I’m officially a dress sense disaster area, a candidate ripe for wardrobe rehab.
I have a mess of a wardrobe. The hangers are wedged so tight in there it’s hard to get anything in and out. I can’t see what I have. Very little matches. I’m not big on ironing, but anything that goes in there ironed comes out crumpled. I always feel I have nothing to wear.
Besides this wardrobe, I have ten boxes of folded clothes on a big shelf unit. And bags of clothes waiting for restyling. I have a crazy amount of clothing!
The Muse has decided to get obsessed with clothes today. She wants me to dress better. Her idea of better is not my mother’s or my mother-in-law’s! She wants me to dress more creatively. Try unexpected combos. Play with clothes. She wants me to get rid of the boring play-it-safe stuff, and have fun. She also surprised me in how much she hates mess. I always though my muse would be kind of untidy, fit that creative stereotype. But no, she’s actually quite the minimalist. She wants fewer but better things to play with. Things I can put on without needing to think too much about and know I look good and feel good in. Punches of colour here and there.
This desire to simplify my wardrobe yet dress in a style that reflects my personality more has been there for a while. What may have sent me into full fledged wardrobe rehab mode was actually putting together an unexpectedly flattering outfit on Thursday to take the mother-in-law to a hospital appointment.
Visiting her is always a challenge. She appreciates conservative, almost old fashioned dress. Jeans are a no-no. I’ve never seen her wear trousers, even in the garden. I have to get out of my uniform of jeans and jumper and boots. Usually, I put on something I don’t much like. On Thursday, somehow, it came together in an outfit I loved that she wouldn’t disapprove of either! A thrifted lighter brown skirt, a chocolate coloured long sleeve T-shirt, and a thrifted cream sleeveless jumper. What made it work was a wide belt. I never wear belts, but obviously I should!
Then on Friday, another unexpected combo. Jeans and boots and another brown long sleeve tee, with something I’d never normally consider wearing over the top, a lime green puffed 3/4 sleeve deep V neck cardi with a wide waistband and lots of tiny buttons. It still looked unfinished so I added a cream, brown, and green scarf. It worked! Obviously, not an outfit for M-i-L visiting, but perfect for my day. These choices are so not what I’d normally choose, yet just right for me.
So my Muse got excited about clothes and what I can do with with them. She wants to see me in outfits that express who I really am. That’s scary for me. I use clothes more to hide who I really am, not express that. It’s a big shift for me. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that yet. I actually took Friday’s outfit off after an hour, and changed to something that felt safer for me. I dress not to be noticed. I never learned how to dress well, mainly because I didn’t want to be seen. Changing that is a big thing that will take time. I’ll never be flashy, that’s not my style. But I’d love to dress more authentically and more naturally.
For now, the start is to simplify my wardrobe. The clutter is annoying and oppressive. Choosing what to wear should be less challenging than it is. I have too much choice, and too many things that won’t work together.
Reading my emails yesterday, I got a link to Project 333. Now this is full on minimalism. I really can’t imagine wearing nothing but the same 33 items for 3 months. Part of the problem is all the bits of my life I need “special” clothes for. Clothes that aren’t really my style that I don’t wear in my “real” life. Work clothes. Clothes to visit the M-i-L in. Clothes for whatever reason I’m reluctant to let go of. I can’t imagine getting all aspects of my life so well sorted and so true to myself that I could get by with 33 items any time soon, though it’s an awesome goal to work towards.
But I definitely can get by with less. The Project 333 Pinterest page showed me lots of pretty pictures that excited my Muse. Lovely outfits. Capsule wardrobes. Beautifully well chosen clothes with space around them on their hangers.
I’ve never been an extravagant shopper for clothes. But I do love thrifting. My weakness is the 50p rack at my favourite local charity shop. I go two or three times a week to pick over that rack. Some days I come home with nothing, but not often. Some days I come home with ten mismatched things. A bundle like this.
Actually, this lot is one of my better days. Nothing “names names names” there, but most of it fits at least and won’t need major restyling to wear. The cosy brown fleece jumper, beige cotton trousers, cute gathered denim skirt, and blue linen shirt/ jacket are things that are wearable right now. The green and white stripe singlet top and terracotta patterned tunic are three sizes too big and need some work. The coral jumper is for a project to make a couple of sweater dresses from old thrifted sweaters. The whole stack cost £3.50. Less than a glossy magazine or cappucino.
That’s the problem.
It doesn’t feel extravagant. It’s not. But even five to ten pounds a week adds up to a chunk of cash by the end of a year. And the biggest issue is- I’m bringing ten or more new-to-me items of clothing into the house most weeks. More clutter. More things to go in my crowded wardrobe and those messy overflowing boxes on the shelves. More items I’ll rarely wear to make it harder to find the items to do want to wear. More things that will only work with one or two other items I already own.
I’ve been reading fashion blogs I wouldn’t normally look at to inspire me to simplify. There’s a lot of great stuff out there! Here’s a few of the ones I found-
- A Pair and A Spare- wardrobe rehab series
- Putting Me Together- reimagining clothes and remixable wardrobe series
- Merrick’s Art- 8 Items, 14 Outfits
- Kendi Everyday- 30 for 30
I especially love Kendi’s blog. I spent hours just going back through the last few months’ posts. So she’s half my age, I couldn’t wear half the stuff she does (my legs are waaaaaay past being fit for shorts or anything cut more than a couple of inches above the knees) but both her outfits and her honesty are inspiring. I can learn a lot from her. Her body type is actually similar to mine. Well, okay, how my body would be if I were 6 inches taller and twenty something years younger. But the basic shape, the styles that work for her body type, are what could also work for me. And as a developing blogger, seeing how much her style, her photos, and her writing have developed since she started is fascinating!
Anyway, I have done more than just read about simplifying. I pulled out a stack of clothes to sell on ebay. I filled a bag with clothes to donate. I have a bag I think my sister will like. I have a bag of clothes to leave in Australia next time I go, so if I ever need to fly in a hurry I can do it with a carry-on bag. I have a bag of things that I want to wear but need work- taking in, dyeing, little tweaks that won’t take long.
But I haven’t really even started yet. The wardrobe photo is AFTER I did that. The clothes on the doors are for eBay, but there’s so many more I need to try on and decide which stack they belong in. I need to go through the keepers again, and the bag for Aus, and whittle it down even further. I need to look at what I don’t have that I need. The capsule wardrobes on those blogs gave me some ideas. No spend stuff I can make from fabric I already have, or restyle from clothes I already have.
It’s a big project. The goal of being able to easily see what clothes I have, to put together outfits effortlessly, makes the effort worth while. Once I know what I have and I’ve pared right back, I can be more selective and focused with what I sew and what I thrift. No more unworn clothes! Only things I love and wear, that love me right back by looking good, reflecting who I am, and giving me lots of outfit options. Even better, I might, at fifty two, finally develop a sense of my own personal style!
Any suggestions for capsule wardrobes, or decluttering tips?