Having a small budget but in desperate need of a wardrobe refresh is frustrating, especially at the start of a new season and finally being out of maternity clothes. Spring has sprung, the sun’s actually out and the shops are full of mid season sales tempting consumers to spend, spend, spend, GAP 40% discount code anyone?! It can be hard to resist.
Since reading ‘Clutter Free With Kids’ by Joshua Becker a years ago I’ve been a fervent believer in the less is more approach. Clutter has become like my personal kryptonite. It really does make me a little hot under the colour to see a clear and organised drawer or a highly organised garage! *wistfully thinks of the label maker. My house is relatively clutter free and minimal, however I needed the push of having a loft conversion and loosing the majority of our storage space to really tackle my years of clothes hoarding.
In the past I’ve given way to temptation and spent hundreds in the sales believing I was getting a bargain and that I would finally achieve the desired casual but polished look. In reality I would stare blankly into my over stuffed wardrobe and feel I had nothing to wear, what I did end up wearing felt messy. It’s not that the purchased clothes weren’t nice or quality pieces, I just struggled to put them together into an actual day to day outfit that felt true to me. I would regularly keep items that I ordered online that I had instantly known weren’t quite right (size, fit, style) in a partially lazy but mainly optimistic mindset that someday I would make it work. This approach had led to a loft full of excess hardly worn clothes that I would drag down from the hatch each changing season, maybe treat to a run in the wardrobe, but would inevitably return back to the dusty boxes until the next year.
A huge downsizing was required for both practical, style and sanity reasons. I purged big time: 13 black bags of my clothes alone. Why had I never thrown away the stained shirt? Gifted the bridesmaid dress that wasn’t really my taste? charity shopped the fashion errors? It was because I could never quite face how much of a waste of money it had all been! I felt so guilty having spent pay check after pay check for over 15 years acquiring clothes, chasing a look I had never achieved. I was adamant that I wouldn’t make the same mistakes again.
It was beautifully therapeutic to go through the boxes upon boxes of excess summer / winter clothes, and as per the advise I’d found, really consider for each item whether a) I still liked it, b) whether it suited my current minimal style c) whether it was easy to style along my other items and d) whether it was ever realistically going to fit my post baby body: I could loose the weight but there was no going back for my expanded rib cage and hips! I wanted a wardrobe of items that I could pull together easily and quickly. Although I am often drawn to the quirkier looks like that the lovely Zoe from ‘Dress Like a Mum’ styles together, I’ve come to accept that I just don’t have the time, budget or ability to style together more fashion forward trends in sleep deprived school / work run whirlwinds.
I came across a number of capsule wardrobe blogs and joined a few Facebook groups where real women posted photos of their outfits made up of a small collection of carefully selected versatile clothes. I poured over their photos of highly organised wardrobes, and how their outfits looked put together, diverse and surprisingly fashionable. I wanted that!
I created a Pinterest board and initially pinned inspiration, looks & combinations that I liked: outfits that I would actually put on on a drizzly Tuesday school run. I carefully considered what items I already owned from these looks, and surprisingly I had lots, often multiples of the same thing. I then identified what items I would need to add to make an ‘outfit’. Often it was an accessory: a piece of jewellery, scarf, shoes or bag that was pulling the look together. I hadn’t really ever invested in these types of items before as I had always felt I was getting better value for money by buying clothes. I decided to focus my post baby clothes budget on versatile accessories alongside the odd missing link top / bottom. I have continued to shop online (can’t stand actual real life shopping) but immediately return items that I hesitate over. I have left tags on until I pull out the item to wear and keep return bags and receipts handy in case I changed my mind. I’ll do a separate post with photos of the items that survived the process.
I have kept two excess boxes that I store in the garage, one for summer and one for winter. Mainly they contain clothes that I’m hoping will fit again next year, being only 7 weeks post natal, but if they don’t, then their fate will also be sealed without hesitation or guilt. I’ve also boxed up a few of my more fancy but wearable items, no more than 10 or so, and put into an easily accessible storage space in the house. This way they’re not getting in the way of my everyday outfits but are at arms reach for a dinner date or break away.
Whilst sorting I considered what actually suited me, not just what I liked, in terms of both shape and colour. I learnt that I was a warm autumn (skin and hair tones) and that I should ideally wear warm earthy colours, ivories, olives and tans, and stay clear of pastels, brights and cool greys. I am never going to give up my grey, black and white obsession, particularly the stripes and T’s, but I’ve learnt that styling with a more flattering coloured accessory or warm toned lipstick lifts the overall look. I’m also not throwing away items because they don’t fit my suggested colour scheme, but I’ll certainly bear it in mind when selecting clothes in future.
I have created a secret Pinterest board and take a quick, unfiltered selfie in an outfit I feel good in to slowly build a personnel catalogue of outfits to refer to on uninspired days. It’s early days in the experiment and I’m pretty sure that my wardrobe would be considered ‘capsule’ but so far I feel more put together (although still casual) and can look into my wardrobe and not feel the immediate itch to online shop. Less really is more. Happy days!