I have narrowed down my wardrobe and counted the pieces: 111 total. That number seems high to me. I console myself with reminders that this number includes outerwear, yoga clothes, dressy and casual pieces. Then I remember that I have not counted the footwear — 14 pieces, including winter boots and house slippers. That number also does not include accessories — once upon a time, I loved to collect scarves — as well as sleepwear, swimwear, and undergarments.
The number 111 might sound high, yet I can honestly say that I wear all the pieces at least once per year. Is that a good enough reason to hold onto them? I suppose it depends on whom we ask, and minimalism has many definitions. As I continue to fine-tune my personal style, I have developed certain rules to which I adhere when deciding what items to keep in my closet and before making a decision to introduce something new into my wardrobe:
1. Toss (and say ‘no’ to) anything that does not feel comfortable.
Gone are the days when I was prepared to suffer to look good. I have since learned that if I don’t feel comfortable, I most likely do not look good. That means letting go of any woolen itchy sweaters, curve-hugging camisoles that ride up and need to be readjusted every few minutes, dresses that are too short, t-shirts that show my midriff, and any tops that require a funky version of a strapless bra or adhesives to hold the piece in place on my body. Comfort is No. 1 for me.
2. Toss (and say ‘no’ to) anything that does not look 100% flattering on me.
Some pieces look fabulous on a hanger, a mannequin, or another person, but that will not always be the case when I try them on, and that’s okay. I love the look of one-piece swimsuits; after years of wearing bikinis, last summer I purchased a gorgeous fuchsia one piece. After wearing it once to the beach, I understood that I much prefer the comfort of bikinis, and because I have a long torso, if I ever again decide to try a one-piece, it will have to be one specially made for my build.
3. Keep items that complement and can be layered with other items that I have in my wardrobe.
Recently, I have developed a colour scheme that differs significantly from the colours I used to wear 10 years ago. Although I still like pinks and purples from time to time, those pinks have been replaced with darker fuchsia, and the purple with richer burgundy. I am particular about basic pieces (long-sleeved t-shirts in black, dark grey, and neutral are my favourites) and layering them with cardigans and sweaters.
4. Choose items that are practical and suit my lifestyle.
When choosing which items to keep and which new ones to bring in, I consider where I will wear them and how frequently. Although I have kept a few dressy items that I wear once per year, I do not bring anything new into my wardrobe that I do not plan to wear less frequently than once every few weeks.
5. Choose items that are of the highest quality I can afford.
This is a big criteria point for me. Gone are the days when I used to seek the most affordable pieces the seams of which would fall apart or the colours of which would fade after one or two washes (bear in mind that I hand-wash the majority of my clothes with gentle liquid detergent). Today, I look for versatile pieces that are made of sustainable materials, preferably in Canada or the U.S. I also enjoy items such as my Encircled Chrysalis cardigan, which can be worn in several different ways. I used to think that a well-made $100 sweater was much too expensive, until I purchased such a sweater several years ago and continue to wear it frequently, enjoying it every time. Because I no longer rejoice at acquiring 10 $10 items, I do not feel bad when I do, once per year, invest $100 in one timeless piece that I know I will wear for many years to come.
6. I don’t need more than one of everything.
I used to think I needed two pairs of black pants in two different cuts, but I only enjoyed wearing one of the pairs. So, out went the secondary option. I used to have three different styles of black pumps — one with a stiletto heel, another with a kitten heel, and a third with a chunky heel. I have since selected the one pair that I like most and donated the others. Do I miss them? No! I will go so far as to say that I have also significantly reduced my selection of undergarments, leaving only the ones that I feel most comfortable wearing. No one needs 20 pairs of underwear in 20 different shades of pink when 10 cotton pairs in basic colours will suffice. My selection might seem boring to some, but it’s practical and it makes me feel good.
7. I don’t need 20 different special-occasion outfits.
Once upon a time, I held onto every evening gown that I had worn once to a special occasion, and I thought that I needed a new dress for each special occasion I attended. Those gowns have all been donated because I rarely have an occasion that warrants such an outfit. I have kept one timeless black cocktail dress that I do not mind wearing to multiple events. Let it be my signature look!
8. Never shop because I’m bored or require retail therapy, and never buy something just because it’s on sale.
This is an easy one for me, because I frankly do not enjoy shopping, and the concept of retail therapy has never appealed to me. I shop alone, never with a girlfriend, at two favourite online stores, and just because a t-shirt is on sale for $5 does not mean I need it or it is a smart choice for me. In my opinion, based on past experience, in most situations, a $5 item purchased on impulse is never a good choices and that money is better spent on a latte.
Do you have several personal wardrobe rules? Please share them with me in the comments below.
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