Last Updated on September 11, 2020
I haven’t talked about fashion a lot on this blog. I posted about my 18 piece wardrobe experiment last January and left you hanging. In case you need a reminder, I picked out 18 pieces of clothing to wear for the whole year.
I made it about 8 months before throwing in the towel. I just couldn’t handle it. I loved it at first. By the third month, I was tired of it. By the sixth month, the clothes needed to be repaired.
My whites were getting dingy, buttons had gone missing, and hems were coming undone.
My three shirts simply weren’t up to the task of everyday use. Most of the items were second hand to begin with, and the incessant washing became a burden too difficult to bear.
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I know I’ve mentioned several times on the blog that I used to have over 200 dresses alone. I LOVED fashion.
I still love clothing and using it as a form of expression. 50% of the reason I wanted to be an actor was getting to make a career out of playing dress up.
I love clothes so much…. I had a fashion blog. *GASP* No, I will not link to it. Yes, it is still on the internet.
You may try to find it, but I’d doubt you’d be successful. I started it when I was a freshman in college and it lasted one week.
It. Is. Hilarious.
Little baby Kathryn is pretty cute. My writing is surprisingly not as horrendous as I thought it was going to be although the photos could definitely use some work. I just remembered the blog name in a dream three days ago.
I digress. Doing this 18 piece wardrobe experiment taught me a lot of things.
Table of Contents
1. no numbers:
18 is a number, and that number doesn’t have to be the end all be all. No number has to be the end all be all!
Minimalism isn’t a numbers game. It’s not about only having 3 shirts and 2 pairs of pants. If that’s the closet you love, then that’s awesome for you!
For me and my life, 18 wasn’t enough. I don’t know what my enough is, but I think I’m slowly finding it.
There are all sorts of blogs that tell you, you have to have a set number of pieces, and while it is a GREAT experiment (especially if you’re used to living with excess) it’s not a hard and fast rule.
I will never go back to two stuffed closets and 200 dresses. That was over consumption, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a little fun with my clothing.
I view clothing as a form of self-expression and keeping a teeny-tiny closet made me sad.
I’ve let myself off the hook, and I’m allowing myself to have fun and explore my style and explore the pieces that truly work for me.
2. breaking out of black and white:
This is a really, really common trap for people minimizing their wardrobe. It’s easy to just go all black and white. That’s classic, right!?
Well, I felt like a waiter in all black and white. I just really wasn’t into the stark contrast. Also, black and white aren’t really my colors. I felt like I was pretending to be someone else.
It wasn’t until I started to infuse warmer neutrals in my wardrobe, did I start to feel like myself.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me some neutrals, but I prefer khakis, tans, and blushes. I think they complement my skin tone really well.
I wear those colors, and I feel good.
The fashion industry is based on wanting to feel good. When you wear something that makes you feel good you look good. My 18 piece wardrobe didn’t make me feel good, so I didn’t look good.
When having a small wardrobe, it’s important to wear pieces that make you look and feel like a rockstar! You want to get excited to get dressed every morning.
Now that I’m infusing new (second-hand) pieces into my wardrobe, I’m excited to get dressed. Outfits are coming together easier and I’m a lot happier.
3. defined style:
200-dresses-Kathryn was dressing for multiple personalities. My closet was more of a costume closet.
I had a lot of vintage clothing. I had dresses from the 40s, 60s, and 70s. I could immediately jump into any decade or any personality I was feeling whether that was preppy, rocker, or boho.
I’ve really learned to listen to the styles that make me feel the best. Preppy styles with a bit of boho flare is where I lean.
This mean classic lines with maybe a bell sleeve or interesting drape. If I really want to get dressed up and have fun, I borrow clothes from my friend’s closets.
Having a small wardrobe taught me what I like and what I don’t like. It also helped me pay very close attention to fit.
I know exactly what length a shirt should and shouldn’t be to compliment my pear shape.
I know exactly where a dress should hit. I know exactly where my pants should be hemmed. Being aware of fit is soooo important. You know those pieces you love but never seem to wear because something just feels off?
Most likely, it’s a fit issue. I have narrowed down my fit so well, that I could walk around with a tape measure and tell you if I was going to like a shirt before I even put it on. Is that shirt 22″ in length? No, thank you!
