I haven’t had to wear a uniform in 16 years, so I’ve made a decision about what to wear approximately 5000 times since then (sick days, beach holidays and other “meh” occasions excluded). Let that sink in – if I chucked a dollar in a (ginormous) jar every time I opened my wardrobe, I’d have enough for a trip to Europe by now.
I’m told that practice makes you better at things, and I don’t lack for resources or inspiration, but I still suffer from those days where I stand in front of my wardrobe and hate everything I can see. That, of course, is not about having nothing to wear but about having nothing to wear that lines up with how I feel that day. I’m a complex lady, who occasionally doesn’t get enough sleep and feels a bit fractious when it comes time to pick out a skirt.
I know I’m not alone in this deadlock situation, so I’m sharing my three fool proof tricks to break through your next deadlock.
Trick 1: Have a loyal retainer
This is the easiest thing you can do. Have one dress (or jumpsuit, heyyyyyy) and wear it every time you are in deadlock. Wear the same shoes, the same jewellery, the same makeup – everything. It is your Deadlock Uniform now, and it covers your socially inappropriate nakedness.
I wear this dress from Coop when I’m in deadlock – it requires zero thought but I know it’s a winner because I always get a compliment when I wear it. It doesn’t always quite work for how I’m feeling, but it gets me dressed and out of the house when I’m under pressure.
You need to choose the deadlock uniform when you wear it in a non-deadlock scenario. So, I wore this outfit once, enjoyed it, felt it looked good, and then trusted that would not have magically changed by the next time I wore it.
Trick 2: Just make one decision
The slightly more difficult approach. This requires you to choose one item, and then stubbornly refuse to deviate from it. Stick to your guns like you’re having a debate with your partner about whose turn it is to take out the rubbish. You are committed to that top now. It’s leaving the house with you come hell or high water.
Why does this work? Deadlock is about being in a decision loop, where you’re prevaricating and unable to lock into a plan. Just choosing one item removes a number of options immediately, which lets your poor old brain narrow into solving a problem (what to wear with a particular item) instead of running around waving its little hands in the air while all of the things in your wardrobe taunt it.
Now that you’ve forced yourself into the corner of that particular item (like a top covered in bees!) all you have to do is find something to cover you up. Since you’re probably running late, I suggest choosing a statement item as the thing you’re forced to wear, so that you can just chuck a basic pair of pants or a skirt on and sashay into the world.
Trick 3: Plan in advance
If this blog has done anything, it has revealed to me that I spend an unusual amount of time thinking about clothes. This is the bona fide “I’m a lunatic who loves dressing up” trick to avoiding deadlock.
I keep a spreadsheet in Google Drive called “Wardrobe”, and in it I write down future outfit ideas. I intentionally kept it in my Google Drive because that means I can access it pretty much anywhere, and write down ideas as they come to me. This list is only things I already own, and I add to it either when I’m bored somewhere (for example, in gate lounges for flights, waiting for friends running late) or, more often, when I have a dressing up sesh on a weekend or evening where I tear through my wardrobe trying on random concoctions.
This means that when I come to a deadlock day, I already have a list of things I know will work, or which I can at least experiment with, so I’m not always forced to wear my Deadlock Uniform. Trying on sessions also ensure that I’m getting the most out of my wardrobe, by giving me time to play around when I’m not under time pressure.
Coming back to the idea of how often we open our wardrobes over our lifetimes – even if you’re an amazing minimalist, or you’ve locked your style down to a preferred look and a capsule wardrobe, you still have to open that cupboard every day. That’s a great opportunity to create a new habit, linked to a particular action. Since we’re launching into a new season, I’m going to take this chance to think up one thing I’d like to do every day (maybe remembering to take my fish oil capsules?) and do it every day when I get dressed. It’s not a trip to Europe, but once the habit’s built, it’s one less thing for my brain to try to remember while I’m making key style decisions!