Dress Kathleen

A couple of weeks ago, Yahoo featured a website called Dress Kevin. I thought it was a riot. Kevin admits to being a fashion novice saying

One day, I had to face the facts: I had no idea how to dress myself. After going through old yearbooks and photographs, I came to the stunning realization that I needed serious help with my wardrobe. So, at first I did what most people would do. I went to others for advice. It was good, but limited.

So, I turned to the Internet. I put pictures of all my clothes up for everyone to see, and I’m asking for comments and suggestions for how to wear my clothes, and what to wear. This is where you come in: every day, I want you to vote on what I should wear for all my daily activities. I work a full-time job, and I have plenty of things to do afterwards, all of which require delicate clothes planning. First impressions are everything, right?

Kevin will literally wear what visitors vote on. Some outfits he’s worn have been hilarious. Anyway, Kevin piqued my interest because -in spite of all public myth to the contrary- people who work in fashion day in, day out tend to be clueless dressers. In fact, one of the problems I have in meeting people is that they feel like they have to be all dolled up which makes me look pretty bad. I’m clueless about clothes. I’m into fashion from a professional standpoint but personally, dressing well comes last on my list of priorities. For example, Kevin has tons of shirts for you to vote on. Here are my shirts:

See? Mine are utter simplicity. All of the shirts in my winter wardrobe are black and long sleeved with the labels cut out (labels drive me wild, they feel like razor blades on my back neck). Still, if you like, you can vote on which long sleeved black shirt you think I should wear tomorrow.

Kevin also has loads of slacks which is just too complicated for me. Here’s a picture of my pants:

My pants are all too big; I tend to dress shapeless because it seems that most jeans makers these days are all cutting for camel-toes. Ick! I do have one pair of slacks (black) that I rarely wear because they don’t leave much to the imagination and I think they make me look too thin.

Kevin also has a bunch of socks that he needs help matching to his outfits. In my opinion, my socks are easier to match.

Still, I’ve always said that I’m so clueless fashion-wise that if my socks match, it’s a happy coincidence. The socks I’m wearing this morning were not so happy (I’m wearing these because these were the thickest ones I could find in my husband’s sock drawer).

The only area I beat Kevin is in coats. Kevin is a wimp with only 5 jackets and coats. I must have about 50. Okay, not literally 50 but at last count -before I moved and purged, I had over 30 easily. I don’t like to be cold plus, I’m a coat maker by trade. I posted plenty of coat photos in the past so I’ll just skip that for now.

Kevin also has tons of accessories. Wow, I thought accessories were strictly a girly thing. Again, my selection of accessories is streamlined. My choices are limited to slinkies which I wear as bracelets. Below are shown my set of brass slinkies. Aren’t they pretty?

In my opinion, slinkies in general are vastly under rated. Everybody should have slinkies. I keep about 3 or 4 of them in my office in different places. I’ve found them to be a real crowd pleaser. I like to wear the brass slinkies to business functions because I get bored very easily. Also, I’m too shy to talk to anybody so my accessories cum toys also serve as conversation pieces. Most adults can’t resist playing with them if I pull them off and pass them around.

Kevin also has shoes. I don’t. Since I don’t want to send my readers running screaming from the room, I’ve graciously omitted photographing mine. I hope you appreciate that.

If you curious about my summer wardrobe, I can summarize that by saying that I wear khaki shorts and white A-shirts (“wife-beaters”). If I’m dressing up, I may wear one of the colored ones (pink, blue or black).

I hope I’ve successfully illustrated that a lot of people who work in fashion are the farthest thing you can get from a fashion plate. The only ones worse than me are the ones who think they can dress…oh my. I knew two really bad dressers. One was a sewing supervisor who only had two styles. Either she dressed like a square dancer (complete with petticoats, I kid you not) or a prostitute -down to the fishnet hose. To amuse myself one Halloween, I dressed as a square dancing whore (she didn’t catch on). The other really bad dresser I knew was a production supervisor who always wore bows. It looked ridiculous because she was probably 60 or so. She wore bows on everything. It was hideous. So, on another Halloween that I worked there, I came dressed in bows (no mystery to why I was written up constantly I suppose). I had them in my hair, pinned to my shoulders, at the center front, at my back waist, on my socks, shoes -everywhere. She did catch on to this and never wore bows again.

