On milestones, a mid-life crisis, and my closet…

In 2 1/2 years, I’ll “celebrate” a major milestone birthday. An epic, cataclysmic, confidence-rocking birthday. Because I don’t like to procrastinate, I’ve already started preparing for it.

I’m having my mid-crisis now. I mean, why wait?

I am feeling my mortality. I can’t even say the number I’m facing.  I will officially be–I can’t  bring myself to publicly finish that statement.

“Age is just a number.” That was easier to believe when the number I was looking at was a lot lower.

Knock on wood, I’m healthy. I’m height-weight proportionate. Most people would say I don’t look my age. But when I look in the mirror, I see new wrinkles, and, oh-my-god, age spots. My body is “softer” than it used to be; pants that still fit now give me a muffin top. My lips are thinner than they used to be. My eyebrows have gray hairs. I’ll stop the list here because it’s too depressing…

As is typical with me, when I am in the middle of a life crisis, it manifests in two areas: my hair and my clothing. I’ve been seriously considering a drastic hairstyle change, going from long hair to a pixie or maybe a short bob. But I’ve decided to hold off, because short styles are what “women my age” usually go for. To me, it would be conceding: “I’m old.” I think my hair still looks good, so I’ll keep it for as long as I can carry it off. Or not. I don’t know…

But my wardrobe and closet will be getting a major overhaul. I’ve decided that I may be “old,” but I can still look nice, and it’s time to shake things up a bit. (Just a bit).

I’ve always leaned toward “classic” rather than “trendy,” but there’s a fine line between classic and boring, and I may have crossed it. It doesn’t help that I work from home and don’t need a lot of “nice” clothes. Or that I work long hours and rarely go shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. I feel like a stranger in a strange land when I do venture into the mall.

I need to break out of my rut and build a look, a style that suits me, a look that I will be comfortable wearing, but that’s a little more fashionable.

This is my new bible.

I read The Smart Woman’s Guide to Style & Clothing, a Step-by-Step Process for Creating the Perfect Wardrobe by Kara Lane. I’m using it as my guide to build my new wardrobe. According to the author, women don’t wear 80 percent of their clothes. I didn’t think that was the case with me, but I analyzed my closet, and realized, it’s probably 50 percent. A lot of what I have is old, or I don’t like the stuff anymore, or I don’t feel good wearing the items anymore.

So, over the next year, I’ll be purging my closet and replacing the items with quality clothing I love. My goal is to own fewer clothes but have everything work together so that I have more complete outfits.  When I worked in the corporate world, I had business clothes, at-home clothes, and a small selection of dressy clothes. However, I’ve always lacked nice casual clothes, and my plan is to build up that part of my wardrobe.

I want a good base of neutrals, supplemented with some trendier, fun items and more accessories. From now on, when I buy an article of clothing, it must meet two criteria: do I love it (not just like it, but love it) and does it go with what I already have?

In conjunction with my wardrobe overall, I’m organizing my closet. I’m very fortunate to have a large walk-in closet that I don’t share with anyone (my husband has his own closet), and I’m going to organize it functionally and keep it neat to show off my new wardrobe. It will be a dressing room in addition to being a closet.

I will still be old, but I’m going to be dressed very nice.

* * *

I was inspired to overhaul my closet by actress Heather Dubrow (formerly of Real Housewives of Orange County) who has a fabulous, amazing closet. Seriously, it looks like a boutique. She does a You Tube show, Heather’s Closet, from her closet.  My closet will never be anything close to that grand–nor will it have its own show–but it’s still a better-than-average closet.

* * *

Have you ever had a mid-life crisis? What did you do to pull yourself out of it?

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20 Responses to On milestones, a mid-life crisis, and my closet…

  1. Ed Hoornaert says:

    Your closet may never have its own reality show, but you can feature it on your website alongside writer’s offices — if you dare.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I thought about that, actually. I started the closet project last month before my trip to Norway. I should have taken before photos.

      Thanks for visiting/commenting and reading through all the women’s fashion stuff!

  2. Good luck with reorganising your closet. I am very bad at getting rid of stuff from mine. I buy new clothes, but don’t throw away the old, thinking I might wear it again one day! Like you I have a walk-in closet and lots of space, so little incentive to clear stuff out. However I am now inspired to have a good clearout.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I really recommend Kara Lane’s book. It’s a very practical, how-to guide on how to determine what clothes you need and how to build a wardrobe you love.

