Building The Perfect Beast (My Wardrobe)

Another “Greatest Hits” rerun.

A nod to the great Don Henley.  You probably have seen or certainly can see from my Flickr page, I have a massive wardrobe.  I have barely scratched the surface.  I do hope that my sense of style comes through.  My goal on every time out is to present myself properly (appropriate for my body type, the circumstances of the outing and age appropriate).  That doesn’t mean I don’t wish to look pretty or won’t take fashion risks.  Yes, I will wear a skirt maybe a little short, but overall my outfit won’t draw any unwanted attention.  Style, class and dignity are what I am striving for.

A friend asked me about my style.  I tried to explain that I am different than many girls.  While I have learned a lot, I am really not conversant in what my style is.  I am not good at knowing designers, dress types, names for skirts, am not good at verbalizing what I look for in an outfit.  But I know my body, I know what looks best on me.  I know what I like!  The example I used is that we are both equally talented musicians.  She can read music, I cannot.  I play by ear.  My style is instinctive.  Make any sense?

In building my wardrobe, I acquire pieces and assemble outfits at home.  Most women probably go shopping with a particular item or outfit in mind, at least looking for something that will be worn to a specific event.  I never do that.  Since I thrift or will only buy on clearance, I am simply stocking my inventory for some future use.  I am frequently buying summer things in the winter and winter things in the spring as that is how they show up in thrift stores.  During the last week of December I picked up two adorable sundresses at thrifts.  About a month prior I bought a gorgeous white sundress, an outstanding cold shoulder number and another black and white NY&Co sundress.  Buying off-season is a huge cost saver.  I don’t think I have ever paid full price for a new dress.  I have purchased new dresses (just did recently), but they have to be on sale and/or I have to have a coupon.  I am trying not to make my “hobby” an issue in my marriage by overspending.  There is no indication of that and that is how I hope to keep it.

I know what works intuitively for an event or outing and what works best for me personally.  I try this and that before settling on what I believe is just the right fit, but it is all done from my closet, not on a shopping trip.

So what do I look for?  Early on, I just acquired specific items: jeans, tops, blouses, skirts, dresses, etc.  Cost is a huge factor.  All thrifts have special days and/or daily specials.  I generally shop only for those items.  Some provide coupons and I use them all.  I have passed on beautiful items because I felt they were overpriced (for a thrift) or was willing to wait until they because discounted, running the risk of losing that item.  I am in a thrift store probably five times a week.  You have to check frequently as you can walk in and find nothing or you can walk out with a bag full of treasures.

I will occasionally shop at consignment stores, but I tend to find them overpriced.  I’d rather spend that kind of money on clearance items or at places like Marshall’s or T.J. Maxx to get a new item as opposed to a used one.  I do have a consignment store that I use to sell items and will use the funds from those sales to buy things at that store.  I will then only buy 50% off items and am a bit more willing to spend a few dollars more because I just look at it like recycling, using the money from items I have sold to acquire new clothes.

Now when I shop, I look for something that simply grabs me.  Truth be told, I probably could put together a different outfit for every single day of a year with what I own now.  When I walk into a favorite Goodwill, I first start with the dresses, looking for something to jump out.  Then a quick perusal of the blouses and tops.  Eyeball the skirts for an obvious purchase and then thumb through the blazers.  Walk the shoe racks and off I go!  Now that I have “slowed” down a bit, I probably add ten items each month to the wardrobe.  I tend the garden, never wearing anything more than three times (always in a different outfit configuration), before shipping things off to consignment.

Work?  Yes it is.  Worth it?  What do you think?

As discussed in a recent post, I have reached the saturation point.  I simply have zero interest in shopping or acquiring any additional clothing.  Why?  I have so many outfits, dresses, skirts, sweaters, blazers, etc., many acquired a few years ago, that I simply have not yet worn and wish to do so.  Every time I go into the closet cave (you’d have to see it to understand), I see something I fall in love with all over again and cannot wait to wear.  Good problem to have?  Of course, but a problem nonetheless.  Poor, poor, pitiful me (a nod to Linda Ronstadt and the great Warren Zevon bringing The Eagles reference full circle).

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Feeling Reflective

The afternoon I am writing this post (two days ago), life finally slowed down a bit and I was in a reflective mood.  My livelihood is in a bit of flux.  Not to worry, I won’t end up homeless or anything, but I’ve been going though some things out of my control that, of course, affect me.  Affect my ability to provide, my ability to maybe someday retire and my ability to have my Kandi days.

