Curating a wardrobe — mindfully
The past few months had me thinking ( and sometimes wrestling ) a lot with my choices as a consumer, the 'votes I cast' and the the 'demand I encourage' every time I buy something. The thoughts naturally overflowed into my wardrobe and had me re-evaluate my mindset towards the things I clothe and adorn myself with daily.
Being an avid 'spring cleaner', cleaning out the old and making space for the new is no new task to me. However, I came to realise there is a vast difference between doing it out of habit and doing it with intention.
It seems like everyone is craving more space around them, but not just physically, mentally and emotionally as well. There is a lot to be said about being mindful, minimalism and creating a wardrobe that we love, that love the earth and makes us feel loved, but the real work happens when we get practical about it. When we no longer just ponder, but actually put our hands to work.
And that is what Pippa Leenstra is sharing with us today — practically putting our best wardrobe intentions to work.
Without action, the best intentions in the world are nothing more than that: intentions. — Jordan Belfort
written and contributed by Pippa Leenstra
If you’re looking to have more space, literally and metaphorically, then building a wardrobe intentionally is one thing you can do to help create that.
If you are conscious about what you bring into your wardrobe, you’ll likely end up having only items in it that you love and that work for you.
Think about your morning routine; getting dressed is an essential part of that. If the process of getting dressed is effortless, it frees up time and space for you to enjoy other important morning rituals; like savouring that cup of coffee, rather than drinking half of it ( ice cold ) before having to fly out of the house in a rush.
If you can curate a wardrobe mindfully and with intention, you will hopefully end up with what I refer to as a Minimalist Wardrobe (MW). A Minimalist Wardrobe does not have to be half empty, or pared down, or consist of black, white and grey items only. Rather, it is a wardrobe that consists of only items that you enjoy wearing, plus the basics that make it work for you.
How do we attain a MW?
Start by taking an honest look at your existing wardrobe. Analyse each item in there. Ask yourself how you feel when you hold it; look at it, and most importantly when you wear it. This process can be difficult because we humans attach a lot of meaning to our things, for various reasons…like sentimentality – what an item represents in our lives or what memory it evokes; dreams - of what we should wear and what we should look like; and guilt – for owning an item and not wearing it, realising the money and time that was wasted.
The below steps may help you work through your existing wardrobe, to identify what does and doesn’t work for you
1. — Do what you need to do to get into a happy space i.e. see the process as some me-time, not a chore. Pour wine, tea, put on some music etc.
2. — Take out all the clothes in your wardrobe and divide them in sections e.g. tops, bottoms etc. Follow the below steps, then move onto the next section.
3. — Put back those tops that you LOVE, would buy again, or would wear today.
4. — Sort through the remainder and put those you definitely dislike into a pile – ready to be donated or perhaps thrown away
With the remainder of the pile, ask yourself these questions:
Do I feel good when I wear this? Does it make me feel confident?
When last did I actually wear this item? Can I envisage myself wearing it again?
Does this item fit me properly? Is it flattering on my body?
Is this item comfortable, or do I want to take it off halfway through the day?
If you answered NO to any of the above questions, it’s time to let go of it. If you still can’t do this, put it into a bag or box, and store it out of the way. Then, if you haven’t thought about it (or any of the items) in the box for 6 months, it’s safe to say you can let go of them.
Start with the next section of clothing e.g. pants and follow the same process
Once you’re done, spend time organizing your wardrobe in ways that work for you. For example, hang your pants in one section, your short sleeved tees in another; assemble your long-sleeved basics for layering in one pile, your gym kit in a section/shelf of your wardrobe, and so on.
Following the above steps is easier said than done, especially if you’re doing it on your own. It’s hard to let go of the emotions attached to our clothes, as I mentioned earlier.
The challenge is to focus on asking ourselves this question as we hold each item: Does this item bring me joy?
So once you’ve had a look at your existing wardrobe, you can start curating your wardrobe with intention. It does require some ‘work’ on your part!
1. — Take a look at the loved pieces and jot down your favourites. From there build your YES list in terms of fabrics; brands; fit and style.
For example, you like the fit of high-waisted skirts, you like stripes, most of the pieces you like are cotton etc.
2. — Take a look at the pieces you own but don’t wear and ask yourself why? Write down a NO list.
Think of all factors e.g. the fabric picks up lint or creases, the waist rides up, you’re not sure where to wear it etc.
3. — Look at your lifestyle and your work. Make up a pie chart of different activities you generally do e.g. lunch with friends, working from home, yoga, dinners out
4. — Think about the general climate of the season you’re in, in the city you live e.g. Cape Town summer – sunny hot days + cool evenings = layers needed, so think about the type of layers for your lifestyle ( e.g. jackets vs. cardigans )
5. —Throw out some words of how you’d like to describe your dream style as well as your existing style e.g. classic, boho, structured, fun, romantic, Parisian, formal, relaxed, effortless, boring!
6. — List the brands you like to shop at/want to shop at ( this is an extension of step 1 and 2 )
7. — Jot down the colours you like and tend towards ( also an extension of step 1 and 2 )
8. — Think about your go-to every day combinations/uniforms e.g. denims+ankle boots+ jersey, or dress+sandals+denim jacket – using your most loved items from step 1 and 2. You can then identify the gaps that exist more easily
9. — Check online for the items you’re after – this helps to prepare you for real shopping if you don’t want to order online
With a MW, getting dressed in the morning can be a joy-filled process. Every item you look at is something you enjoy wearing, so really all you need to consider is what your day’s activities require, or what mood you’re in and what you’re drawn to wearing that day. You won’t waste energy on sifting through unloved items that are cluttering your space, physically and emotionally. You’ll have more time and space for other morning rituals that you enjoy. If you have this end goal in mind it makes it easier to let go of what you need to.
Pippa is a personal stylist and studied at the London College of Fashion. — "However, I don’t believe that it’s necessary to have actually studied what I do, you just have to kind of have it in you, or maybe that’s just my approach. I don’t stick to the usual body shape ‘rules’ unless my clients ask that of me. Basically I love helping women and men feel good about themselves. The term Image Consultant is one that I can’t stand, I don’t really care that much about considering your image when choosing your outfit. My goal is to find which items of clothing actually make you happy when you get dressed, those clothes you truly enjoy wearing and that work for you. The concept of Minimalism resonates with me on many levels, and I write a blog that focuses on this, in relation to our wardrobes and personal style."