Outfits Slow Fashion STYLE // Fall

Passing Up Perfectionism (for Something Better)

September 19, 2017

Hackwith Design House Sweater Jacket Hackwith Design House Sweater Jacket

Sweater Jacket (S), c/o Hackwith Design House | Everyday Top in Noon, Miranda Bennet (sold out, similar in Silk Noil)| Modern Boyfriend Jeans, c/o Everlane | V-10 Sneakers, Veja | Sunglasses, c/o Zappos

Last week was one of those weeks where I spent way too much of my energy fretting about a particular item being the perfect choice. Should I have sized up? Will they be warm enough? Are they too casual?ย Sometimes with the changing of seasons – particularly fall – I am consumed with having the ‘right’ wardrobe to see me through. I spend far too much time considering what is the perfect essential, jacket, shoe, pant, you-name-it. Being an Oregonian, my clothing choices are often dictated by the weather so I tend to over think them, asking myself, can I wear it in the rain? Can it fit under a jacket? Is it perfect for every scenario on the planet?

But what if I relaxed a little bit and stopped trying so hard? What if I put on a big cozy sweater and called it a day? Could I really let go of all the things I’m trying so desperately to control?

From my observations the best personal style is not something that is tightly channeled or perfectly executed. It flows, rolls, moves, exudes from its owner. It seems to come from a letting go rather than a holding on. Those folks seem to be born with it. But what about the rest of us? If we stop trying to be so perfect, maybe we can have it too.

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This sweater jacket from Hackwith Design House’s FW17 line is completely the opposite of my tightly-controlled personality. It is unstructured, oversized, even a bit unpredictable. The 100% cotton slub mesh fabric is made in the USA, and carries two of my favorite traits: texture and cream. So far I’ve styled it over fitted jeans, next up I’ll be trying wide leg pants and then a jumpsuit. It’s the ultimate relaxed and cozy sweater. If I were a leggings person, it’d probably look good with those too.

—-

Let’s talk about personal style. Does yours tumble out of you or take great effort to shape? Do you struggle with perfectionism like me? Is perfectionism the antithesis of personal style because it’s too contrived?


Photography credit: Kiara Rose Photography

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  • Dara September 19, 2017 at 6:30 am

    I love this sweater on you! I struggle with perfectionism as well, which is ironic when I think about it because I do want my style to feel effortless. But I’m all for striving to let go of the idea of “perfect.”

    • Andrea September 19, 2017 at 11:38 pm

      Hey Dara! Your comment remind’s me of something I read over on Grechen’s Closet a week ago about how nothing is truly effortless. It may look effortless, but at some point the hard work was put down to get there. Even if getting dressed is ‘effortless’ we still put in all this behind the scenes effort of selecting the right items, etc. So can we still feel effortless? Maybe. Letting go of the idea of perfect seems like a step in the right direction!

  • Lindsey September 19, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Hi Andrea, this post really resonates with me. I spend a lot of energy worrying whether things fit perfectly. Case in point: I’m wearing Everlane wide legs today and the zipper pulls across the hips and I worry a dozen times a day when I’m wearing these if I should have sized up – but then the waist would be too big, and since the material is so thick, would the darts dig in my back???!! I hate that I spend any of my brain capacity worrying about this, but I do! What is the solution? Elastic waists and drop sleeves forever? How do we undo the rampant self-criticism and critiques that are ingrained in so many of us? How do we let go the pursuit of the perfect item? Anyway, lots of redundant questions I should probably ask a therapist about, not my local blogger :) Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    • Jodie September 19, 2017 at 9:31 am

      ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ

    • Andrea September 19, 2017 at 11:42 pm

      YES Lindsey, you GET ME. That’s exactly the kind of stuff I get hung up over. It feels like a waste of energy. I wish I could just solve it, or resolve to have it unsolved, and move on! I fear sometimes this obsession is brought on stronger when buying new things. The older, tried and true items in my closet are rarely fretted over. Maybe the ‘perfection obsession’ can exist for a break-in period only, and then we must be done with it.

