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Style, an inside game

An image of this particular woman pops into my head every once in awhile. She’s about 5′ 7″, short hair, long flowing pants, wedge shoes, a cute top, and she looked like a million bucks!

It was 2002, and I was at a play in Lake Worth, Florida, where I lived for a smidge of time with my husband-for-a-smidge. We were in financial straights of all sorts, and I didn’t feel comfortable spending a lot of money on clothes and fashion at the time. (The play tickets were comped; we were someone’s guest that evening.)

I remember feeling I didn’t have anything to wear to the play, and I was feeling a bit low (for a number of reasons: my outfit and lack of clothes I liked, or cared for, being more symptomatic of my life than cause. of my malaise). And then I saw this woman. She was about my age, and she was standing by herself.

I just loved her outfit and how she wore it.

Not that I had much of any money to go buy new clothes; still, I was intrigued by her outfit and wanted to know–in the case some financial uptick and more income came my way–where she got her clothes, so I asked her, fully expecting her answer to be some boutique shop in West Palm Beach or something fancy like that.

“Marshalls,” she said. “Ten bucks for these pants; I got the shirt at a thrift store, and I’ve had these shoes for years. I don’t remember where I got them.”

“Marshalls!” I responded. (Not that I had anything against off-season and overflow clothing stores and such; more so that I was surprised. Very surprised.)

I had such a mind shift in that moment. I had looked at her and seen someone drenched in designer clothing (the story I was telling myself), but her outfit had been cobbled together out of low-cost pieces.   In that moment, I truly understood style, confidence and poise are infinitely more important in how one dresses than one’s pocketbook. She looked like a million bucks and carried herself with such ease, confidence and grace. No amount of money could make someone look like she did. Her style and sense of self was within, not purchased.

For myself, my style journey has had hills, valleys, dark forests and open deserts. (And is still ongoing.) After this particular night and talking with her, I had several years of slogging through clothes I barely knew why I owned and lots of fashion and personal-style struggles yet ahead, but I knew–simply from observing this woman–anything was possible, big budget or not. That was the eye-opener for me.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be as trimmed down in my clothes as to have a capsule wardrobe, but I love the message and wisdom in this article, below.

A Capsule Wardrobe: 10 Things You Need That Aren’t Clothes


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