That “What Should I Wear?” Panic

The one issue I have with a streamlined wardrobe–a pared-down closet consisting only of staples that fit perfectly–is that sometimes I feel I have nothing to wear. This moment causes particular panic when I’ve worn one of my go-to summer uniforms and I know I’ll be in the same location or with the same people a few days later. While those who know me well know that I’m experimenting with uniform dressing, more casual acquaintances may just be perplexed—or wondering why I don’t do laundry! (A note: I’m glad to love laundry again now that The Laundress is BACK!) Another struggle with a streamlined wardrobe is that wardrobe holes are more glaring—both to me and to those who see me regularly.

This struggle happened to me last week, when I invited a friend and her little one to lunch and a playdate. My friend works in fashion and is exceedingly stylish, so I wanted to wear something a little different from my usual summer casual wear—but we were also going to be hanging out near the playground, so a sundress would have been perfect. However, I discovered that a polished yet casual sundress is missing from my wardrobe. Obviously, this prompted a moment of panic.

In the throes of my “Why do I even write a blog called “Fewer and Better” when I don’t have anything to wear! I’m misleading people into thinking they can get through life with only a few pieces! Ugh, I need to go shopping…” rant, my husband said to me, “What about that By Merryn popover? The color and fabric suit you so well.” Even though my popover is one of my favorite wardrobe staples, I wasn’t sure if it worked for this occasion, where I wanted to dress differently from my usual style. I also thought it would be too formal with shorts, particularly given that it has long sleeves. Then I realized that we were running late, so I just rolled up the sleeves and we left. And it worked!

When I started writing this post, I intended it as an essay extolling the virtues of the popover—a versatile piece that can be used in formal or informal settings—but it’s clearly turned into something else: more of a reflection on expectations of attire, uniform dressing, and wardrobe gaps. I apparently still expect myself to dress differently depending on my company, instead of embracing what works well for me. I do believe that when you feel good in what you’re wearing, you look good—but I needed a reminder. And it was helpful to remember that when you think you need to buy more stuff–you likely already have what you need, you may just need a little tweak.

Do you have these moments of “what should I wear?” panic, and if so, how do you solve them?

2 thoughts on “That “What Should I Wear?” Panic

  1. I definitely have these moments as well, but am trying to accept that wearing some variation on the same thing makes my life so much easier and more streamlined!

    A good runaround shift dress is also a huge gap in my wardrobe. Something like vintage Lilly – cotton with a cotton lining, a no-cleavage neckline/straps that cover a regular bra, machine wash and hang to dry – but in slightly less loud prints more suitable for town/country.

    1. Yes, I completely agree with you–streamlining is great, but something I’m realizing this summer is that I don’t have enough pieces in my summer wardrobe to make streamlining, well, streamlined.

      I have a great ancient Lilly dress that’s a pale seafoam green and embroidered with lobsters and daisies. It was my mom’s but is sadly a little too big for me right now. It’s a perfect dress for that in every other respect, and I wish I could track down a good everyday shift somewhere too. Once I do, I’ll be sure to share 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *