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How to Dress for Your Lifestyle

Dressed for My Day...My Way
November 15, 2018

Hello, and welcome to Dressed for My Day, where my mission is to encourage women just like you…and me…to dress stylishly and smart so that we can continue to be influential in our world. Honestly, as we get older it sometimes seems to get a little more tricky and challenging to dress in a way that keeps us both engaged with the world around us and comfortable in our own skin. I told a friend just today, “I don’t want to look like I’m trying too hard, and sometimes I feel like we older women can look like we’re working too hard when we overdo trendy fashions or wear things that just don’t work for us.” She agreed. Do you?

How to Dress for Your Lifestyle

Well, I think that statement must resonate with somebody because this Dressed for My Day…My Way series has been extremely popular, both with my regular readers and with visitors from Pinterest. Evidently we all want to dress beautifully and fashionably, but we also want to dress in a way that fits our individual bodies and that seems authentic to who we are on the inside.

If you are joining us mid-series, I encourage you to check out the other posts in the Dressed for My Day…My Way series here. We’ve covered:

Factoring in Lifestyle – Sometimes It Changes

Interestingly, several readers have recently asked me to help them build a wardrobe for a change in life seasons. One had begun caring for several little grandchildren, so she needed to dress in a way that was functional, comfortable, but still engaging and appropriate for her age. And a couple of other readers had recently retired from corporate or office jobs and would be staying home, but both women still wanted a wardrobe that would be appropriate for luncheons, church, meetings and travel.

That got me to thinking that many of us experience similar changes at this age in life. We may change careers, return to the marketplace after raising kids, retire from a career or begin taking care of grandchildren or aging parents. Yes, many women in their 40s, 50s and 60s experience a shift in lifestyle.

So factoring lifestyle into our wardrobe choices isn’t always as easy as just deciding “I’m casual” or “I’m a professional” or “I’m a homemaker.” Most of us gals wear many hats and have various responsibilities and interests. You may be like me; no two days are just the same.

How to Determine Your Lifestyle

Our goal is to construct a truly functional, fashionable wardrobe that works for our unique lifestyle. Step one? We need to determine our true lifestyle needs.

To determine your unique lifestyle needs, sit down with your calendar. Look back over the last few months (if they are indicative of your usual, current schedule). Or, if you’re approaching a life season change, sit down with pen and blank paper. Ask yourself:

What is my work style?

  • How do I spend my “work hours?” (We all have “work hours” in this sense, even if you are retired. These might be hours filled with house cleaning, writing, working your Mary Kay business, running after grandkids, volunteering in the community, tutoring, working outside the home, etc.)
  • How physically active am I during my work hours? Do I need to be flexible and prepared for messy work? Or am I sitting at a desk? Or in a car? Or walking and standing?
  • How much of my day is spent doing this work? A couple of hours in the morning or all day?
  • Who am I around during my “work hours?” Co-workers, patients, clients, the public, a partner, husband, children, grandchildren?
  • Do I want to be seen and noticed? Hide or blend into the background? Stand out and be in charge? Look like a team player?
  • What is the environment where I “work?” Casual, outdoors, private, professional, festive, competitive, relaxed, solemn, intense, educational, etc.?
  • Do I need to earn something from the people at work? My patients’ confidence, my clients’ trust, my children’s obedience, my boss’ high regard, my co-workers’ respect, my audience’s attention?

What is my non-work style?

  • How do I spend my non work hours? Think gardening, exercising, relaxing, running errands, meeting others socially, taking classes, working on hobbies, etc.
  • How much of the day and week are spent in these various activities?
  • Who am I around during the non work hours and activities? How do I want to relate to them?

What about special outings, events and activities?

  • What non work related activities do I involve myself in regularly with other people? Think church, book club, knitting circle, volunteer work, recreational teams and activities, travel, dates, luncheons, etc.
  • How often do I participate in these activities, outings and events with other people in a normal week?

From the above questions, determine what types of clothing you would like to have in your closet and at your access. Do you need mostly:

  • casual clothes
  • comfortable clothes
  • colorful clothes
  • suits
  • dresses and skirts
  • jeans and tops
  • outdoor clothing
  • slacks and tops
  • scrubs or other uniform

And what do you need to have just a little of? Dresses, exercise clothing, jeans and tops, professional clothing, etc.

Factoring in Function & Fashion

After you have determined the kind of clothing you need for your work and your non work activities, you get to decide how you want that clothing to work with your overall lifestyle…and fashion style.

