It took over a decade of experimentation for me to find my own sense of style. Finally, after loads of searching (especially online), coveting chic bloggers, thrift-shopping, mall-shopping, and oh, so many donations, I finally love my clothes and how I feel in them. I feel satisfied with what I have — a big relief from the constant tug of FOMO and yes, sometimes insecurity.
And ladies, it’s really not our fault. In 2016, retailers spent $15 billion on digital advertising alone. We are experiencing an inundation of temptation whenever we browse the web. We’re seeing ads, of course (unless you use AdBock — and if you don’t, DO IT!), some of which proceed to follow us from page to page, wearing us down one banner ad at a time. We’re being served ads in our Facebook and Instagram feeds. Don’t even get me started on Pinterest — visual shopping crack! And when we do indulge in some online shopping, we become part of targeted marketing vicious cycle. In my experience, once you make a purchase you’re pretty much automatically added to the retailer’s email marketing distribution list. And it rains emails. Is it me, or did sales used to be just every so often, usually around holidays (no matter how big or small)? Now, I receive emails about ‘flash sales’ all the damn time! 50% off today-only with promocode ‘YAY’. Four hours left! Ugh. And then there are the emails that give us a gentle nudge: Hey, we saw you added this to your cart. Don’t forget to checkout! Ugh. I know I ‘forgot’ to buy that thing. I was practicing self-control!
Minimizing is a game-changer
Last summer, I started learning about capsule wardrobes and I was instantly intrigued, but it was also scary to think about shrinking my closet when I didn’t feel totally secure with what I had. So I decided to find a new way to make new purchases: I created a Pinterest board and committed to pinning all potential purchases for at least 24 hours before completing a transaction. I did this for two reasons: 1.) It forced me to really examine whether I needed that item, allowing me to look through my closet and imagine how I would wear it, and 2.) Pinning all my potential purchases made it easy to see whether items would go together and I could get a better sense of the overall style. I’m a visual person, so this was extremely helpful! I would spend time really curating my board and identifying what fit and what didn’t. I realized patterns and discovered what I really like and why. If I caught myself coveting certain clothes, I would look at my board confirm that I had something similar, or sometimes that item was just too tricky to fit with my overall theme.
This was such an intentional way to shop that I felt so much more confident with my purchases. Now, I’ll be totally honest: this process wasn’t cheap. I didn’t buy a whole new wardrobe, but I did buy a number of higher-end items (particularly jewelry and outerwear). I was sick of being tangled in the fast-fashion cycle and I wanted to invest in pieces that could grow with me. I had developed a disposable mindset: this blouse was cheap, so if it has to get tossed or donated, whatever. Ugh! I’m sorry you had to hear that. They were dark times. I wanted to feel committed to my clothes, I wanted us to have a bond, an understanding.
I learned so much about what I like, what fits well, and what makes makes my life simple through my Pinterest experiment. But yeah, avoid that Pinterest homepage. It still gets me like every time, but I try to avoid it like the plague.
Here’s what helped me create my style:
⇾ A simple color palette does wonders
Previously, I was always seeking out patterns. I couldn’t get enough of patterns. This was the first thing I changed. I specifically sought out solids — and now most of my wardrobe consists of solid colors.
⇾ Seeking out consistent shapes is magic
This is a big one. We’re in an age of hi-lo tops, dresses and even jeans! Tunics, crop tops, and everything in between can make it super challenging to get dressed in the morning. I decided to put my foot down and only buy items that had a sensible hemline, mostly on the fitted side. This has helped tremendously! I don’t have to solve fashion puzzles on the regular. It’s predictability in the best possible way. I know what shapes are comfortable and look good, so that’s all I’ll buy.
⇾ I value how little decision-making it now takes to get dressed
Since I’m happy with my style, my closet is no longer feeling inadequate and I’m also finding it really easy to get dressed. Everything I own fits well, looks good, and is also comfy (very important to me), so I really can’t go wrong. This is probably the biggest benefit to this shift in perspective. I don’t have to spend time changing multiple times, unsure of whether my combo was really “working.” Oof, I do not miss that uncertainty. Seeing myself in the bathroom at work and thinking, Hmm, not loving this outfit today. And hopefully a lot of you ladies don’t have that experience, but if you do (or did), I feel your pain.
Just this weekend, my husband and I prepped for a trip to Green Lake to advantage of some rare Seattle sunshine and I threw on an outfit so quickly and automatically, it took no effort at all. That’s a great feeling.
Disclaimer: I’m going to share some items from my closet to illustrate a few outfits I enjoy, and I am linking certain items that I recommend. I don’t get paid for linking to any products. And I’m sorry if this is tempting to you and takes you down a rabbit hole of shopping. Because that happens! (At least, it has to me.) So anyway, take a look if you’d like and ya know, resist clicking on the links if you are on a quest to buy less.
A few tidbits of my style:
Doesn’t get much simpler than this. Some soft, light jeans, a black cami and thick gray sweater. Throw on a long, simple gold necklace and you’re set!
I love me some blue (dark and light), gray and black. The jeans are the dark-wash version of the ones featured in the previous photo. I love these jeans. They are super soft, wonderfully stretchy (I did yoga in my office while wearing these last week), and a pretty wash!
I used to hunt for cardigans all the time, determined to get one in like every color. Now, I primarily wear these two gray sweaters. One’s a little thicker, and the one on the right is a little fancier. No more polka-dot and pastel sweaters for me!
Blouses! I really delight in seeing my clothes with one another. There’s not as much clashing as their used to be. Everyone gets on rather well. And when my closet’s not bickering, I have time for the things that bring value to my life.