Happy New Year!

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  1. Georgina says:


    Go to Old Navy and buy some tees in bright colors. Color will give you a lift, and the Old Navy tees are really nice. I lke the “perfect fit” ones. I replenish my stock every 6 months. They come in long and short sleeves. You can wear a short sleeved one over a long sleeved one and look cool!!!!

  2. Kay says:

    Kathleeeeeeeeeeeeeeennnn! You seriously need some color in your wardrobe! There’s nothing wrong with wearing a black top with blue jeans, but hey, not everyday!

    Is that all you have in your wardrobe? Really?

  3. Kathleen says:

    Is that all you have in your wardrobe? Really?
    yes, really. Ask my husband :)
    hey, he’s grateful. I’m cheap to keep!
    We spend lots more money on his clothes but then, he works in an office plus he’s the boss so he can’t look ratty like me. Who’s going to see me in a day’s time? As it is, nobody thinks I really work in the fashion industry anyway.

    Btw, I do know that I really have to get some clothes ~sigh~ I just really hate shopping. Plus, part of me thinks that if I play my cards right, some of my designers will send me some. I know enough designers so you’d think it’d be a foregone conclusion. kidding! (I’ll do anything to get out of shopping)

  4. christy fisher says:

    I respect this! It’s kind of an American version of Japanese minimalism :-)
    (remember when “fashion designer” was big glasses and dressed all in black?)
    Without changes in the given pieces, I would choose the Henley with the buttons T , with one of the undershirts (I loathe the word “wifebeater”) OVER it, maybe the pink one..with the darker wash jeans (people pay BIG BUCKS for distressed jeans like these!)..dark socks ..or I actually like the “one of each” ..very trendy..
    AND the SLINKY (Beautiful!!)..
    and if you own a pair of beatup cowboy boots (which I’ll beat you do..)..then that would be the ticket..

    I double dog dare ya…!

  5. Eric H says:

    It’s absolutely true and I wouldn’t change it for the world. For one thing, it’s easy to find her in a crowd.

    Because that comes up frequently, y’ know.

  6. Carol Kimball says:

    You need several different wardrobes.

    The first, for general work, needs to be comfortable and warm, and you’ve got that well-covered, so to speak.

    The second is for meeting with prospective clients. I NEVER dress up, yet for corporate meetings wear a skirted suit even when all the bigwigs are in casual stuff. They actually listen to me (I am a “slim petite”) because I’m sending the “I know what I’m doing” signals. Make yourself one in leather – cross-type, the traditional lapeled version, not Western.

    For other clients, I do the most upscale version I’ve got along the lines of what they’re thinking of hiring me for.

    The outfit you wore for your DVD is nice. The brass slinkies are fabulous! I have a bunch, too, but no brass (as of typing this).

    The third is for clients you’ve already established. The DVD outfit, or casual jeans, boots, silk shirt (from your proposed line), and leather jacket would be great. This could work for first-meeting, too.

    The fourth is for stupid things like your husband’s company holiday parties. I’d go for theater. When Charlie was Executive Director of his company, even for picnics, this worked well for me. Big silk pirate shirt with jeans/boots/slinkies and a wide leather belt?

    Accessories: leather barrettes?

  7. Carol Kimball says:

    Clarification: the traditional lapeled jacket is for the skirted suit for corporate-type meetings. Anywhere else I suggested a leather jacket, I meant Western.

  8. Pat says:

    LOL! Apart from the slinkies, which are WAY cool, this looks a lot like my own “at home” wardrobe. I like those really stretchy little baby-doll tee shirts from Club Monaco (they sell for something like 2 for $25 in the U.S.) However, the quality of the knits they use has declined in recent years. Anyway, you want knit tops that show a bit of your shape without being so tight you look or feel like a hooker. As a formerly fat person, it took me a while to get over the need to hide behind baggy clothes — perhaps you’re still nurturing your inner BBW?