I have also learned to pay special attention to color. I really like color, but I don’t like too much color. I like to stick to a pretty neutral wardrobe. (Just not black and white) I don’t like a lot of really bright colors unless it’s on the occasional happy sundress.
By paying special attention to the colors I wear most often, I’m able to quickly decide future purchases.
I recently had a beautiful blue dress I was considering buying. It was a very bright blue, I wouldn’t normally be drawn to. I decided to let it go because it didn’t fit in with most of my wardrobe. Bright blue is not something I would normally wear. It’s just not really my color.
I knew if I brought that piece into my wardrobe, it would sit there mostly untouched. However, if that dress were pink… I’d try and find a way to wear it every day!
4. it’s ok:
Living a zero waste lifestyle can make it feel like shopping is bad or wrong. And, while over consumption is bad. There’s nothing wrong with shopping if it’s done in an ethical way.
We’re never going to be completely free of shopping. In fact, I’m in desperate need of undies as we speak. (Side note: if you have a favorite ethical underwear brand please let me know in the comments.)
I still feel guilty when shopping, because the number one rule is to buy less!
But, there also needs to be something said for having a little fun. Having a dull and dingy 18 piece wardrobe made me sad. It made me really, really want to go shopping.
It’s like being on a crash diet. Depriving yourself of food is only going to encourage gorging later.
Instead, it’s better to make thoughtful better choices over a long period of time. This makes it fun and personally sustainable.
While I think challenging and testing yourself can be a good experiment, it’s definitely not ideal long term.
Bottom line. I enjoy clothes. I enjoy shopping. I enjoy wardrobe as a form of self-expression.
How do I combine this with my zero waste and minimalist outlooks? (I only live in 300 sq. ft. 200-dress- Kathryn’s closet was bigger than that!)
I only shop local and second-hand unless it’s for necessities (socks and undies) or very hard to find basics (lookin’ at you white tank top.) I love shopping local second-hand!
I’m able to support my community and prevent any new resource production.
It seems like a great compromise, and I feel pretty guilt-free. I’m always very, very critical when it comes to fit and color.
Even though it’s practically guilt free shopping, I don’t want to take something unnecessarily off the market. I also, don’t want to have pieces in my closet that are unworn.
5. constantly edit:
I am always editing my wardrobe. Just because I liked the way it fit in the dressing room, standing up straight, in bad lighting, for 2 minutes, does not mean I’m going to it when I’m running around work or walking the dog.
If you don’t love it, it’s time to give it back. There have been several pieces I have bought at the thrift store, worn a couple of times and decided I should let them go.
That’s perfectly fine! It’s like you borrowed it from the thrift store for a couple of days. There’s no reason to force it to work out.
This prevents my closet from getting packed, and I’m constantly keeping an eye on what works and what doesn’t.
Each piece you bring into your closet teaches you something new about your style, and you’ll be able to make better choices in the future. Don’t hold onto pieces because you think it might work out in the future.
If it can be altered, alter it that week. If you don’t alter it immediately, it’s time to re-donate it.
I don’t feel too guilty about re-donating. If it was good enough to make it onto the shelves 2 weeks ago, it’s most likely good enough to make it onto the shelves again.
6. texture and pattern:
Don’t forget about out texture and pattern. A wardrobe, even a black and white one, can have more life if you throw in a little bit texture or pattern.
I made the huge mistake of doing all solid black and white and all similar texture. If I had thrown in a fun black and white pattern or more texture like lace or even cable knit, things might have been different.
In my small wardrobe experiments, texture and pattern really seem to make a difference. It can just be a little bit. My patterned sweater is a cream sweater with black polka dots. It’s not like you have to go crazy.
But, just that little something extra makes things feel more elevated.
This was a pretty long post, but for the first time in a while, I am LOVING my current wardrobe. I am having so much fun with it. It’s mostly pink, white, tan, and navy. I am so excited to get dressed in the morning.
I think I’m finally finding my groove. I can’t wait to do a full wardrobe update with everything in my closet.
I want to hear all about your wardrobe! Everyone does everything differently, maybe I can pick up a few tips from you. How do you feel about your current closet? Do you have a teeny-tiny wardrobe and love it? Do you have a capsule wardrobe?