I love getting dressed in the morning. I’ll admit that this past summer I have had a lot of pajama days, but when I am in a routine of school or work, I genuinely feel more confident when I look good. When you present yourself in the best light, you radiate so much more of your personality. Not only do I feel better on the outside, but I feel better inside as well. In the right pair of shoes, I am ready to conquer my day.
If you’re anything like me, your closet can get out of hand. Between the college versus home wardrobe, the assorted “one time only” pieces, and the sentimental t-shirt drawer, it can be hard to clean it all out and feel excited about your fashion choices. In the past few months of being home, I’ve been able to change how I think about clothing and simplify my wardrobe by following a few simple guidelines. I am really proud of starting to build a strong sense of style for myself and I thought I’d share!
Cleaning It Out
Before you can start to build your dream wardrobe, you need to inventory what you already have. I start by taking everything, absolutely everything, out of my closet. This forces you to think about each piece and not skip over items because you get lazy or tired.
When I start to go through each individual item, I make a few piles. First, I hang back up or put away anything I know I am for sure keeping to minimize the clutter. Then, I make a maybe and a no pile. After everything is divided, I take the maybe pile and try each piece on. This may seem redundant or annoying but there are so many times when I actually put on the piece and realize that it isn’t all I remember it to be. Some other helpful things to consider are whether you will love it a year from now, how well it can be styled with other pieces you already own, and how often you wear it. If you are having doubts at this point, it might be worth moving to the no pile.
Next, I move to the no pile and separate into trash, donate, or sell. Obviously some things are not worth donating if they have stains, holes, or other major imperfections and need to be tossed. Other items might be perfectly good to donate to a local thrift store or charity shop and you can usually drop them off quickly and easily. Another tip I try to follow is donating a piece when I buy something new because it prevents old styles from accumulating in the back of my closet too quickly. When it comes to brands or trends I know are still in fashion, I try to sell them through a consignment store like Plato’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange or on apps like Depop and Poshmark where customers can purchase directly through me. I find that selling on these apps makes me eager to get rid of pieces I am on the fence about because I know I can salvage at least a small part of what I paid initially.
These are only guidelines and a lot of times I don’t do a full closet cleanout. Sometimes it takes little steps like only going through one section at a time or building a donate pile over a few months to maintain your wardrobe. I know once I clean out my closet, I have such a better picture of what I own and what I want to buy. I also feel better because knowing each item in my closet is functional and useful to me in the present and not five years ago.
Shopping and Building Your Wardrobe
My favorite part about cleaning out my closet is that I can make space for new pieces. I’m not saying you need to fall deep into the pit of consumer culture but it is fun to get excited about new styles. These past few months I have started to shift my mentality when purchasing by keeping a few things in mind. First, I like to remember the quality versus quantity. This has been difficult to come to terms with but I am a much better shopper because of it. It can hurt to bite the bullet on pieces that may be a little more expensive but if you can justify wearing it for years longer than a similar, lesser quality item, its totally worth it. This mentality can also help you build a base wardrobe that is timeless because rather than buying an array of cheap, trendy clothes, you can have a few basics that will hold up through years and years of trends.
One of my favorite Youtubers, Ashley of @bestdressed, also introduced me to the idea of a capsule wardrobe with a variety of versatile pieces that provide enough differentiated items to make a larger closet. Thinking of how I can create a capsule wardrobe has prevented me from making so many borderline purchases and allowed me to focus on how functional a single garment can be if it actually fits into the closet I already have.
So how do you build a style you actually like? I know so many people, including myself, who can feel uninspired by what they own and confused about how to find their “aesthetic.” One thing I can say is that you don’t need to box yourself into a single aesthetic to achieve a unified personal style. Sometimes by starting with a set of basics and building from there, you can slowly figure out what you like and don’t like. There are so many resources online and on social media about where to shop and how to mimic the styles of other fashion bloggers or influencers! My rule of thumb is to follow anyone whose feed makes me happy and positively influences my sense of style; don’t get caught up on any page that contributes to body shaming or feelings of self-deprecation and unattainable body image goals.
When it comes to buying clothes, I like to try and incorporate as much second hand as possible. This year I have been taking more accountability for ethical consumption and this has in turn made me prouder of my choices. We all know that shopping secondhand can drastically reduce your carbon footprint along with a myriad of other benefits and I am so happy that thrifting and resell have become mainstream. Besides secondhand, I have tried my best to purchase from sustainable brands, however, I am nowhere near perfect. It is important to take income and access into account before judging others or yourself because any step towards a more sustainable lifestyle is a step forward. Making smarter choices over time can have such a big impact!
At the end of the day, a strong sense of style can dramatically increase your confidence. I hope this helped you even in the smallest of ways to get closer to a closet you wear with pride.