How Comfortable Are You With Discomfort?

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The other day I made a rare visit to the mall to see one of my favorite salespeople and pick up some shoes. I was telling him how I was fairly happy with a pair of Blahniks I had just bought from him, with a low block heel (this pair, review coming soon), but that I was also considering a pair of Teva(!) flatforms. And another pair of Birkenstocks. Because the Blahniks weren’tΒ that comfortable, you see, even though they were quite comfortable, it’s just that I couldn’t see myself walking miles in them. And that’s when he finally said something which I’ve been thinking about ever since: “You can’t expect everything you buy to be super comfortable and practical,” he said. “There’s a time and place for everything.”

I know it sounds totally obvious, but it was a revelation for me. For some reason I’ve gotten in a huge comfort rut. Part of it is living in California, part of it is because I’m pregnant and whaley and part of it is because I spend so much of my time chasing around a toddler. But my salesperson was right, that at some point I reached a point where I basically expected all my clothes to be as comfortable as pajamas (which is stupid, because I still change into pjs right when I get home).

So I’ve decided that I’ve got to make my bones with being a little uncomfortable…partially because it’s a slippery slope and if not otherwise, I’m going to totally turn into that person who wears a robe out in public. And I always feel better when a little “put together” – it’s a nice to feel like you’re wearing pretty clothes, especially after wearing sacks like I’ve been favoring the last few months. So, after giving some thought, here are some items I’m saying YES to…and some which still remain a NO:

Yes to:

  • Dresses which are not entirely a shapeless sack/one size fits all but actually show some definition
  • Pants and shorts with buttons and zippers (not just elastic waists…omg can’t believe I actually have to write this down)
  • Jumpsuits which may take me 10 more seconds to deal with when I have to go to the bathroom
  • Shoes with long straps which are super cute but require some wrapping

No to:

  • Strapless bras (especially not while breastfeeding)
  • Shoes that pinch within first hour (Not ten minutes. Solid hour)
  • Itchy fabric, I cannot stand this
  • Handheld lady bags (A few more years please)

I’d love to hear from all of you – how comfortable are you with being just a little bit “uncomfortable” in your clothes? You probably don’t expect everything to fit like pajamas, like I do….but where do you draw the line?

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  • kristen
    June 19, 2017 at 8:11 am

    This is a great post. I’m saying yes to items that require dry cleaning, even though I have an 18month old!

    As for your Teva flatforms I say go for it! I bought these Ecco(!) flatforms that are in a similar vein and I love them:

  • tata
    June 19, 2017 at 8:50 am

    No – heavy earrings!

    • Katherine
      June 20, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      Two comments about earrings!

  • stacey
    June 19, 2017 at 10:22 am

    I’m with you on strapless bras, I still don’t enjoy wearing even the “perfect” ones that are supposedly the most comfortable and my correct size.

    • Katherine
      June 20, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      Yes! I have never found the perfect one.

  • Torie
    June 19, 2017 at 11:13 am

    It helps when you have a bf who wears makeup and looks put together all the time! I wear no makeup and can be seen out in my flip flops during the summer. I think I’m learning to be a little bit more put together at times and better self care πŸ™‚ It’s good to have diverse friends so you can learn from them!

    On another note, how do you deal with the fact that X shoes might be cheaper online/another store (or if the store is on ebates or a mileage shopping portal and gives you cash/miles), I often feel guilty buying the item elsewhere if the salesperson has been good to me.

    • Katherine
      June 20, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      If the shoes are on sale and my SA brings them to my attention I just buy from him – cause he provided a great service! However if they are full price and I find them myself, I just buy online.

  • Jane
    June 19, 2017 at 11:35 am

    Loved this! I’ve fallen into a a comfort rut because I wear yoga pants way too often! It’s the curse of athleisure and I need to make a conscious effort to wear fitted clothing.

    • Katherine
      June 20, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      Yoga clothing = crack! Haha

      • Jane
        June 21, 2017 at 9:26 am

        I know! I cannot break free!

  • Tia
    June 19, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    I can’t handle heavy earrings! I deal with everything else!

    • Katherine
      June 20, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      I love the look of heavy earrings but can’t handle them either.

  • MM
    June 19, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    That’s so funny – I just finished a year of mat leave (Canada) living in lululemon, cotton t’s, and Birkenstocks. When I returned to work I vowed to personify Claire Underwood and to my dismay, they announced casual summer wear!!! I still dress to the nines as I just can’t live like a slob anymore!! Yes to heels and no to too much skin. Good luck with baby #2!

