According to Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle site Goop, “figuring out a few fail-proof outfit formulas takes the what-to-wear stress out of the equation.” The article goes on to show four different outfit combination solutions to your everyday wardrobe woes using lip balm and T-shirts that cost more than a thoroughbred horse—you can read it here.
Now, I know Gwyneth and I don’t travel in the same circles. Maybe you’re wondering if you’re in her sphere or mine. If you can justify spending $525 for a poncho that’s knitted from $12 worth of thread, you’re probably one of her target readers. If you can barely justify spending $525 for a new alternator, tow truck, and labor fees, then you’re one of mine.
Maybe those of you who are fashion-savvy do care about how you look and what Goop has to offer. I do not. My philosophy is that if you have to “master” a simple look, you’re trying too hard. Also, every one of these wardrobe “formulas” costs more than my mortgage payment.
For me, “mastering” is a fancy way of saying “ended up with.” So, out of curiosity, I decided to take a look in my closet to see what looks I’ve “mastered” over the years and found the following:
Goop says that a $150 cashmere scarf, cozy knits, and a carryall tote are the three essentials that make air travel less hectic. You know what makes airport travel less hectic? Not carrying a pocket knife. Also, I’m willing to bet that the guy in 14B doesn’t give two rips about your scarf unless there is an engine on fire, and your scarf is the only item on board that can save all 120 passengers. That would be the only way I could ever justify to my husband why I spent that much money on an item that isn’t even considered a piece of clothing in 48 states and 12 countries.
1. Flannel shirt with three missing buttons and a puréed pumpkin stain
Kohl’s, $12.99 after Kohls Cash
Puréed pumpkin, $1 at Walmart
2. Messenger bag with pockets for diapers, toys, sippy cups, and anything else no one wants to carry, which is everything they brought
Secondhand store, $5
3. Cheap sunglasses, because I keep sitting on mine, forgetting I left them on my seat because I’m too busy yelling, “Hurry up! Your job is to hurry up!”
4. V-neck T-shirt (also comes in white and pretty much any color that exists)
Note: This can be a double V-neck if you have a toddler who likes to swing off your shirt collars.
5. Jeans from eight years ago that were once two sizes too big and now I need a rubber band to close them comfortably
Maurices, $15 after using a $25 gift card and a 25% off sale discount
Old Navy, $1.50
7. Burt’s Bees lip balm
Found it in the messenger bag, Free
Workout clothes have never been about fashion for me because I wear them as actual clothes. On the off-chance I am actually working out, I usually don’t care what I’m wearing because I don’t have a lot of time. Also, my cardio freak always flies with neons when Target has them on sale for buy one, get one half-off. To be honest, I would hardly consider neons being anyone’s freak flag—unless it’s a neon thong they’re wearing to do squats.
1. iPhone headphones
Apple, $200, because they come with the phone, though I’m sure it costs only pennies and pocket lint to manufacture in China
2. My husband’s large T-shirt
Walmart, $2.99 (seriously!)
3. Deodorant. This is more of a social etiquette thing, really.
Target, $3.29 buy one, get one free
4. Fitbit to fool myself into thinking I’m a workout guru
Cabela’s, Free with Visa card points
5. Cardio freak flag neon sports bra
Target, $9.99 buy one, get one half-off
6. Stretched-out yoga pants.
Ross, $12.99, six years and three pregnancies ago
7. Nike running sneakers
$59.99 10 years ago. Don’t adjust your screen; they’re really that dingy and gross.
Cocktail separates do go a long way, meaning they go from 7 a.m. all the way until the following morning at 7 a.m. Who cares about color when you have fluff, chocolates, and wine, which will be all you need to add a natural blush to your cheeks. Seriously, do people still do this?
1. Comfy jammies
Target, Mother’s Day gift
2. Fuzzy socks.
Cabela’s, Free gift from my sister-in-law after my third baby
3. Mud mask to wear and scare my family with
In my mailbox, Free sample
4. A book. They go with any outfit.
5. Leftover Valentine’s chocolates Grandma sent
Russell Stover, Free
6. Favorite wine
Liquor store up the street, $8 a bottle
7. The fluffiest robe in the world
The Internet, $39.99 after applying a 65% coupon code
I own no polished separates—nothing in my home has been polished since the birth of my second child. Also, I haven’t been in a meeting in over seven years. I have no clue what a satchel is, and the only part of this combo that has stood the test of time is my lack of fashion sense.
1. Crayola Pip-Squeaks toy poodle black washable marker—also known as, my emergency eyeliner
Target, $3.29 for a pack of 16 assorted colors
2. Chewed-off lipstick (it’s a crappy color anyway)
3. Maternity top, because nothing else fits
Kohl’s, $14.99, five years ago
4. A purse that doesn’t match anything, that’s also never been used before because it doesn’t match anything
5. One sapphire earring
JCPenny, $14.99 for the pair, but since I lost one, I guess about $7.50
6. Dress slacks that are so old I don’t remember buying or wearing them
Probably Target, I don’t remember how much; it’s been way too long since I was last in a business meeting that didn’t start with, “Who peed by the toy box?”
7. Black shoes that are not Chuck Taylors
Maybe Kohl’s during a sale, probably. I would guess around $40.00 for both pairs of shoes—they had matches when I bought them, but that was two toddler girls ago.
So, there you have it. I’ve “mastered” my simple look for a lot less than anyone shopping on Goop or through Goop—however it works. If you have $525 extra dollars lying around, and no starving kids to feed or anything, you could buy a knitted poncho. It’s not even a whole sweater, but it looks cool. You could probably find a friend who has a friend who knows a small business knitter who would charge you $50 for the exact same one. Then you could buy three cashmere scarves and have extras to take on your flights with you (just in case). Or you could buy me some better clothes and a new alternator.