Saturday, January 07, 2006

what is in my closet vs. what should be in my closet

It's coooooold and clear here - seeing the sun is a welcome change from the gray days and I'm glad to be able to look out the windows and see a blue sky. My new "home base" for my current rotation is a clinic in the basement of the hospital; I can see the new morning light as I drive in at 7:30am and that's all I get because when I leave at 4:30-5pm the sun has all but left the sky. The lack of natural light has done a number on my sleep cycle and mood. Next week I hope to have some flexibility with where I eat lunch but this week I had to get into the swing of things and figure out my role as the student.

I've been thinking and re-thinking and over-thinking what I wear and what I think looks good on me. I've done what most recommended and dug through my closet to compare the store-bought sweaters to see how different styles look on me. I've also had to re-evaluate what I am comfortable in and if what I am comfortable in is what actually looks good on me.

what I own:
fitted cardigan with set in sleeves
pullovers with drop shoulders
button up shirts with major shaping (not a sweater, but it's another fit)
shirts/sweaters with:
-lengths that range from "top of hip" to "below hip" (nothing cropped, nothing to my knees)
-sleeves that are 3/4, the "right length, and "too long that need to be rolled up"
- necklines that include turtleneck, mock turtles, crew, boat, v-neck, collar and one with a hood

(I'd try and share pictures of what I'm talking about, but student housing is lacking a full length mirror, so in order to get a good picture of what I look like I often have to climb up onto the edge of the tub and bend and twist into various positions to see what I'm looking for. (yes, I know that "back of door" mirrors are not that expensive and easy to find and that I should probably buy one instead of continuing to risk falling off the tub ledge while trying to see if my shirt cuts me off at the waist, or makes me look too thick at the shoulders but that would require remembering what I need while I'm at a store and it's a little known fact that med students brains loose the ability to recall such information. I hear the ability to remember what I need without making a list (and then loosing the list and being unable to recall what was on the original list) returns - I'm looking forward to that.))

What I wear all the time without giving it a second thought, thus the things I am "most comfortable in":
-pullover sweaters that are boxy with crew necks or turtle necks and sleeves that are just right or too long and a length that falls just at my hip. To be honest, I have a lot of sweaters that fall into this category and they could be comfortable because I grew up with these
- cardigans of all types
- button ups with shaping for my days in the hospital

What looks absolutely awful on me:
- dropped shoulders (a closer-fitting sweater doesn't look as bad as one that is just too big all over)
- sleeves that are too long and rolled up
- sweaters that seem to cut my up across the middle - ie, ones that aren't "long enough" and don't fall below at least the start of my hip
- cardigans with buttons that look pulled or too tight when the sweater is buttoned up
- crew necks that are trying to be mock turtlenecks

What looks not so bad: (or What Looks Pretty Good)
- shaping and fitted things
- v-necks and collars that are "open" a bit (= top button or two undone...thus a, um, modified v-neck?)
- sweaters (cardigans) that fall well below my hip
- 3/4 sleeves and sleeves that are "just right"
- again, just because I need to make sure I get it, shaping and fitted things

I was surprised, but after thinking about it, I probably shouldn't have been.

I have broad shoulders (I had to buy a men's white coat because the women's versions just weren't comfortable and didn't fit when I moved my arms) and my years of swimming and lifeguarding didn't help. In order to get things that fit my shoulders I often had to settle for a boxy, all-over-big fit. Now, however, designers of my button up shirts figured out a way to cut a shirt so that it's fitted without making me feel as thought I'm all SHOULDERS. Set in sleeves don't drag my eye out and make me feel as though I'm a triangle just waiting to tip over the same way drop shoulders do. Raglan (there was only one poor example but I looked at the fit) looks okay, as long as the rest of it isn't too big (which was the case with my Noro sweater.) The Raglan looks very very long to me, but overall it's somewhat flattering.

The decent thing about having SHOULDERS is that it helps to balance out my HIPS. I've got a childbearing set that could allow a 10lber to slide right on through. Theoretically the top balances out the bottom, but not when either one appears too bulked down or baggy. Thus, no more baggy sweaters for me, even if *I'm* the one that made them. The weight I've gained (and am working on getting rid of) settles around my hips and thighs and I look better if a sweater/shirt hem hits fairly low down on my hip. I have a long torso (comparatively) and thus finding things to hit at this spot is a challenge - but now I know it's a challenge worth taking on.

