What I love most about personal style is that it’s ever changing. You can mark each year of your life with clothes that once felt like necessities. A denim miniskirt may remind you of your middle school years, while a well-worn sweatshirt will instantly bring you back to your freshman year of college. Articles of clothing are, essentially, time capsules that one can wear.
When I look back on the wardrobes of my past, one thing stands out: the amount of clothes that were featured within my closet. When I was little, I couldn’t care less about clothing. I unintentionally lived the life of a minimalist because I was too busy running through our yard and convincing my grandparents to take me on adventures. I probably would have been content to wear a trash bag, as long as it didn’t prevent me from jumping rope, catching frogs, and helping my younger siblings toddle around on the grass.
As I got older, things drastically changed. I got bored with the outdoors (which seems insane to me now). I began to measure my self-worth by the number of clothes that were in my closet. I started to care about how I looked. Function and comfortability was thrown out the window. In its place: trendiness and a desire to fit in.
Due to my teenage self’s sensibilities, I’ve acquired a lot of clothes over the years. My closet is a sea of different fabrics, textures, styles, and colors. It’s a rainbow of apparel and the thing is…it no longer fulfills me.
You see, I still care about personal style as a form of expression, but I don’t need it when it comes time to measure my self-esteem. In other words, I want to return to my past life as a fashion minimalist.
For those of you who are desperate to join me on this cleansing journey, I’ve outlined several steps that we can follow as we figure out what works for us. I’d love to share them with you:
If it does not fit, throw it out.
This may seem like common sense, but I’m willing to bet that many of us are holding on to some clothes that are way too big or way too small. Just yesterday, I discovered that I’m a dress hoarder. I still have the dress that I wore to my 8th grade graduation. I sill have the dress that I wore to my siblings’ 8th grade graduation. To put it simply: I have a lot of clothes that I’m saving because of the memories that they symbolize.
While it’s admirable to want to hold on to clothes for this reason, isn’t it also worthwhile to make room for new memories?
As you weed through your wardrobe, ask yourself: does this garment still make me feel something? Do I remember why I saved it in the first place? If the answer is a resounding “no,” donate it to someone who will need it and love it more than you do. If the answer is “yes, it makes me unbelievably happy,” then save it. Cherish it. Let it bring you joy.
Explore what it means to have a capsule wardrobe.
The term “capsule wardrobe” has been with us since the 1970s, but I don’t often hear of many people who abide by its rules. A woman named Susie Faux coined the term and, by definition, it is a collection of essential attire that will never go out of style.
Now, for each and every one of us, a capsule wardrobe may look different. Someone who works from home may not need the same items that an office worker would need. Since we’re all unique individuals, we are all going to need unique capsule wardrobes. Now, this is where a bit of self-reflection will come in handy.
Think of the clothes that you wear the most. What are your staple fashion pieces? What pair of jeans could you wear with just about anything? What about that jacket—does it really match most of your wardrobe? Essentially: what could you really, truly not live without on a day-to-day basis?
Of course you are not going to be able to acquire a capsule wardrobe within a matter of minutes. It is going to take some time, which is why these questions can serve as simple guidelines. Think of them when you are cleaning out your closet. Think of them when you go clothes shopping, which brings me to my next point…
Combine the best of quality and quantity by spending your money right.
I am a cheap t-shirt fiend. Right now, I probably own close to fifty cheap t-shirts and you want to know what? I only wear about five of them. And the five that I do wear are the more expensive of the bunch.
Looking back, I wish I spent my money on quality t-shirts that were comfortable because I know that I would actually wear them. Most importantly, I would have saved myself a lot of cash if I’d spent more money on a few items, rather than less money on many items that I do not wear.
In this case, it pays to do your research. Read reviews—that’s what they’re there for. Ask your friends where they buy their favorite jeans. Take the time to make sure that you are getting what you pay for. In the end, this will not only help your bank account, it will also help you pick and choose the clothes that you accept into your closet.
Step away from the trends.
I will be the first to admit that I go through style-based phases. Last summer, I was in love with the Aztec print. This summer? Not so much.
Trends are what they are. They will be there for a season and then—poof!—they’re gone. Sadly, this means that they are not going to be a fixture in our lives. What’s even worse is that we paid good money for them on a whim.
I have the perfect example that involves two cardigans. One cardigan has a pineapple print on it. The other features a series of polka dots. Guess which one I wear the most?
When I bought my pineapple-covered friend, it was because I’d seen it everywhere. I wanted it because it was on my mind and it was on my mind because it was a trend. As for my polka-dotted companion, I bought it because I knew I could wear it for work, for casual nights out, for whenever. I knew it would look good with anything and that I would be able to wear it during each of the four seasons.
While pineapple patterns may be fun at the time, they pile up. Anytime you are about to take a trendy piece to the cash register, picture this: a pile of trendy pieces laying on the floor of your closet, gathering dust as the days go by.
And if you just so happen to fall in love with a trendy piece? Give it a week. See if you still desire it as much after some time passes.
The clothing department opens up a world of possibilities. It allows us to express ourselves, to endure the seasons, to convey our various moods. With that being said, a minimalistic wardrobe does not limit these possibilities. Instead, it offers us a challenge: can we pinpoint what we love most about our own style and narrow down our selections? Now, I don’t know about you, but I love a good challenge.