A few months ago, I completed a 60-day Wear Your Whole Wardrobe challenge.
The rules were simple: wear one outfit a day, no repeats, for 60 days (workout clothes excluded) and no shopping.
What started as a “what the hell” decision became an exploration of what it means to be clothed, while standing naked in front of my closet.
I’ve never been one who follows fashions. I frankly don’t care if my clothes have a name. But I do like my clothes to be comfortable, and to not be too out of date.
With the challenge, I was required to think about what I put on my body every day. We had a private Facebook page and we posted photos, showing our outfits. Frequently, the descriptions talked about why we loved the outfit we chose that day, or how the clothes made us feel while we were wearing them. I enjoyed mixing old and new pieces to create new outfits, and it ended up being a lot of fun.
We choose our clothes for a variety of purposes:
• We dress for binge-watching Netflix while lounging at home.
• We dress for comfort while we chase kids around all day.
• We dress for Date Night; for our lovers, present or future.
• We “dress for success” at work.
Each of these outfits evoke emotions as clearly as familiar smells and old songs—whether it’s the sexy dress and heals donned for a date or the cozy yoga pants and fleece for an afternoon curled up (or cuddling) on the sofa.
Although I’ve culled my wardrobe before, I’ve held onto a few outfits that had sentimental value—clothes I call my “history clothes.” After working through my favorite clothes and mixing as many pieces as possible, I was running out of options and had to dig into the “history clothes.”
Memories made of cloth.
I found my last remaining 90s power suit hiding in the back of the closet. When I put it on I felt like the powerful, strong, kick-ass ambitious woman that I was when I wore it regularly. The last time I wore this suit, I was single and my children were just twinkles in my eyes. At first, I was just psyched that I could fit in it. I did it up—complete with nylons, heels and the jewelry I wore with it back in the day.
But after a few hours, the novelty wore off.
I loved revisiting who I was when I wore that suit, but at the end of the day, I was glad to hang the outfit back up.
At the end of the challenge, I donated that suit. No pun intended, it no longer suited my life, or who I am now.
These days, I work from home. Although I am still kicking butt and taking numbers, I am usually in jeans, yoga pants or comfy top and a sweater or fleece, with modifications appropriate to the season. What I wear is not something I think about because no one sees me during the day.
I am heard, but not seen.
And then it hit me—this challenge was fun because for 60 days, I was seen.
I wore clothes that I would not normally wear during the day: dresses or skirts or sparkly tops with jeans. When I went to the local taqueria for lunch, I felt sassy in my “fancy” clothes. It felt good.
When the challenge was complete, I continued to wear the new outfits I’d created and, although I do love a bargain, I didn’t feel the need to shop for anything new. I was pleased with my freshly culled closet and “new” outfits.
The first time I went shopping after the challenge, I wandered the aisles, looking for… something that I was unable to define.
My favorite store felt like a foreign land.
What was I looking for? I bought nothing; what I was looking for wasn’t there.
I wanted to feel special, beautiful, seen, new.
When I left the store empty handed, it occurred to me—I cannot find any of these things for sale at any store. I don’t need to buy anything new to feel these feelings. Like Audrey Hepburn said, “The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries or the way she combs her hair.”
These feelings—and our beauty—are inside, all the time, right now and always.
I am special
I am beautiful
I am seen
Every day, I am new
My relationship to shopping has been completely transformed. I now choose clothes that are a reflection of how I feel on the inside, rather than trying to find clothes to plug what felt like emotional holes.
What is in your closet? Is your past in there, hanging on hangers or filling your shelves? Do your clothes reflect your current life? Your current state of being? Who are you dressing for? Why do you wear the clothes you wear?
Is it time for your own 60-day wardrobe challenge?
Our place in the world is not determined by what we choose to cover our bodies with. Rather our clothes are a reflection of who we are on the inside: as members of society, standing firmly (and comfortably) in a world—and a life—that we create.
One outfit at a time.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Kendra Hackett
Editor: Emily Bartran