In my 20s, I developed a shopping style I like to call “grazing” — I’d shop whenever I was having a bad day. My wardrobe became filled with impulse buys — alas, usually also bargain buys — from fast fashion chains like Forever 21 and H&M. While I had tons of clothes, I never felt like I had anything to wear. Going into my 30s, I wanted a more cohesive personal style. Instead of going on a shopping spree, I revamped my wardrobe by getting rid of things: buying less and making smarter choices. You can, too — and here’s how.
Like a garden, a wardrobe needs regular maintenance and “pruning.” Your wardrobe should only contain items that you truly love, wear and feel good in. If an item doesn’t fall into one of these categories, send it on to a new home. I regularly go through my wardrobe, pull out pieces that no longer work and take them to a consignment store for resale. The rest gets donated to a local charity or thrift store. It feels great giving things away and knowing that my closet only contains items that I enjoy wearing.
It’s likely that there are pieces in your closet that you love but, for whatever reason, don’t wear. Instead of letting these pieces linger in your wardrobe as “dead energy,” try to figure out why you don’t wear them. For example, maybe that gorgeous silk dress is a slightly awkward length, or perhaps the leg on those perfectly worn 7 for All Mankind jeans are not as skinny as you’d like them to be. These are small tweaks that can easily be handled by a tailor. The money you’ll spend on alterations will be significantly less (and much more environmentally friendly) than buying a new item. Plus, there is something really luxurious about knowing a piece has been custom-tailored to your own body.
Buy less, but buy better
Instead of dropping my hard-earned money on a bunch of random fast fashion impulse buys, I make a point to save my money every month and purchase one or two more expensive “investment pieces.” For example, a classic trench coat or a really well-fitted blazer — two things I know I will wear again and again. I don’t have the budget to buy designer entirely, though, so I do try to buy the best quality that I can afford. As a result, I end up spending about the same as I would have before; however, by making better choices, my closet has items that I can enjoy for years to come. (I still love shopping at fast-fashion chains, BTW. But I stick to buying fun-statement jewellery, basic tees, tanks and items I know I’m going to wear all season. If it’s an overly trendy item I know I’ll only wear once, I put it back on the rack.)
Create a budget and shopping list
To keep my “grazing” nature in check, I make a shopping budget for the month and try my best to stick to it. I’ll write down in my day planner “this month, I’m going to update piece X in my wardrobe” and make a point of buying that item. When I make intentional purchases, I feel better in general, and without doubt my wardrobe benefits.
Practice the “3 Ways Rule”
If I can’t picture myself wearing an item at least three different ways, I don’t buy it. Being able to walk away from an item that doesn’t fit with my overall vision for my wardrobe makes me feel empowered and has helped my closet become much more workable.
Although my closet is emptier than it’s ever been, when I open it up, I see items that I love to wear and am excited about. These days, you’ll never catch me saying “I have nothing to wear!”
Simone Paget is a freelance writer and the author of Skinny Dip, a cheeky blog about love, sex, relationships and everything in between. When she’s not writing her heart out, she loves wandering around her city, large cup of coffee in hand, in search of the next great story.