    I’d also suggest some new, darker jeans for “dress to impress” occasions. And maybe some bright silk print scarves to add a touch of colour to those black shirts. A nice, well-fitted leather jacket with collar and lapel is good, too. Oh, and how about some big gold hoop earrings to go with the slinkies, or would that be too-too?

    Not sure about cowboy boots, but probably everybody wears them in the south west. Footwear in the grain-growing area where I live tends to be more gumboots or workboots, according to weather conditions. I don’t recommend either as a fashion statement. How about a couple of good pairs of dressy black flats? Not the girlie kind, but maybe tassel loafers or penny loafers, good quality ones with a bit of support built in so you can stand for hours if you have to. And if you’re really feeling wild, get them in red!

    Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, go with your own style — this is what you’re comfortable with. Just spiff it up and kick it up a bit for public occasions — iron out the wrinkles, wear the jeans that don’t have frayed hems, add a scarf, etc.

  9. Freda says:

    Oh, wow, Kathleen!! Delurking here to say your work wardrobe looks almost like mine. Various shades of jeans with t-shirts. Only, all of my shirts have the same round neck. Most are black but I do like some other colors. Long sleeves in winter, short sleeves for summer. Often a sweater or flannel shirt over in winter, linen shirt in spring/summer. Lots of coats and jackets. (It’s COLD in NH!)

    I wear a pair of black pants (with the same shirts) for initial client meetings, otherwise its the jeans outfit for fittings and such. I work with loads of color all the time so I guess I don’t feel the need for much of it in what I wear to work. Dress clothes are mostly black also just because that is easy to wear and accessorize and looks more elegant and/or sophisticated than comparable outfits in colors.

    (Got your book in record time and am about halfway through it. Lots of good ideas that are making me rethink some of what I do. Thanks!)

  10. Josh says:

    This is not an insult when I say, Your wardrobe looks pretty rough. I wear the same (and I do mean the exact same pair) brown 501 jeans, blue adidias shirt and New Balance shoes everyday when I’m working. When I get out of my sewing room and finsih my exercise (I wear some black basketball shorts and a T to exercise in) I throw on a T shirt and Jeans, typically I wear the same thing everyday. So I wash these everyday clothes about every week. Yes, not very clean I know. So I have 2 everyday outfits (besides my exercise clothes) and I usually wear them for 6 months before I throw them out for new ones. I wear them until they have just had it. I do keep some very stylish and fun clothes I wear when I have to go somewhere like shopping, dentist, doctors. I have NO dress clothes because I’ve never went anywhere that I’ve needed them. I don’t do funerals, weddings etc, I refuse. I could be all dressed up in the sewing room, and I’d know what to wear but why would I do that? Who’s gonna see me?

    I think we should have a design Kathleen an outfit contest. lol What do you say? We each have to come up with 3 illustrations and you get to choose which concepts are your fave.

  11. Kathleen says:

    I think we should have a design Kathleen an outfit contest. lol What do you say? We each have to come up with 3 illustrations and you get to choose which concepts are your fave.

    Shoot, I’d go for that! Do I have to pay for the clothes -hey, models always ask if they can keep the clothes so I figure it doesn’t hurt to ask.

    If anybody’s game, these are the parameters.
    1. I can wear just about anything but not strapless or spaghetti strap tops.
    2. I look awful in yellow/green tops (olive complected)
    3. I do like dresses and feminine attire.
    4. I’m 5’5″, about 106 lbs, large busted (not much of a butt) and wear size 0/2

    Andrea’s asking for photos (good point). You can find 3 photos of me in this entry.

  12. Andrea says:

    You’re on…would you mind posting a picture of yourself so we can get an overall idea of how to dress you? When is the deadline for this? Do we produce the garments or just make illustrations? Will it be a two part contest…one to illustrate and after your approval see who comes up with the best construction? This is great!

  13. Diane says:

    I recognize these clothes. They’re my usual uniform that I throw on every day because I’m too lazy to put something cool together and who’s gonna see me anyway, locked up in my sewing room? When I do go out and someone asks me what I do and I claim to be associated with fashion, uh, there is very little credibility. It’s hiding out. Blending into the background like a WalMart shopper. I think all of us would love to design something hip and cool for you to wear.

