I feel drawn to share on fashion, not because I'm a fashionista with knowledge to drop on the subject. Quite the opposite actually. I'm a non-fashionista and that's precisely why I'm writing this.
I'm guessing there's others like me that have felt lost in stores, stuck with finds from slim-pickins sales racks, drooling over Pinterest photos while feeling uninspired in our own closets. Seasons of that can come-and-go, for sure. But overall, I'm no longer stuck in that rut.
Over time, I've embraced a simple wardrobe and with that found the joys of owning less.
Joys of a Simple Wardrobe
Here are some of those joys of a simple wardrobe in case you don't believe me...
1. I wear more of what I own.Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? It works in a lot of scenarios, but in the closet it simply means 80% of the time we wear only 20% of our wardrobe. But choosing clothes sparingly and carefully, I'm finding my percentages are evening out--I wear closer to 80% of my clothes more like 80% of the time.
2. I no longer settle for the clearance rack.Clothes are expensive. Because of that, I used to be in a habit of buying good-enough clothes off the clearance rack, then struggle figuring out how to make them work in my closet. Now, I have a clearer idea of the specific void I'm seeking to fill in my closet, so I look for that item. And I don't always find it on the clearance rack.
3. I'm freer to splurge.Ten good-enough items off the clearance rack are not worth even one quality staple item at full price. If I need a quality black cardigan, I'll shop around, sure. But I've also found myself paying close to full price if it's an item that fits me and my need perfectly and will be a go-to staple.
4. I'm more comfortable and confident.Most of us, especially us non-fashionistas, put high value on comfort for our clothes. By limiting my closet to what I know I like and what I know I'll wear, I'm actually building a wardrobe full of comfortable options. And, no, I don't mean oversized t-shirts and sweats. Slow and careful shopping means I buy only items that fit and flatter lending to better confidence in what I wear and how I present myself.
5. I'm content with simple.I'm a simple person and as a non-fashionista I'm okay not having a lot of options. As I build a wardrobe with quality staples and add in versatile accent pieces, I'm finding I'm actually content with my closet. There's usually an item or a few on my shopping list because items actually get worn out and I wait to buy what I really want at a price I like. Even with a few items continually on my want/need list, I'm still content with what I wear regularly and no longer feel the need to keep up with fashionistas.
6. No more decision fatigue.There are scientific perks to wearing a simple wardrobe or "uniform." We've seen it in high execs like Steve Jobs who wore repeats of the same simple outfit. It's less about being boring, and more about focusing limited time and energy on the more important decisions. Simplifying throughout life can benefit in this way, for instance in incorporating a simple go-to meal plan. It's true of our closets, too. We don't have to completely do away with options or variety, but sticking to some go-to wardrobe basics can free our time and energy for more important processing later in the day.
My Go-To Wardrobe Staples
This does not represent everything in my closet, but is rather those go-to staples or "uniform" that I tend to wear on a daily basis. I also have extras like a black blazer, chambray, some dressier pieces, necklaces, and more. The following however currently gets more wear in my day-to-day as a stay-at-home mom.
Summer (Warm-Weather) UniformTank | cotton neutrals or blousy
Shorts | a grey pair that can look a little dressier or a basic jean cutoff that can be cuffed
Sandals | a neutral pair or a colored pair
Sunglasses | prescription because it makes life easier
Accessories | diamond studs earrings if my hair is up, dangly gold leaf earrings if my hair is down
Bag | neutral to match everything and large to hold essentials--for me, the kids, and even my husband
Winter (Cool-Weather) UniformTee | cotton neutrals, long- or short-sleeve
Pants | skinny jeans
Cardi | black or colored
Closed-Toed Shoes | brown leather boots or tennies or flats
Glasses | I wear them everyday, so they're part of my outfit
Accessories | cork skinny belt, stud or dangly earrings, pashmina scarf
Bag | ditto above
Capsule Wardrobe Tips for the Non-Fashionista
Whether you call it a uniform, capsule, minimalist, or simple wardrobe doesn't really matter. There are a few things to remember that can help us own less and actually wear what we own.
1. Can't go wrong with neutrals.Most articles I see about creating a capsule/simple wardrobe mention choosing an accent color. As a non-fashionista and a lover of simple, this kind of paralyzes me. I've found that starting with the basics and neutrals that mix and match easy is totally okay. Blacks, tans, whites, greys. They may seem boring, but they can actually look grown up and sophisticated easily and mix well with a variety of patterns and colors when you do decide to add accessories or a bit of color.
2. Build up staples first.If you're ready to do some clothes shopping, make sure you're good on staples before adding accessories or colors or occasional use items. How are your everyday shoes? Do you have a couple neutral bottoms (shorts, pants, skirts--whatever is seasonally appropriate for your climate and life) that can be dressed up/dressed down and go with most of your tops? Do you have a few basic tops that can be mix and matched with your bottoms and current accessories?
3. Add interest through the small details.I'm usually a pretty plain/basic clothing girl. Getting sandals with a simple gold strap doesn't seem like a big deal, but it was a little out of my element and turned out to be just the detail I needed to pep up my otherwise plain/basic outfits. Same with the cotton tank that has a little lace at the top, the black tank that has rouching on the back, the gold leaf earrings that go with everything, the mustard tank with a braided collar. The little details can turn boring into simple beauty.
4. Go with what you love.Try not to overthink the mixing-and-matching or the choosing of an accent color. Chances are the things you love (not just kind of like or work), will likely end up mixing-and-matching well or be in a few colors. Do you feel good in it? Does it resemble the go-to items in your dresser/closet? Do you love the color? Do you currently have items it could be worn with? Does it make you happy? Then it's likely a good fit for your simple wardrobe.
5. Stick mostly with a uniform.This tip is specifically for the non-fashionistas. Some people are born with an eye for fashion and a desire to try new trends and experiment. Make peace with the simple if that's not you. It's okay to embrace a few types of clothes that work well for your build, lifestyle, climate, etc. (Tees and skinny jeans are my winter uniform, and tanks and shorts are my summer uniform.) Don't feel like you need to buy trendy wedges if they just won't get worn. Of course, there might be a couple exceptions that you keep on hand for special occasions. But most of us know how we spend our days and can be honest with how often special occasions really come up. Stick with the go-to "uniform" that fits who you are. Include go-to accessories (scarf, belt, earrings) as appropriate.
6. Choose new fashion icons.Don't be inspired by every fashionable person out there. You'll get overwhelmed and won't be able to keep up. Choose one or no more than a few fashion inspirations. They should be people that consistently wear things you love and you can actually see yourself wearing. My main inspiration is Jennifer Anniston. The main criteria when I'm looking for and Pinning inspiration is simple, easy outfits with lots of versatile neutrals.
7. Get ideas for what you have.I played around with my striped thrift store dress and found 7 new ways to wear it. I came up with 5 ways to wear my trusty white tee and skinny jeans for fall. And when I can't think of how something could be worn, I look up ideas on Pinterest. Searching something specific like red pants, black blazer, striped maxi, or chambray can help take the guess work out of creating outfits with key pieces you already have. Sometimes you might notice one item that might help pull a couple outfits together. But most often, I realize what I already have works great together.
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