Day 30 I am celebrating making it through the 30 days of wearing the same clothes. For a former Fashion Designer, this was no small task. And some days were harder than others … today was one. It was an important day for our youngest son: his last day of preschool. I had a hard choice to make: do I bail on the static wardrobe on the last day of the experiment or do I stay the course, finish strong and joyfully accept the sacrifice of my position on minimalism?
Even though it was a milestone for my son, the fact was it was about his accomplishments not mine. He would not remember what I was wearing. I did choose my green static wardrobe sweater since green is his favorite color – maybe he’ll remember that someday. However, when I looked around the room and saw all the moms dressed up looking cute with make up on and their hair blown out, I did have a little inward twinge of sadness. My memories are so tied to and wrapped up in what I am wearing. When he saw me, he said “Hi mommy! I love you and you’re wearing my favorite green sweater.” That made it all worth it.
Whole Foods (my all-time favorite store) recently opened its newest Charlotte location just down the street from my house. It is definitely not the place you can run in and run out without a care. PJ bottoms and no makeup on? Nope. Because you are certain to run into at least three people you know, maybe four. We have all had that lapse in judgement when we think, “I will just run in and out for that one thing, not make eye contact with anyone it will be fine.” Sure, until you hear a voice from across the aisle calling your name. You want to ignore it, but that would be ruder than the 20-year-old college sweatshirt you are wearing. Only to find out that it is the super important person you have been dying to connect with for your pet projects. The you make lame excuses like, “Ha ha, I just had one thing to pick up.” This has absolutely happened to me, by the way. The choice is: do I learn my lesson and mend my ways, or do I keep making the same judgement errors. So having that throw-on outfit that still looks cute is essential – think of it as your running around outfit.
My conclusions from the experiment: I definitely do not need a huge walk in closet full of clothes and choices. I can happily exist with the same or minimal choices of running around outfits. This saves time and money, and allows me to spend that time and money on the things that mean the most to me: my husband and children. It also frees up a significant amount of time that goes to working on my businesses. Let’s not forget the time, money, and environmental savings of doing less laundry. Even in suburban south Charlotte where cavernous walk-ins bigger than my entire NYC living space (not an exaggeration) are the norm, getting back your closet space is huge. While I still have not gotten down and dirty and cleaned out my closet to the minimum, that is on my to-do list. I’m going to hold a closet sale, and then build a cedar closet in my basement for my fashion archives. (My archives are comprised of things I designed, or sentimental pieces that have meaning.) I fully understand the concept that after you die you cannot take it with you, and probably somewhere along the way my children or grandchildren will have some fire pit time with my old clothes. But at least for now, I will archive some of those special styles.
Yes, sometimes I feel slightly self-conscious that random people recognize I am wearing the same outfit time and again. But the benefits clearly outweigh the disadvantages. We have amazing ad agencies and marketing companies out there that know the psychology of a shopper so well … they are in all of our heads telling us these lies: “If you have this new outfit and the latest trend you will look great and feel great, you will accomplish the dreams you never thought possible, you will have the awe of friends and strangers, you will be the most popular person and everyone will want to be you.” The saddest part of the whole thing is we all buy into these lies … and many people (especially the young) go into debt to have the latest cool item. The true promise of the lies is dept and wastefulness and eventual progression to the back of the closet, goodwill, or the fire pit. Teaching the younger generation now that their worth is not wrapped up in the coolest new clothing item will only serve them well as they move through life. I was taught exactly the opposite: looking good was a matter of first importance, and it has taken many years to unravel that and to realize you can look great and feel great without having the newest cool thing, without going into debt and without spending tons of time just to be able to show your face outside of the house.
The Challenge. I leave you with this challenge: Create your go-to outfit. Simple and easy. Every day, as you walk into your closet, find one item that you have not worn in the last year and put it in a pile to donate or sell. Then see how many days you can wear a static wardrobe. How do you feel? Does it save you time? Are you freeing up closet space? Have you had that “Thank goodness I did not have on my yoga pants” moment when you’re out and about? I would love to hear about it. Let’s start the minimalist movement!
Some great places to grab the basics for a static wardrobe? Check out: Peach, JCrew, and JJill. For a little more artsy style I love Anthropologies, and for that special occasion Rent the Runway has tons of choices.