I desperately need to build a professional wardrobe. Since I began my working life, I’ve never worked anywhere with much of a dress code. I’ve always dressed myself in casual clothes; khaki pants, polo shirts, button downs, wool sweaters, never really t-shirts or jeans. I don’t take very good care of my clothes and don’t like to iron. I’m always frantically running late for work and waste time trying to pick through my closet of ancient, well worn clothes to find things that look presentable and fit decently. I quit smoking about five years ago and have yo-yo’d in weight and most of my clothes have been accumulated from occasional gifts, very rare purchased items, things bought for special occasions (job interviews, parties, weddings, conferences) and some are far to big and others too small. Many things are missing buttons or have frayed collars or obvious stains. In other words, I make myself look presentable, but it is an extremely time consuming process of sorting through what’s available.
On top of this general disaster,I’ve come to feel over the past year that I really need to pull together a more professional look for work. I’m in management now. I realize that there is a certain value in looking the part. I don’t need to be in a suit every day, but I need to sharpen up my wardrobe and step from casual to something a bit more formal, neat, and tidy.
As I evaluate my time management and where I’m struggling to gain control, I keep coming back to this wardrobe situation. I cannot emphasize enough how much time I waste. The time and motion study of my dressing time would make for a good french farce: Go to dresser, pull out pants. Put pants on, find button missing or large stain; reject and try second pair. These are better. Go to closet, find no shirt in appropriate color. Frantically search house for laundry basket of washed items, which turns up by living room sofa. Find suitable shirt, but it’s terribly wrinkled. Run back upstairs and switch on iron. Search for matching black socks. Find, pull on to find that the elastic is shot and they fall down. Furiously pull off defective socks. Run through house and locate basket in laundry with clean socks. Tear through basket to find matching pair. Run back upstairs and quickly iron shirt (all the while realizing I should have left the house 5 minutes prior). Put on shirt. Search for shoes. Cannot find shoes. Put on sneakers instead…. And so on.
What I’m thinking at this point is that spending some bucks now on a few pairs of quality wool dress pants, several good button down shirts, a few ties, a few sweaters and cardigans, socks, belts, shoes, etc. all in colors that work well together would serve me well. And then toss all my dumpy clothes. Send the pants and shirts to the cleaners, launder the other items on the weekend, and have work clothes basically all sorted and set together in one closet to only wear for work and more formal stuff. I think it would boil down to a less-as-more type of change. Would cost me more money, but save me a great deal of time.
I find that my ADD forces me to establish highly structured, yet very simple and easy to maintain systems for overcoming very basic obstacles. I mean, how many people who don’t really care about clothes spend 30 minutes getting dressed for work? I have found in other areas of my life that I can gain control, but I need to work hard to keep it simple and then push myself to make it a habit. I trained myself to maintain an immaculately cleared desk at work, just because if I let it go at all I lose all control. I trained myself to write every single reminder, phone call, to-do, appointment, idea, contact detail, etc. into my planner, because if I don’t I lose track of it. I organize my life around super-simple structures and setups to help me overcome the challenges I face.