Express in 1998 was amazing, but girl, those pants have probably seen better days.
It's happened to all of us at one time or another: A dark cloud settles over your closet and you suddenly hate every piece of clothing you own. Examining your reflection after getting dressed feels like looking in a fun house mirror that plays a disappointed "womp woommmp" sound effect at the sight of you. You feel awkward, un-fashionable, insecure, uninspired. Your affliction is obvious, and it's no joke: You've got a severe case of the frumps.
You'd think that feeling frumpy would be a fairly simple issue to deal with. Get a pedicure, buy a cute new dress, boom, done. But no. Frumpiness is more complex than that, and it requires action on a few different levels to cure. As someone who was stuck in a frumpy rut from age 12 to 25 (approximately), and who still falls into the frump trap on occasion, I've devised a 5-point plan for combating even the most severe cases of frumpiness.
Good luck, and godspeed.
Step 1: Identify and quarantine frumpy clothing items.
A key component of frumpiness is being stuck in a fashion rut. If you're feeling frumpy, chances are you're reaching for the same items of clothing again and again—and there's an even greater chance that those items of clothing are not fabulous, modern, and well-fitting. For whatever reason, you've gotten in the habit of wearing the same stretched-out sweater, or stained leggings, or pilled work trousers you got at Express in 1998. And yeah, Express in 1998 was amazing, but girl, those pants have probably seen better days.
Figure out your go-to frumpy clothes, box them up, and put them on a high shelf. You don't have to donate them or burn them in a ceremonial fire right now; you also don't necessarily have to run out and buy a bunch of new clothes. Just take those frumpy sartorial clutches out of rotation and force yourself to branch out into the rest of your closet and get creative. Assemble some new outfits, try new combinations, and pay attention to how certain garments/styles/shapes/colors make you feel. It won't be an instant frump cure, but cutting the cord on your codependent relationship with your baggy T-shirt collection is a great place to start.
Step 2: Get inspired.
Who are the people you look up to, style-wise? Who are the people you consider vibrant, fashionable, and confident—in other words, the opposite of frumpy? These people could be celebrities, friends, styles bloggers, coworkers, cartoon characters, it doesn't matter. Take a moment to reflect on what it is about their aesthetic that draws you in and inspires you. What aspects of their style could you channel in your own look? Again, you don't need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe today, but start opening your mind to new style options. Banish the idea that you can't "pull off" certain styles. If you're feeling frumpy every time you get dressed, your current look obviously isn't inspiring you. Figure out what does, and slowly start incorporating it into your look in ways that make sense for your lifestyle and budget.
Step 3: Buy some ridiculous lingerie.
Buying a whole new wardrobe isn't necessary to combat a case of the frumps, but I happen to believe that one purchase is non-negotiable on the road to recovery: some ridiculously over-the-top lingerie. I'm talking ruffles, lace, garter belts, polka dots, mesh, gratuitous straps, bows—preferably all in one garment. It doesn't matter if you have a partner or you're flying solo. It doesn't matter if you're at your ideal weight or 100 pounds from it. Treat yourself to some fierce lingerie and wear it every chance you get—under your office clothes, at home while watching Scandal, as you seduce a lover, during masturbation, or while you do your taxes.
Choose a style that's out of your comfort zone but not uncomfortable; the goal is to feel sexy and wild and mischievous when you put it on. Because guess what? It's really, really hard to feel frumpy while also feeling sexy and wild and mischievous. Impossible, even.
Step 4: Do something badass.
I wish frumpiness were only about getting bored with your clothing choices, but it's a more complex beast than that. The times that I've felt most frumpy were also the times when I felt like a passive observer in my own life. I wasn't just stuck in a rut when it came to the jeans I was wearing; I was stuck in a rut when it came to the work I was doing, the people I was hanging out with, the way I'd resigned myself to an as-is life instead of a what-if life.
To jar yourself out of this kind of life rut, dramatic action must be taken. You must do something brave, badass, nonsensical, or all of the above. Sign up for a half-marathon. Go back to school for that certification you've always wanted to get. Put a hot pink streak in your hair. Learn to wakeboard. Buy a plane ticket to one of your bucket-list destinations. Go protest one of the hundreds of infuriating anti-woman laws currently being written and passed. Move to a new city. Quit the job you hate. Ask that hot woman at the gym out on a freakin' date. Frumpiness is stagnancy, so go do something awesome.
Step 5: Love yourself.
Alright, now you've purged outdated clothes from your closet, chosen a fashion role model, stocked your lingerie drawer with all kinds of naughty surprises, and chained yourself to your legislator's desk until he swore to vote in favor of the Equal Pay Act. You're doing great! But there's one last piece of the de-frumping puzzle: You gotta work on your self-love game. Vow to love yourself enough to take charge of your life, wear clothes you love, and tune out negative thoughts you hear when you look in the mirror. Tell yourself you're rad, act accordingly, and it won't be long until you actually believe it. Be too busy feeling rad to feel frumpy, and girl, you've got it made.