Keep these principles in mind:

  • You do not have to sacrifice fashion for function. For instance, an elementary school teacher can still dress in pretty colors, functional skirts and dresses, and pretty shoes. And a stay-at-home mom or retired woman doesn’t have to live in sweats and jeans.
  • You do not have to sacrifice fashion for comfort. Comfort comes in all forms. Even if comfort is important to help you do your job well, you do not have to wear slouchy, old, frumpy or inappropriate clothing to achieve comfort. If you’re in a “comfort rut” – for instance, you’re wearing sweat pants and t-shirts all the time – push yourself to look for comfortable knit dresses, skirts or pants that are just as comfortable but decidedly more fashionable and feminine. Check out these comfy and cute dresses, for instance.
  • You can improve the style factor of any wardrobe by selecting clothing that fits well and looks fashionable. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a predominantly casual, comfortable wardrobe, for instance. There is something wrong with wearing pajamas or your husband’s old sweat pants every day and calling that a casual, comfortable wardrobe!
  • You do not need to dress to impress, but you do need to dress to influence. There’s a difference, right? We are all influential, like it or not. And how we dress impacts the way we influence others. While you do not have to dress to please anyone but yourself, the wise woman will dress to influence others positively, even if the “others” are her own children, husband, grandchildren, etc.
  • Your wardrobe has a powerful impact on your work performance and attitude. Studies in the area of enclothed cognition – that’s a recognized science of the effects of clothing on cognitive processes – indicate that what we wear makes a notable difference both in how we present ourselves and interact with others and in how others perceive and respond to us. Bottom line? What we wear really does matter.
  • You are wise to spend the majority of your wardrobe budget on clothes that reflect your true, usual lifestyle. Invest less in the clothing that you may need for the occasional event or activity. This may mean that you don’t buy as much of what you actually gravitate toward, but you purchase what practically works for you instead. For instance, you may love high heels and pencil skirts, but if you’re a stay-at-home grandma, you’ll end up frustrated if you don’t have more functional shoes and pants to wear day-to-day.
  • You are smart to buy clothes for the lifestyle you have rather than the lifestyle you dream of. Enough said?

Aligning Your Wardrobe with Your Lifestyle

Hopefully, you’ve been able to determine from these questions and principles the type of wardrobe you need to have in order to best serve your true lifestyle. But how do you get the wardrobe in your closet to align with your lifestyle?

Answer the following questions to get started:

What wardrobe essentials are important for my unique lifestyle? (Depending on your needs, think low-heeled shoes, comfortable pants, simple dresses, skirts and tops that easily mix and match, blouses that look and feel pretty under an apron, outdoor basics in breathable fabrics, pieces that are machine washable, no-iron tops, etc.)

What would make my wardrobe more practical for the lifestyle I lead? (More casual tops & cardigans? More polished but simple workwear? Fewer heels and dressy pieces? More athleisure wear? etc.)

What items could work with my current wardrobe to make it more functional for my lifestyle? (Add a few simple tees? A few accessories to dress up my current pieces? Different shoes? etc.)

Next make a list of items to shop for:

For instance:

I need a few more simple tees.

Look for casual cardigans and denim jacket to replace suit jackets.

Replace dress pants from former career with stylish, comfy jeans and joggers.

As you shop for pieces to fill the holes in your lifestyle aligned wardrobe, be sure to take into consideration correct fit, colors that flatter and your personality or style essence.

Once you get your wardrobe more aligned with your current, true lifestyle, work to keep it that way. Resist the urge to buy what you are drawn to, and instead purchase only pieces that contribute to a wardrobe based on your lifestyle. You’ll discover you have more choices to choose from when it’s time to dress for your average day. And you’ll rarely say, “I have nothing to wear!”

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. If you’d like to share, I’d love to hear your description of your current lifestyle in the comments. And let me know if you’ve recently experienced a change in life stages for which you need a different wardrobe. Sometimes just typing it all out helps us get a better grasp on the situation. And it would help me to know the lifestyle needs of more of my readers.

Thanks so much for spending some time here at Dressed for My Day today. Don’t forget to share this post in your Facebook feed and pin it on one of your Pinterest boards. And if you’re not currently subscribed to my email list so you can be notified when I post, let’s take care of that right here.

Blessed for My Day

Have you experienced a significant life change recently? Maybe the last child left the nest…or the first? Maybe you’ve returned to the workforce after years of dedicating your time and energy to raising kids? Or maybe you’ve retired from a full career? Change can be hard, even when it’s welcomed and planned. But we have a God who has ordained that things occasionally change. And He is faithful to walk us through those changes, serving as the One constant and abiding anchor. Cling to Him when the future seems uncertain and today feels oh so different from yesterday. He is the Alpha and the Omega. And He will never change. So you, dear sister, can.

