Last year when I was feeling a bit lost, a reader suggested I check out Brené Brown and now I suggest the same for everyone else I meet who is going through a similar experience. While I have read (and listened to) many of her pieces and left with so many a-ha moments and have frantically typed so many quotes into my iPhone Notes, this is one I keep coming back to (don't have the book right now so going by memory, notes, and what I found via Google):
We all get so many emails in our inbox on “how to…” However “how to” does not work – if it did, none of us would be struggling- we would not be the most obese, in debt, addicted society in human history. We frequently look for “quick fixes,”, “instant solutions” and helpful tips in the areas we struggle most in our attempt to “fix” the areas that cause us pain. If “how to” worked, none of us would struggle with feelings we're “enough.” We live in a culture where if we are not doing huge, extraordinary things, we are “not enough”. All of the social media are based on the shame-based fear of being ordinary. We are hyper-aware of lack. The first thing we do in the morning is to say to ourselves, “I didn’t sleep enough” and the last thing before bed is “I didn’t get enough done.”
The most popular topic here at Wardrobe Oxygen is capsule wardrobes. They get pinned the most on Pinterest, receive the most comments, I gain the most Facebook followers after I share a new one on the blog, and I receive more “Ask Allie” requests for capsule wardrobes than any other fashion advice. The thing is, I don’t believe in living your entire life from a capsule, and I never have. A capsule wardrobe is not a quick fix, or instant solution for what is wrong in your wardrobe or your life.
A couple summers ago I tried Project 333, a program I find to be one of the originators of the capsule wardrobe. I respect Courtney Carver; she believes in this program, cares about her readers, and walks the talk of Project 333. And ever since I learned about her project, I recommend it to those interested in paring down their wardrobe (and those who show me one of the newer shiny blogs out there who took her idea and made it “Pinteresting” with fancy photography and affiliate links). But learning about and trying Project 333 made me realize it is not for me.
That doesn’t mean I don’t believe that life is better with a smaller closet. I have had points in my life where my closet was gorgeous – tons of color and prints, full of covetable pieces. And those points in life were those where I had the hardest time getting dressed every morning, had the worst personal style, and was often lost or disorganized in other aspects of my life. But when I’ve done a serious analysis of my closet and only kept what I love and loves me in return; when I have shopped with care, considering what I currently own and only buying what I need to complete my current wardrobe; that is when style emerges.
My capsule wardrobes are not a how to get dressed for a season, they are a guide to help you see how style and versatility can be achieved with fewer pieces. Be it trying to fit two weeks into a suitcase or imagining how a handful of budget-friendly separates can provide a month’s worth of work outfits, my capsules aren’t gospel but a reminder to choose quality over quantity.
A capsule wardrobe won’t fix your closet, and it surely won’t fix your life. But the process of paring down your wardrobe may bring up a lot of emotions and other issues in your life and help you realize and understand those issues. And a shrunken closet of simple pieces may give you the space to address other aspects in your life, or that space to actually experience your life. Clothing – be it over-shopping, trying to emulate the style of another, buying the must-have three or five or ten items, or trying to gain control or calm with a capsule is a quick fix, isn't addressing the true issue. You deserve to live your life, and dress for it, on your terms in a manner that is right for you. It may be painful, it may take time, but you’re worth it.
Tips on Taking Control of your Closet:
- Go slow. Don’t expect to do a whole wardrobe assessment in one weekend. Go on your own timeline. Even I recommend an afternoon but there's a lot of history and emotions in your closet; if it takes longer that's okay. Go at your own pace, but don't quit.
- Shop with intention. Shopping should not be a pastime. Download a game on your phone, try out gardening or knitting, but don't shop to fill time or a void in your life. It only makes more of a mess of your closet… and your finances.
- Create a uniform. A uniform doesn't have to LOOK like a uniform, but if you whittle down to a few select silhouettes and colors it makes things easier. You can go online or in a store and head straight to the bootcut jeans, the a-line skirts, the fit and flare dresses. No one will notice if every pair of pants you own is the same brand, cut, and even fabric (says the woman who only owns LOFT pants in one cut). We're pressured by the media and blogosphere to buy new things to achieve style and success. It's a lie; we need to feel confident and have our clothes fit our figures and lifestyles to be stylish. The most stylish women rewear items over and over and have a signature look AKA a uniform. Seriously, Google Image your favorite fashionista and you'll see more often than not she's wearing the same silhouette, the same designer, the same colors.
- One thing in, one thing out. If you found the Best Thing In The World that's awesome… what will you remove from your closet to make room for it? When you start thinking “one thing in, one thing out” you're more careful with your purchases and you often realize you're buying or holding on to items that don't deserve it.
- Shop your current life. I mentioned this in last week's post. Don't buy for the past, don't buy for a possible future. Don't buy an entire new wardrobe for a week-long vacation, don't think a capsule will help your love life, give you a promotion, make you look younger or thinner or happier. Buy with care, buy slow, and buy what you honestly need for the current life you own.