  • Rachel September 19, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Nothing is perfect, nothing is really timeless or classic, no wardrobe is ever complete. I’ve come to the realisation that chasing a capsule has caused me to spend more money and more brain space than just buying stuff I liked and wearing it!! Ironic really. I’m over the stress and worry and guilt created by arbitrary and self imposed expectations and limits. Today I wore a green glittery sweater, vintage wool blazer and skinny jeans. It felt great. I will continue to shop second hand as I believe this is the most ‘ethical’ choice and learn when to know I have ‘enough’ (not buying at all being the most minimal/ conscious choice)

    • Andrea September 19, 2017 at 11:45 pm

      SO good Rachel.
      I’ve spent a lot of time thinking on clothes, some of it in excess, but I feel like I’ve learned a great deal about my personal style. But, it is so easy for the capsule-concept to push me into buying more, I’ve definitely felt that before!

      Also, I think ‘feeling great’ is one of the best ways to dress.

  • Jaana Nugent September 19, 2017 at 9:24 am

    Uh YES! If you peek at my blog, I had a perfectionism meltdown on Sunday. Hahaha. Definitely going through some of this myself.

    • Andrea September 19, 2017 at 11:46 pm

      Should we start a perfectionist rehab club?

  • Krystal September 19, 2017 at 9:25 am

    I definitely struggle with this sometimes, but it often goes in the other (awful) direction – “why is my body not perfect enough for this garment?”

    I’ve had to let go of the thought of wearing certain garments, as they simply don’t flatter my body, and I feel really self-conscious in them (basically anything “drop” like drop-waist, drop-shoulder, etc. or too baggy). While of course I know I should wear whatever I want and not let others decide if something is flattering, I don’t want to build a wardrobe I’m uncomfortable in.

    • Andrea September 19, 2017 at 11:52 pm

      Hi Krystal, I’ve come to some of the same conclusions for myself, certain shoes don’t look good on my (big) feet, and oversized kimonos and coats are just a no-go. I think it’s freeing to come to these realizations.
      I hope the next time that (awful) thought pops up, you punch it in the face and let it die. The clothes should work for you, not you working for the clothes. ;)

  • Katy September 19, 2017 at 10:37 am

    It was so familiar reading this post- I have the exact same thoughts about what I add to my closet because of Oregon weather. As for style perfectionism, I know I will never get there! So I try to consider how hard and how well an item will fit my needs, how much use I will get out of it, and how long it can stay in my closet (including fabric, quality, and timeless style). Then I keep track of how often I wear it with my stylebook app, and I sell whatever doesn’t get enough wear after a year or two. In other words, it’s a constant evolution. ๐Ÿ˜

    • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 12:17 am

      Hi Katy, glad I’m not the only one. Those are excellent considerations, especially the last one! And you’re totally right, personal style is a constant evolution, and just reading those words makes me feel a little bit more relaxed.

      I haven’t tried the Stylebook app, might have to look into that.

  • Reed Floarea September 19, 2017 at 11:00 am

    This!!! I wish I was commenting on my phone so I could add the “praise” emoji. Growing up as a self-determined “tom boy” I was oddly against figuring out my personal style, but as I got older, I started floundering because it turns out I actually care that the clothes I wear are an extension and expression of myself and the perfectionist in me started focusing on clothes. It wasn’t until I found the slow fashion movement that I started identifying my personal style. I think that’s because there was finally intention. I no longer panicked when seasons came and went because I wasn’t racing to find the “perfect” item (that I usually couldn’t even identify). Instead, I was slowing down, considering what I feel good in, what I lean toward, and what (and who) I want to support. Now I LOVE every item in my closet and the perfectionism is dwindling.

