For most of my adult life, despite my most ardent New Years’ resolutions, I was caught-up in a cycle. My closet was a welcoming place to get dressed for about six months out of every year and then, unconsciously, I’d start sliding into the nasty habit of only wearing 20 percent of my wardrobe, 80 percent of the time.
Boredom would set-in, and in a Hail-Mary-pass attempt to spice things up I found myself buying a ton of one-off pieces; what stylists affectionately refer to as “closet orphans” (i.e., clothes that are so darn cute while at the store, but they don’t really work with anything else you own). Despite having so many clothes, I had nothing to wear and I never quite felt like I looked pulled-together. Ever been there?
Of course by the end of each year, once my closet was sufficiently dysfunctional, the dreaded “to-do” of overhauling and re-organizing (for the 20th time straight) sat firmly below many other things on my “really-should-do-eventually” list.
I started to think, “Why do I even bother?” That’s when I realized this battle wasn’t just about having something cute to wear. There were bigger “becauses” to consider. These four reasons compelled me into winning (and finally keeping) control of my closet.
1) Time and energy are my most valuable resources: Waking-up to find the clutter of an over-packed closet staring me in the face was down-right exhausting. I’d try to dress quickly to get a jump-start on the day but instead choosing an outfit was a time-consuming and sometimes mind-numbing task. I’d beat myself up for always wearing the same thing or only wearing black and not experimenting with more pattern or color or only fitting into my “fat pants.”
By decluttering and streamlining my choices, only keeping those pieces that fit well now (not after I lose 10 pounds), and compliment my lifestyle, it saves me valuable time and mental energy while getting dressed each day. Energy that can be used later to tackle more important things…like figuring out why my boys were feeding the dog Cheerios.
2) I’m a citizen of this planet: If you haven’t yet seen the fashion documentary “The True Cost,” it’s an informative and alarming watch. “Fast fashion” is slowly diminishing human dignity and our natural resources. The weekly flow of new styles into retailers at made-to-sell price points is fueling mindless consumerism and inadvertently packs our closets. News headlines expose the atrocities of cheap and child labor but there are other areas to consider: the environmental impact of the energy used at manufacturing facilities and the dye, bleach and waste water that they expel; over-farming to keep-up with demand for natural fibers and the use of fossil fuels for synthetic ones; and lastly, landfills that are heaping-up from worn-out, and sometimes never worn, clothes.
While I’m shopping, I now challenge myself with, “Why do I need this?” instead of falling prey to, “It’s so cheap, why not?” This shift in mindset significantly cut my accidental wardrobe clutter and has helped me maintain the organization I desperately wanted to achieve.
3) I am responsible for the energy I bring into a room: This nugget of advice (from Oprah Winfrey) addresses our attitudes towards life, but also, I believe, can translate through what we wear. When we get dressed-up for a special occasion, like a wedding or first date, we stand a little taller, feel a little more pulled-together and reflect to others a certain excitement and sense of pride. It sets the tone for whatever we’re about to do and subliminally tells others how we feel about them. Tom Ford is even quoted as saying, “Dressing well is a form of good manners.”
I’ve committed to bringing this special-day energy to my everyday life by pre-determining a few basic, go-to “uniforms” in my wardrobe; flattering outfits that are on-the-ready for whatever my typical day holds. It has made getting dressed in a snap and I feel confident when I wear them.
Not sure what looks good on you? Invite a fashionable friend over or hire a professional stylist to play-around in your closet for a few hours. Not only will you make the most of whatever is already hanging there, rather than spending more money on new pieces, you can also create a targeted list of wardrobe gaps that will help future purchases stay focused…remember my closet orphans from years past?
4) Looks matter: I know, we’re more evolved than this statement implies. It’s what’s inside that counts, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. As part of our evolution we’ve been hardwired to quickly access the intention of others: a particularly useful skill when as cavemen, we didn’t know whether a new acquaintance wanted to eat with us…or just eat us. We’ve retained this instinct into modern times. In fact, results from a study done by NYU showed that people make 11 different assumptions about us within seven seconds. And the kicker is they are fairly meaty ones: assumptions like whether someone is competent or trustworthy.
When I get dressed I always think, “What does this outfit say about me?” By mastering those uniforms from reason #3, I hope my outward confidence opens the door to someone wanting to get to know me and my inner workings better. FYI…to date, my leopard print heels have proven to be the ultimate ice breaker.
Author: Tammy Golden
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Video Still