Outfit Post: Shoulding all over myself

Over the past week, I've been having more difficulty deciding how to dress in the morning. I find myself standing in front of my closet, genuinely and thoroughly perplexed. Often I feel I truly have nothing to wear. I throw on outfit after outfit, my anxiety increasing with each article of clothing that I pull on. Rejected pieces puddle on the closet floor. With each passing minute I feel more and more pressure to find the "perfect"look, and more critical about my appearance and my body. Confusing this is the knowledge that I'm a fashion writer and style blogger...shouldn't I be able to dress myself without throwing a tantrum? Shouldn't this be simple, and fun, and my happy time? I've been photographing myself every day for nearly five months. Shouldn't I be over my body anxieties?

Between blogging, doing research, taking care of the house, staying in touch with friends, paying bills, running errands, planning meals, helping my kids with homework and shuffling them to school and taekwando,  I often feel like a circus juggler. I'm trying desperately not only to keep all the balls in the air, but also keep track of where each ball is. Despite the metaphorical nature of my juggling it is nonetheless stressful, and it's no wonder I feel overwhelmed.

The years of abuse from the anorexia combined with the unstoppable forces of aging have played no small role. My body simply won't let me push it that hard.  It loses concentration while doing research for a post.  It finds a way to zone out. And it throws out warning blips in the form of anxiety attacks. I think back to my college days, when I carried a full course-load while working two jobs and writing for my college newspaper. I lived on four hours of sleep and endless mugs of black coffee. Sure, I was miserable and depressed, but I can't help but feel jealous of the old Elissa who got so much done. And then I feel lazy in comparison.

When I find myself becoming overwhelmed and anxious, I believe the problem boils down to one word:
Should. I seem to have internal rules about "appropriate" ways to feel, behave and dress. I should be working on my next blog post. I shouldn't have trouble with body anxiety. I shouldn't wear that short skirt. I should tie my belt exactly like my favorite bloggers. The problem is that the word should implies judgment. It communicates that what I'm doing is inherently incorrect, and that there are absolute rights and wrongs. Thinking within the parameters of the should's create some very narrow minded black and white thinking. It's no shock I feel so out of balance.

So the next time I stand in front of my closet, wondering what to wear and only seeing the shouldn't, I'm going to challenge myself to dress as I want, and feel what I feel. If dressing gets too complicated, I'll give myself permission to throw on jeans and call it a day. If I'm having anxiety about my body, I'll check in with my husband and ask for his support. And if blogging seems to be too much, I'll take a break.

Have you had mornings where you felt you had nothing to wear (despite a full closet?) Why do you think this happens? Do you struggle with managing the should's? Can you explain how you deal with this? 

Thrifted vintage Oscar de La Renta silk blouse; thrifted vintage skirt; J Crew ballet flats (eBay); Marc Jacobs bag (consignment store); Forever 21 rhinestone bracelet; TIKKR watch


  1. I am so relieved to read this and be reminded of the fact I'm not the only one! We all have days where we just don't feel inspired or like it's all just too much. I'm having one today!

    I think we're too hard on ourselves. I feel guilty if I sit down for 2 hours to watch a film, and clearly that's not right. We all need downtime!


  2. I can identify with your closet trouble. I never used to worry about what I wore nearly as much as I do now. I keep reminding myself that I have a voice and a style all my own. Others can like it or not. When I started writing my fashion blog, it was more as an outlet for myself. I didn't care if people read it or not, I needed to be able to express myself. I love your outfits. I love your humor. Keep plugging away at it. And, don't be so hard on yourself - you write a great blog.

  3. I hope that you can find some relief from the stress in your life and the pressure to do everything the 'right' way. Never-the-less, You look great and this outfit is perfect!

    xo L.

  4. I should on myself all of the time - nice to know that I'm not the only one. I hate those mornings where I seem to put on everything in my closet and nothing quite looks right. Sometimes I think that when life gets overwhelming and hectic, it's easier to pick on my appearance. I also think feelings of vulnerability tie in somehow, but am not quite sure how to articulate that part!
    In other news, this outfit is made of win and I love everything about it.

