In my mind, I'm not a fashionable girl. I love putting together good outfits and I've even tried fashion blogging if only to push myself into being more comfortable with it, but in my mind that doesn't cut it. When it comes to fashion, I look at the outfit posts I see on blogs and how the bloggers always look like they've just drifted into frame between a perfect walk in the park and a perfect evening out and a voice in my head says:
“You are not a fashionable girl, for fashionable girls it's effortless”
I'm pretty convinced that voice belongs to the self defeating, jealous girl I could become if I didn't check myself. I think we all have that tendency in ourselves to look at what other people do well and chalk it up to luck, good timing, or an innate instinct that we don't possess. Sometimes it's just easier to tell myself that I live in a world of different possibilities than to compare.
But in my heart I know better: nothing done well is effortless. And here I am with an interest in fashion, clothes that I get dressed in every morning, a pretty good eye for colour and proportion, and the determination to arm wrestle another shopper over a peter pan collar. If I want to make fashion a way that I express myself, there's no reason not to do it and have fun with it!
There's only one way that I know when it comes to this kind of a problem: planning!
Working With What I Have
The main problem that I've had with my clothes in the past year is that I haven't been paying attention to what I have. I used to go shopping with a mental list of what I had in my closet, but over the past year I've stopped shopping for clothes for myself unless I'm on a trip. I've also stopped weeding out what doesn't work for me in the clothes that I do have. The result is that many of my clothes are too worn to be cute, or they're things that suited me when I was 20 or 21 but that should be out of my closet before I turn 26 next week.
Before I started buying anything, I decided to get a clear picture of what I love, and to work with what I have. While I know the kind of fashion that I love when I see it, I have no idea what that looks like all in one place, so I started a pinterest board called Looks I Love. After a little while of adding something in anytime I thought “I'd wear that!” it turns out that I do have a style after all!
Apparently I like casual looks that have a ‘worn in' feel to them based in neutral colours, with playful pops of colour and accessories for personality. But somehow I would have never been able to articulate that until it materialized in front of me.
Now that I had a picture of the look I love, I wanted to get a picture of the balance I wanted in my wardrobe. I started rooting through what I own and saving the clothes that I really adore wearing while weeding out anything that doesn't fit me (no excuses!) or that didn't fit my style (again, no excuses!).
The idea was to make sure everything I own is something I will actually wear, and use it as the base for building my dream closet on. It will be 80% practical clothes that fit my personal style exactly and 20% magical clothes that I'll always look fabulous in and that will possess the ability to turn any day around. Everything else has to go- I don't want to do mediocre.
Finding the Gaps
Once I had pulled out what I didn't want, it was easy to go through what I did have with more honesty. For example, it's possible that I don't like summer because I only own one pair of shorts and my skirts are all heavy and better suited for fall! Looking at my clothes I could see possibilities and limitations- a dress I never wear could be altered into a shirt that I would live in, and the umpteenth basic t-shirt that doesn't fit right can find a new home.
I started to feel overwhelmed with the things I felt like I ‘needed' to buy, so I listed out what my minimal dream wardrobe would contain. Once I got down to it, I was surprised that it broke down into a few manageable categories. It wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be: a few new tops, comfortable summer skirt options, a pair of dressy sandals and a pair of go to summer shoes. If I bought one of each no and made the rest a work in progress that would be doable!
For the rest of the summer I'm going to be keeping my 80/20 rule in mind, be ruthless about letting go of what doesn't work, and investing here and there in quality instead of small impulse purchases every week (hello nail polish addiction!). And since part of what's been a problem for me is not consistently buying things that work for me, I'm going to make it a rule to add one new piece a month instead so it's a work in progress instead of an archive.
My new clothes should start arriving before my birthday, and who knows! Maybe next year I'll be that fashionable girl- at least now I have one pair of the right shoes for the job.