It’s been almost one year since minimizing and I have yet to embrace a traditional minimalist capsule wardrobe. The packing everything up except a certain number of items hasn’t worked for me and I’m OK with that. I like having all my clothes out and available and it’s actually kept me more accountable and helped me streamline. Could I live with less? Of course. If I got rid of half of what I have would life be honky dory? Yup. But I found a comfort zone and that’s where I’ll stay for now. My closet is still shrinking slowly, but it’s not the shrinking that’s interesting to me this past year, it’s the morphing.
I purged about 80% of my clothing and shoes. It was painful and cathartic. For the first six months after The Purge, I didn’t purchase anything. Zero. It wasn’t initially intentional, I’m sorry to report, but a couple months in (when I realized it), I was purposeful about it. I created rules about clothing.
- Everything has to be tried on. I hate this rule because I don’t like taking the time, but once I did it with my own closet, I couldn’t deny how helpful it is. I think I hated half of what I owned, disliked another 1/4 and with the 1/4 that remained had staples and stuff I wished I looked good in. Dysfunctional
- Nothing is kept due to sentiment, guilt, etc… This was hard at first and then easy. It’s a thing after all. Be Elsa – Let It Go
- Find my style. I’m not the same person that bought those clothes – some over a decade prior. Trying things on made it obvious what wasn’t working, so I decided I’d need to figure out what would work. Who the heck am I anyway? What do I like?
The second six months I’ve been evaluating and replacing. I think about 10% of what I own now I had before The Purge. I’ve replaced everything else. I’m below 150 items total – which still seems large, but starting with almost 200 pairs of shoes to 21 is a big deal.
- Pictures. It was a pain, but having pictures of everything I owned in a file made me look at clothes differently. I liked them more or less when I saw a photo of that shirt, or pants, etc… It really helped me “see” what I liked and why. Eventually I’ll do it again.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Geez, minimizing can be emotional. And humbling. And embarrassing. You don’t have to be any certain way, or conform to anyone’s rules. Find your way.
- Try things on. Again. Always. Here are tips when I shop:
- Have a list. We all have ADD and tend to go for the same things over and over. I don’t need anything black. I don’t even look. I have a list of exactly what I need in detail.
- Wear black dress stretch pants, slip on shoes and a black tank top. First, I wear these a lot so they are my staples. Second it helps when trying things on to have the tank top instead of a bra because I tend to layer. Third, the pants are easy to take off if I’m trying on bottoms. Same with shoes. Trying on clothes is painful for me, so I make it as easy as possible.
- Hair and makeup. Hair in a ponytail to avoid static and makeup on like I’m a normal person. I want to look close to how I look every day. Shopping frumpy just feels frumpy and I won’t like anything. Waste of time.
I took advice I was given by someone with far more experience than I had. First, do nothing. Second, be thoughtful and get to know what you like. Then go with it. I learned a lot about myself. It’s true that clothes don’t make the man, so to speak, however they can help you project your personality. Clothes can make you feel a myriad of emotions and give more confidence. I want what I wear to express my mood. Here’s what I learned I like:
MODERN CHIC: Updates to modern pieces, a little leather, a little lace, jackets, blending of patterns and textures, a little classic, a little edgy, heels, wedges, flats, booties, a pop of color, tradition meets the future. Upbeat and fun but not over the top.
- Layers. Love me Banana Republic tank tops with built in bra. Great staple in black, brown and cream. Layer for cold, for mixing and to avoid always having to wear a bra
- Dressy T-shirts. Even when staying home I like to look pretty. It just feels good. Plus I have those tank tops so I can wear sheer, flowing fabrics with interesting cut outs, necklines and backs.
- Bright colors. I like tradition. I prefer gray over black (although I use a lot of black too), I like pearls and pretty, but please, please, please give me a pop of color. It can be in shoes, a jacket but SOMETHING should pop.
- Loose and tight. I tend to either want my top or bottom piece of clothing tight. Too much loose feels like I’m drowning, too much tight feels like I’m trying too hard. Sometimes all tight can work – going out or with a cardigan but it’s about balance
- Heels. Not too high, just a little sexy to the mix. Dress up shorts or jeans, look professional
- Button downs. Layer over tanks, under sweaters or tucked in to a skirt
- Dresses. I thought I was a skirt girl and although I like them, a dress is just easy. I like to put a cardigan or sweater over it and it looks like a skirt, a blazer, etc…
Finding your personal style – especially after purging nearly everything you own – is a process. I love Pinterest and Google to search things that are visually appealing. Then it’s time to determine what your staples are and where you want to have fun. Take some online quizzes to find your style and dress for your body. At 5’8″ tall and curvy, I can’t pull off an outfit someone’s wearing who is 5’1″ tall and built like a boy. Not gonna happen. Find you and live it!