I, as always, keep myself pretty busy.  The turn of the season has slowed down a bit the outside work required to keep the yard in shape.  This day, after a few long days at work, I started with a yoga class.  I always enjoy getting ready, selecting my outfit for class and the warm smiles I generally receive when there.  The instructor was a wonderful woman, very welcoming and helpful as I am a very long way from an adequate yogi.

After I got home, I spent a few hours working through some outfits for the weekend, a pretty big Kandi weekend.  I’ll be working two events (for favorites MOCA and The North Coast Men’s Chorus) and will be attending a service Sunday morning.  For many reasons, it will not be at my regular church, I thought I’d try another.  This is a historic old church right on the square in downtown Cleveland.  I’ll know no one and will make no pretense about who I am.  I am wearing an adorable yellow blazer with a floral black and white skirt.  Very Sunday appropriate, and certainly noticeable due to the bright color. For MOCA I just picked up a wonderful black and white polka dot dress (yes, polka dots again) with great red accents and the next night will be a lovely orange Banana Republic dress, simple and very beautiful.

In between events, I’ll also be running a 15K, a bit of distance, but not too much, along Cleveland’s scenic North Coast Harbor.  Before all of this, I’ll be seeing the great Garbage in concert.

So why do I tell you all of this?  Well, who else would even listen to me….  I guess it’s because I marvel about how I seemingly have figured out a way to make this all work and stay a happy person.  To also make sure my wife is a happy person and well taken care of.  We put the work in on our children, both time, love and a whole lot of money, and that all seems to be paying off as they are both becoming established professionals.  It is necessary for me to put this down on paper (so to speak) every so often as a reminder of the blessings that I have, the gifts I have been given and to not allow the challenges that life always throws in our way to get the best of us.

I mean really, a great family and great friends.  I get to be a pretty good athlete for an elderly man as I marvel as to what I have been able to do with my body to allow me the dual purpose of being a very competitive runner (3 5Ks since rehabbing my achilles, two 3rds and an 8th overall finish as well as a solid half marathon) and look pretty damn good in a dress (forgive the arrogance, please).  I am happy to be a husband and father, to be a man and to be the woman that I am as well.  Thank you for allowing me to take some stock, sit back and look at what I have been given in an attempt to stop feeling sorry for myself.  Find the gifts, the good parts in your life and relish them!

A Full Mission Outing

By Marie Anne Greene

A few days ago had the need to go out and collect some background photos to supplement a BRIDAL SHOOT experiment.  In the process visited several Bridal Salons (in male mode).  All the owners/saleswoman were cheerful and cooperative.  Once I explained I was on a scouting mission for an out of town niece who was coming in to meet her Grandmother and pick out a Wedding Dress and they wanted me to scout out a few places as the niece would only be in town for a few days

I asked permission to take some photos which was readily granted.  Did so and also engaged with one Bride to Be who was trying on gowns.  Complimented her on the one she was wearing and asked if it was heavy as it was heavily embroiled with pearls.  The chirpy answer was “Oh NO !  It is light and lovely, perfect to dance in.’  Her comment reminded Marie of her trying on about six gowns for a recent photo shoot.  One gown in particular struck Marie as special – perfect – just right.  While being zipped up Marie began to feel a warm sensation flow threw her entire being.  It had to be (at least partially) the feeling that the Bride to Be gets when she finds the PERFECT – THE JUST RIGHT GOWN.  A wonderful Marie memory.  It was exhilarating, took several photos and thanked all the girls, it was so nice and comfortable chatting with them.

On the way out my eye stumbled on a unique display — It was a stack of over-sized books lying on there side on a low table.  When the title binders were read from top to bottom they conveyed a prophetic saying for all girls.  “ A GIRL SHOULD BE TWO THINGS CLASSY AND (look) FABULOUS”  The saying, worth remembering was credited to Coco Chanel.

Once in the car and about to head back 25 miles to the work studio, I recalled passing a Steinmart store.  I do not have one in my town, so decided this Girl could not pass up the opportunity to “just browse”.  It was a large store but essentially devoid of a customer population. After a surveying glance around I headed, naturally, for the sale section.  Always check there first – Right.  Was soon approached by possibly the only saleswoman who asked if I needed help (the lost male scenario).  Politely said “No thanks  just looking -Thanks anyway”.  I moved on and she did not hover.  Found a delightful black and floral skirt (size 8). Now to find a companion top.

A few racks away one jumped out at me. Black scooped neck with white piping at the neck and the 3/4 length sleeve (size M).  Less than five minutes and cooking.  Decided they needed a third to make a perfect Trio.  Quickly found the missing partner, an open weave White Jacket that fit the bill.  While heading for the check out, spotted the Saleslady and detoured to her, opening the conversation with “Now I can use your help” – showing her first the skirt than layering the top over the waist band and with a flourish whisked the White jacket to cover the shoulders of the top, and asked what do you think.  She replied without hesitation – “Good eye – That will work”.  Inwardly pleased, thanked her for her assistance and proceeded to check out.

