Closet Ponderings

I’ve been thinking a lot about my closet lately.

(Wow, do I sound like a sad person, or what?)

Basically, I have two goals with my wardrobe. 1) I want to look nice, and 2) after I’m dressed for the day – which, ideally, will take me about five minutes or less – I don’t want to think about it again.

As I’ve been more serious about dressing myself over the last eight months or so, taking pictures of what I’m wearing, and generally trying to not look like Ella dressed me, I’ve realized a few things.

  • I like a pretty simple wardrobe – I like t-shirts, jeans, easy-to-wear flats and sandals, cardigans, stripes, and a little jewelry. I am not very fancy, and I’m happy with that. I’m going to keep buying things like that.
  • It’s time to stop pretending I’m going to wear things in my wardrobe that I’ve never worn. I’ve heard this a million times, but after reading The No-Brainer Wardrobe, I went through my closet RUTHLESSLY. I filled (with the help of Bart’s simultaneous closet purge) three enormous garbage bags of clothing. Things I’ve been holding on to for YEARS and never worn. Things I’d gotten as gifts, but never really worked for me. Maternity clothes someone handed down to me and I never wore when I was pregnant (do I think another pregnancy will magically make me like them after never having ONCE liked them?). I think I still have some things that I’ll end up recognizing at the end of summer that I don’t like or have never actually worn, but it’s huge progress for me. My clothing actually fits easily in my closet now and I’m not sifting through huge stacks of shirts to find the three I actually wear.
  • And (and this is the biggest one for me), I don’t really love to sew. I feel like blogging and Pinterest have made me feel like there are so many things I COULD do, but I don’t really love to do them. I’m frustrated when I can’t make things work, I am so highly critical of my own sewing that even something that a stranger would say is acceptable is something I cannot wear because I see all the flaws, and the time, effort, and mess  is almost never worth it for me. I don’t mind doing a few quick fixes on things (changing sleeve lengths on sweaters, or pulling in a neckline, for instance), but overall, sewing is not really the most enjoyable use of time for me. I’d rather just buy clothing that I like. I keep thinking of Gretchen Rubin’s words in The Happiness Project where she says that she is going to do the things she likes to do, rather than the things she thinks she should like to do. I’m going to stop saving every item of clothing in the hopes that I’ll find some amazing way to save it, and I’m just going to stop clogging up my closet with projects that make me feel frustrated, pretending I love to sew. Whew, this was such a relief to me.

I can’t say that since I don’t dress absolutely effortlessly every morning, but I do spend far less time, my closet is much cleaner, and I don’t feel guilt about donating Bart’s old dress shirts instead of trying to make them into awesome, I don’t know, skinny jeans or something. And that has been glorious.

For me, it’s just clothing. I don’t want to make it into something much bigger than that.

I’m linking up today with BlogHer’s Life Well Lived series and sweepstakes, and the things they’ve mentioned about how to find your personal style really resonate with me – it should be comfortable, make you happy and confident, and, for heavens sakes, not be things you have to fiddle with and adjust all day long (it’s only taken me 26 years to realize that if I’m fussing with a neckline or a waistband or a tie in the dressing room, it will only be fifteen times worse when I wear it while I go about my normal life).

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  1. I can't wait to read, "the Happiness Project," it just sounds so good. I love your philosophy. I wore the same thing for years (yoga pants, t-shirt) and then used finances as an excuse and have finally come to the realization that I need to buy clothes and be an adult. I like to buy home decor stuff but not clothing, and it's not good. So off to the stores I go!

  2. i just inherited about 60 pieces of clothing from my stylish sister in law last night… THRILLED, yet very overwhelmed. The hoarder in me wants to buy a million hangers and keep them all, but I know thats not super realistic. They all seem pretty cute with a first look through. Maybe I need a friend to come over and get second opinions? Its hard being preggo though b/c I want to try them on when I have a real body! Ah, the crisis 🙂

  3. I'm so glad you said that about sewing. I feel all the time that I should like sewing. There are so many tutorials and DIYs available and they are all so easy (or so they claim)! If it's so easy, why do I get so frustrated? Is it bad to just buy cute clothes? Do I have to make them? While I do get satisfaction out of making something, the 2 hours spent hemming my pants (true story) just isn't worth it.

  4. I need to do some work in my closet too! I'd love to sew some clothes, but am terrified by my lack of confidence in my sewing skills, despite all the tutorials I see everywhere.

  5. I hear you on the simple wardrobe thing. And on a related note, one of the unconscious but highly pleasurable side effects of my new pair of hipster-esque glasses is that on those days that I forget to put in earrings, my glasses act as an accessory and I feel much less boring all day.

    That could just be me though.

  6. This is SUCH a good idea. I try to be ruthless once or twice a year, and pare down my wardrobe. But I am such a packrat, and I have SUCH a hard time tossing, for instance, a shirt I once loved that no longer fits… or a sweater a beloved relative gave me that just isn't my style. This was very inspiring. And you always look adorable, so whatever you are doing is WORKING!

  7. I love this post. It's like a lightbulb moment, even if it is about your closet. I think "do the things she likes to do, rather than the things she thinks she should like to do" should be our goal in life, when it comes to hobbies at the very least. I will be keeping it in mind!

  8. Why is it so hard to embrace the person you really are vs. the person you think you should be? And a simple wardrobe really is the best route when you are a mother of young children, I think.

  9. It's just a guess, but I think it's gotten harder to stop thinking of all the things we "should" like since blogging, pinterest, etc came on the scene. Not only are we reminded of what the people around us do and like and are good at (and we are not) but we're reminded of those things from everyone from our past and complete strangers that we will never meet.

    Last year I spent approximately 6 months making Genghis an adorable quiet book for church that he has hardly used and I have taken a vow to reconsider (several times) any major craft project since then.

  10. this is great – i completely agree! when i first began reading blogs, i started putting myself down for my lack of creativity in the clothing department. after lots of frustration, lack of funds & some unfinished sewing projects, i realized that i like the way i dress – classic, comfortable, and slightly boring, but that's just who i am! 🙂

  11. That post about personal style is AWESOME! I've been in a style rut/question mark lately and am SO BAD at being able to pinpoint what direction my style goes… I'm one of those style schizophrenics!

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