Updated: Nov 5, 2019
If you are like me, you think the topic of clothing is a tad superficial. Don't be too hasty to dismiss. This is not just about clothes or even about looking good (but that is a perk). Changing your clothing habits results in a surprising ripple effect. Making decisions in my closet has made me more intentional about time, money, relationships, and health to name just a few.
I have never felt at risk for being followed by a hidden camera crew from "What Not to Wear" (I am dating myself). This doesn't mean I am a fashion genius. I sometimes felt despair when it was time to get dressed. (Am I alone here?) Starting my day with a "good enough because I am going to be late outfit" and a pile of rejected clothes to deal with later (often much later) was not a productive or pleasant way to start my day. Especially with little ones to care for. Ain't nobody got time for that! Many people, particularly those who are mostly out of the public eye working at home, can easily succumb to clothing ruts
When it came to purchasing clothes, I had heard the advice to look for timelessly classic, versatile, well-made, ethical clothing before. I understood this in theory and I have invested in quality clothing at times. However, like any American, I have been suckered into the lure of the red clearance sticker and fast fashion trends. It seemed much more budget friendly and satisfied my fashion boredom.
I am happy to say I have changed the way I shop, dress and even store my clothes. I now own a smaller wardrobe of clothes that I enjoy wearing. Getting dressed in the morning is easy and (dare I say) fun. The changes in my wardrobe didn't happen overnight. A little time and patience was necessary. The improvements came about through decluttering my wardrobe. It took me a few hours initially and some fine tuning later. It was an investment in time that I easily earned back.
Clothing is the first organizing category in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. After quickly finishing this fun to read book, I rolled up my sleeves (that were probably too short on my long arms) and began. As per the instructions, I took everything out of my drawers, closet, and off-season storage tubs and made piles. I was amazed at the amount of clothing I had! I held each item and if it "sparked joy" as Marie Kondo says, it was a keeper. This is a gut feeling that I have since honed and has become second nature. It is this feeling that allows for quick discernment not just with clothing but life decisions in general.
The KonMari Method begins with this category because this feeling is easiest to discover when it comes to clothing. I get this feeling when I wear something that is a favorite. It gets easier to identify that feeling with practice. When something didn't give me the right feeling, I learned to thank that item (sometimes out loud, weird, but it helps) for their service ("Thanks worn out hoodie!") or lesson learned,
("Thanks for teaching me that this color washes me out, sweater!") and let them graduate out of my life. Quick and improved decisiveness enabled me to continue to declutter the rest of our house category by category.
If I had to think twice, that item usually was not a keeper, but that doesn't mean I didn't keep them at first, especially in the clothing category. I tried on a few things I was unsure of and tried to be honest with myself. I have the honesty of a small child; the kind of honesty that makes embarrassing public pronouncements. (It is against my better judgement to have a blog.) For some reason being honest with myself in this way was hard at first! In the end, most of the things I was on the fence about, I ended up donating later. I would realize that I wasn't wearing them or when I did, I did not feel good in them. Re-editing is part of the process, especially in the clothing category, since the decision making muscle is pretty weak in the beginning.
At my husband's request, we took our first purge (he joined in) to donation centers that gave tax receipts. The subsequent re-edits went in donation bins around town. I have since learned that donation centers are filling with clothes faster than they can manage. These clothes wind up being laid to rest in the landfills of the developing countries they were born into. This eye-opening lesson on my over-consumption has forever reformed me.
After purging, I still had plenty of clothes left. These clothes revealed to me my style. Momboy Chic. I realized that there are colors that I like to wear for a reason. It turns out they are ones that flatter me (I think we naturally gravitate towards these colors but convince ourselves to branch out and try that cheap bright pink shirt that everyone else was smart enough not to buy, even at $4.98). I realized these are the same colors I decorate our house with. When I wear a coral shirt and gray cardigan, I match my gray house and coral doors, like a proper weirdo. Unlike the stereotypical minimalist type, I do not like to wear black.
Since culling my closet, I have thought more about the timelessness, quality and ethics of my clothing choices. Is this a trendy piece that will be out of style by next fall? Will this sweater pill after wearing it once? How were the materials sourced? Who made it?