    Side note: when I read the name of this post I immediately thought of one of my favorite quotes from Steinbeck, “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” :)

    • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 10:43 am

      That is such a great quote! It is just so true. I am with you, I love the intention behind the slow fashion movement, that’s part of why I’m so drawn to it.
      I’m encouraged to hear you say that the perfectionism is dwindling! It’s a great reminder to continue to slow down and be ultra intentional (without over thinking it ;)).

  • Savannah September 19, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    I definitely relate to the idea of struggling with perfectionism. Whether it’s an item for my home, a piece for my wardrobe or even the next book I want to see or movie I want to see, I can get too caught up in trying to make sure that I make the ‘perfect’ right decision. Perhaps I’m too afraid of wasting my time, but I think I’d learn more if I just loosen up a bit and not be so afraid of mistakes.

    Loving the outfit and I can’t wait to see the sweater with wider pants and the jumpsuit!

    • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 10:45 am

      Agreed Savannah, I get lost in decision fatigue sometimes! Maybe we just have to realize the risk (of loosening up) just means that some days we might see a mediocre movie, but some days we might happen into an amazing movie as well (insert appropriate metaphor as you see fit). There are pros and cons for sure. I think most day the pros outweigh the cons, don’t you?
      And thank you! I adore the sweater!

  • Kaleen Ezelle September 19, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    I definitely struggle with perfectionism and overthinking my style. I think I used to be more authentic to myself pre insta and Pinterest. I worry that my “inspiration” just winds up convincing me to be somebody else’s style. I kind of wonder if I put my fashion blinders up what I would be drawn to.

    • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 10:47 am

      Yes, me too Kaleen! It’s seems like it could be an experiment worth having. I am not a big pinterest person but I do spend a lot of time on insta and other blogs, which influence me a lot. However, even in my day to day life there are people, and street style that constantly inspire me. I wonder if the key is not to obsess on any particular ONE of those, but to lightly admire them all and then move on?

  • ThatGirl September 19, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Oh you are preaching to me!! I try so hard sometimes and what I really need to do is let go. I’m working on it. Also, that fig tree is gorgeous!

    • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 10:48 am

      I’m so glad you can relate. And these comments are so encouraging, it really is possible to let go, and there are so many benefits!

  • Laura September 19, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    This is most definitely me! A few years ago I learned that most people are either optimizers (perfectionists searching for the absolute right item) or satisificers (stop looking when they find something good enough), in all areas of life, but for me particularly when it comes to shopping. For some reason, it helped me to recognize that it was a real thing (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-choice/201506/satisficing-vs-maximizing is a good article talking about it), and that I am able to talk myself down from it a bit, like you did! Probably not big news, but optimizers tend to experience lower levels of happiness, regret, and self-esteem.

    • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 10:52 am

      Oh man, that is me to tee! I am a maximizer for sure. I am always plagued by buyers remorse, fomo, etc. The end of that article is helpful though:

      “The take home lesson is that to make โ€œbestโ€ choices, listen to your gut feelings, donโ€™t worry about getting the very best all the time, and evaluate each outcome on its own merits rather than against others.”

      YES!

      • Maria September 20, 2017 at 1:21 pm

        I’m definitely a maximizer too. I generally struggle with perfectionism, but shoe shopping really brings out in me. Shoes are the hardest thing for me to shop for, because I have big, wide feet that hardly feel comfortable in any shoes. Naturally, most of my buying “mistakes” are shoes that don’t fit right. So it makes me extra anxious and second guess myself all the time. I’m the crazy lady, who buys shoes and returns them the next day. Glad I’m not alone in this.

        Overall, I find the anti-perfectionist mantras that Gretchen Rubin compiled quite helpful: https://gretchenrubin.com/podcast-episode/podcast-126-rate-and-review-a-podcast. “There are many right choices” puts me at ease the most.

        • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 9:47 pm

          Thanks for sharing this Maria, I am going to try to listen to it tomorrow. Judging from the comments on the podcast, I need to hear her mantras.

