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February 5, 2012 / ilegirl


In preparation for a professional meeting, I read an interesting book, Managing Transitions, by William Bridges.  It discusses and explores the human side of change in the workplace, and provides some practical guidance to those who need to introduce, shepherd, and champion change within a decent, compassionate framework.

As I began digesting the material, I was struck by a couple of thoughts.  First, that I had not managed to transition myself after a significant change at work, and needed to spend some time to think about it and find the right way to move forward.  Second, that the advice for managing transitions in a workplace can apply equally well to one’s wardrobe.

For the first, the situation is that I had a boss who was quite the autocrat, and I worked for him for nearly 13 years.  I was not particularly happy to work for him, but as I have a soft spot for difficult people I saw much good where others saw … well, let’s just say not so much good.  And the company is interestin: profitable, stable and growing.  My colleagues were interesting and smart, and a couple of them even quite fun.

A falling out with Boss, though, made my job quite unpleasant, just about the time the economy began to falter.  I’m not interested in sharing the details, but it was a bleak time for me.

Enter new boss.  New Boss is progressive, treats me as a trusted advisor, and provides me and my colleagues with a good deal of room – which feels a whole lot like autonomy.  I get to do things that matter for myself and staff, such as expanding our development repertoire, taking on more interesting projects, learning Agile, understanding how to manage a budget.  All of these things are valuable skills, and all allow me to indulge in what I like most about working:  learning something interesting and new.

New Boss is pretty darn good.  So why was I still so unhappy?

I had undergone a change, but had not transitioned.  My situation had improved, but my thinking had not adjusted.  My habits around work, and thus my feelings toward it, had not altered.  I was still tangled in the old ways, even though I was eager for something new.

Just understanding this has made a tremendous difference.

Marni silk blouse

I am extending this now to other parts of my life – including (of course!) my wardrobe.  My closet is not happy, as it’s filled with lots of stuff but very few pieces that I love.  It is ready for a change, but I also need to transition myself.  I see myself in a particular way, but I want to see myself in a different way; today, I’m a middle-aged woman dressing like a college girl and feeling just about as pulled together, while tomorrow I want to be the woman of my own age dressing her body as if she respects it.

Fidji B611 Criss Cross



Leave a Comment
  1. Shelley / Feb 5 2012 2:24 am

    I worked for a bully when I first came to the UK and it really was tough. Fortunately I escaped and had better bosses later on, though it’s not really within the British culture to confront people who do badly and so their management skills are fairly lacking in my opinion. I just had to manage myself, which was OK, but I did miss the support and leadership I was used to in the States. However, that is the past and now I am retired so my attention is squarely on my personal life, which also involves transitions (Bill has been retired for exactly one year now, and we’re still working out how to share the space in this house 24/7!). I think I dress too old rather than too young and I’d like to buy some ‘statement’ pieces. Like you, my aim is to look like I have self-respect, but also that I don’t take myself *too* seriously! Those shoes are attractive, though they wouldn’t suit me; that blouse is amazing!

  2. ilegirl / Feb 5 2012 8:49 am


    I do love the blouse! It’s a bit outside of my budget, unfortunately. Perhaps it will go on sale at the end of the season and I can snap it up for a deal.

    Was it difficult for you to adjust from dressing for work to dressing for your retirement lifestyle?

    I think I frequently dress too old as well. Too formal, too structured, not enough accessories or other details to reflect my energy.

  3. respect the shoes / Feb 6 2012 5:23 pm

    The blouse is indeed amazing. As I get older, I am trying to veer my style to something more classic and away from trend-centric pieces (meaning you, Forever 21, is not someplace I should be shopping at much because I am long since a teeny bopper).

  4. ilegirl / Feb 6 2012 10:24 pm

    It’s a dilemma to find age-appropriate style. Trends are so fun at first – it’s seductive to grab a piece that looks sweet in the dressing room – I’m ever so guilty of this!

    I tend to dress too young in casual wear, too old in work wear – with the occasional faux pas where a ‘work dress’ ends up making me feel kind of self-conscious for being too short. Classics are fab, and especially fresh when mixed with great accessories.

  5. Shelley / Feb 9 2012 6:50 am

    I think I made several mistakes when I left work. One was that I didn’t let go of my work clothes for ages. While it was good to see if I could make some of the suit pieces work as separates, I think I should have sold or given away more than I did and sooner. I now vary between wearing jeans and not wearing jeans (if that makes any sense). In winter time I love longer skirts and boots with long sleeved t-s and cardigans. Or, I’ll just throw on jeans and my old-lady walking shoes. My lifestyle doesn’t require me to reflect any particular authority or stylishness except for the odd occasion when I feel I want a sharper look.

    The other thing is that I bought a lot of clothes at thrift stores and continued in my ‘more is better’ way of thinking. I would have been better off deciding that I would buy less, but pay more per piece. After years of being a tightwad this is still a concept with which I struggle, though I do now regularly shed clothing I’m not happy with and make lists of items that would help my wardrobe. They tend to be very basic things like long sleeved t-shirts or boots (or having boots resoled). I bought very little last year and almost all was new or from consignment shops instead of thrifts.

    The third thing I am still working on is developing my sewing skills. I think I would be the very happiest if I could design and make my own clothes. Whether I will ever achieve that remains to be seen. And – at the end of the day – clothing is only one portion of one’s life and I’m coming to realise that as long as I’m clean and appropriate I can be relatively content whatever I’m wearing.

  6. ilegirl / Feb 9 2012 10:05 pm

    All interesting insights, Shelley. It’s liberating to understand the mistakes of the past then build toward a future vision. It’s funny, I have the need for some basics too – and precisely long-sleeve t-shirts.

    I’ve used thrift purchases as ‘test runs’ of a sort – trying out a new shape or color, for example. And I have really good luck in having located some interesting pieces at thrift shops; there’s a local one, for example, where I am certain I could find a well-made basic business suit if I so desired.

    But wow – that’s so cool that you’re interested in designing and sewing your own clothes! I think you should do it. Especially as you’ve mentioned a couple of times that your small frame makes it difficult to find something in ready-to-wear that fits properly.

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