It’s been a little while since I really took stock of what is in my wardrobe, a good few years actually. I was working full time and had a great style “blueprint” that I followed. It worked for me, I felt good in it and it suited my lifestyle of working in the city, fun dinners out with my husband and friends and going out on the weekends. Then I had a child, and a couple of years later another one, life was full and I was working from home, caring for my boys and trying to run a small business in a pandemic.
One morning I found myself standing in our walk-in-robe thinking ” I can’t believe I’ve got nothing to wear!” To be very clear, I had plenty to wear, I just was struggling to see how to put it together. I wasn’t sure what fitted anymore, what would work with what, what even suited my lifestyle or how to find things that I liked. I’d been following this blueprint for so long I was just buying things that fit with that, without seeing if I really liked them. I had to stop and take stock.
I had clothes of all different sizes from before pregnancy, to during pregnancy, post birth comfies and a whole lot of everything in between. A lot of it was quite baggy, and I was “comfortable” with that, because I could breastfeed in it discreetly, you couldn’t see my “mummy-tummy” and I didn’t feel pressured to get back to the same pre-baby size, no-one would know. But I didn’t like how I looked, I saw myself in the mirror and thought how did I get to looking like this? I just felt frumpy and sad, to the point I dreaded leaving the house looking like that. I didn’t feel like the young, fun Mum I wanted to be.
Having two young children to keep up with meant some pieces I had really loved and relied on were just were not practical anymore, namely fitted skirts and short dresses. Having a postpartum body meant that my favourite skinny jeans just weren’t going to do up over those childbearing hips anymore, and breastfeeding meant button up shirts were still good, but I needed to go up size… and no more tight tees!
As you can imagine it was really disheartening and it made me start to not love myself. My other issue was that this year I”ve decided not to buy any new clothes… If I want it, I have to make it! So I couldn’t just toss everything and start over. I had to commit to making new things with the fabric I’d bought… But I didn’t even know what I wanted to make and I didn’t want to waste fabric either, so I stayed wearing things I didn’t love.
Finally I decided to take decisive action. Doing nothing wasn’t getting me anywhere and I really needed to snap out of the funk I was in. So anything that didn’t fit me (or I didn’t want to alter to fit me) went straight to the donation pile, as did anything that I put on and wasn’t comfortable in or didn’t love how it looked. That helped to clear the way for me to see what I had, and felt good in. This is a bit of an on-going process now – I am still removing unwanted, ill-fitting and uncomfortable pieces as I go, so it doesn’t build up again.
Next I begun hunting on the internet for style advice, googling “redefining your style” “what to do when you don’t like your clothes” and I found a few people with style webinars and blueprints, but they all suggested having a neutral colour palette with one or two colours for each season, and that is really not my cup of tea!
Then by chance I found a stylist on facebook, she has a free group to help you “Shop Your Closet” as she calls it, and I thought “Perfect!”. With her guidance in the group and a few suggestions on posts to read and things to try I began to remember the things I loved in my clothing: well fitting and tailored garments, plenty of colour, sleeves, pieces that define your waist etc. From this I’ve been rebuilding my style, but to suit my life. It’s still a work in progress, I haven’t figured it all out yet but I’ve remembered that your style evolves with you in your life, it’s not static!
Now I want to share some of the biggest things that helped me rediscover my style and a love for getting dressed in the morning (instead of throwing whatever on!).
1. Play with what you already have Playing “dress-ups” with your own wardrobe can be fun. What have you already got that you don’t wear. Try mixing up your usual outfits by putting different pairings together – you never know what magic you find! This will also help you find your favourite necklines, lengths, silhouettes and shapes.
2. Try different colours and patterns Look at what colours and patterns you already have in your wardrobe and then when you go out shopping – at least try on something totally different. Always ask why not?
3. Don’t worry what others think Who are you dressing up for? I always think getting dressed up for others is over-rated. Why wear something because everyone loves it, when you don’t. You don’t have to buy into a trend if its not your thing!
4. Quality over quantity It is always better to have fewer good staple pieces than lots and lots of different garments. Something I learnt from one of the style webinars I attended was that more pieces does not mean more options! It is more stress for you when getting dressed and you only end up wearing, at most, about 60% of your wardrobe! So choose well, and you won’t need to shop often.
5. Have fun Enjoy getting dressed, put on your favourite song while you pick out the day’s outfit and be fearlessly and unashamedly you. What you choose might not be what your neighbour chooses, but it will be just right for you. I don’t believe there are any mistakes when it comes to expressing yourself through fashion. After all, as Diane von Furstenberg put it: “Style is something each of us already has, all we need to do is find it.” So be yourself and find joy in your wardrobe again!