On the bulletin board just above my computer is tacked my favorite cartoon, by Charles Saxon of The New Yorker. It’s what I see every time I look up from my keyboard, and I’ve never grown tired of it.
I always imagine that it’s a Friday evening, and the husband has returned on the commuter train from his job in Manhattan in banking or investing to his home in a Connecticut suburb.
He’s shed his tie and shoes and sunk his head into a pillow on the genteel but not comfortable-looking settee, stretching out for a restorative nap before dinner. The downturned mouth suggests he’s still ruminating about work and that his weekend has not quite begun.
And then his wife descends the staircase clutching a clipboard and says, tentatively but hopefully, “If it’s all right with you, I thought we’d do some long-range planning tonight.”
Don’t ask why I think this cartoon is so hilarious, but it may be because it hits so close to home. I am that wife with the clipboard and the torrent of bright ideas.
Until recently, that is. Lately I’ve been feeling more like the husband on the couch: brooding and in a state of torpor.
If I learned anything from participating in the Ready-to-Wear Fast last year, it was that simply refraining from buying clothes does not instantly supply inspiration for designing a new wardrobe.
I may have learned better than ever what I dislike in what I presently own–and that was actually very useful–but I was not automatically transported to some new level of understanding of what I like and what looks wonderful on me. No, I still need to do my homework.
This homework has been complicated by the fact that my coloring seems to be changing, so I’m not sure what does look good on me. Some days it seems like the gray in my hair is quickly multiplying, yet other days I think I still am overall a dark brunette. I’m noticing that different colors near my face can make a huge difference in whether the gray or the dark brown is more noticeable.
I’ve also wondered whether my complexion is cooling. I think some years ago I was decidedly warm, but now it seems I am just on the warm side of the fence, which is affecting which colors complement me and which upstage me. It looks like I’ll be saying goodbye to some favorite colors that are too strong for me now, and that’s a little disorienting. I haven’t yet made the acquaintance of colors that will be new favorites.
In this period of adjusting and reframing I’ve been reviewing the materials of Imogen Lamport’s 7 Steps to Style program and reading vast amounts of the free content on her impressive blog, Inside Out Style, which has been great. I needed the refresh. Imogen bases her wardrobe-building strategy on a combination of objective elements, like your coloring, level of contrast, and figure type, with subjective elements: your fashion personality and “style recipe.” Some days I make more headway on factual research. Other days I have a new insight into my style recipe, a concept that’s earning a new level of interest and respect from me.
Another way I’ve recently tackled the indecision doldrums was by attending a free, two-part talk at my local library given by the first certified KonMari consultant in Ohio, Michell Domke, about putting the principles of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up into practice.
Only minutes into the presentation Michell was having us close our eyes and visualize our ideal lifestyles as expressed in our homes. I’m sure the vision was different for every single person in the room but equally powerful. Michell told us that one of her clients had struggled for two years to apply the KonMari organizing methods without imagining the ideal lifestyle she wanted to aim for, and guess what? She got stuck. She made no progress.
So, back to the cartoon that sits above my computer. Now I think I’m a little bit of each of the people in the drawing.
Part of me is nodding off on that couch with a furrowed brow mulling over one problem or another.
But part of me remains that lady with the clipboard, hesitantly yet insistently inviting me to do some long-range planning.