There I was, sitting in a mountain of clothes on my bedroom floor wondering how on earth I’d acquired so much and still had the audacity to utter the phrase “I have nothing to wear.”
I’d decided to do a giant wardrobe purge. But despite the fact that I’d already filled 4 giant black garbage bags with shoes, clothes and accessories, the pile on my floor was ever growing and my closet was still bursting at the seams worse than my Uncle Larry after Thanksgiving dinner.
How had this happened?
What had I spent on all of this?
And why didn’t I love any of it?
I had just come back from a month-long backpacking trip to Europe where I’d lived off the same 12 pieces in my suitcase and managed to come up with a different outfit almost every day. I found myself feeling like I didn’t need all of this or even want all of this! I loved living so unencumbered by stuff but the moment I was back home, I began slipping into the same routine.
Fashion had always been my greatest joy. I was painfully shy for most of my life and my funky sense of style was what allowed me to express myself! I loved it so much I even started my own fashion blog! And weren’t all fashion bloggers supposed to have all the latest and greatest of everything?
I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was all a giant waste but I also feared giving anything up. It must be better to have too much than too little to choose from, especially as a style connoisseur, right?
Why you should buy with intention
First of all, let me hit you with a little science and say that creativity actually flourishes within a little constraint. Stocking your closet with an overwhelming amount of pieces leaves your brain confused while choosing a few choice items that you love forces your brain to find multiple ways to wear the same thing.
Secondly, it’s much better for the environment. The amount of waste caused by fast fashion every year is sickening and at what cost? Most of us are wearing about 20% of our closet 80% of the time anyway.
And finally, it’s much better for your own sense of peace.
We consume way. too. much. We are force-fed advertising on every conceivable platform and it causes us to blur the lines between need and want. Advertisers will have you believe you’ll feel horrible without all your stuff, but I guarantee, scaling back your consumption will leave you feeling nothing but refreshed.
It’s all about minimizing the amount of pieces in your wardrobe to maximize your results.
And this will be different for everyone! I’m not suggesting you scale your wardrobe down to 5 pieces if that doesn’t feel right for you. Certainly, as a fashion blogger, I do own more clothes than most. The difference is, I’m actually excited to wear everything I own and my closet is no longer filled with pieces just taking up space. And my blog actually became more successful when I had less stuff!
I felt more inspired, more excited and more creative, which gave me a lot more content to share with my readers.
However, you might be saying to yourself, well that’s all well and good, but I have no idea where to even begin! But never fear, because Veronica is here! (not all heroes wear capes… especially not heroes of the fashionable variety. So not in.)
How to create an intentional wardrobe you love
Buy for the body you have now
Trust me, I feel you. Do you know how many times I’ve bought jeans 2 sizes too small because I promised myself my thunder thighs would be gone in 3 months?
And do you know how many times that actually worked out? Never.
Look, I’m not saying you’re never going to lose that weight! But why spend that in between time feeling uncomfortable or inadequate because you can’t fit into your pants? Your clothes should work for you, not against you. So if there’s anything taking up room in your closet that’s making you feel like you’re not the fabulous femme you are… it’s time to go!
Buy for the life you have now
On a similar note, this is another big mistake we all make: buying clothes with fantasy in mind, instead of function. It’s important to take an honest look at what you spend most of your time doing and buy accordingly.
For example, I taught yoga for 3 years before ever buying new workout clothes. I spent all my money on cute sundresses or new heels but rarely ever wore them. And then when it came time to teach, I was always searching the laundry for clean workout wear.
Perhaps you’re constantly buying light colors but most of your day is spent with your kids, so you’re often afraid to wear them for fear of getting dirty. Learning what you need is just as important as learning what you like, and pieces that you ultimately love fall somewhere between the two!
Be mindful of your likes and dislikes
If you too are surrounded by an overwhelming amount of clothes, don’t worry! In a way, this is good! This means you have a TON of information about your likes and dislikes.
