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How to Create a Wardrobe You Love When Comfort is Your #1 Priority

Stiff, restrictive, scratchy, heavy, fussy…yikes! Is there anything appealing about that? I don’t think so. Gone are those days when we’d suck it in and make it fit all the while wishing we were home in our jammies! Now, we want the comfort of polar fleece without sacrificing style. While that might be pushing it a bit, comfort really doesn’t have to be as elusive as we think. Sadly, however, many women have given up on having it all, so to speak, and have settled for comfort over beauty.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love polar fleece as much as the next woman, and I certainly have my fair share of them (in beautiful colors, I might add) to wear around the house in the winter. But, when it comes to stepping foot outside my home, they don’t see the light of day.

I’ve also become less and less captivated by fashion at all costs, and by costs I mean discomfort. Remember the old idea that you have to suffer for beauty. I don’t buy it anymore! Believe me, I wore my fair share of restrictive pantyhose in the 1980’s and walked way too far in heels that were meant more for standing than moving. Now, while I still love high heels, I’m much more selective about which ones I choose and when and where I wear them.

What I have seen and heard, however, is that women are sacrificing their personal style – their outer expression of their own uniqueness and beauty – for the sake of comfort. They don’t see how they can have both and after trying unsuccessfully for a while, they give up. Then they feel bored, frumpy, old or invisible but they don’t know how to satisfy their need for cozy ease and beauty.

(NOTE: And, please know that when I speak of beauty I am referring to your own personal definition of beauty (even if you can’t articulate it clearly now) and how it relates to the clothing and style choices you make – not some elusive, ridiculous standard of beauty that the popular culture tries to push on us.)

So, that said, how do you add comfort and beauty to your wardrobe? These 5 tips will help you reframe your comfy vs. beautiful conundrum:

1. Define what is beautiful to you. This is sometimes one of the hardest steps for women to do — often because they don’t even know what the possibilities are. This is where exploring a bit can benefit you or just stepping outside your comfort zone (so to speak) when you are trying things on. Remember, you don’t have to buy something just because you try it on. You can always say no thank you and put it back on the rack. Visit a new store (perhaps one you’ve eyed from outside but haven’t ever gone into) or try on a style you never would have in the past. If it doesn’t work, just chuckle to yourself and put it back. If it does work or at least intrigues you, explore it further.

2. Add Stretch: Since they’ve started adding lycra or elastane to everything clothes have become so much more comfortable. My most favorite designer, Joseph Ribkoff (note to Mr. Ribkoff – please make more colors and less black!) puts stretch in absolutely everything. I can be totally dressed up and be super comfortable when I wear his clothes. (And, none of it (not even the jackets) need to be dry cleaned!)

Let me give you an example. I never, ever wore jeans until they added stretch to them a few years back. Now I find them so much more user-friendly. That said, they still aren’t always as cozy as your yoga pants. If you’re looking for a pair that you can feel put-together in and still feel comfy, try the jeans pictured above. Click here for more information. They are super comfortable and because there is no zipper the front stays nice and flat. (Please note that they tend to run a bit short so for those of you over 5’6 you might have to wear flats with them.)

3. Set a New Intention. If you always assume you won’t find anything that feels fashionable and comfortable then you won’t. It’s that simple. As the old adage goes, if you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. So, if this is true for you, simply flipping the switch in your mind can make all the difference. Create a new affirmation such as, “More and more I find beautiful, fun clothes that I feel good in when I’m running errands.” Do it often and watch for signs it’s working. If you need to try it on something simpler first. You’ll be amazed!

4. Let Go of: It’s TOO _________ to Wear Everyday. So many women I work with say (at first), “I can’t wear that to run to the grocery store. It’s too dressy.” Or, “It cost too much to wear around the house.” But, think about it for a minute. If it is just sitting in your closet waiting for the right time for you to wear it you are really wasting your money. Sure, this way of thinking might not change overnight but perhaps this will give you some food for thought. If cost is an issue, then try this. Get a pretty dress from a lesser-priced store like Dress Barn and wear it even when you’re cooking (and yes, you can always wear an apron over it)! Click here for more information. Or, I often go to Nordstrom Rack and pick up some fun, comfy, jersey dresses in great colors that I wear around the house when it’s hot. Who says you have to be in shorts and a t-shirt.

5. Take One Baby Step at a Time. If you are reading this thinking, “I don’t know where to start,” then take a deep breath (or 2 or 3) and do just one thing to get started. For instance, if you’re a shorts and t-shirt kind of gal right now, then find a new style t-shirt. Buy just one and see how you feel. Try a Glima T-shirt. Click here for more information. Instead of the square boxy T-shirt with a universally unflattering neckline, you get one in a nice cotton fabric, with pretty colors and a beautiful neckline. I have several of these that I wear at home and to go to our neighborhood café. Here’s a tip: If you prefer short sleeve, just take this to your tailor and have the sleeves cut to the length you like.

Want more help learning techniques to identify what works for you and what doesn’t? Register for my ‘Your Style, Your Way’ workshop coming up on Saturday, June 2. It’s only $325 for a full day with me transforming the way you think about your wardrobe (payment plans also available). You’ll never approach shopping the same way again! But, wait, use this coupon code YSYW10 to take 10% off.


3 Responses

    1. Yes, Anne, you’re right. I keep telling the JR rep to ask him for that. The other thing is that so many stores tend to carry his clothes in black with maybe a piece or two in color because the black is “safe,” I guess. I have found that the best way to get access to his line in colors is to attend a Joseph Ribkoff trunk show! Thanks so much — love the link, too.

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Ginger Burr is a fashion stylist and personal shopper serving clients worldwide from metro Boston.