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It was a day of great irritability. After a morning appointment, I was still feeling irritable and restless, so work wasn’t likely to be productive. I thought it might be a good idea to use my DBT distress tolerance skills and do a little self-soothing. Since I really need to upgrade my wardrobe and finally have the resources to do it, I thought stopping at a nearby store to try to find some things to wear would be a good way to do something useful while self-soothing.

That’s all well and good in theory, but I don’t really like shopping.

The shopping trip started off at Marshall’s, where I completely struck out. Same for Old Navy, which I only went to because it was next door. I left feeling frustrated, even worse than when I started. Some kind of self-soothing, eh?

Since I would be even more upset by returning home empty-handed, I decided to swing by the nearby K-Mart. Not glamorous, but they reliably have a few basic pieces that actually fit OK. I found a plain everyday tank top and two skirts, one black and one print. All 25% off, so I was pretty pleased with my purchases.

But I’d already killed more time than I’d planned; I knew I couldn’t get any work done before my next appointment. So I stopped in at the mall next door and picked through the Macy’s clearance racks. My finds included a black lacy short-sleeved lightweight sweater, which I’ve been seeking for months to dress up tank tops. I also picked up two sleeveless cowl-neck tops, a cut which always looks fantastic on me, and a not-too-plain yellow tee that will match my new skirt.

I headed home with a full haul of two skirts, a light sweater, and four tops. I spent a grand total of $99.82. For me, that’s quite a shopping spree! Self-soothing accomplished.

A few new pieces to spiff up my grad student wardrobe.


Remember that show, What Not To Wear? I loved that show. I have my own fashion rules based on what I learned from Stacy and Clinton, moderated by what’s practical for my lifestyle. I’m just slightly taller than average and have an (exaggerated) hourglass figure, so most of my clothes are chosen to accommodate curves.

  1. Necklines: jewel, scoop, square, vee, or cowl. Never turtle, mock turtle, or crew. The deeper the neckline, the more it breaks up the plane created by my huge tracts of land, so the less my boobs dominate the scene.
  2. Pants: low-waisted, curvy hip/waist ratio, straight or boot leg. No shorts, capris, or high water inseams.
  3. Skirts: A-line, never pencil, to accommodate full hips. Hemlines just below knee to mid-calf. Everything else is open to negotiation.
  4. Dresses: wrap-style tops, empire waists, and the same rules as skirts.
  5. Materials: primarily knits in easy-care blends that require no special handling. Particular interest in materials that travel well, superwash wool, and performance wicking/quick-dry fabrics for hiking.
  6. Colors: mostly brights – primaries, jewel tones, and rich earth colors. No whites or off-whites; much too easily stained. Dark colors for skirts and pants.
  7. Patterns: no horizontal stripes, ever – they make everyone look wider. Pants are always solids, as patterns across my rear and hips also make me look wider. I don’t wear many patterns, but tend toward garish large flower prints and smaller geometric prints, with the occasional aloha pattern thrown in.
  8. Socks: handmade superwash wool/blend or SmartWool. No holds barred on patterns and colors.
  9. Shoes: highest possible quality and 100% practical. Full-grain or oiled leather (no suede or patent, too easily ruined) or neoprene/nylon/GoreTex/Vibram. No spike heels or pinchy toes, only wide heels and wide toe boxes. LL Bean for hiking boots (Trail Model Hikers), Keen for casual shoes (Venice H2, Presidio), and Dansko (Lotus, Sam) for dressy shoes. Other brands that occasionally work well are Clarks, Born, and Merrell. My feet are very wide with a high instep and differ by a half size, so fit is always a challenge.
  10. Misc: bra straps covered. No metallic or blingy stuff. Scarves like a French woman. Simple but bold jewelry, usually in sterling silver, stainless steel, or glass. Quality over quantity.