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

I have included a few affiliate links in this post. When you shop through them and actually buy something, I may earn a little bit of commission. Thank you for supporting what I do here that way. Blessings!

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xoxo, Kay
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19 thoughts on “How to Dress for Your Lifestyle

  1. Thank you SO much Kay, for all of your expert advice. It has really helped me get a better perspective of my lifestyle and the choices I NEED to make…not the ones that do not reflect who I really am. With all of the advertising pushed at women from every angle it really makes it hard to buy sensibly over buying foolishly. What I often want and love is not what I need! I’ve had to make some really hard decisions too, retired with my husband of 57 yrs and living on our fixed income. Your advice makes so much sense. Have a blessed day!

  2. I used to help at my husband’s law firm most days of the week. I have transitioned out (for reasons relating to the health of our marriage…i.e. We didn’t make a good boss/employee match. But that’s a story for another day!) Now my days are mainly spent at home. I don’t need “office” clothes anymore. I just need to look nice for the people I see at the grocery store, etc. And I like to dress nice for church. My closet is pretty unbalanced for dressing for my life now. Slowly trying to remedy that. Thanks for your post, Kay.

    1. Hi Lori. Yes, that’s a big shift. And when we have a casual, relaxed lifestyle in general but also want to dress up a little more for other occasions I think it makes it a little difficult to strike a balance.

  3. Thanks Kay! I will be transitioning from a full-time job to retirement in 2019 and this information is greatly helpful. I currently work in a very casual office but I try to dress more business casual most days. Just reading your post is helping me mentally transition to this next season of my life. God bless!

    1. Oh I’m so glad this was helpful. Changes like retirement can present challenges, even when the change is anticipated and desired. But you will soon adjust and enjoy your new lifestyle undoubtedly. Blessings!

  4. Kay, thank you so much for addressing this question!! I do find that I get caught up in what the You Tube videos and favorite blog posts, magazines, etc… are suggesting! It’s easy to be swayed by the lifestyle and fashion that is so attractive, but really doesn’t fit your personal situation. I appreciate you spelling it out so reasonably and I’ll try to use your suggestions in moving forward!! God bless!

    1. Yes, Sheri, that’s definitely my struggle. But I’ve become more determined this year to “stay in my lane!” Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  5. I love your posts! BTW where did you grow up in Ga? I grew up in Forest Park south of Atlanta. I still see my best friend from 6th grade often and get together with my class mates as well. God bless you and your family (my husband retired last year after 47 years as a minister in the United Methodist Church!).

    1. Thanks Sheryl, I’m glad you enjoy the posts. I grew up in Powder Springs, and that’s where my parents still live. I’m familiar with Forest Park, but haven’t spent much time in that area. And wow! That’s a long ministry. Congratulations on that! Thanks so much for commenting and introducing yourself. Blessings!

  6. Have you eaten at the OK Cafe on West Paces Ferry? It is divine- home cooking, has a huge menu. I was there recently for the first time with high school friends and loved it. Have a most wonderful visit with friends and family.. Blessings, S

    1. No Sheryl, I haven’t eaten there, but I drove right by it the other day on our way to and from Lenox Square Mall. So I know right where it is. We’ll have to try that sometime!

  7. Great post Kay! Thank you so much! I retired from banking part-time in April and love being home amd making homemade cards for people. It’s easy to want to wakeup and exercise and just leave my workout clothes on all day…but I’m working toward dressing for the day for my hubs and for myself.

    1. Ha! After I exercise I can’t stand myself unless I take a shower. I sweat too much! But I am prone to putting on my exercise clothes and then wearing them all day with the intention of working out, but never actually getting around to it. LOL! Thanks for sharing, Cindi! 🙂

  8. Kay, My life changed a nine years ago my husband retired. I’m disabled and no longer could take care of the household. He’s amazing! He cooks etc. just everything!! I’m actually needing more out and about clothing since he has retired! Sloly I have found my style. I still struggle dressing my body because I never had a belly before. I as alays had a hourglass figure all my life. I’m making good progress! I’m a mixture of styles for example feminine elegance combined ith European classic topped off ith some pearls, gold and sparkle! That’s me !! Life is fun and exciting even though I am so ill!! Of course your riting on your Bible page has done more to lift my spirits than anything and your Blessings of the Day. I plan on buying your Bible Study”s soon!

    1. Hi Natalie. How wonderful to hear from you today. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and reactions. Always welcome here. It sounds like you know your style and have made it your own. ??