Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ GK Chesterton

Monday, May 11, 2015

Quest: Simplifying the Wardrobe

There's an article that has been making the rounds of the internet. Why I Got Rid of My Wardrobe. Those who know me might laugh: You? A fashion blogger? Um, no. But I am always eager to do what I can to simplify life.

Thus, I cannot get enough of these artcles. Call it what you like: the Capsule Wardrobe, the 10-Item Wardrobe, the Minimalist Wardrobe, the Uniform. Aahhh . . . the idea of a pared-down, well-matched, and interchangeable/coordinated collection of clothes satisfies three issues I have: 1) I lack fashion sense; 2) I hate shopping; 3) I hate clutter.


Some people have it down very well. Luckily for me, my two eldest daughters have it. I believe it is intuitive for both, but the costume-designer-in-training daughter is always able to give me the technical reason for why a particular garment does or does not work on me. Still, even without an inborn eye for fashion, I think most of us have a sense of what makes us feel good, or confident, or presentable. It helps to build one's wardrobe based on that, getting rid of the stuff that makes us feel frumpy or embarrassed to be caught in. This is why the Capsule Wardrobe has been so wonderful for me. Having fewer items, but items that fit well and work with my lifestyle, simplifies things greatly for the fashion-challenged like myself. I keep only the items I love. I donate away what I don't so those garments will be loved by women taller/shorter, heavier/lighter, more suitably skin-toned, etc. for whatever it is I cannot use. Going forward, I refuse to purchase what doesn't fit my parameters.


Maybe it's the HSP in me. Retail stores are overwhelming to my senses. I am always exhausted after being in stores. I never knew why until I came to understand that it is probably too much sensory stimulation for me. Add to this the frustration at being unable to find what I want, and the declining quality of so many garments, AND that too much clothing seems suitable only if you're 20 years old or 120 years old. The Capsule Wardrobe comes to the rescue here: the big reward in knowing what I want in my minimalist wardrobe, and in knowing that I don't want to violate the minimalism, is that I feel less intimidated by shopping. I am no longer satisfied with putting up with something because it "almost" works. Neither will I feel pressured into buying an "almost works" because it's on sale. I WILL walk out, if I'm not satisfied. I still don't like shopping, but I feel as if I'm in control now.


There's the ubiquitous "we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time." I'm not sure how true this was, when I had a larger collection of clothes. I do know that I kept things for all the reasons that others hoard clothes: this sweater was a gift, that skirt was expensive, that shirt was worn on a special occasion. I decided to purge those things from my closet. I give away the things that others might enjoy. And if it's too tatty to give to the second-hand shop, why on earth would I wear it? I feel physically better when clutter goes away and I hope that doesn't sound crazy. There's such a sense of relief when the world around me shifts from chaos to order. It's very calming. I haven't perfected this "letting go" just yet. I will confess to one superfluous dress that I really cannot wear. It screams 1990s, but I bought it at Goodwill for mere dollars, it still sports its Marks & Spencer price tags, and it has a "Made in the UK" label sewn in. There it is. A huge weakness in my list of inordinate attachments: the Anglophile in me cannot easily get rid of British things. We can analyze that another day.

See? No need to be a fashionista to blog about the wardrobe.  Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Looking for inspiration? Links for suggestion only; no money in it for me.

Amazon Link
Jennifer L. Scott's book was the first one I found, when I went researching the 10-item wardrobe. I enjoy the non-wardrobe sections of the book, too.  It's filled with lots of reminders about taking time to enjoy and create beauty in the world: fresh flowers, fresh and wholesome meals, appreciating art.

Amazon Link
Miss Minimalist lives minimalism in a radical way.  No couch, even.  But her collection of essays is a quick read to inspire the closet clear-out.

Amazon Link
Another step-by-step decluttering book.  I find it helpful that "wardrobe essentials" are provided, as it helps to know what you can part with, if you're feeling unsure before your packed closet.

Amazon Link
This book is taking the world by storm, on more than one continent.  I recommend it with one caveat: I think the author is a little OCD.  But if you love declutter how-tos, this will satisfy.

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