The experience of staying at home for the past year has put a lot of things into perspective, and a major part of that for me was my wardrobe.
What some might’ve seen as a sad time for fashion and self expression, I saw as an opportunity to reflect on my shopping habits, and rebuild my wardrobe in a way that was purposeful for my lifestyle.
Pre-pandemic, I had a toxic relationship with my clothes. Among my friends I was known to take the longest to pick out an outfit.
I was also the most anti-social. What should have been a fun night would be overcome by the stress of picking out what to wear, added on to my social-anxiety, and carried on through the evening.
For me, my outfit was the determining factor of how my night would go. Over time, I collected a mass of clothing I wore once and never again.
In between the clothes that were too tight, too big, stained, and still had their tags were those few pieces that I always gravitated to.
So I picked out the pieces worth investing in, had them tailored, and sold or donated the rest.
Then, I slowly rebuilt my wardrobe around my staple pieces. As it turns out, getting dressed is no longer as big of a task it once was.
Is Your Relationship With Your Closet… Complicated?
Take a moment and look into the space where you keep your clothes. Think about what you might want to wear later. Feel overwhelmed, or unsure?
What’s the current state of the space? Is it organized? Can you easily access what you need? Do you frequently find yourself stuck when it comes time to determine what to wear? Or even dread the idea of it?
Symptoms of an Over-Complicated Wardrobe
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you’re most likely caught caught in a complicated relationship with your clothes.
This can have real effects on your day to day routine, some symptoms of a complicated wardrobe include:
- The “I Have a Closet Full of Clothes but Have Nothing to Wear” Nightmare:
You’re there, fresh out of the shower, looking into a closet full of clothing that’s just not inspiring.
Next thing you know you check the time and realize you’ve been standing there in your towel for the past 15 minutes and it’s time to get out the door.
This is just one symptom of an over-complicated wardrobe.
- The Never-Ending Spiral into A Time Warp of Outfit Try-Ons:
You try on your first outfit, and something about it isn’t right. Then you try on another, and another, and before you know it you’ve gone through 20 outfits and your room looks like a tornado went through it.
You finally settle with the first outfit you tried on and run out of the house with no time to spare, leaving the mess for your future self to deal with.
As Jay Shetty explains in his book, Think Like A Monk, monks purposefully simplify many things in their life, including clothing, as a way to preserve energy and save time getting ready for the day.
Obviously, monk life differs in many ways from most of our day to day lives.
Rest assured, I’m not telling you to donate almost all of your belongings, but we can all learn from a monk’s lifestyle and find our own long-lasting clothes that feel good to wear all the time.
Whether it’s work, class, the gym, or date night, your version of a monk robe is whatever outfit makes you feel the most comfortable and confident, so that you can have the best mindset going forward, and save valuable energy to make bigger and better decisions throughout the day.
Simplify Your Wardrobe, Simplify Your Routine
The point of all of this is to remove challenges from your routine. As little as it may seem, the more time you spend making trivial decisions like what to wear in the morning, you’re complicating your day before it even begins.
Look at tech giant Steve Jobs, who’s known for his daily uniform of blue jeans and a black turtleneck...
Or founder of Huffington Post, and CEO of Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington, who swears by repeating outfits.
Even President Barack Obama wore the same blue or grey suits, as he explained to Vanity Fair, “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
Many successful people have found that by simplifying the options in their closet, they’re more able to make focused decisions that have direct impacts on their companies, careers, and the people they serve.
Finding your go-to #Repeat Styles
- Identify the different aspects of your life that require a certain dress code, for example: work,
and work or more formal events.
- Go through each aspect you identified in step 1 and pick out your favorite outfit for the occasion, while taking note of what you like about each item.
Reasons could be the fit of the item, the color, material, or simply how you feel wearing it.
- Now, if you couldn’t find an outfit from what you already own for every occasion, don’t stress! This is a great learning opportunity. What options do you have, and what isn’t right about them?
Are they uncomfortable, do they fit too tight or too large, or are they not your style anymore? Great! All the reasons to get rid of them and start fresh.
- This is the fun part, you go shopping! Get yourself a few different "go-to" options for each occasion.
The only challenge is that you have to take into account the mental notes you made about your clothes in the process.
Knowing what you like and don’t like to wear for each occasion, make sure you’re only buying clothes that go along with that criteria.
Fit is also very important when purchasing clothes, especially online, so be prepared to return or exchange items you aren’t comfortable in.
- Now that you've identified the styles you love, you should also factor in the seasons and weather where you live and like to spend time.
A light wool sweater is a good option if the temperature where you live fluctuates. Oliver Charles sweater are lightweight, durable, and perfect for repeat wear!
The secret to daily wear is simplicity, and the more simple you can make your decision making process in the morning, the more focused you’ll be for the day.
The purpose of this article isn’t to encourage you to get rid of everything you own and buy new, but to think critically about the items you do own, and whether or not they truly work for you and your lifestyle.
Once you understand what ways your clothes do or do not work for you, then you’ll be able to move forward more mindfully by shopping smart, and creating a closet of clothing that actually makes sense for you and your lifestyle.
Doing so will save you valuable decision making energy that you can apply throughout your day. Whether it be as a parent, boss, or student, each and every one of us has something to gain from simplifying our routines, and our wardrobes.
Claire Redden is a recent graduate of The University of Illinois at Chicago. Claire's goal is to utilize my writing and media skills to bring about the changes she’d like to see in the world. Through journalism, Claire discusses topics like social justice, environmental racism, and sustainability