          And girl, I feel ya so hard on the shoes/feet situation. I have the same problem with more shoes than I care to admit. And then when I do find comfortable shoes they don’t work in the rain. Oye.

          • Maria September 21, 2017 at 4:19 am

            Just for anyone, who is wondering about the mantras (a little hidden on the Happier podcast’s notes page):
            “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
            “Sometimes there are many right choices.”
            “Don’t get it perfect, get it going.”
            “There’s no wrong answer here.”
            “Don’t spend your time rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”
            “Enjoy the fun of failure.”

            And Andrea, yes! Finding shoes that work in the rain is the hardest. I recently found out that my local shoe repair person can make shoes wider (probably everyone knows that, except me). This service makes such a difference in terms of foot comfort.

    • Addie September 20, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      Great post Andrea! Thanks for sharing this article Laura. I was definitely raised by a maximizer which caused me to be plagued by self-doubts for my first 21 years. I eventually (over the next 20 years) learned that I am naturally the other type who is so much happier by following my own instinct and joy. A lot of the issue for me was learning that excessive judgement is absolutely a choice, and an unnecessary one, that causes more damage than moves anything closer to a sense of “perfection”. As this relates to clothing: I was always a creative dresser but constantly worrying about what others would think. Now I can tune into what I truly love and feel good in, enjoy trends as temporary, and enjoy the process. I am working to refine my wardrobe and sustainability is important to me but I use those values to motivate me in a positive way, not overspending or indulging, when I know things change and even an expensive garment may not be usable for 10+ years. To me it’s a trap to use good intentions to support unhealthy decision making. Back to this post: what I first noticed in your photos Andrea is you and how happy and comfortable you look! Second I saw your outfit and the nicely complimentary colors and textures and how it looks like a great early-fall outfit. I will guess that is how most viewers will see you too. Your inside feeling is more immediately seen and responded to, and that’s a wonderful thing!

      • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 9:39 pm

        What wise insights Addie! I especially love this: To me itโ€™s a trap to use good intentions to support unhealthy decision making.

        And thank you for the kind words about my outfit and these photos. :) I’ve been really enjoying this sweater, wearing it right now actually, over my shoulders as I type!

  • Lo September 19, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    That jacket is beautiful and looks so cozy! As usual, you put together the prettiest color pairings.

    I’m of the same two minds when it comes to debating an item–sometimes I really am hard on it, and want to make sure it’s “perfect” (usually when it comes to staples) and sometimes I’m a little more adventurous and just want to try it out. For example, when I got my jean jacket, I really wanted to make sure it was exactly oversized enough for my tastes. But on the other side, my Clyde pants aren’t a perfect fit (and aren’t really even flattering) but because they’re such a statement, I love them anyway. There’s definitely a balance to find in discernment, and fashion is ultimately supposed to be fun!

    • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 10:53 am

      As always, wise words LO! Sometimes I have that carefree mind about an item, but not nearly as often as I should!

  • Shelbi September 19, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Yeah, I sometimes think that with having a capsule I spend a lot of time deciding on the perfect decision, because I don’t want to throw everything off with the wrong wardrobe choice. If we buy something, take the tags off, wash it, it’s not a part of my wardrobe. If I don’t like it, it was a waste of time, waste of money and is now a waste of space. That’s how I feel about things anyway. I want everything to be perfect because I don’t want to waste the energy of it not being perfect if you know what I mean…

    Shelbi

    • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 10:54 am

      Shelbi, you have to read the article that Laura posted above… you sound like a maximizer, just like me!

  • Alicia September 19, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    I definitely used to chase perfection, but I realized the perfect is the enemy of the good and that tailors can make a world of difference with clothes. Also, perfect doesn’t exist since we are always changing and evolving. So should our tastes and clothes.

