“Lizzie McGuire, you are an outfit repeater!”
This one-liner from the 2003 Lizzie McGuire Movie has haunted me further into adulthood than I care to admit. Which is funny to me because I’ve never considered myself to be even half as fashionably minded as Lizzie. Simply speaking, I’m your jeans and a t-shirt type of girl when I’m off the clock. I like wearing tops with Marvel characters and leggings with the Van Gogh Tardis design from Doctor Who. I wear jewelry with Harry Potter designs and I’m not ashamed to admit that I kind of love my Ugg boots.
In my daily life I wear my favorite clothes frequently because they’re both comfortable and flattering and I wouldn’t have bought them otherwise. But something about my business attire has me second guessing my outfits before I leave for work in the morning. I spend all day in a cubicle facing the brick wall of the building next door; the chances of anyone noticing what I wear, let alone caring, are fairly slim. Unless for some reason my outfit was wildly out of our business causal dress code, no one would notice. So why do I?
I started collecting business attire after I joined a sorority during my first semester of college. Twice a month we had formal meetings that we were required to attend in heels and professional clothing. It was new to me at the time and a bit frustrating in bad weather, but I look back on that experience now as a useful lesson in how to dress for the real world. (And if I’m totally honest, how to walk in high heels without tripping, too.) My wardrobe has grown substantially since then and I’ve got enough of the “staple” pieces now to make a lot of outfits work. A month’s worth to be exact.
But my “jeans and a t-shirt attitude” towards outfit repetition doesn’t apply to the workplace, much as I wish it did. It would certainly make my morning routine a lot faster if I could just pull any old thing out of the closet! This is because dressing professionally is about more than just the fabric of your pants. It’s about looking polished and together, as if your dress were reflecting your mental state. This is something else that I picked up on during my time in a sorority.
Wearing the same few outfits or one that isn’t flattering indicates a level of immaturity. It may sound stupid to judge someone based on their ability to coordinate patterns, but if you think about it it’s a little true. Proper dress shows that you took the time to think about your outfit, and that by extension you’re “together” enough with your personal life to spend some of your time doing that instead of worrying about potential life crises. Do you see where I’m going with this? I worry so much about repeating my outfits because repeats show that I don’t think (and that by extension I don’t care) about my professional life. When in reality, I very much do.
Does this mean that I’ll never repeat an outfit? Of course not. It just means that I give myself, and anyone who might have actually noticed, some time to forget my most recent ensembles before I cycle back around to them. And also that I have an excuse to go shopping every now and again.