Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Wardrobe Woes

My favorite fringy jacket that I love so much, and my favorite victorian style blouse.

For today's post I wanted to address something I've been feeling for a while now.  It's centered around how I feel about my own wardrobe and the items in my closet, and possibly others out there may feel this as well.  There is some differing and conflicting opinions out there as to how we go about building a wardrobe.  If you buy "too much" you could be seen as frivolous, even if you buy all of it at a bargain, or conversely if you
wear things into the ground you could be seen as cheap or "out of season".   Basically, any way of building a closet could be judged, but I think that as long as you are happy with your closet that is all that should probably matter.

I am not necessarily saying yes, you should go out and spend $$$$ on a full to the brim designer wardrobe, but I do think that if you find a piece out there in the world that you really love and connect with and have the funds to purchase it, you should.  I've worked in the fast fashion industry for over five years, and being in that industry and having my day to day job duties include following trends and styling for trends, kind of created an occupational hazard of accumulating clothing.

Now, I wouldn't say that that reality is necessarily a good thing, but I also wouldn't say that on the whole it was bad either.  I had more access and knowledge of some items than I would have as an average customer, and through that I acquired some of my very favorite pieces.  These are things that are cornerstones to my wardrobe, and I am unwaveringly happy that I own them.  I feel like they have really helped shape the style that I have today.  But I also accumulated many things that I am now lukewarm to.


Recently I joined in the Netflix sensation of watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.  I was originally intrigued because of the large cleaning up that we had done when we moved last May, and was interested in seeing other people's stories of de-cluttering.   I loved how Marie focused on how the individual person felt about their possessions, and transforming their living style.  I connected with a lot of this, because I too do love and connect with a number of the things in our house, or as Marie Kondo would say, a lot of things 'spark joy' for me.  And in a lot of ways I realized that our May clean up basically was what I witnessed on the show, just not quite the same methods.   I love that she doesn't want to make you feel bad about liking your possessions, she basically just wants you to be honest with yourself as to if you really want it in your life.   Do you feel joy when you see something, or are you keeping it out of guilt?  The thoughts, I spent money on this or someone gave me this, or I've just had this for so long... beg me to think: are you really happy to have this, or does it just remind you that you spent that money, or never used the thing?  It's okay to thank the item for being in your life and then let it go.

In my clothing acquiring journey I found many things I liked and then grew apart from, things I grew out of, and things I've loved through thick and thin.   It's a process.  Just like a home, your wardrobe is ever-changing.  It's okay to love your clothes.  It's also okay to let them go.

My little raccoon scarf that I bought off Poshmark!

In my experience as a shopper, I've found that it's much more emotionally rewarding to purchase something when you fall in love with it, than to go out looking to buy, say 'a white blouse'.   You'll go to six stores looking for a white blouse that you've pictured in your head, and get frustrated when you can't find it.  Because even though you've seen one in the past, doesn't mean that stores are always going to be making what you're picturing.  Fashion is ever changing.  I find that it's much better to buy when you are inspired by what you're seeing, something a friend of mine calls the 'opportunity buy'.

It's just important to be conscious of when you're accumulating without purpose.  When you're inspired by something in a store you have to think about how you're going to wear it, when you're going to wear it, how often, if it's comfortable, is it really you? etc.

I am such a big fan of white textured tops.  They are the perfect neutral item that still adds interest!

Another blogger that I love frequently gets asked how she can afford a wardrobe when she doesn't make a ton of money.  She always replies that she budgets it into her life and doesn't spend excessively in other areas of her life.  It's kind of all perspective.  We all spend our money in different ways that we have to or that make us happy: maybe it's to live in a nice house in a nice town or the city, or maybe it's that someone enjoys eating out a lot, or likes having a cable package or is paying for gas for a two hour daily commute — everybody's situation is different, and it's possible that what you think someone might be spending on clothing is what another person might spend on supplies for a hobby or a Starbucks habit.  The blogger that I'm referencing lives in a rural town in a tiny house, and says that she likes spending money on clothes more than she likes spending it eating out.

I personally have cut back my spending on clothing enormously since leaving full time fast fashion, and I've also changed a lot of things about my lifestyle.  I now only purchase wardrobe items with intention, as I realized that a lot of my accumulation came from attempts at stress relief (as well as constant exposure and the temptation to buy, and it being part of my 'work wardrobe'), and I possibly failed to exercise will power in a sustainable way.   I still consider fashion forward clothing to be my 'work wardrobe' and am still (obviously) interested in dressing in an artful and trendy way, being an artistic entrepreneur.  But especially since our May purge and the continued inspiration from #konmarie, I am very strong willed now to make sure that items I accumulate will add something real to my wardrobe and not just take up space in a closet.  I do look for sales, but most especially if the sale is on something that I've realized I need (example: good staple shoes).  I also enjoy popping into thrift shops and have found a great deal of nice brand name items that someone else wasn't enjoying anymore.  I recently bought a Free People top, a J Crew sweater (with a small hole), a pair of corduroy pants, and a nice wool sweater from Madewell at a thrift store for $15.  So just because I'm wearing a nice brand, it doesn't mean that I am irresponsibly spending money.

I've also been asked if I have a set budget for buying clothing.  When I was asked this it was while I was still in fast fashion, and I had said no.  I didn't have a set budget for clothing back then, and I still don't, really.  I guess I feel for me at least, it's less about budgeting a certain amount for a set period of time, and more being reasonable and conscious about what I can spend and what it's being spent on?  I could have a $50 budget for a month and buy something totally unnecessary for $50 but still be "in budget".  And then the next month I could pass up something for $60 that would have really added to my life?  I just try to be reasonable with my purchases and really consider how much this thing is really going to benefit me.  And this is all understanding and realizing that I am just not a person that is going to go out and spend $200+ at the mall or online in a weekend.  I don't have a set clothing budget but I do realize what would be excessive for my means.  I honestly would never spend over $80 on any one occasion without seriously weighing whether it was a smart idea or not.


All in all, I just feel like either society says that you're not keeping up with fashion enough and need to keep consuming and consuming, or else society is telling you that it's frivolous to even want to be passionate about your clothing.  And I just want to advocate for a middle ground.  I love my clothing, and I love that I love clothing.  But I don't need every trend, and I'm not going to walk into Nieman Marcus and drop $100 on a pair of earrings (I've honestly only been in that store once and I have no clue if they even sell earrings).  I'm going to do what's right for me, in a way that I feel is appropriate for my life.

And that's okay.

Until Next Time,

- The Lovely Red Fox

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