The following is my experience with the first step in my Wardrobe 100 series, a series of posts on refining your personal style and developing a more cohesive wardrobe. If you’re new, see the first step here.
After experimenting with the detox process in my own wardrobe, I’ve developed an understanding of what needs to be done to make my closet work and have some insight into both the process and my own way of making it through the clutter.
Avoiding inspiration for a week is a really difficult process.
I didn’t make it more than a few days without at least stopping in a store, although I did find myself influenced less by what I saw than I would have normally been and didn’t find myself feeling like I needed anything as I browsed the racks. Taking a step back and reevaluating my own tastes for even a short period of time has helped to clarify my style. I highly recommend taking a shopping break even if you follow no other tip provided in this series for that effect alone as the cheaper something is, the more tempting it seems to be and that can quickly lead to buying items that end up unworn. Realizing that pieces you would normally have been tempted to buy just don’t measure up to your standards can help eliminate the more egregious impulse buys.
Detoxing my closet was/is the absolute worst.
I’m not even done; really, I’ve barely even started. As someone who cares probably too much about clothing (re: this blog), I also have some fairly strong emotional responses to my wardrobe and tend to hang on to things even when I know I shouldn’t. Shopping, clothing, dressing in the morning, personal style, and self-expression are all one in the same to me and adding in the financial sinkhole of my closet is a recipe for overwhelming amounts of stress and indecision. I did manage to pull a not-insignificant amount out of my closet, however. Being ruthless and going with my gut helped me put away some of the nagging pack-rat tendencies I have for a bit and really get down to business.
Most of these items will be donated, a few will be sold on eBay, and some will be brought to Buffalo Exchange to see if I can get a little for it since a lot of things are brand new, decent quality, or trendy pieces I just don’t wear. Note: Do not buy things for the supposed resale value. You will get pennies for something you paid a hundred for new and you will be filled with regret. Unfortunately, the feeling is only slightly better when it comes to pieces you got on the cheap – you’re still dealing with a closet full of stuff you paid money for that you are now forced to part with your little to nothing, and there’s probably significantly more of them. Smart shopping clearly matters.
I also pulled out plenty of things that are worn, old, cheap, or not my style or likely anyone else’s either. They’re going straight into the donation box and hopefully out of my closet as quickly as possible. A lot of these items were given to me by friends who were also cleaning their closets or acquired as part of clothing swaps – which are great to remix your closet without spending any more money – but I always end up taking way more home with me than I mean to and at least a few pieces I wouldn’t have chosen unless they were free. Though these items aren’t as toxic to my sense of style as the previous ones, they still are taking up valuable real estate in my tiny apartment.
After pulling items from my closet I’ve noticed that, frankly, I have way too much. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of things I’ve managed to accumulate and I’m beginning to understand why so many people opt for a purposefully-minimal capsule closet at the outset – limiting myself to 37 pieces seems fantastic as I’m drowning in what seems like 50 tees alone that I never wear. While I’m not choosing to pursue a capsule closet, I do have a definite goal of eliminating a lot of unnecessary visual and stylistic clutter as part of this journey.
I still have a lot of work to do.
one of these things is not like the other
I have an overabundance of scarves that you’ll pry out of my cold, dead hands and a lot of pieces that I like but don’t completely love, or that I like at very specific times or paired with very specific other things. These were day-two level projects that I’ve been dragging out since then; there’s absolutely still a pile of clothes stacked upon a box in the middle of my floor right now. I’ll probably be pulling things out of my closet for the next month, although that is a part of the curating process as well. A lot of these pieces I could easily make looks out of, but aren’t necessarily something I would wear everyday if given the option. While everything in your closet doesn’t have to be pieces that you’d wear every single day, that’s a decent litmus test for items that should be there over others. I hope to really dive into those types of pieces and make more space in my closet.
My closet is beginning to make more sense even with only the most glaring outliers removed. I’ve noticed that I have a majority of black, grey, and earth toned items with some denim and a few brighter colors like gold or burnt orange. I also confirmed the fact that I that I do in fact own buttondowns in almost every variety, but especially love oversized, flannel, and chiffon ones. As everything my closet is fall or winter-specific, I’ve also noticed that it seems to lack in winter dresses which is something I intend to remedy by the end of the season.
I’ve been able to identify what I like after avoiding inspiration for a period of time. Before starting this process I was aware on some level that I knew what I wanted to wear, but determining how to style them will take some effort. Without the usual influx of images I’m not as quick to visualize what something could look like on, or what it may look like when paired with other items, or how to wear things I own in a different way. Shopping is what I usually rely on to inject life into my closet so it will be an adjustment focusing solely on what I have in my closet at this time. But I know the essence of what I like is there however – and I was able to identify what I reach for on a regular basis, at least this time of year. My black chiffon buttondown from H&M got worn multiple times and is something that has more than earned its place in my closet. I’ve noticed my accessories (outside of purses, scarves, and shoes) are relatively lacking and will be something I’ll need to build upon to fully execute my style. This may not be the case for you, especially if you don’t wear much jewelry or rely on accessorizing, but I like to use accessories to enliven more simple outfits and right now my options are fairly limited.
At the end of the first step, I find myself feeling restless. I’m ready to uncover more of my natural style threads hidden in my wardrobe and ready to be happier with what I own, and I’m desperately looking forward to shifting my purchasing habits towards something that takes up less space.
Have you completed the first step? What have you learned about your own closet?