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She Who Struggles

I’ve partnered with friend, client and fellow business owner, Karen Collins, on a new series, appropriately titled ‘she who struggles’.  All of us, regardless of how successful, creative or competent at life we may appear, still struggle in one way or another. I struggle with many things, including seemingly simple stuff like staying on task, figuring out how to successfully feed my family, and getting my dogs to behave.

Karen on the other hand, is a creative genius, an accomplished pastry chef and owner of the much beloved wholesale bakery Bisousweet Confections.  She  however,  struggles with getting dressed.  A lot.   This past Sunday I received an S.O.S call from her as she was getting dressed for a party in NYC.  What follows is a guest post by Karen recounting this classic episode of ‘she who struggles’. Stay tuned for more installments,  and feel free to share how you may have your own inner she who struggles.

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My name is Karen Collins, and I struggle figuring out what to wear. I’ve known this about myself since elementary school, and frankly, I’ve grown used to this weakness. One way or another, I’ve always managed to figure out some sort of outfit.  In a nutshell, I’ve never been a fashion-forward kind of girl, and I’m totally fine with that.

As an adult, I continue to struggle with getting dressed, shopping, and apparently, packing for trips. I have a warped body image and avoid looking in mirrors as much as possible. I am lucky, because I don’t have to worry about looking nice at work. I own Bisousweet Confections, a wholesale bakery & am a pastry chef, so getting dressed for work is easy…clogs, down vest (much to Beth’s dismay, but I’m always cold and it works for me), clothes that can get dirty. It’s outside the bakery where I run into trouble.

I have been working with Beth Roy from B.Styled for five or six years, and she has saved me more times than I can count. I’ve done her Closet Cleanse and am in the process of buying the items on her  B.Styled 30 Essentials. list.. It is helping me create a functional wardrobe, and my goal is to get up the guts to actually wear some of the items.  It’s a work in progress, and Beth is helping to guide me, ever so patiently;)

A month ago, my husband and I went to NYC to celebrate our 10th anniversary. I worked with Beth to figure out what to pack for the weekend.    I felt great in the outfits, had no issues getting dressed, and was filled with gratitude that I didn’t have to make my husband wait an hour for me to figure out what to put on my body.  He sent this to Beth that day:

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Last weekend, my husband and I went back to NYC  for one night  to celebrate my father-in-law’s birthday.   This time I put almost no effort into planning what to bring, I didn’t call Beth ahead of time, I didn’t plan….and it did not turn out well.

I packed a cute sweater dress, tights and black booties for Saturday. My guess is that the only suggestion Beth would have made to me is that I could have added a ‘statement necklace’ (that’s my goal for 2017…one thing at a time). For the party on Sunday, I brought pixie black pant/legging things from J Crew that Beth recommended, an oversize gray cowl neck sweater, a white collared shirt and same black booties.  All good.

Except…it wasn’t.

Why? Because I brought ‘winter clothes’ because, after all, it’s winter.  Unfortunately, Grammy keeps the apartment  temp at 85 degrees. My husband summed it up beautifully: “they could grow tomatoes in there”.

I had great clothes, I just didn’t have the ‘right’ clothes. And, I had no plan B.

Late Sunday morning, I texted Beth from the streets of NYC, in a state of slight desperation.   Here is a (only slightly edited) recap of our text conversation:

she who struggles: What would Beth do? Packed what I thought were appropriate party clothes (sweater/jeans/boots). Unfortunately, Grammy keeps the apartment at 85 degrees and I will melt if I wear that. Should have brought tank top and shorts.

Beth: The day you melt is the day hell freezes over. What time is the party?

she who struggles: Hell hath frozen. And turned into sweat. Party is in one hour. Out shopping a sales rack for the first time ever.

Beth: You need your dark wash jeans, boots and a great blouse. And a funky necklace. Steal one from Grammy.  And sales racks are the best!  Send me a pic before you buy anything.

she who struggles: I have no clue where I am. I am supposed to be buying ice cream.

Beth: Is it even a clothing store?

she who struggles: I’m so confused. I don’t know what kind of store this is. I asked the lady where the new arrival non-sale racks are. Turns out it’s a consignment shop. Never been in one of these. Found a DVF white wrap blouse for 50 bucks?

*Note: Had she who struggles slowed down one tiny bit, she might have taken note of the name of the store, which in turn, may have clued her into where she was shopping. What was the store, you ask? 2nd Time Around. Sigh. Great place, by the way, locations all over the country too.  Who knew?

Beth: A consignment shop on Lexington Ave. must be good. Buy the shirt,. You done good. Wear a cool necklace with it.

I bought the shirt, grabbed some ice cream and ran back to the apartment. 40 minutes until the party started. I showered, did my hair, and started to get dressed.

That’s when the second part of the nightmare started.

The shirt just happened to be a bit sheer, and the only bra I brought with me was, of course, lace. I didn’t have a wrap with me that would have helped cover up the fact that you could see my bra. And, just like that, I was back again in the land of wearing a cashmere sweater  and a white collared shirt in an 85 degree apartment. Following orders, I texted Beth a picture:

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AKA The Flying Nun Look

Beth: Can I see it without the sweater? And you are freaking adorable.

she who struggles: No, you can’t because I only packed the skinny shirt and the new shirt is too see through and I only packed a lace bra so can’t wear it.

*Note: a “skinny shirt” is a faux button down shirt Beth told me about, and it’s totally genius, unless you need to shed your top layer because you’re sweating to death.

Beth: Then let me see it without the collar. The collar sticking out of the turtleneck reminds me of the flying nun. Sorry.

What about this???
What about this???

Beth: Yes! That’s it! Love it! Now go steal a long necklace from Grammy.  Preferably on a substantial chain.  You’re good to go. Don’t stress about the necklace if you can’t find one, but remember it for next time. Unless Grammy has one, in which case steal it.

my final answer is…this.
my final answer is…this.

Beth: Home Run! Perfection! Where’s that necklace been all my life??

she who struggles: In my drawer. Gift from Eddie. Don’t feel comfortable wearing it.

Beth: You look gorgeous. Now go have fun. I love you, grasshopper.

Beth: Will you keep the necklace on just for me?

she who struggles: Yes, I will keep the necklace on but I am SWEATING SO MUCH I might have to take off the rest of my clothes.

The story ended well enough. Like always, I managed to get dressed. I went to the party and stood by an open window when possible. I was drenched the entire party, but no one saw a thing.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. Never ever travel with just one bra.
  2. Always pack back-up options and accessories so that you have options
  3. Try on your outfit before you leave the house to avoid the last minute messing around.
  4. Travel with jewelry. Especially cool necklaces.
  5. Travel with baby powder. And tissues.
  6. Travel with sweatbands.
  7. Travel with one pair of flats.
  8. Plan outfits around layers.
  9. If you think you might be in a consignment store, don’t be a jerk and ask where ‘the new stuff’ is.
  10. Never try to shop before noon on a Sunday. You won’t be able to get much done.
  11. Find out Beth Roy’s cell phone number and text her for help during any dressing emergency.

May your next special occasion preparation look nothing like this.

Onward.

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Thank you Karen (aka she who struggles) for sharing this experience with us all;) I love helping fabulous women who struggle with getting dressed,  so drop me a note anytime and we’ll figure it out together.

Now go #justgetdressed;)

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