What the eff should I wear today?

My feelings about my clothes can be summed up in one word: Ugh.

My whole wardrobe is a malfunction.

Clothes could be an expression of my personality: fun, social, creative, on the go.  Yet every day, I open my drawers and peer into the depressing options, settling on something ho-hum, then proceed with my routine.

Why do I hate my clothes? There have been times I actually felt good about them. Those eras aligned nicely with disposable income and time. I worked in a city; shopping was easy. I’d stop in the consignment store on the walk from work. I’d periodically spend my lunch break at the Banana Republic clearance rack. I chilled in Goodwill for a solid chunk of a Saturday afternoon.

Ever the thrift store lover, scoring used clothes was more thrilling than off-the-rack finds. Now I have no reasonable excuse to blow a day thrift shopping. (I’d love to though…)

Last year, I signed up for StitchFix. At first, it was the answer to my fashion prayers. Then I found myself keeping items I didn’t love. This sounds dumb, but ends up being cheaper to keep the whole shipment. One year later, some of the clothes look cheap and worn. My wardrobe felt fresh and fun for a bit, but the service lost its luster.

Now I toss on my standards – cuffed jeans, clogs, a couple shirts – without an ounce of joy. The wash on my jeans is too light. I don’t have the right bra to wear with that shirt. My staple cardigan has baggy elbows.

In part, working from home has aided in my wardrobe depression. I’m not inspired. I only dress up two or three times a week, and when I do, I get cranky trying to make a proverbial dollar out of 99 cents.

My problem is, there never seems to be a good time to shop. I could hit up Marshall’s at lunch. It’s less than a mile from my house. But I get shopping anxiety. I’ll fill up my cart, try a bunch of stuff on, then avoid purchasing the one thing I really need because it’s the most expensive. Instead I buy two dumb shirts and leave with sweaty palms.

I inherited this from my mother, the World’s Most Reluctant Shopper, a.k.a. the Original Maxxinista. As a kid, she’d take us to T.J. Maxx only under dire straits. In her eyes, it was a disgrace to spend any amount of time at the mall, and a misdemeanor to go on a sunny day. She wanted us to be outside with the pool and neighborhood kids and our bikes. Plus, we had hardly any money to blow on clothes.

Looking back, I don’t blame her, but could do without the deep-rooted guilt that’s followed me to adulthood. This, in part, is why I work. I like earning my own money. Sure, much of it goes to living expenses and childcare, but why feel guilty paying for jeans that I’ll wear 246 days of the year?

To satisfy both my anxiety and need for new threads, I signed up for MM LaFleur. I’m expecting a “Bento Box” of wardrobe basics this Friday. I also booked a 60-minute “Trend Update” with a Nordstrom personal stylist. I did this five years ago, and it was spectacular. The service is free. They ask some questions beforehand (How do you spend most of your day? What are your favorite brands?). The stylist filled a changing room with outfits before I arrived. She brought me a glass of water as I started to try on. She ran to the kids department because she thought of something I’d like. How brilliant? You never leave the room; the stylist comes and goes with the right sizes, other colors, the tailor, with their catalog of trends and inventory knowledge. I’ll relax while the fashion-forward stylist does the hard labor.

I can’t wait.