Tuesday, 20 April 2010

How to Do More with Less in Your Wardrobe

I’m pretty fixated on this topic just now. Minimalism has never been my thing, and it still isn’t, not really. I just enjoy life when it’s easy, don’t you? And a creaking wardrobe of gargantuan proportions is a beast that I don’t want to wrestle with every morning. What has often put me off having a major clear out is the worry of  having less. Less has never been good. Less ice cream for dessert? Absurd! Less money in my birthday card? Devastating! Less chocolate sprinkled on my cappuccino? Per-lease Mr Barista! But, the truth is, there has to be a limit to this insatiable, westernized appetite for more. And what better place to start than the area of our lives us young women spend the most time obsessing about? You got it, our clothes.

What I Mean By ‘Less’

• By less I mean less items in your possession, not wear less. This isn’t that kind of blog...

What I Mean By ‘More’

• By more I mean a wardrobe that gives more, that functions more, and that has more possibilities.

Let’s take it to an extreme. Let’s say you’ve got a wardrobe with ten things in it, versus a wardrobe with a hundred things. The knee-jerk reaction is to opt for the hundred-item wardrobe, more is always better, surely? But let’s read the small print. The ten-item wardrobe has been well thought out, is matched on a flattering colour scheme, has been purchased based on quality, and is hanging with plenty of space around each item to dip in and out. The one hundred-item wardrobe has been collected entirely at random, on a mostly low budget, to no particular colour scheme, and is crammed into an inadequate space. Which is more appealing now? But which sounds more like your wardrobe? Less can be more in your wardrobe when you apply thought and quality, just like a Fabergé egg is worth more than a lesser valuable crate of battery chicken eggs.

Just because you have a lot of clothes in your wardrobe, doesn’t mean you have a lot of outfits. Look at it this way: I could own a great pair of cowboy boots, a maxi dress, a leather jacket, a glitzy top, a floral cardigan, a beret, a pair of jeggings, an evening gown, a pair of harem pants, a Victorian shirt, a blazer... etc. etc. Sure, I would own a great deal of stuff, but I wouldn’t exactly have an outfit, especially if one or more of the items didn’t fit, or had a small stain or hole, or there was never an occasion for it... Now, I could simply have a buttoned blouse, a pair of smart shorts, a jumper dress, a stretch jersey skirt, a plain cardigan and a favourite band t-shirt and I already have five+ outfits. By buying with the rest of your wardrobe in mind, less items can mean more outfits.

Looking at items you don’t really like day in day out does not do a great deal for your style inspiration. Imagine you disliked the colour brown. If your bedroom were painted that colour, it wouldn’t exactly put you in the best mood to keep seeing it every day. In fact, it would be quite depressing, would it not? Same goes for that old pair of jeans. Sure, they fit okay, just like brown might match your pine furniture; sure, they’re reliable, just like that brown paint covers any marks or scuffs; sure, it might be a bit of a wrench to throw them out, just like it would be a hard day’s work to whitewash and repaint your bedroom. None of these are reasons to keep your room painted a colour you dislike, and none of them are reasons to save a piece of clothing that isn’t working for you. You can be more inspired if you’re seeing less things that you don’t wear, because you don’t wear them for a reason.

If you were running a sprint, how would you get the fastest time you could to the finish? By having a straight, clear track. Now, what if you had to run that same sprint through a dense wood? That finish line would look a lot further away. The fact is, most of us, however much we love clothes, need an outfit every day. And most of us don’t have time every day to navigate our way through a cluttered wardrobe; we simply need something we can look good and feel good in, quickly. If you put a lot of clothes you don’t want to wear in front of the ones you actually do, you are planting a heck load of trees on your own running track. You’ll have more access to the look you want if there are less obstacles in your way.

I hear your fears. What if you get bored of less? Newsflash: you’re already bored of your wardrobe. That’s why you have so much stuff in the first place, and that’s why you’re reading this article. With the tremendously strong negative and positive associations with the words ‘old’ and ‘new’ in western society, along with a constant, unhampered stream of marketing into our consciousnesses, and money that seems to burn a hole in our pockets – it’s pretty darned hard not to get bored of our belongings. But the thing to realise is that this will be true however much we own. Less or more, you’ll probably still get bored, but better to channel that desire into a slim line wardrobe than one already stuffed to the brim.

I’m planning to do more with less, are you?

Image thanks to RJ Bejil


Zmaga said...

I'm with you, sister! :D

Kylie said...

This is such great advice. I'm in the process of moving and it's been such a great opportunity to get rid of SO MUCH STUFF. I don't think I could make it with just the 10 pieces, but certainly 20. And that's still a lot more "minimalist" than most wardrobes!

Megan said...

Zmaga - Right on!

Kylie - Yes, the 10 items was a bit of an extreme example to get you thinking! I recently moved too, perhaps that's why I've been thinking on this topic so much! Thanks for your input :)

Madison Young said...

I plan on doing more with less as well. My closet consists of three wardrobe racks, a hanging sweater/pants divider, and a dresser...all stuffed to the brim with things that I do not wear. Enough is enough! Thank you for the kick in the pants, so to speak :]

A.D said...

Oh, I have so much but so little. (Spring wardrobe purge coming up....) Anyways, this is a great article! I am definitely inspired to do more with less!

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