Moving is always an exciting time for me. Yes, it’s incredibly stressful and a huge pain in the ass, but it’s also a perfect opportunity to look at everything I own and decide whether or not it is worth lugging down 2 flights of stairs, loading into a U-Haul, unloading out of a U-Haul, then lugging back up another three flights of stairs again (why am I ALWAYS on the top floor?). Unfortunately, when I moved at the end of May, I was a bit unmotivated and disorganized, so a wardrobe clear out didn’t occur until last weekend, once the weather finally started to look like it was getting warmer. I broke out my bin of spring and summer clothing and a full blown clear out escalated from there.
Once I had gone through everything and decided what I wanted to donate or consign, I folded or hung up everything else. And then I realized that my clothing rack, aside from one leopard print mini skirt, consisted of just black, white, and blues.
I used to live for multicolored crazy prints and embellishments, vibrancy, something that would make you think wow when you looked at it. What hangs up in my closet now looks more like a capsule wardrobe: button downs galore, Brenton stripes, a chambray shirt dress, black pants… where did my personal style go? Did I even have a personal style anymore?
What remained of my previous loud, colorful, and pattern filled style almost filled the consignment bin. And as I thought about whether or not I really wanted to get rid of these clothes, I realized that I wasn’t all that sure that I truly wanted them in the first place.
Stay with me here.
I think my tendency to gravitate towards statement pieces stemmed from a desire to spend my money on something worth while. I’ve always loved fashion, and still think that clothing can very much be a piece of art. With all the limitless possibilities out there, purchasing wardrobe staples always felt like the sartorial equivalent of eating your vegetables. Why would I waste my daily allotted calories (hard earned money) on something as boring as plain broccoli (a white button down) when I could get a veggie pizza with extra fried eggplant (an emerald green floral silk jumpsuit that made me look like a genie)?
Did I like the clothes that I purchased? Yes. Did they fit? Yes. Did I look good in them? Yes. Did I like the way I looked in them? Yes. But when deciding to purchase something, I’m not sure I was asking myself the final and most important question: Was it me?
As much as I loved these pieces (and still do), they more often than not fell into the same cyclical pattern. I would come home from shopping, showing off my latest find like a freshly won trophy. One of my family members (usually my younger sister) would look it over and ask:
“Where are you going to wear that?”
And I would reply:
“Everywhere all the time with everything.”
Because I usually could picture endless outfits, occasions and possibilities, no matter how ridiculous the item. I would excitedly hang the piece up on my rolling rack… and even though I loved it, I sometimes (more often than I’d like to admit) would only wear it a few times, if at all, before I would get bored or antsy with my closet, and pull it out to consign in order to fund a new round of purchases destined for the same fate.
Sales and shiny patterns had me trapped in a vicious cycle of consumerism. To be fair, the sale rack is the only place I could afford to shop for a long time, and so once I started working and having disposable income, I could afford to shop the sale rack a lot more, and the turnover rate in my closet showed it.
This is probably a phase that a lot of people go through when they first start making their own money. You get a rush over being able to flex your bank account and so your typical indulgence category gets a bit out of control for awhile. But when I unknowingly transitioned out of this mind set and started eating my vegetables, I thought that maybe I was in a rut, or that I had become uninspired with fashion, and had somehow lost a part of myself that was always very passionate and creative. Now I realize that I’ve just become more experienced, and therefore more knowledgeable about what I’m looking for and what is worth spending my money on. Quality over quantity. Purchasing for utility, comfort, durability and my style as opposed to the rush that comes with a red sticker slashed through 3 times over on a bold and beautiful pattern.
For now, I’ve decided my style is more “laid back lux” with a hint of “eclectic glam”; men’s button downs with a good pair of jeans, some nice shoes, and fun eclectic accessories.
^ My donation bag and consignment mountain.