A New Year and a Budding New Attitude Towards Stuff (Clothing, Specifically)03 January 2013 | by Jen in Whatnot
Actually, the attitude is not completely new. For the past couple of years I’ve been having this, I don’t know, almost suffocating feeling towards my stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, I like my stuff. Although I feel nostalgic about the days when everything I owned fit into the back of a pick-up, I enjoy my comfortable home and part of that comfort comes from the stuff. (OMG, I’ve eaten so much chocolate today, WHY?!)
(Oh, and hi by the way! Happy New Year! Long time no blog!)
This post is a response to a comment on the Colette Patterns blog. A comment, that Sarai mentioned in a tweet, wondering what is a reasonable amount of clothes. I was going to respond on her blog but then decided it was rude to leave such a long(-winded) comment, or mini-blog post if you will, and figured I should just post my thoughts here (and then some) for everyone’s reading enjoyment.* (By the way, if you ever want to leave a relevant and super nice but super long comment on this blog, feel free.)
Okay, what am I talking about? Oh, stuff…I mean clothing. Last year I purged my closet twice. The last time I did it I was pretty merciless. Meaning, I got rid of stuff I thought I’d never get rid of. You know, that stuff you keep out of emotional attachment, mainly guilt. Let me tell you, telling an expensive and unflattering clothing item that you wore that one time “f— you for making me feel guilty and/or fat” and shoving it into the Goodwill bag is extremely satisfying. With such an attitude I managed to pare down my wardrobe to mostly items that I love and feel good in, or absolutely need. (I have to admit I still have a few things in my wardrobe that I don’t wear, primarily beautiful vintage things.)
Instead of trying to fill my closet back up, I’ve spent some time trying to figure out what I actually need (if anything at all). I’ve realized that I’m not really outfitted for cold weather. Since I’ve been living in L.A. for most of the last 12 years I’ve been fine overall though I continually find myself “freezing” in 50 degree weather. As I write this post I cannot feel my toes. (I’m in my office wearing socks AND slippers.) I generally don’t spend a lot of time outdoors in the winter because of this which sucks because I do love the cold weather, I just don’t like being cold. So I’ve been saving up and slowly picking out a couple of things that will keep my comfortable when it’s chilly.
But before I started buying up new clothes to fill my closet to then angrily purge later I did some research (fun research!):
- STYLE and MATERIALISM (weird category but I’ll explain): I’ve read blog posts and articles on effortless/Frenchy/signature style, AND posts about simplifying your life. Because although I want to have a wardrobe that really suits me and makes me feel and look good, I don’t want to have too much stuff. And I don’t want to expend energy on my appearance that could be better spent on more important things like my relationships with people, creating, and so forth. What I love about the idea of effortlessly chic or signature style is that at some point, I think, it really does become effortless. Putting on variations of your “uniform” probably takes a lot less energy than trying to follow trends or figure out a whole new look each time you get dressed. And I’m not talking about your hoodie + yoga pants. Actually, wait. Yes, you can wear yoga pants out and about BUT you could also throw on a trench coat and a pretty scarf, and be just as comfortable but not look like you’ve completely given up. Just saying.
- FIT: I’ve read info about fit and body types. I was already aware of some things like that I’m petite (duh) but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that some styles I love don’t suit me as well as other styles. Sadly, ’50s dresses with lots of gathers and very full skirts = thicker waist and stumpification on me. No thank you.
- STYLE, GENERAL: Purely for fun I read “Tim Gunn : A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style” on my Kindle. It’s a easy and quick read, high-level stuff that may help answer any questions about your body (fit), signature style, wardrobe staples, etc. I don’t use it as a bible though. Mr. Gunn would be horrified at my fave pair of patched “hobo” jeans. And he does not like saddle shoes so you’ve got to take what he says with a grain of salt. But still, helpful and fun. (I was bummed out when I reached the end so there you have it.)
- COLOR: Don’t laugh but do you remember Color Me Beautiful from the ’80′s? I remember my mom getting her “colors done” like all the other moms in the neighborhood. (Okay, laugh. It’s fine.) I stumbled upon this concept somewhat recently and as dorky as it might sound it has helped me so much in terms of understanding why some things look good on me while others don’t: color! This has helped me avoid purchasing clothes in colors I like but are completely wrong for me. As it turns out many of my favorite colors are ones that are appropriate for me. (You would think as a former art student I would understand this whole concept already but the siren song of a beautiful but entirely unflattering color is sometimes hard to resist.)
Another thing that has helped with wardrobe-filling decisions is being able to recognize my needs versus manufactured (aka B.S.) needs. I think one of the reasons why people fill up their closets and homes with crap is because, at the time, they thought they needed said crappy item. Or super clever marketing made them “love” said item. I have been guilty of this but I’ve gotten a LOT better and as a result have wasted less money on stuff I don’t need or truly love. The first step is awareness, really. And awareness is empowering.
How do you feel about stuff? Or your stuff, specifically? Are you trying to be more conscientious about buying things while still cultivating personal style?
*In case you were wondering, my original comment was not going to be this long.
(Top photo is of a blouse I made from vintage strawberry fabric that I had been hoarding. I love it.)