  3. Lea Kirk says:

    Honey, life gets better after “the-age-that-must-not-be-mentioned”! Also, your hair is gorgeous, so think about that next time cutting it crosses your mind. I think you have very nice taste in clothes, however, I also see your point about needing to reevaluate though because I feel the same about my wardrobe. Pretty sure it’s a case of 80% unused. lol. I’m going to pick up Kara Lane’s book and see how she can help this jeans-and-a-t-shirt gal. Thanks for the rec. 🙂

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thank you, Lee.

      I’m a jeans and T-shirt gal, too. In the winter, it’s jeans & a cashmere sweater (purchased for 50% off on Black Friday at Macy’s).

  4. Even with the limited space I have for clothes I still find stuff that I don’t wear. I need to up my game too.

    I have many of the same feelings as I realize my age. I notice myself avoiding certain activities too — like an old person. And then I wonder…where did all the time go?

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Why do we keep that stuff?

      I regularly clean out my closet, but I do have a few things that I haven’t put on in years, and yet, there they are. Why?

  5. Rhonda Garrett says:

    Around age 40 I cut my (previously very long, straight hair ala Cher) hair. It took ten years off my age. I literally walked up to people who had known me for 10 years and they did not recognize me. I have a fabulous hairstylist who recommended it and I am so glad I took her advice.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I’ve seen it made a dramatic difference with some people. They looked so much better with short hair. I wish I could be that bold. When I talk about cutting my hair, my hairstylist tells me to go in stages. Try shoulder-length first.

      Did you have a specific hairstyle that you wanted or did you let your hairstylist come up with something?

  6. I’m approaching “an age” at about the same time as you, Cara. I keep telling myself that I should be proud I’ve made it this long, despite a lot of opportunities to screw it up big time. I also remind myself that my brother is 13 years older, so he’s a good example of how it can be much later down the road — and he’s healthy, happy, and mentally active.

    Once a year, I gather up all my unused clothes and give them to charity. Having moved over 30 times in my life, I learned to travel light and give away what I don’t really need. It’s like that Japanese axiom about holding something in your hand and if you don’t love it, you chuck it.

    As for hair, I went from tailbone long to super short in two stages. First 14′ off to make it a little longer than shoulder length, and then, when I felt the long locks weren’t flattering anymore, off it all came. Now I love my short hair. I recently saw a picture of Theresa May and decided I really like her hair, so I may let mine grow out a little bit to go with that hairstyle. (I’m unaffected by her politics. She looks good for her age.)

    Good luck with your changes. I’m sure you’ll make good choices.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Thanks for sharing, Trish. Your short hair looks very nice and suits you. I like Theresa May’s hair, too. I also asked some woman at the airport if I could take her picture because I liked her hairstyle. I’ve seen a lot of cute short cuts. I just need the guts.

  7. Kara Lane says:

    Hi Cara. Thanks for the shout-out on my book, “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Style & Clothing.” You mentioned that you lean toward classic styles and are looking for nice casual clothes. Since publishing my book, I’ve discovered two additional brands that sound like they may fit your style: J. McLaughlin and Southern Tide. They have their own stores, and Southern Tide is also sold at Dillard’s.

    Good luck tackling your 2 1/2-years-early-mid-life-crisis! I enjoyed reading your blog post and, personally, I think your hair looks great the way it is!

  8. Angela says:

    I went through my closet last fall. When I took the bags (7 of them!) to the thrift store the lady asked if I’d had a garage sale. Um.. no, just cleaned out the closet. I still have more than I need but at least what is in there is more to my current style.

    I did have a mid-life about 5 years ago. I thought I’d lose my mind. Thankfully, I had my anchor – my husband of 34 years – to help me through. Just as I’d done with him when he turned 40. Having a strong and understanding partner goes along way on the journey. A good bottle of wine never hurts either. 😉 And we are here if you need us!

  9. Anna Zaires says:

    Your hair is gorgeous, Cara—beautiful for a woman of any age!

  10. Lisa Medley says:

    Unless my hairs catches fire at some point (like blowing out my 100 bday candles in 50 years and two months), I will die an old woman with loooong hair. Good to put those crisis feelings to use but don’t let it make you crazy. It’s all good in the hood. Carpe diem, baby!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I love your attitude. You’re too busy living to have a crisis! I can’t wait until I see your face on the Smucker’s jar!

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