I have started considering the versatility of my clothing pieces. A small amount of versatile pieces actually inspires creativity. The trendy clothes I thought relieved boredom were actually causing it. This system of fast fashion is by design and I was acting like a sheep with a debit card at times.
Too many clothes, overwhelming choices, and clothes that were one hit wonders are bad enough. Pair these with mom exhaustion and wardrobe ruts ensue. I think we have all been there.
I never considered myself a shopaholic. However, it felt right to take some time away from shopping. After I ended my self-inflicted shopping hiatus (detox), I came to realize there were a couple of things I wanted to purchase. Now when I shop, I try harder to look for timeless, versatile, well-made, ethical staples.
Sweater and socks: handknit by my mom, jeans: jcrew via ThredUp.com,
shoes: Patagonia (Christmas present)
I am not rich and clothes from Patagonia and other stores that are doing it right are not cheap! (for good reason)
Secondhand clothing checks the ethical box, but can be tricky in the other categories. Consignment website search filters make searching a little easier when I am trying to fit a specific hole in my wardrobe, but there can still be an overwhelming amount to look through. It can be annoying, which is probably a good thing. Sometimes I decide that to find what I am really looking for I need to save and wait. Mostly I am learning to be more content, slow down, and spend intentionally. I won't always get it right, but I'm trying to be aware at least.
During my break from shopping, I even stopped buying for my eldest daughter (she hands down to her sisters). I sent the Carter's sales emails to spam. Old Navy Super Cash has no place in my life and it feels very good not to jump through the consumer hoops! It is how I have always wanted to shop. I think we all feel this deep down. Buyer's remorse is felt in the same gut that "spark joy" is felt.
Having parameters for my wardrobe is vital. The KonMari Method uses vertical folding. This way of storing clothes is much like a clothes file or library. There is finite space unlike with stacking. I am less likely to buy more because my drawer or basket is full. This encourages an intentional plan for your wardrobe. You know what you have and become content with it. It's enough. (This cured my husband's tee shirt hoarding. There is hope! You have to lead by example and not request participation, though. Don't worry, they notice and it's contagious.)
I really love the vertical storage method because I can see my clothing more easily. It's much easier to pull out a shirt than when it's at the bottom of a stack. I don't mind folding and putting away clothes now. It's easy. I'm not cramming clothes onto a jumbled mess and trying to push the drawer shut. Surprisingly, you won't wind up with wrinkly clothes with vertical folding. They don't have the pressure on them that stacked clothes do. I am not about to break out an iron each day. Trust me!
The vibe in our bedroom is much improved. It was pretty claustrophobic before. Our clothes just look nice and tidy now, which may seem trivial until they do. Because folding takes up much less space than hanging, our tiny bedroom is much less crammed now. (Also due to donating many things.) We got rid of a wardrobe from one corner of our room making our room seem much more spacious. Our bedroom now feels like a calm hotel room. It feels so much better to wake up and fall asleep in our room. I actually want to make the bed each morning. I no longer long for a walk-in closet. I am content and grateful for what I have.
When I had too many clothes, I couldn't manage them all. Oops missed that stain! No big deal, I'll deal with it later (most likely never) since I have so many other options. It is strange that you can become entitled with low quality things. They become disposable. When I have fewer, higher quality things I love, I treat them better. Enter gratitude again!
You may be thinking this sounds like a way to create a capsule wardrobe. It can be. If you haven't already heard of this annoyingly trendy concept, you will be amazed at the number of blogs and Pinterest posts about creating one. You most likely already own a capsule wardrobe within your closet even if you don't subscribe to this method. If you have always wanted to try implementing a capsule wardrobe, declutter your closet of all you don't love first and go from there. You don't need to spend a fortune to buy an all new capsule wardrobe.
Reduced mental energy required to get dressed is amazing. We all have more important things to think about, right? And though it goes against every fiber of my strong-willed, no nonsense feminist being to admit this, it feels good to dress a little better. Saving time and starting my day feeling good ups my productivity, so there is my justification. Shallowness absolved!
Interested in finding your style and a more ethical wardrobe through an in-house consultation? We offer that. Check out our Closet Edit.