Back when her kids were young and she homeschooled them, she found out that she was good at two things: turning yard-saled books and random "stuff" into a coherent curriculum; and reading ancient history with them. Now that she's an empty-nester, she's turned her history lessons into a series of books that get other people's kids interested in the Peloponnesian Wars. And her gift for organized-randomness still gets her called on, now and then, to talk about "stuff." (It also helps her find interesting clothes in thrifty places.)
Recently she has been reading about a Spartan general named Gylippus, who was sent to help defend another city that was besieged by the Athenians. Why did the Spartans choose Gylippus? Because he had a knack for seeing potential in situations where others saw only problems. A kindred spirit, perhaps? Well, not entirely: after all his military success, Gylippus was run out of town for embezzlement. Nobody's perfect.
Still, she finds his attitude inspiring, and thinks about it as she contemplates her next closet cleanout and some plans for warmer weather (she's between writing projects at the moment). What did Gylippus actually do to break the siege? First of all, he stopped the Athenians from their usual routine of building a surrounding wall, by building his own wall to cross it. (Reminds her of some board games she used to play with the kids.) Instead of just breaking down the enemy's walls, he built his own, literally forcing things to move in a new direction.
His second strategy was to get all the help he could from neighbouring states.
Finally, Gylippus pulled out the big guns...well, spears and arrows and things like that...in a major battle in the harbour. He used all the strategies, weapons and resources at his disposal, and defeated the Athenian fleet.
What does this have to do with #fashionrevolution and her own clothes? Well, she's not quite sure where the next while is going to take her. As a matter of fact she's finding the world quite confusing right now, and clothes are no exception. What has happened to her favourite tunic tops and skinny pants? "Styles have changed a great deal in the past two years," says one article, pointing to trends like wider jeans, tucked-in sweaters, and comfortable shoes. She's happy about the shoes, but iffy about the big jeans, and the current bra-as-top thing is definitely a no. Should she ignore the trends and keep wearing her skinnies, or stick to classic clothes and neutral colours? "I have a tiny wardrobe," says a well-dressed, younger-than-her You-tuber, "but I don't bother with boring basics, just things I really like." She appreciates reversals like that: they're a reminder that, like Gylippus or a really good yard sale (whenever yard sales might reappear on the radar), it pays to look at things from unexpected angles.
What are the biggest walls she struggles against? What she doesn't have...what she can't find...what she can't afford. Not being a well-dressed young You-:tuber, which only bothers her when she's looking for advice that works for fifty-somethings as well. How can she build her own wall, without getting walled in?
Well, maybe not a wall, but a wheel. Starting with colours instead of function:
And now she has to pull it apart again to see if these clothes will pull their weight in the battle against boredom. Some of them may not play nicely with the others in real life. There are also going to be gaps, because, unlike the You-tuber, she does wear boring (boot-cut) blue jeans and white t-shirts.
As it turns out, the only things she decides to delete are a pair of pink pants (free from an offspring who didn't want them) and a couple of surplus t-shirts and tops (the pile was getting to be more t-shirts than anything else).
What she keeps from the photo (17 items):
teal tank top
burgundy tank top
dark pink tank top
blue-grey (or is it grey-blue) short-sleeved t-shirt
pink/navy/white striped t-shirt
pastel green t-shirt
purplish-taupe lightweight top
dusty-pink lace top
orchid-purple (maybe mauve) long-sleeved jersey top
jean-style Tencel shirt
orchid-pink (maybe lavender) button-up shirt
pants whose colour she can't define, but she usually defaults to "khaki"
teal Chrysalis Cardi (multipurpose piece of clothing)
pearl-grey cocoon cardigan (dressy)
sage-green long short-sleeved cardigan
dark blue cotton-modal cardigan (casual)
denim-blue sweatshirt dress
What she adds from her closet (13 items):
wine-brown short-sleeved jersey top
off-white short-sleeved t-shirt
blue and white print t-shirt
dark blue t-shirt
off-white button-up shirt, long sleeves
dark grey linen shirt with roll-up sleeves
navy blouse with floral print
jean-style shorts (they're old, but they do have a high waist, so that's good?)
blue jeans (ankle-length, summer weight)
navy jersey pants
plum t-shirt dress
purple faux-suede coat (rescued from a dollar rack five years ago)
The Outfit-Building Battle Commences
Taupe top over tank top, khaki pants
Sweatshirt dress, scarf
Tank top, cocoon sweater, khaki pants
Off-white shirt, striped t-shirt, khaki pants
Sage cardigan, grey-blue t-shirt, shorts
Jean shirt, striped t-shirt, jean shorts
Navy cardigan, green t-shirt, khaki pants
Jean shirt, orchid t-shirt, jeans
Cocoon sweater, teal tank top, teal Chrysalis Cardi acting as skirt
Teal Chrysalis Cardi, wine-brown top, jeans
Lavender shirt, t-shrt, jeans or jersey pants
Navy cardigan, blue-print t-shirt, scarf
Sage cardigan, t-shirt, khaki pants
Purple coat, jean shirt t-shirt, khaki pants
A few odd things
plum t-shirt dress
Shoes (oh, shoes, how wonderful to see you again after a winter of snow boots)
Poncho (Fair trade, made in Ecuador, but I found it at the Salvation Army store)
teal faux-leather jacket
hooded rain jacket (not shown)
jean jacket (not shown)
Sources of clothes and accessories: Most were thrifted or were found at antique markets. One scarf, the purse, a couple of tops, and some of the shoes were bought new. Some of the jewelry pieces were gifts; the teal and white bracelets are from Fierce Lynx Designs. The Chrysalis Cardi was bought from Encircled five years ago.
The final installment in this series will be posted on Wednesday.