    My style…well, as much as I’ve played with it over the years, I come back to the same sorts of things I’ve been wearing since I was in school. It’s matured and changed a bit (better fits, better shoes, higher standards), but I feel better about what I’m wearing and choosing if I’m naturally drawn to it. That said, there’s nothing wrong with refining a thing to make it your version of perfect (i.e. well-suited to your lifestyle and circumstances). That’s also a hallmark of style; knowing what you need and what you like and finding things that work within those parameters. If the work is done anywhere, it should be figuring out what those things are and letting everything else fall from there.

    Lovely photos, my dear!

    • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 10:58 am

      Perfect doesn’t exist. Boom. There it is. So true.
      I like what you keyed in on there: be rigorous about making the best wardrobe addition choices, but relaxed about bringing them into outfits. It’s worth it to be tough on what you allow in, but maybe I need to be more chill about styling (stop overthinking). That makes so much sense! Gosh, I feel like i need to go through these comments and create a flow chart in case I get too far down my road of perfectionism again. Good stuff.
      Thank you for noticing the photos! Working with a photographer has been WON-DER-FUL!

  • Izzy September 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

    This is me! Less about style but more about how I spend my time it’s “would I be better off doing this or this?” “but I could do this” and I waste all the time I could end up doing stuff just thinking about what I should be doing, it’s energy consuming and a waste of time! I need to work on it I think :’)

    The Quirky Queer

    • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 10:59 am

      Right?! It’s like the ultimate fomo, or decision paralysis. Happens to me with stuff other than clothes as well! But as a few folks pointed out in the comments, ‘perfect is the enemy of good.’ Great reminder, right?!?

  • Marloes September 20, 2017 at 11:32 am

    For sure this goes on in my head too. I spent all this effort in downsizing my wardrobe so I don’t want it to grow into a mess again. Besides the perfect fabric, color and design it also ideally is fair, sustainable and local made – impossible standard to hold up 100%! Style wise though I’ve let go that my outfits sometimes are just weird. On those days (usually laundry day) I’m just owning it and calling it fashion haha! Also I love the light in these photos and those crisp white sneakers! – X Marloes

    • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 9:50 pm

      I think owning your uniqueness, or the fact that an outfit might be weird is part of the definition of style. Marloes, you have great style, I’ve always admired it. You have an ease and a natural way about it, and it’s inspiring! And yes, you’re right, I did not downsize my closet for it only become out of control again.

      Thank you! I’m enjoying the white sneakers too. :)

  • Koyuki September 20, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    So much this! I agree! I think this sense of an achievable PERFECT is one of the biggest hidden problems of the capsule concept. Another related one is the fallacy of “my style” – I’m going to find a perfect selection of garments that are perfectly “my style” and I’ll love them forever. It’s a valuable thing to understand one’s own sensibility, and to hone one’s yes/no instinct…but I also know that we shouldn’t underestimate how much of what we think is “my style” is actually governed by what’s in fashion right now. So no matter how perfectly “my style” we manage to get our closet right now, a certain percentage of it will inevitably no longer feel like “my style” as time goes by and certain styles begin to feel stale or dated – and if that happens, it’s not a sign that previous closet choices were imperfect or bad or unwise…

    • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      Gosh, this is insightful Koyuki! I’ve definitely fallen into the ‘my style’ fantasy, but you make so many good points here. Also, I wish madly I wasn’t influenced by what’s in fashion right now, but I am for sure. Thanks for weighing in with this!

  • Kaci September 20, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    I just wrote about loosening the reigns and just buying what I like without overthinking or over planning, but I already fear the mess it may lead to. Being a conscious consumer can definitely be exhausting!

