I really love clothes, always have. An outfit has the power to make me see the world differently, to see myself differently. And that’s pretty much where 27 years worth of income has gone. Well, that and into inflating the net worth of Starbucks and into the tills of some much-too-flashy-for-my-salary London bars.
But aside from being a money-guzzling consumerist habit, it not only leaves me broke, it leaves me with so much effing STUFF. As I’ve become more mindful with my finances, I have too with the amount of possessions I own.
Cutting back on the amount of clothes and outfit options you have doesn’t have to mean suppressing your love of expression through style. It doesn’t mean never shopping again – believe me, I wouldn’t be writing this post if it did!
But it means finding an appreciation for items with a lifespan longer than your blurry memories of a night out. I used to buy clothes with one specific occasion in mind. I usually followed trends and bought pieces with the intention of wearing it in one specific way, usually copied from someone in Glamour magazine (lol at the days before Instagram) or someone I’d seen on the street. I never considered how versatile it was – I just saw it, I wanted it, so I had to have it.
I would honestly get this fluttering feeling of panic in the pit of my stomach. That this one item would solve so many issues for me that I must have it now – I can’t possibly wait and think about, what if it sells out?! Damn you fast fashion and being a size 12 (aka the most popular size EVER).
Now though, with my more minimal approach to the acquisition of clothes, I have a wardrobe that’s trans-seasonal, consistent, comfortable and unapologetically ME. I’m not trying to copy others, I never allow myself to buy something purely because I’ve seen it on someone else or in a specific context. My approach to shopping now, is I usually buy things based on gaps I’ve found in my outfits. Perhaps I wear a really good black t-shirt a lot and I think a white one would mix things up. Or perhaps I feel great when wearing my high waisted shorts in summer, so I’d like something similar to diversify the looks I can create. That way, I’m going shopping with a purpose, not looking for inspiration from racks and racks of soulless ‘stuff’.
So how can you fall in love with what you already have?
Step 1: Go through your wardrobe and get rid of anything your gut tells you isn’t for you anymore. There’ll always be a few of these items in everyone’s wardrobe.
Step 2: Grab your ‘keep’ pile and laptop, and go through each item, typing it into Pinterest with the word ‘outfit’. For example ‘Mom jeans outfit’.
Step 3: Grab a notebook that will, from this day forward, be your wardrobe bible. Write down three outfits that each item can be worn with. This will come from your own imagination and your Pinterest research. If Pinterest isn’t working for you, Google images works okay as well.
Step 4: Start compiling a list of outfit combinations for days when you’re feeling uninspired. Then, when you wear those outfits, note down how you felt. Confident? Badass? Or maybe a little insecure? By getting to know how the clothes you already own make you feel, you can create outfits that are 100% you from your existing wardrobe – without having to spend a penny.
Tips: when looking through images on Pinterest, try to visualise your own shape and preferences. I’m a curvy gal, had hips and a booty since I was born, so when I used to try and copy outfits that I’d seen on stick-thin models, I was disappointed. Take inspiration from people like YOU, and look for styles that you know you feel great in. Your white shirt might look amazing with a mini skirt on someone, but if you’re not confident in minis, try looking for ways to pair it with a midi instead.
For me, I have wide hips and a small waist and shoulders – and I’m not mad on my knees. So I love high waisted midi skirts and pants, paired with crisp shirts or structured tops that balance out my upper half.
By writing down these ways to wear your clothes while you’re feeling inspired and full of ideas, you’ll have somewhere to turn when you’re having one of those twentysomething breakdowns where you hate yourself and everything you own! You’ll also begin to develop your own style, and shop with more direction and focus, to fill gaps in your wardrobe rather than to satisfy an emotional void.
Catch me on Instagram @the.brokegeneration for more tips on spending less, saving more, and getting the most out of what you have.