Overall a great combination of work and fun, just what a Gal can always use.

Had some real work to do when reached the Studio so had to postpone the TRY-ON until the next morning.  Photo included along with COCO books.

Warm Regards,
Marie Anne

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Dresses

I’m not sure there is a garment that gives me such pleasure.  Wearing a dress is a treat.  It allows you to make a statement about yourself.  A sundress, a cute and playful dress, a business-like dress, a midcalf dress, long sleeved, sleeveless, floral, striking, formal, an LBD, casual, on and on.  You can go so many ways and for me, it just defines femininity.  I feel prettier in a dress.  I strut more confidently in a dress.  I float, telling the world I am a woman and am happy to be one!

Prior to my self-acceptance, I wore dresses, but they never felt right.  Once I knew who and what I was, they became my favorite article of clothing.  As I write this post, I have recently worn a number of dresses in very public venues.  Do you know what I got?  Grief?  Odd looks?  Nope!  I got complements.  Smiles.  Hugs.  And the best….when I am simply treated like a lady.  Implicit acceptance.

Wearing a dress is “owning it”.  Confidence.  Pride.  Joy!

Comfortable?  Absolutely.  I wear every type of women’s clothing you can imagine, but always light up when I see that dress hanging, waiting for me to finish my makeup before I slip into it.  There is nothing like the feel of the dress swishing around my freshly shaved legs, knowing I do indeed look great!

Nothing better, nothing!

Let’s Get Small

A nod (I’m showing my age) to the classic Steve Martin comedy album (you know, those vinyl shaped discs, with a hole in the middle, that are played on a turntable with a needle).  Get small.  The single best piece of advice for anyone trying to “pass”.

I am speaking only to those who are not on hormones and have had no feminization surgery.  None of us pass.  Never.  I can write a very lengthy list of tells.  Male hands are different than female hands.  The male body frame is different that that of a woman.  Men are thicker.  Our voices.  Male facial features.  Body hair.  On and on.  We can do many thing to minimize these tells, mitigate our “weaknesses”.  But we never pass.

So what?  Who cares?  I NEVER pass, but I assimilate.  I am called ma’am and she.  I am accepted and in many cases loved.  I am always treated like a lady.  One big reason, I get small.

Now what does this mean?  Whenever possible, take up as little space as you possibly can.  Men expand their bodies, take up as much space as possible.  They sit with their legs spread.  They reach their arms out.  Men take up space, inherently trying to assert male dominance.  It’s inbred.  I know as I am that way in my regular life.

Women are demure (I know, not all, but most are).  Sit instead of standing when possible.  Cross your legs like a lady, hold your elbows close to your body.  Keep your hands on your lap.  Hold your purse close to your body.  Keep your feet together.  Cross your legs at your ankles while standing.  Stand at an angle, turn your body slightly.  Appear to be less, not more.  Be ladylike.  Vocally, try to speak less, not more.  By that I do not mean to keep your mouth shut.  I mean breathe, allow for space in conversation.

For me, once I read this, realized the power of getting small, it came easily.  Naturally.  It made all the difference.  This is the single most important piece of advice I can give, get small!

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Top 10 Favorite Outfits #3

April 7, 2018

The Prom to Remember.  My “A” game.  Not sure I can do any better.  As always, I take great care in how I present myself, but this night was special and I took great care to do my very best.  The dress….beautiful!  The neckline hung nicely on a gal like myself and the necklace pulled the green accents from the dress.  The purple makeup pallet went very well with the dress.  My very best bracelets and while my feet were killing me….it was worth it!  I said it before and I’ll say it again, a night I’ll never forget!

Black and White (and Read All Over)

KISS, keep it simple stupid!  This outfit was outstanding!  Simple, elegant, stylish, I was very proud of it.  It never ceases to amaze how much I like the outfits that I come up with when required to go black and white.  I ushered this day for a lecture at the art museum, so we were asked to wear black and white and I could not have been more pleased with my look.

We were dog sitting for the weekend and my wife had to work, so I cut my planned day a bit short.  I got out earlier than I had originally planned and hung out for a few hours at the art museum.  I had some coffee and breakfast while quietly reading, then walked around a few of the exhibits.  There was an art show being held in the atrium, which I checked out as well.  The ushering chores only took about an hour and then I headed home, sad to cut the day short, but happy to see the dog and spend some time with him (it’s our daughter’s dog).

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Bye, bye!