I used to be the girl who scoured sale racks on a weekly basis – and I had a closet of treasures to show for it. So when I decided to go to university across the pond, fitting my clothes into a single suitcase could have been a nightmare. Putting life and opportunities in perspective, the thought that “stuff” mattered so much to me seemed silly. How could I even think about clothing when I would soon have Europe at my doorstep?
I devised a strategy. My suitcase would not limit me. It would be a minimalist challenge. I had scrolled through sites like Project 333 with admiration for so long. The time had come for me to join in.
When I trimmed my collection down to my very favorites, the first thing I noticed was that I spent less time standing in front of the mirror. When I have about 33 items to work with, I get to know them pretty quickly. It helps a lot.
The thing is, though, I used to love that time in front of the mirror. I loved the challenge of putting together new and creative combinations. But I had a new challenge: to remain as funkily fashionable as ever, just with fewer items.
Minimalism forced me to make pieces more versatile. I had purchased a formal gold dress to wear to my college ball, and the plan was to wear it only once. But one day, it hit me that it was kind of a waste to save that one piece for rare occasions while I was wearing the rest of my wardrobe regularly. Limitation fostered creativity: I threw a sweater over top to dress it down, and that formal dress became a glamorous new skirt.
Pretty soon, I was rocking the capsule wardrobe I had, but there was still room for growth. I became more fashionably brave. While vintage shopping, I found an outrageous sparkly sweater, and well, because it was sparkly, I bought it. This is the kind of thing that used to hide at the back of my closet. It’s nice that it’s there, in the same way that it’s nice to have a copy of War and Peace on the bookshelf. Maybe I would get to it one day, but if I’m honest, probably not.
To really push our boundaries, to really shout proudly about who we are, sometimes we need a nudge of encouragement. For me that nudge was a lack of clothes. When my other sweater was in the laundry, I had no choice but to take the sparkly one with me to the library. The choice was sparkles or shivers. I chose sparkles.
The right clothes make me feel a hundred times better. Yes, that much. Wearing the sweater felt terrifying at first, but then wonderful. I’ve noticed also that wearing gloomy colors makes me feel gloomy, so I’ve gotten rid of most of those. Now I have no choice but to wear sunny colors.
With my current capsule collection, I am happier than I ever was with the mountains of options I used to own. Thanks to the urgency of minimalism, I wear sparkles with confidence. I have eliminated the excuse of dressing down when I feel down. It’s all chic all the time, with a little bit of wacky, and that makes me feel awesome.
Xandra Burns writes about her fabulously simple life at Fashionably Light. Her pay-what-you-want ebook,Fashionably Light: Becoming My Own Heroine is available for pre-order now. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.