a different size (affiliate link).
- 1 pair of flip flops for the beach and pool ($1 from a yard sale!)
- 3 pairs of ballet flats (purchased from Target like 12 years ago and still going strong)
- 1 pair of knee-high rubber boots for chicken/homestead labor ($5 at a yard sale!)
I have some fancy heels leftover from my dress-up days, which I very occasionally wear, but honestly, they’re too uncomfortable. Although they are very cute, which is probably why I can’t bear to give them away…
- 1 pair of these insulated muck boots, purchased new five years ago (affiliate link). I wear these for everything: snowshoeing, outdoor labor, going places. It’s too cold for anything else.
- For the rare event necessitating a “fancy” shoe, I’ll wear my muck boots and pack my ballet flats to change into. Last year I did this exactly one time: for our Christmas Eve church service. My feet were so cold while I was singing with the choir that I will never do this again.
- I have several pairs of cute boots leftover from my fancy days that I like to wear before it gets too cold OR if it’s dry outside (during the pre-snow phase).
Did You Buy all of this Used?
Nope. Nope I absolutely did not. Curious folks can scroll back through my years of Monthly Expense Reports, which include all the clothes I’ve purchased.
When I made the transition from OUTFITS to clothing, I bought most of it new. In the past, thrift shopping for myself was a treasure hunt and I wore all manner of bizarre things because it was fun! Now, I just need stuff that I like and that fits. When I found leggings I liked, I bought 6 pairs of the exact same leggings (in different colors!). When I find a dress I love, I typically buy several in different colors. I will say that I tend to buy fairly inexpensive clothing and the most I’ve ever spent on a single item is about $50.
There’s nothing wrong with buying nicer, more expensive pieces, I just seem to be able to find stuff I like at places like Kohl’s, Old Navy and Target. It works for me, it might not work for you! Anytime I need/want a new dress, the very first place I check is Kohl’s, specifically the Apt 9 brand. I own more Apt 9 items than anything else and I have for years! I started shopping at Kohl’s in high school and never stopped.
For whatever reason, that brand most nearly fits my fashion sense and budget. It also seems to hold up really well over time. I’ve owned Apt 9 stuff for over a decade that still looks great. I will note that I do line-dry all of my clothing with the exception of my pajamas, socks and undies. You can tell I have a uniform when it’s laundry day and all my identical dresses are hanging up in the breeze.
I still find great items at thrift stores occasionally and there are several in our area that I like a lot. I will say that, since I only wear dresses, it’s quick and easy for me to breeze through the dress section in a thrift store. Either they have dresses I like or they don’t! I love that about my simplified style.
Will You Buy More Clothing?
Probably. I typically buy 1 or 2 new dresses each season just for fun-sies. I haven’t bought new leggings or sweaters in several years because I seem to have plenty of those. But, I enjoy finding a new dress that I like and, I try very hard to follow the 1 in, 1 out rule. If something new joins the closet, something old must be donated.
The one thing I don’t have right now is a fancy dress. We’re going to a wedding in November (with three separate events!) and I’m debating if I want to try and find something fancy. Alternately, I might just wear my nice, black, long-sleeved sweater dress–which was a gift from my fabulous mother-in-law and is pictured above in the kitchen w/the kids–with a fancy necklace. That’s what I’ve been doing for all “fancy” events up to this point and it’s worked out totally fine. I have no desire to be uncomfortable at this wedding and I’m not sure I care enough to spend money on something I’ll wear very rarely. But it would be fun to get something glitzy… However, I really don’t like shopping, which is why my uniform suits me so well. I don’t have to go try on a million dresses to find one I like–I know my size and my style.
Will You Ever Change Your Uniform?
Probably. Who knows? I’m much more open to variation and change than I used to be. In the past, I felt like I had to make one decision FOR LIFE and never deviate. Now, I’m of the mindset that, “this is what really works for me right now.” There’s no one right way to dress or buy clothing or present yourself in the world. We’re all amalgamations of our experiences and tastes and what’s right for me right now might not be right for you. What’s right for me right now might not even be right for me in another 10 years! Enshrining that sense of flexibility and openness has really helped me to be less rigid, less anxious and happier. That and taking my Zoloft every morning.