    • Katherine
      June 20, 2017 at 11:47 am

      LOL to Claire Underwood! I think it’d do all of our egos good to feel like her once in a while πŸ™‚

  • Nvie
    June 20, 2017 at 4:25 am

    One can be comfortable as long as not sloppy. It’s ill fitting clothes that makes a person uncomfortable. We live in a mass market high street/high fashion world where clothes are cut out for tweens/teens and models! Think about the good old days of tailor, all my parents and grandparents clothes were tailor made.

    • Katherine
      June 20, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Yes I think a tailor could make everything fit perfectly – just grazing the body just so, some definition but not too tight!

  • Ella
    June 20, 2017 at 7:14 am

    I have found that if I choose carefully, I can find beautiful things that are still comfortable. This is a bit idiosyncratic and personal: I’m sensitive to itchy fabrics and fitted jackets, so I’m careful about not buying things I won’t wear. I’m quite strict about shoes: I do not wear high heels because wearing uncomfortable shoes limits my day; there’s no point wearing beautiful shoes if I then don’t leave my office because I don’t want to walk around in them. I also think wearing uncomfortable shoes does long-term damage to the feet and musculature, which I would prefer to avoid. So I have a closet full of beautiful, expensive low-heeled slingbacks and ballet flats.

    • Katherine
      June 20, 2017 at 11:46 am

      I think your shoe closet sounds perfect and a smart use of money as well. I feel the same way about fitted jackets actually – but didn’t think about that until I read your post. I hate buttoning up a jacket just to feel like there’s no room to breathe.

    • Olivia
      June 21, 2017 at 8:43 am

      Hi Ella – Any recommendations on beautiful, comfortable shoes? Thanks for bringing up this topic Katherine!

  • Michelle
    June 20, 2017 at 11:33 am

    At this age, I am all about comfort, not sloppy but presentable and comfortable. I think the level of discomfort I will put up with depends on occasion as well.

    For daily wear, absolutely no no to itchy fabrics or shoes that pinch period. Doesn’t matter if it is 10 mins or 1 hour.

    For special occasions, I will put up with wearing a dress and high heels only to go from car to restaurant. You can bet I will have some sort of comfortable shoes stashed in the car once the heels comes off.

    • Katherine
      June 20, 2017 at 11:45 am

      Love the idea of comfortable shoes in the car! I need to adopt this! I’ve just being kicking off my shoes and letting my bare feet dangle.

  • Anonymous
    June 21, 2017 at 10:47 am

    thanks for this post, I personally , am tired of american women looking like slobs in the name of “comfort”. I’m tired of seeing adult women in too tight spandex, yoga pants/butt crack, and spilling out of gym t-shirts because its all COMFORTABLE. As someone else mentioned, one can still be tailored and well-put together and comfortable. We just look lazy.

    That being said, I draw the line at tight-fitting yeast infection inducing pants. I’m ok with shoes that hurt as long as i know their time will be limited to expensive dinner and after dinner activities!

  • ahhhsoneo
    June 21, 2017 at 10:48 am

    thanks for this post, I personally , am tired of american women looking like slobs in the name of β€œcomfort”. I’m tired of seeing adult women in too tight spandex, yoga pants/butt crack, and spilling out of gym t-shirts because its all COMFORTABLE. As someone else mentioned, one can still be tailored and well-put together and comfortable. We just look lazy. Sorry, rant over.

    That being said, I draw the line at tight-fitting yeast infection inducing pants. I’m ok with shoes that hurt as long as i know their time will be limited to expensive dinner and after dinner activities!

    • Sarah
      June 21, 2017 at 3:04 pm

      Comfort is relative. Dressed inappropriately can also feel uncomfortable it’s not just about elasticated waist. πŸ˜ƒ A well tailored tweed jacket with say, silk lining and perfect fit will feel more comfortable than any spandex yoga top. Unless of course you are actually doin’ yoga. Dressing for the occasion is key surely?

  • Cassie
    June 21, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    I have very mixed feelings towards this subject. I’ve found sometimes salespeople will use that line when they’re trying to sell something that either isn’t great quality (not an issue in your case), or isn’t suitable for my foot shape/body/etc… No, I don’t expect 3″ heels to be as comfortable as fluffy slippers, but actual discomfort or pain would be an indication that something is amiss. Additionally, why are men allowed to buy only super comfortable and practical clothes and we’re not? I don’t believe my husband’s closet contains a single impractical clothing item. I’ve been pitching the uncomfortable items from my closet for years, and I’ve hardly devolved into a slob as a result.

    At this point in my life I do expect everything I purchase to be reasonably comfortable and practical, but I’ve also determined what comfortable and practical mean to me. 3″ heels are comfortable and practical for my work, 4″ heels are not. The shape of the shoe determines whether or not it works on my feet. Tailored and nipped waists are comfortable, pants that are tight across the hipbones are not. Natural fibres and technical fabrics are comfortable, woven poly and the like is not. Supportive, proper fitting undergarments are comfortable, and anything other than a perfect fit in that regard is not. The salesman’s statement is making me bristle a bit.