The sweater I'm wearing today is my latest guilty pleasure (thank you LLBean) and is a simple yet incredibly soft set-in-sleeve crewneck version. I went with a large in order to get the length (and shoulder freedom) and it doesn't look as bad as other boxy-ish sweaters do. It could use a little more shaping, but this fit allows me to layer another (warm) shirt beneath it, and all in all I'm pleased when I look in the mirror. I'll use this to help me get future sweater measurements - that alone should justify the purchase...

Now the trouble is that I'll need to continue to feel comfortable in things that don't look great on me - it wasn't a problem last week because I didn't know any better. Amazing what a bit of knowledge can do for my wardrobe.

All that being said, someone was 100% dead on with a cardigan Rogue sounding like it'd fit me perfectly (forgive me for paraphrasing). What I used to love the look of (as in, sweaters that I've been waiting to cast-on for) isn't what actually looks good on me, and though it might take some work to find a compromise, I'm not going to think of this as pattern-limiting. Instead I need to look at what is out there and see what I can do to get it to fit me. (or just knit socks instead of sweaters - don't laugh because it's something I've given a lot of thought to...)

I've tried casting on for Rogue a few times, and each time something didn't work. Too many stitches, too few stitches, not a long enough tail, the wrong size needle - you name it, I've done it. Add in the exhaustion (both physically from being up at ungodly hours and emotionally from facing that cancer patients do die) and I decided to put it aside until this weekend. That means that tonight I'll sit down and try again - and then I'll be good to go.

(I need to swatch again before I finally cast on too, as my gauge while "on break" is considerably looser then my "in session" gauge.) This might correlate with my neck/back pain and headaches that appear when I start a new rotation. Posture is telling, and students/doctors who stand up straight appear to know what they are doing. Without knowing it (at least consciously) I've been slouching and leaning this week - a sign that I don't want to look like I know what I'm doing (that can lead to lots of questions and pimping* from doctors) and in turn my ears feel like they are hovering just below my ears. It hurts. Hot, hot showers, a heated rice rabbit and lots of layers around my neck have helped things to relax and I'm going to make an effort to breathe through things instead of calling on my SHOULDERS to answer questions. Standing up straight and (potentially) being taller then the doctors I am working with is okay. I'll look good (see above) and somehow that'll translate to what I appear to know. Or something.)

(*pimping = PIMP = Put In My Place = a commonly known medical term for being asked question after question in a sometimes condescending way that stops (for a short bit) once the student no longer knows the answer. The questions can start with common medical knowledge, then progress to obscure facts and eventually tred in the areas of sports trivia and operas. It's an old way of setting up who the "alpha" doc is and in large groups of students (something I'm not that familiar with) it can pick out one person and show their weaknesses. Often the questions come from when the doctor him/herself was pimped, and it means that I need to have a certain amount of somewhat meaningless info on hand to pull out to answer questions. Other medical students/residents/doctors should feel free to add their take on my description!)


Anonymous margene said...

It sounds like you are getting a good command of knowing what will work and won't on you. You are aware of your body, it just takes a little time to look and 'feel' what works. After years and years of wearing clothes (more than twice as long as you've been alive) I know at a glance if something is right or wrong for me. You are heading that way very quickly and will be a Dr. that looks comfortable and very well clothed.

6:41 PM  
Blogger Carina said...

From your descriptions, maybe this sweater would be good.

I thought of it, anyways, when I read through it all. It is pretty, that's for sure.

Oh, and good luck on the pimping. My hubby would get so frustrated sometimes about that. Now he gets to pimp others but says he's pretty gentle--sticks to what's at hand and doesn't stray into arcane territory. Just remember, someday it'll be you, and for now, you get to watch Scrubs. :)

9:11 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

You know, I love that Bean sweater because there's not much waist shaping, but it's very flattering without being boxy. (and yes, I'm wearing it now).

All your "looks awful" things look awful on me as well. Someday I should figure this stuff out for myself.

Can I just say, "Brrrr"? We were out this evening and are trying to warm the house back up before we go to bed. It's 55 in here!

9:52 PM  
Blogger Jocele said...

Ahh, the pimping. The worst pimping question I ever got was on trauma surgery..."Can you tell me the Latin name for scar?" What the hell???

But now I will never forget. Cicatrix.

11:00 PM  

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