Set aside some time to go through each piece and analyze what’s working and what’s not. Maybe you bought that dress because you loved the fit, but the color isn’t your favorite or vice versa. Chances are you’ll notice a lot of patterns between what you’ve chosen to keep and what you’re getting rid of, so use this information to make more mindful purchases in the future.
For more tips, check out our guide to decluttering your clothes.
Create a budget
If you don’t yet have a specific budget for clothing, I highly recommend taking the time to figure out what you’re actually spending vs. how much you want to spend.
First of all, this can sometimes be a much-needed wakeup call. Secondly, budgeting your money will also help slow down your purchasing habits and help you make more mindful decisions. And more importantly, you can begin to save up for those good quality pieces that will last much longer than any fast fashion item.
Patience is key, my darlings!
I know that advertisers make every sale seem like it’s the last one that’ll ever happen in the history of mankind. But you and I both know deep down that we’ll be getting 80 more of those “IT’S THE BIGGEST SALE OF THE SEASON” e-mails in about 2 weeks.
So, the next time you’re really itching to buy something, put it on a wish list and then put that list out of sight. Curb your impulsivity and watch as a majority of those items will completely slip your mind in a very short amount of time.
For those things you can’t seem to forget, ask yourself why you want it, what you’d wear it with, if it goes with anything else in your closet or if you’d need a whole new wardrobe to make it work, etc. Think it through, wait a little a bit and then buy with intention.
Pretend you’re packing for a month
Like I previously mentioned, it was my month-long trip that really inspired me to tackle this whole closet debacle. When packing for so long, you’re pretty much forced to get really picky about what you wear. The items must be functional, comfortable and make you feel confident. So naturally, you end up bringing a lot of your most loved pieces.
Of course, this teensy little wardrobe has to work for transportation, sleeping, being active, the occasional fancy dinner, and everything else in between. And yet, it’s very possible! So look at your wardrobe as a capsule of pieces that not only has to work for every area of your life, but also has to work together.
Leave 10% of your wardrobe to trends
Here’s the thing, even if you don’t consider yourself a trendy person, it’s unrealistic to think you’ll NEVER want to buy something that’s more mainstream.
The key is to give yourself that breathing room to add a little flare to your style, but not to give too much. Chances are these pieces are not going to last the test of time. That color you love so much now will fade and 5 years down the track, we’ll all be laughing at the silhouette everyone is wearing now.
So give yourself room to play, but don’t waste too much of your money and closet real estate on the trends. Of course, this tip is just a guideline. Everyone’s style is different so if you do define your style as being “trendy,” by all means, expand that 10% to work for you. But it’s always smart to use caution whenever inviting trends into your very carefully curated wardrobe.
Invest in quality over quantity
I used to think that going to the mall with $100 in my pocket meant I had to come home with as much as I possibly could. I’d head straight to the clearance rack and pick out 10 things for $10 and come home feeling very accomplished… for like, a day.
When it actually came time to wear any of it, I’d realize I hadn’t really stopped to consider whether or not I actually loved these pieces. I only purchased them because they were cheap. Even if I did really like them at first, their quality wouldn’t hold up down the road. Instead of getting 1 or 2 things I truly loved, I’d get 10 things that would be useless in 2 months. This is ultimately a lot more wasteful than saving up for that one special item you know you’ll wear the crap out of!
So there are 8 ways for you to start building a wardrobe you genuinely love. The key is to buy with intention and remain mindful! The more restraint you use, the better pay off you often receive. It’s difficult in this society to live with less when everyone and everything is telling that more, more, more is the answer! But really at the end of the day, cultivating a clear wardrobe is so much more than that. It’s cultivating a clear mind.
Veronica Reitz is the owner of fashion and travel blog, Wear is She Now, where she inspires fashionable free spirits to treat the world like their runway and live every day like an adventure! She loves helping women feel confident in what they wear just as much as she loves a good pun. She currently lives in New York but she’s never quite sure where life will take her next! Follow her travels on Instagram, on her blog or on Youtube. And don’t miss her online store.
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