Thank you so much to all who offered sympathy, support, and suggestions on my "sad holiday dressing" thread yesterday. You cheered me up and offered me a lot of wise counsel and gave me food for thought.
Everything went well (I'll post what I REALLY wore next week when I am home again).
I also came away with some epiphanies.
1. Something about Gaylene's explanation in combination with some of the things Linda (Milehighstyle) and Kellygirl were saying FINALLY made the penny drop on "capsule" dressing for holidays (and generally the dressier parts of my life). I think in the past I had tended to imagine that if I just bought a bunch of holiday-like pieces I "should" be able to mix and match them into my regular wardrobe. But it's not quite as simple as that: I need to think of all the potential types of occasion I might have and imagine outfits for each type. And buy what I need for that. AHEAD of time.
I think, even with Angie's guidance, years of sale and discount and thrift shopping have left me still shopping for *items* vs. capsules. Sure, I have a general idea of what aspect of my life I am buying and shopping for, but I don't go the extra step and think out the actual outfits I can make...I just vaguely tell myself, "That will go..." usually thinking of colours and forgetting proportion, etc. And then I am disappointed when I get it all home and it doesn't seem to work.
This is actually a HUGE revelation because I feel much better prepared for my next major shopping season. I'm going to be more methodical about it. What portion of my life is work-at-home? Huge, so obviously most of my clothes need to be casual. But I'm also going to list ALL the other parts of my life: appearances, visits to friends in the city, travel to other cities. And recognize and ALLOW MYSELF to shop for those parts of my life as well. Even if the clothing doesn't get worn as often, it is still important to have it.
(Yeah...duh....I know, but hey...)
2. Anna is right; I have been labouring under a certain style dysmorphia. I might look fine, but I'm not dressing close enough to my aspirational style, so I don't feel fine.
3. To dress to my aspirational style, I have to make a few key purchases that will get me there. I don't have to buy an entire new wardrobe all at once, but I need to come up with at least an outfit or two that seems to fit that style, and then ask myself what the common denominator is.
This was suggested to me earlier in the summer by some wise person and I did try to do it, but it's not as easy as it might seem. The problem is finding a way to mesh my aspirational style with my actual life as a work-at-home person. My life is very casual; my style is more urban. Yet I HAVE to be comfortable to work. Hence the struggle.
4. Quality matters a LOT to me. I would really rather have fewer, better things. BUT...at the same time, I am still scared of taking risks laying out lots of money on items that I don't know will work. SO...if I am going to spend big money, it should be on something that I absolutely know I will adore. (Like my new boots). I will spend less on more experimental purchases. (like my fuchsia knit jacket). Angie is right - high-low is the way to go. But I need to pick my highs very carefully.