    Are you coming out of the closet? (:

  14. I feel you. I work in the fashion industry and whenever I greet vendors at my office for meetings, I automatically mentally smack myself for not dressing myself better in the morning. This is also the reason (for the most part) why I feel so out of place at industry networking events.

    Btw, I’m currently going through a “styling myself” regime, which I’m cataloging in my blog, among other things.

  15. Carol Kimball says:

    Kathleen, I’ve sent some sketches as e attachments (so go check your mail, already!). This can be deleted then, and my two earlier posts can be combined, if you want to take the trouble.

  16. La BellaDonna says:

    I AM Dressing Kathleen. I’ve been hunting, and today picked up a pair of size small jeans with a 32″ inseam. I’m mailing them today. You said to send jeans, I’m sending jeans.

    So keep your eyes peeled.

  17. Danielle says:

    lol that bow story

    That’s funny. I tend to go total tomboy utility in the winter. Jeans and black jackets, Kathleen you’re right it’s a combination that works. I’m very “sexy femme” in the summer (when I’m not wearing my wife beaters and boy-cutoffs). I know right now I can get away with a baby doll mini and I will, and be comfortable (with shorts underneath!). Neither of these looks are appropriate for any industry except my own. I’m having more and more fun. If I was a sales rep I’d be way more concerned but being behind the scenes nobody seems to care. I don’t find that I get discriminated upon except I couldn’t work sales at Holt Renfrew… the key is being comfortable. Speaking of, I’m not outrageous – more off key.

    Your clothes remind me of my Mom’s clothes.
    Your jeans are very “mom jeans” and my Mom is like that too. I recently coaxed her into a flat front wide leg cut (late 90s early 2000s, I just got a pair in thrift for $7) which is contemporary without being tight or cumbersome. Bonus – these styles have extra large pockets. Small women like you and my mom can get away with more than you think. A uniform isn’t a bad thing at all, as long as you love it. Do you love your uniform?

  18. Hi, I think I’m joining this conversation a little late but, better late than never, right? It might be fun to post your clothes on my newest site, http://www.mydrobe.com . Thanks for linking to my site, I love your article. And to think that it was women that had the complex fashion sense – I admire your simplicity!

  19. Dorothy Klein says:

    Since becoming disabled, I discovered an upside to dressing up. It’s a mental trick to make me feel better. If I dress in PJs or sloppy comfortables, I feel more like a sluggish sick person. If I get dressed up, complete with makeup, nice hair, (and a cool hat if I’m going out) I feel more energetic and more like a living human being. Now, mind you, before a few years ago, the only time I remember wearing make-up was for my wedding (in 1980). None of my clothes are very expensive; most are thrift store remakes which I buy primarily for fabric, color and silhouette. Some of your readers suggested scarves–they’re a great way to bring color to your face or even get away with wearing a top in a color that’s not optimal for you. They’re also a great buy on ebay, usually sold in lots, and postage is negligible. I love costume jewelry, so I’ve collected lots of broaches and scarf clips to hold the scarves in place. And hats/gloves: they really make this tomboy feel like a “girly girl”. I used to tell my chronic pain patients “You have to fake it before you make it”. It’s just another way of saying that behavior always changes before feelings and attitudes, and that behavioral change can lead to changes in mood and affect. Now I AM a chronic pain patient, and I’ve followed all my old clinical advice because I believe in it. Now I follow this advice, because it not only works, but it’s a necessary survival tactic. And as for strapless/ spaghetti straps, Victoria’s secret has a new type of strapless bra. It seems to stay in place (there’s a video on their website) and purports to support even DDs and Es. Haven’t tried it, but I’m saving my pennies. It’s designed like 2 hands lifting and supporting the opposite sided breast. Has anyone had experience with this? Strapless tops are great for necklace wearing and look great under jackets and blazers.

  20. Marie-Christine says:

    I had forgotten that hilarious post :-).. Has your wardrobe changed much? Because if not you could claim to be Jobs/Miyake inspired and leave it at that..

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