Happy New Year!
I’d intended to write a post about my fall closet a while back, but our weather went haywire, 105 in October when boots and sweaters are typically making their appearance. I was so ready for fall, tired of my summer favorites and my closet was feeling jumbled and confusing with sun dresses and wool sweaters occupying the same space. I just wore whatever I could to stay cool…including my swimsuit, and just wasn’t inspired to put together a proper post. By the time the temps finally started to drop, the Thomas Fire started and our hot fall became chilly winter in a smoke filled blur. Getting dressed wasn’t feeling effortless and my closet needed attention. I’ve reorganized, sorted, purged and shopped so many times that I thought I was getting closer to a functional wardrobe, but here I was, again. They say dressing well is a skill that can be learned. I’m still learning and writing here is helping.
For the sake of starting fresh in the new year and having a quick reference for myself, I’ve compiled a list of approaches I’ve taken to wardrobe building since starting to apply critical thought to my closet back in 2014. I have…
- created style concepts based on ideas of how I thought I wanted to dress and lists of things I needed to acquire based on my inspiration, rather than looking for the intersection between my inspiration and what was currently in my closet then realized months later that those items weren’t really me. (My sister scored a great $70 olive anorak that was going to be the supreme layering piece for multiple seasons. I wore it once.)
- swung the other way and allowed total freedom to follow my muse in thrift stores and bought so many items my closet got confusing and I once again felt like I had nothing to wear for certain weather, certain activities or with that one thing I thought was too cute to pass up for $2.
- accepted free clothing and fabric I never would have picked out myself and hoarded clothing and fabric I was certain I would make something with eventually. Upon closer inspection, none of those items remotely resemble or feel like anything I actually wear frequently. I went so far as to sew up a few of those fabrics only to end up with total wardrobe duds.
- claimed I’m happy with a closet full of all season clothing, that something like Project 333 or rotating seasonally isn’t necessary where I live. This without giving either a real chance.
- confidently declared that my plans were going to be perfect. Also, that I didn’t need rules or plans. Both have resulted in total fails.
What stood out to me in the list above is that I’d never attempted putting together a capsule wardrobe using ONLY items I already owned. So while we were stuck inside due to air quality during the fires, I perused lots of Project 333 articles and set out to do just that. First, I emptied my entire closet, sorted everything into seasonal piles and gave the closet a good cleaning. 20 items that made the cut in past purges that still hadn’t been worn went back to the thrift from which they came and spring/summer went into an under-bed box.
Then instead of adding back the pieces I know I love and calling it a day, which hasn’t always led to every garment being worn, I went piece by piece through the remaining pile and started to put together and photograph outfits. My goal was to come up with as many combinations for each piece as I could before hanging it back in the closet. With each new piece, I worked with what was in the closet first to make the most with fewer items, ending up with just over 40 items and 45 outfits without exhausting all the possibilities. A second under-bed box has additional cool weather pieces I can pull from if I get the urge to switch things up before warm weather returns for good. (it was 8o as I wrote this post, but it won’t last)
I’m really anxious to create a full wardrobe inventory with purchase dates and prices, but this visual representation is a good start. Many of these pieces are accounted for on my shopping log, but the rest were bought 4+ years ago and will be missing some stats. As the year goes on, the plan is to work through these same steps for each new season so by this time next year my inventory should be complete with only occasional updates.
My final realization is that ZERO of my current winter pieces are handmade so I’m considering taking on the challenge of only adding or replacing worn out items with handmade pieces. I do have a jacket in process (that’s near complete AND successful) that I’ll be back soon to share, so that’s a start! And it’s not a concrete goal for this year, but I really want to learn to knit so hopefully my sweaters last until I can make that a priority.
Archana of To Universe, with Love urges everyone to start a personal style blog if they’ve ever had the urge and I can’t agree more. I have so much more clarity than I did when I started and feel safe saying this year will be a true turning point. Yes, looking back at old posts will sometimes make you cringe, but it’s so helpful when trying to avoid past mistakes and identify patterns or bad habits. It’s absolutely accomplished all of those things for me and I’m committed to checking in at least monthly in 2018.