It was the best of times, it was the worst of times and I had nothing to wear. This is a refrain spoken by women (yes I know I am generalizing but I am a woman so it is my prerogative). I have a large closet with lots of clothes that I mostly don’t wear. Last fall I did an experiment to see what I actually wore. I created a capsule wardrobe with items that would mix and match easily. I removed all other clothes from my closet to an empty closet in my house. It felt good having the empty space in my closet. It was pretty looking at all the color coordinating items in my closet.
I discovered a few things while doing this experiment. First I found I still grabbed only a few items over and over again. I had my boyfriend jeans that hung lose on me and rolled at the ankles. I had my oversized sweater cardigan with the pockets. And I had a super soft long sleeved shirt in a charcoal gray. I felt comfy. That is my style, comfy. Midwest winters get harsh and I wanted to be warm and this outfit worked perfect. I would change my look from time to time by wearing one of my signature necklaces.
Second, I discovered that I still had nothing to wear. Despite my creation of capsules I still looked at my limited items of clothes and struggled. So I did what we all do, I put on the same thing over and over again. It was almost like I had a uniform. I found myself more and more wearing sweats for most of the day. I work from home so few people see me. I also found myself apologizing to my husband as he came home and saw me wearing the same thing every night. I would laugh and swear that I left the house and wore something besides my yoga clothes or my boyfriend jeans cardigan sweater combo.
But why do we wear the same thing over and over again? My capsule of 30 pieces of clothing could easily have been 10. I understand the theory of Pareto’s Principal of the 80/20 rule. I was in fact living it on a small scale. No longer did I decide from 150 pieces of clothing, but from 30. I still picked the same ones over and over.
Oh and those clothes in another closet were not ignored. I would go downstairs and visit my other clothes from time to time. I enjoyed seeing their flamboyant patterns and bright colors. I thought wistfully to myself that I will one day again wear that flower dress and the white jeans that are too small and the fun shirt with the funky pattern. But even with extra clothes to choose from, I really had no desire to even wear them. I still was left with the feeling that I had nothing to wear.
I will say that I am good at one thing and that is not buying new clothes. I had no desire to shop. It really isn’t my thing. I shop just a few times a year and buy my essentials and am happy. If you are discontent with the items in your closet, please do not think that adding more will solve the problem. Having more does not make this problem go away.
I discovered a few other things regarding my thought process that may also go through your head when you have nothing to wear.
I turn to the same comfy clothes all the time. When I do buy new clothes I need to try them on. I need to make sure that the gold thread or the 10% wool or the tag on the back does not itch me. I have plenty of very nice clothes that fit and I simply pass over because the fabric in some way irritates me.
I wear clothes that people complimented me on. It feels good to be told you look nice in something. Yes my hubby is great at the complements but we have been married for a long time and I don’t always ‘hear” him like I should. But when a friend or a stranger tells me I look nice I take notice. This indicates to me that I need to tell people when they look great as well. Today I told the man in front of me in the TSA line that he had a great suit on. He thanked me and quickly broke eye contact as I think I surprised him with my Midwest nice. It feels good to surprise someone with a compliment, so sprinkle those everywhere.
I need to figure out the story with why I am saving clothing. Did I spend too much money on it? Did I receive it as a gift? Did I need to lose 10 pounds to have it fit? Other people may have the story of not having nice clothes as a child, or not being able to afford them. And believe me, I have seen my share of messy closets where the clothing simply cannot be accessed in a reasonable manner.
If you struggle with the same problem I have, take some time to see what your clothes story is. Promise me though that you will not buy any more clothes until you figure out your story. Your story will be individual to you. We all have one. Mine is that I want to look fashionable but be comfortable. I am on the hunt for the comfy and classy wardrobe. I am almost there. The last six months have been a fun social experiment in my own closet and I have learned a lot about my style.
To Joyful, Simplified Organizing,
Melissa is a Productivity Consultant living in Fargo, North Dakota doing her best of living a life full of adventure. Filling a life of memories and not of things!