Last week I started to catch up on my blog reading and was completely sidetracked by the wonderful Wardrobe Architect series on the Coletterie blog. I’ve been reading others’ experiences in following along and I just knew I’d get sucked into it! Since January, Sarai has been writing on a number of topics on personal style and wardrobe curating.
Over Christmas, I was already thinking it was time to do major wardrobe (and fabric stash) overhaul, so this series couldn’t have come at a better time. At first I wanted to overhaul my closet just to conserve space, but then it became an itch to gesso the entire canvas. I had a free Saturday last weekend, so I went into Spring Cleaning Overdrive and spent a good six hours taking apart my closets from top to bottom.* I even went after my makeup, accessories, and lingerie.
Before: It’s not that messy, but I really can’t find my scarves in there…. it’s all a jumble.
I purged my closets one other time in my life, before I was married and right before I moved to Europe in my early 30s, but there was no rhyme or reason to it other than that I needed to fit all my belongings into two suitcases. I lost some treasures in the process like my favorite 70s rust color suede jacket with the huge pointy collar and brass snaps.
AFTER (left): I can see!
I like how Sarai began the series with some very thoughtful and introspective exercises before moving into more practical ones. I’ve always been a big believer that style is a very personal thing, and expresses so much in self image, lifestyle, social dress codes, and cultural and spiritual values, whether intentionally or not. Or it reacts to those things. Digging a little deeper into the “why of you” is such a great place to start.
I’m sort of a 10,000 leagues-under-the-sea personality so I’ve always loved exploring the deeper matters of what fashion expresses. Over 10 years ago I kept a journal about clothing and its meanings, and loved writing into my own style personality, invariably quoting social theorists, Yeats or the Bible as I went along. I wrote about why I was drawn to certain colors and fragrances and what they meant to me philosophically, or how certain landscapes, my religious upbringing, or interest in Celtic history were naturally expressed in my clothes.
Celtic knotwork from my old journal. It’s as addictive as Tetris.
So I love to experiment with fashion but I don’t always know what I’m doing. When I first started this blog, I had just read through some personal style books in an attempt to get better at making conscious wardrobe choices. I think it was all connected to turning 40. What I really wished for was a French godmother to teach me all those French dressing tricks–or as I would put it, the non-tricks–to being a woman of a certain age. I pretty much have the non-tricks down with my hair–I don’t fuss with it–but would love to have more of that knowing with my clothes. One of my favorite books was Nina Garcia’s The One Hundred, which inspired me to start the blog with a goal of sewing ten classic pieces.** I ended up making six of them but it also got me thinking–just because I’m turning 40, do I need to start thinking classic? I tried ballet flats and just don’t like them. Am I getting old with the Chucks high tops? (My favorites now are Supergas.)
And then there was climate confusion. My first full summer in Austin was quite a shock. I didn’t know how to dress or groom in this climate, at all. I missed sweaters, coats, layering–and drapey layering is one thing that has always been a part of my personal style. I couldn’t quite bring myself to wear flip flops. It took a lot of confidence and practice to adjust to bearing skin all the time, wearing strappy shoulder dresses, shorts and sandals eight months of the year–and feeling good in those things.
Although my wardrobe has fleshed out with more summer clothes and in the process I’ve discovered my love of billowy, drapey silk blouses and tanks, it’s still top-heavy with the impractical–too nightlife for my lifestyle, too hot for summer, or just plain ill-fitting.
I look forward to re-thinking some of this with my newly blank canvas. Well, it’s not entirely blank. But I managed to whittle down the party dresses to three. And I left myself with no white tee-shirts or tanks. There is a time a t-shirt must come to an end and transform into one of my husband’s motorcycle rags. I’m excited to plan out a thoughtful wardrobe that starts with a few needed basics and then builds into a little capsule collection for summer.
Have you ever done a major wardrobe purge?
*I used this Wardrobe Detox advice as I was picking through everything. Good stuff!
**Wait, I just realized I passed my three-year blogiversary! I’d totally forgotten about my first post.