Editors note: this is a guest post from Jesse at EENVOUD (which means simplicity in Dutch)
In the spring of 2008 I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain. Almost everyday, I would stop into Zara on the way home from class. Zara didn’t exist in the US back then, and to a broke, fashion-obsessed college student, it was the holy grail. They had new stuff everyday! And almost everyday, I would leave with something in my hand. To be worn out to a bar or discoteca that night and likely only worn a handful of times or never again. It was like grabbing a gelato on the way home, eating half and tossing the rest out. Those purchases provided me with an immediate rush of pleasure at a low price point. No harm, right? Wrong.
As we all know, the production and disposal of vast quantities of cheap clothing is terrible for our environment and for the lives of many of the workers creating it. But, it’s also terrible for our wardrobes. How many times have you looked at your closet full of clothes, but haven’t really wanted to wear any of it? How many times has everything felt slightly off? How many times have you felt like you don’t own the right clothing? How many times has your wardrobe overwhelmed you?
I know that I’m not the only one. As a self-described minimalist and somebody who also loves style, I’ve spent the past several years experimenting and have finally figured out how to build a wardrobe. I barely purchase anything, but I also now own the best wardrobe of my life. One that makes me feel like myself and brings me joy everyday. Below are the lessons I’ve learned.
Change Your Perspective
The world’s perspective of clothing has gone through a major shift in the past decade. As the fast fashion industry has come into existence and boomed, the value that we place on clothing has shifted from ‘cherished item’ to ‘disposable commodity’.
The first step in creating a great wardrobe is to change your perspective of clothing. Instead of thinking of it as a product to be purchased and eventually discarded, think of clothing as in-disposable, like furniture or artwork. Would you buy a piece of artwork that you only sort of liked because it was on sale? No. Artwork is something that you must love to invest in. It’s something that you thoughtfully purchase to serve your lifestyle, that you take care of and that brings you joy. Think of clothing the same way.
Create Seasonal Lists
A few years ago, I started creating lists for the new pieces that I wanted to add to my wardrobe each season. This was a drastic shift away from the mindless online shopping or store shopping of my past. Instead of impulsively buying something the moment I saw it because it gave me a rush, I only purchase exactly what I know will enhance my existing wardrobe each season. I also personally limit myself to a maximum of 3 new additions each season*, but that’s not necessary as long as you’re mindful of what you want and why. Here are the items currently on my summer wish list:
June / July / August:
- Wide leg, cropped linen pants
- A loose white muscle tank
- Black or tan sandals with a 1/2″ block heel
*Note: I typically end up buying nothing or only 1 of these garments. The longer I have to think about them, the easier it is for me to decipher if I really actually want or need them.
Give Yourself a Budget
This may sound like no fun, but I’ve found that giving yourself a budget actually increases the pleasure of finding just the right item for you. It also prevents you from buying those extra garments that you stumble across and think that you want, but that aren’t quite right. Those garments that you never actually wear. My budget is relatively small, but because I only purchase a few new items per season, it allows me to buy only well-made things that will last for years.
Find Your Uniform
Figure out which of your clothes you feel your best in and focus on only purchasing new items that fall in line with this personal uniform. For me, I feel the most myself in wider leg pants, boxy tops, turtlenecks and sandals or boots with a 1/2”-3/4” heel. These items will probably shift as I grow and age, but it will be a slow and inspiring evolution over time. Wearing a version of the same thing everyday also frees up a whole lot of mental energy and allows you to be more present to the world around you. Win – win!
Give What You Take
When I do add a new item to my wardrobe, I donate something that I already have and am not in love with anymore. This prevents my wardrobe from expanding in size and allows me to only own what I love. I don’t sell anything because I enjoy the feeling of gifting something that I once loved to somebody else to love.
The Joy Factor
I recently read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In it, Marie offers a unique approach to tidying up your home once and for all. Her deciding factor to determine whether to keep an item in your life is, “Does it spark joy?”. This idea can also be applied to anything new that you decide to purchase or, anything that you decide to do in life. For me, this simple question eliminates all of the ‘shoulds’ that might be dictating the way that I live my life. I should wear that because it will make me look more professional. I should buy that because it’s a really great deal. I should keep that because my mom gave it to me.
Life is too precious and short for shoulds. Why not love every single thing that you own; even if it’s only a few outfits that make you feel beautiful and like yourself? Who says you need more?
I hope that these tips will help inspire you to shift your wardrobe from a place of consumption to one of joy. Life is pretty short. Buy less, buy better and enjoy the little things.
Bio: Jesse is a New York-based fit model and the founder and designer behind Eenvoud, a minimalist and sustainably conscious womenswear line. Eenvoud aims to simplify life to allow for more enjoyment of the little things; and to do better for the world in the process.