  • Bee
    June 22, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Love this post and would love to hear more about your comfortable staples! I have a newborn and am breastfeeding so I am usually in legging type pants, breastfeeding tops, comfortable flats, and a diaper bag backpack 😐 On days that even that seems like a stretch I try to dress in “nicer” athleisure (coordinated lululemon outfit/headband/sunglasses/nicer sneakers) so I’m not going out in sweatpants and flip flops. But some days are just a style wash! Usually if bebe did not let me sleep the night before.

    I do try to always take time to do my hair/makeup so I feel a little more polished even though I’m dressed very casually.

    However, when I go out without baby to socialize with girlfriends or to an event I actually have found I get more turned out than pre-baby! I suppose I feel I NEED to wear my favorite fancy purses, shoes, clothes, etc. on the rare occasion I can.

    PS – does anyone know if baby spit up damages VCA mother of pearl?! I go back and forth on whether I can still wear it during this phase. I figure Cartier watches are okay since they’re water resistant. Not taking any chances with Hermes box leather though πŸ˜‰

    • Katherine
      June 25, 2017 at 9:30 am

      Thank you! I’ll try to post on staples after I give birth…I want to make sure I’m recalling all the annoyances of breastfeeding, lol.

      I would not do MOP, just because I’d be worried I’d miss little spots of spit up, which would then get stuck and dry on the pearl (ugh…….). I’d feel more comfortable with onyx, or solid (I am considering this as an excuse to get the solid, LOL)

  • Ava
    June 22, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Hi Katherine,

    Your SA has a point but to a very finite extent; no, one cannot expect to walk miles in MB heels (or any uncomfortable footwear for that matter), but so long as you can stand in them for the duration of an event without wanting to murder someone or complain to everyone within earshot I don’t think is unreasonable.

    I will use shoes as an example. Every person has differently shaped feet: some wide, some narrow, some with an arch, some without, some with longer toes, etc. Compound that with weight and how said weight is then distributed in various brands and types of footwear (e.g. heels, wedges, kitten heels, flats, etc. and Louboutins being notorious for running smaller and more narrow, Chanel canvas espadrilles running smaller than the leather, etc.) how each type of footwear fits on each person will be vastly different.

    In our lives there is so much discomfort or hassles we have to deal with – why add to the list with “consciously chosen discomfort?” I am sure there are a pair of heels that look fantastic on you that are comfortable to bear for more than a minute (I think the YSL Tributes are amongst those in that league for many – I don’t own but from what many have told me) and while it may not be “on trend” at the moment, who cares? If it’s comfortable wear it.

    As I have gotten older I have found for myself and many close to me that if your feet are miserable within 10 minutes (I am being generous there) most of your body and mind will be, too.

    For women looking for comfortable dress/work shoes try checking out the men’s department – they cut a little wider and are shockingly cheaper (for the same brand) and more comfortable. Also, please try on shoes and buy them ONLY AT THE END OF THE DAY after (ideally you’ve had a salty lunch) so all the swelling and water puffiness will be there so you can try on shoes when your feet will be at their largest and also when you are dead tired. This way, if it feels good at 7-8pm after a long day (when all you want to do is go home and take a bath), chances are they will “feel good” 3-4 hours into the next function you need to wear them to! πŸ™‚

    All that said, have you ever heard that quote, “good clothes open doors?” After you have chosen said tolerable footwear, if you can look a bit more pulled together (be comfortable but more pulled together as best as one can) it does help deal with the day and boost confidence (for me at least). There are plenty of loose fitting, breathable, nearly-sweat-pants-like-comfortable-clothing, that looks pulled together while also seeming comfortable and ACTUALLY being comfortable! For example, this looks loose and comfy and I am sure there are plenty of cheaper, more affordable options that look similar but the over all optics look a bit more pulled together.
    (side note: not affiliated with EF in any way)

    And while I really dislike Tevas from an aesthetic perspective, I really love and am very intrigued by the one you posted an image of! Very fashion forward! I can’t wait to see what you get and when you post your opinions on them!

    On foot comfort: for anyone looking for a pair of comfortable pool/beach/casual flip flops, check out the brand, SANUK and if you need arch support Vionic Orthaheel is a lifesaver (I bought both in the men’s dept).


    ps-Katherine, would you consider a post on maintaining relationships with your favorite SA’s at various stores etc?

    • Katherine
      June 25, 2017 at 9:28 am

      Yes thank you for the post idea! πŸ™‚ And for the tip about men’s shoes – I’ve often come across the same style men’s shoes (with the same name and everything) for much cheaper, which is always galling.

      Hope you are well!!

      PS – I like that EF dress a lot!