I’ve been a little preoccupied with my clothes and shopping lately and I’m starting to feel like it’s taking up too much of my time and energy. The whole situation is definitely not uncomplicated. I think it might be time to consider a capsule wardrobe.
I’ve been thinking about how the items in my closet are or aren’t “my style” and how I have a tendency to wear the same clothing over and over, namely the clothes that are the most comfortable. This had been the reason that I had done a style challenge back in the spring, which I wrote about here. I had hoped that it would help me wear more of the clothing in my closet, particularly the items that I didn’t reach for as often.
But, what it made me realize instead is that I like a certain style or look of clothes and I should just honor that and stop trying so hard to make myself wear everything in my closet, including items that I had bought years ago when I had a different lifestyle, or I was trying to populate my closet with items for the lifestyle I wanted.
And since I really can’t stand having clothing in my closet that I don’t wear, I’ve been going through everything, for what feels like the gazillionth time and separating items into three piles – keep, sell, or donate. Those that end up in the “not my style” pile find their way to the consignment shop or goodwill. Those that I do feel the most comfortable in, remain.
All of this has left me thinking about how I used to be in relation to clothes and shopping and how I can feel myself slipping back into my old habits.
In my 20s I was a “fashionista”. I was often complimented on my outfits. I was good at mixing your typical mall finds with stuff that I would pick up at a thrift shop. One of my best friends called me her “most fashionable friend” which was a mark of pride for me.
What I wore was a large part of my identity and as a result, I often overspent on clothing and my closet was always stuffed. Another area I took pride in…all of the clothing and accessories that I had acquired. But, no matter how much I already had, I was constantly shopping, looking for the next addition to my closet.
Shopping was the only hobby that I had. In college, if I had a few hours off from class, I’d go to the mall. As a college graduate with my first job, I’d spend my lunch hour at Filene’s Basement or H&M. As a mom with a toddler and a baby, we would find entertainment at the local mall. I’d take them to do things that would entertain them and tire them out, feed them lunch and then shop while they napped in the stroller.
And I was not discerning about what I bought. If I tried something on that I was “meh” about but it would work with a certain pair of pants or I liked the color, I would buy it. The majority of my wardrobe consisted of this kind of clothes. There was a very small percentage of items that I absolutely loved. If I would have been aware of a capsule wardrobe back then, I would have dismissed the idea as soon as I heard it.
It’s funny to me how I can look back now and see how uncomfortable I was in my own skin. I always felt like an imposter, like I wasn’t supposed to be there. I would walk into H&M or JCrew and feel like I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t “cool” enough.
I can also look back now and see that my shopping habit was a result of the insecurities that I felt in my own style, body and capabilities.
And I lived with these insecurities until I learned to get rid of all of the clothing that I had bought trying to fill some void inside of me. Trying to get rid of the feeling that I wasn’t good enough, or cool enough.
That’s not to say that I have completely gotten over these feelings of inadequacy. They still happen, but with age, comes wisdom. I am now much better at managing those feelings and reigning myself in.
But sometimes I slip.
Lately, I’ve been much more interested in sustainable and ethical fashion. I do a lot of my shopping at consignment and thrift stores. But there are also a lot of really great companies that are producing beautiful garments that are ethically made and I feel a desire to support them and their cause. I also want to own the beautiful clothing that they produce, the clothing that I see all over Instagram.
All of this has led me to bookmarking many of these company’s websites and I’m pretty sure I’ve wasted many hours perusing their websites looking at all of the things I’d like to have. Hours that I could have spent writing, reading, exercising or doing any number of things that are more rewarding in the long term than shopping. And this has been bringing up a lot of the same feelings that I used to have. The feelings of inadequacy and discontentment and the urge to shop.
These feelings have not been sitting well with me. I also feel like I’ve been obsessed with building the perfect wardrobe. As a result, I’ve spent more money than I should have these past few months. I’ve also spent more time thinking about my clothes than I should have. The whole point of decluttering my clothing was to make getting dressed easier. And for a while it was. But this obsessiveness has taken away any of the good feelings. The feelings that I had after finishing the spring clothing challenge are now just a past blog post.
So, starting in July, I will do my first Project 333 capsule wardrobe. For those of you who are unaware of what this is, it is a capsule wardrobe consisting of 33 items of clothing that you wear for 3 months.
“Project 333 is the minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.” – Courtney Carver
The 33 items include clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes. It does not include sentimental pieces of jewelry that you never take off, such as a wedding ring, underwear, sleepwear, lounge wear, or workout clothing (lounge wear can only be worn at home and you can only wear your workout clothing to workout).
I am also committing to not buying any new clothing for these 3 months. The one exception will be a during a September trip to Ireland and Scotland where I will lift this restriction. But only for something that I really love, made locally, that will be a constant reminder of the wonderful time that I am sure we will have.
Over the next few days, I will be selecting the items that I will include in my Project 333 capsule.
Follow along on Instagram @uncomplicatedspaces for pictures and stories of the items that I choose. Subscribe below for future posts related to my Project 333 experience.