Thursday, February 17, 2011

Home Management: Dressing for the Home

Clothing experts suggest that we consider our lifestyle when planning a wardrobe. So often, we spend too much for items we will seldom wear and don't invest in quality garments that will last us in our every day life. Shari Breandel, author of Good Girls Don't Have to Dress Bad, offers a free planning sheet to help you determine what you need for your primary activities (majority lifestyle) and what you need for your minority lifestyle (minority lifestyle). Do you spend most of your time in a workplace other than your home? That is your majority wardrobe. However, you will still need a minority wardrobe to cover your time at home, as well as an outfit or two for special occasions. If you are primarily a home keeper, your majority wardrobe should be suitable for your time there, and your secondary wardrobe should include items for church, meetings, and one or two things for special occasions.

Don't worry about assembling your wardrobe too quickly. Take your time and acquire things as you can afford them. Remember that a smaller wardrobe of the best quality you can afford takes you further than a large wardrobe of things that are shoddily made or that don't coordinate. An easy way to keep your wardrobe size down is to work around basics in one or two neutral colors that flatter you. You can add pops of color with tops and accessories.

Traditionally, women wore house dresses and aprons at home. Sometimes, when women sewed or bought a new outfit for "Sunday best", they relegated a still attractive, but more worn garment to the at home work wardrobe. Other women actually sewed or bought dresses specifically for their everyday life in the home. In the fifties, a few women did begin to wear jeans or pants at home on occasions.

In the mid-twentieth century, some women also supplemented their home keeping wardrobe with a couple of informal, but beautiful outfits for lounging on evenings in. The women of my mother's generation generally took care of their appearance first thing upon arising and maintained a neat and feminine look throughout the day. This was seen as being courteous to others, as well as something that added to physical health and a healthful outlook.

Even today, when I visit a nearby assisted living center, I find many women in their 70's, 80's, and even older whose grooming puts mine to shame. I am inspired by their example.

Until recent decades, women did not wear exercise clothing other than when exercising -- if then. Likewise, it wasn't the style to have the kind of comfy pajama type T-shirts and long knit pants that abound today.

We're fortunate today to have better exercise clothing. And, it's nice to have a comfy T-shirt and long pant to wear at night when you are cold, ill, or otherwise want something soothing to put on. However, we also have new temptations today to schlep around the house in old workout gear or knit p.j.s rather than taking the time to put on something fresh and pretty and to groom ourselves neatly. And, it's tempting to rest and sleep in things that are not flattering to us. I know I can fall into that trap.

So, why does it matter how we dress so long as we are in our own homes? Dressing and grooming ourselves nicely does wonders for our attitudes. It also encourages our spouses and children. Aren't you more encouraged when your loved ones take the time to be clean and neatly groomed around you?

Having a designated wardrobe for our days at home and a few pretty things to wear at night helps us feel good about the time we spend there. It helps us to esteem what we do in the home. It signals to others that we care about what we do in life and that we care about them. Likewise, if we make ourselves presentable early in the morning, we will be prepared to answer the door or to run errands or to leave the house quickly if called to do so.

An at-home wardrobe doesn't have to be expensive to be pretty and functional. Nor, does it have to be fussy. Your at home wardrobe should consist of things that are easy to put on and comfortable to wear.

As far as expense goes, determine what your clothing budget is and set price points for the items you want to add to your closet. Look for well made items at moderate prices. Find an easy pattern and sew your own. Visit thrift shops, but be careful even there to look for items that are of good quality and that really do flatter you and that will be an asset to your wardrobe.

Happy Home Keeping!

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