  5. I think we all struggle with the Shoulds and it's so timely that this post came out on the same day as the Already Pretty one re: trying too hard (it's the collective blogging unconscious in action). Style blogging is so rewarding but it can be a burden to bear as well, especially when we're in a time crunch to get ready, or when it's that one week where nothing fits right, or when the bank account won't allow us to get that on-trend must-have item we think we can't live without... And it blows my mind how often I get that "nothing to wear" feeling considering that I ran out of room for new things in my closet long ago. I know that I get stuck in this mind trap of feeling as though every outfit has to be the best, most original, most colorful, most fresh, most trendy, most blog-worthy.... and I don't really have a solution for you because the only thing that can break that funk for me is to walk out of the closet and find something else to do. On those days that I can't find anything to wear I typically settle for one of my loose and easy homemade dresses with a simple belt and then I forgo photos that afternoon. Or I turn to my outfit archive on the blog or unworn outfit ideas in my phone photo gallery for a little inspiration. But often I find myself plopped face down on the bed pouting because nothing fits right. We're women, we're doomed to have emotional outbursts about tiny mishaps. I think accepting that fact puts the bad days in perspective- simply knowing that there will be days when there's nothing to wear makes it easy to understand that those moments will pass when they do come around.

    As for juggling the rest of life... when you figure that out, will you let me know? I only have a husband and a full-time job. I can't imagine what it's like to add kids and homework in to the mix. Im stressing out as it is over the prospect of graduate school and how thats going to affect my sleep/blog/work schedule.

    Sorry to write a book of ramblings here.
    PS, that top is fabulous and all the gorgeous colors here really make me smile.

  6. So true! I definitely have those days but I try to remember it's better to have nothing to wear than no where to go. Of course, the best of both worlds is something perfect to wear and somewhere fabulous to go, that's whi I think every woman deserves to have the perfect dress in her closet. The one that makes you feel like a million whenever you put it on. The no fuss, one garment, ready to wear, dream outfit!

  7. Well first, you look absolutely, utterly, 100% beautiful in this outfit.

    Second, I feel the EXACT same way you do the vast majority of the time. If you find a way to deal with it and make it stop, let me know...

    Come take a look inside A Working Mom's Closet

  8. You look so well put together! Love your shoes. Thanks for putting into words what we all seem to feel! I have many of those days & all I feel like putting on are jeans & a tee.

  9. Your outfit and sentiment are perfect! I'm slowly slowly letting myself learn to be ok with whatever is going on. If I don't feel what I should... it's ok. It's only a feeling and it will pass. If I try to fight against it, the feeling will hold on like a rebellious teenager. If I just let it be, it will float away sooner. Good lesson Miss Elissa!

  10. What an excellent post! For those of us that clothing is a reflexion of our personality and a visual representation of our thoughts and feelings there will invariably be days when all you want to wear is your PJ's and and a blanket. Literally. If like me, you're prone to periods of mood swings and depression, getting dressed in the morning proves to be an impossible task.
    I have a couple of 'safe' items I resort to: a pair of jeans and a sweater, well various sweaters, at least one per season. These items are plain and simple and can be matched with anything. Then I try, I really do try to bring some life into an otherwise boring outfit with a fun quirky accessory like a funny brooch or a colourful bag. And I always put on some perfume. Aromatherapy really works!

  11. Since I edited my wardrobe collection and directed my style to the minimalist side I have no problem to get dressed in the morning.
    As for the latter I've been a perfectionist for most part of my life inflicting unnecessary pai and trouble on me and others. These days I keep things straight with the help of flylady net.Check her out if you haven't already.

  12. That whole paragraph--"The years of abuse from the anorexia combined with the unstoppable forces of aging have played no small role. My body simply won't let me push it that hard..."--just resonated with me.


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