    • Andrea September 20, 2017 at 10:07 pm

      Yes, it can! It’s like we need to be careful not to swing too far in any direction! Moderation, right? Even in our perfectionism. :)

  • Charis September 21, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    Oh wow! So much goodness in this post and all the comments. It’s like everyone is speaking g the thoughts in my head. I was going to mention the mantra “don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good”. Thanks to Maria for including the rest of them. I immediately screen-shot it to write down later. Also, when I’m agonizing over something, my husband often reminds me it’s not going to be the last (insert whatever item it is I’m buying) so to not stress over it. Now that I’m shopping sustainably I find it adds a layer of complexity. For example, I want to replace my favourite sneakers because I’ve worn a hole in the toe. I’d like to just get the same kind, they’re by a major athletic wear company, but I’m not sure about how they’re manufactured. I have a hard time determining how much time I should spend researching, trying on multiple items, etc before settling on a decision. Anyway, thank you for your post! I also live in a crazy climate (Alberta) and we can sometimes have 4 seasons in one day! This makes getting dressed super challenging sometimes.

    • Andrea September 21, 2017 at 10:22 pm

      I love your husband’s advice, that is so good!

      Have you looked into Veja? That might be a great option!

  • Laura September 22, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    The comment thread on this post is amazing! Definitely a perfectionist over here as well… I think right now the biggest thing I struggle with regarding my wardrobe is never feeling like I’m “done.” I feel like there is always (at least) one more thing I ‘need’ or want and that results in making me feel incredibly guilty — like I should be over that by now. *Sigh* But you know I’m a HUGE fan of that sweater and have had the exact description of that sweater (the unicorn that it is) on a wishlist for quite sometime. Oh the texture, oh the color! Lol

  • Heather September 25, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Maybe I missed this in the comments, or maybe it’s meant to be necessarily encompassing in buyer’s remorse, but I feel like a huge source of the anxiety for me about getting it wrong is about the financial impact on my family. I spent A LOT of money over the last 18 months trying to build a capsule wardrobe consisting of ethically made clothing and shoes. I’d never really lost the weight after my twins, and I had to get new clothes anyway, and I thought if I was going to buy new clothes I might as well invest in well-made and ethically-made pieces. The challenge is when you buy that pair of clogs or that Elizabeth Suzann dress or those minimalist flats and then 6 months down the road realize you hardly ever wear them, but you spent hundreds of dollars welcoming them into your home. I wish I were the type of person who knew, before making an order, that an item would be right for me, but I accept that a lot of that unfolds after the fact. Probably some of my mishaps is that I still shop like I’m 30 years old (pre-kids) and have a big brunching and art-museum-visiting lifestyle, instead of my real life which is either the office or the playground. So I learn, for example, I love the apron dress I ordered but it’s too casual for work and impractical for sitting on the floor of the children’s section of the library. I’m OK with those kinds of reality checks. What I can’t accept is having purchased, for example, Everlane modern loafers and Nisolo loafers and then ultimately just donating them to ThredUp because what unfolded was that I didn’t love how I looked or felt in them. That’s $400 in unworn shoes. The anxiety about wasting my family’s money on something I won’t wear is much less when I’m getting a $10 shirt from Old Navy as opposed to a $180 shirt from Elizabeth Suzann… And the anxiety leads me to waste my most precious asset of time in dithering over whether or not to buy something, reading a zillion reviews, trying it on in my room and staring at myself in the mirror trying to predict the future. I’m not really sure what the answer to this is. Hopefully I’ll get better at it as I get older, or care less!

    • Andrea September 25, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      Yes, to all of this Heather. Though I get a lot of items through blog collaborations, I still make the $$$ investment in other items, and I tend obsess over whether I got it right, and I think a big part of that how deep I’m in financially. I quick note on that, if you ever decide to part with items from Everlane or Nisolo or the like, sell them on Instagram through @noihsaf.bazaar I have done that and recouped a significant amount of what I paid.

      Like you, I also have a very casual lifestyle, it’s almost more difficult to dress well for ‘mom-life’ than it is for ‘work-life.’ The beauty of dressing for mom life is that I get to totally dress for myself and not worry about what others think or being office-appropriate, so long as my shoes are playground-appropriate. :)