Auditing the Adult Wardrobe

April 12, 2009 • Magazine

Auditing the Adult Wardrobe

Auditing the Adult Wardrobe

Sun, 2009-04-12 08:00

Rachel Yeomans

There are times I feel that fashion has a shelf life. In order to be “fashionable”, one needs to wear the latest look, which may include a baby doll top, leggings and ballet flats. That can be a fantastic image for a 16-year-old. But what about fashion for adults? I sometimes feel that in order to dress fashionably, I have to purchase looks off the runway, thus invoking a closet half full of clothes I should have given away after college graduation and half full of clothes I keep paying for in dry cleaning.

I may have a larger salary than I did when I was 16, but that doesn’t mean I can afford such dramatic wardrobe inflation between H&M and Helmut Lang. However, just because I know who Helmut Lang is doesn’t mean I’m forever banned from the likes of H&M. After years of frustration over clothing prices for the adult fashion buyer, I decided to take a step back in “age” and revisit my old shopping haunts.

First off H&M is not just for baby doll tops and leggings. I was amazed to find some adorable gems of knee-length skirts, herringbone jackets and the widest array of tank tops ideal for layering under those cardigans and blazers. And the best part, I spent just as much on a cart-full of basics and a few statement pieces as I would have for a Tahari coat!

I also revisited some staples from my “interviewing for jobs” days and “first office wardrobe” era, including J. Crew and Ann Taylor. It was quite refreshing again finding those basics that are of good quality and have just enough edge to get me excited to saunter in and out of the fitting room.

And the best part is, none of it was boring. I get so frustrated walking into a store where the adolescent clothes are bright and vibrant, and the adult section looks like cloth cardboard. Just because we’ve grown up, doesn’t mean we’ve lost our taste for color.

One fashion habit that has grown into my daily ensembles is that of layering. Baring arms isn’t as accepted in the office as it was in the classroom, but that doesn’t mean I’ve retired all my tops without sleeves. In fact, sleeveless tops are so much more comfortable under cardigans and jackets than anything with sleeves could ever be. Hence, I was so excited when I found an adorable coral ruffled sleeveless top at J. Crew that would look perfect with a standard black cardigan.

Another source of fashion frustration: the belly. I don’t think it became clear to certain designers that when extra long tops came out, perhaps one reason for their release was to ensure the super low pant was still covered from embarrassing acts of display. High pants seem to be all over the runways, but what about in the stores? I admit I love my Theory slacks, but for right now, Theory and tax season just don’t mix. What did I do then? Resort to sale scouring and online discount shopping., ShopBop, and TJ Maxx and Marshall’s became my haven for slacks. Lo and behold, Rag & Bone high-waist slacks for only $50! Granted, I may not always have the time or energy to find that perfect deal, but in the end it was worth all the effort.

The final lesson I learned from this adult shopping experience: I don’t have to compromise! As an adult, we have learned to live, work and act independently from one another. That means I can choose to be fashionable without trying to hide my age on my ID, and also to have fun! Remember when our budgets only included textbooks or Ramen and apartment rent, and we found that fantastic steal at the local consignment shop that made our month so much brighter? Fast forward to now, and I admit it feels really good to feel that way again — now I may be able to put that extra savings towards my 401K!

1. Gap Ruffle Wrap Cardigan $59
2. J. Crew Canvas Atelier Jacket Sale: $89.99
3. J. Crew Victoria Ruffle Cami $88
4. J. Crew Cotton Cashmere Bouquet Cardigan Sale: $59.50
5. H&M Rose Shadow Puffed Skirt $19.80
6. Forever 21 Pleated Trim Jacket $37.80
7. Diane von Furstenberg $365
8. Robert Rodriguez Magenta Twill Ruched Detail Fitted Jacket Sale: $297
9. Rag & Bone Black Rainbow Pant $48

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