At the start of the year, before COVID 19 hit, I decided it was time for a reset.
Having a Personal Colour Analysis a couple of years ago and then settling into my new season of Bright Winter was quite the mental shift.
Aside from realising how many clothes I had that were not in Bright Winter colours, I realised I wanted a much more cohesive strategy to buying clothes. I have been a stay at home mom until recently (for the last 11 years!) and so clothes buying was generally done in rare moments of alone time or squeezed in along with grocery shopping. This was not conducive to quality or wise purchases! To add colour into the mix, at first I was just desperate to find any clothes in my colours, whatever they were like.
Finding a better way
As my colour journey continued, and I trained as a 12Blueprints Personal Colour Analyst, I started reading more articles about slow fashion which reinforced in me a desire to have a much more useable set of clothes, a smaller amount of quality pieces that go together and that are in my colours. Although I like shopping I haven’t got the time or desire to spend my life shopping. I would also prefer to avoid contributing to the piles of clothes that go into landfill every year and feel uneasy about the origins of much of the cheap clothing in chain stores. I would love to buy more ethical pieces as well, although I do have budgetary restrictions. Good friends have introduced me to shopping well in thrift and consignment stores and this has definitely expanded my options.
I have looked at a capsule wardrobe and whilst I love the concept of it, I don’t know if I would be able to make it work. What I am aiming for then, is knowing what I have, knowing what I need and not just going for random single pieces that don’t go with anything else. I have listened to Christine and Jorunn’s excellent podcasts on the Chrysalis website about capsule wardrobes (Part 1 and Part 2) and this has shaped a lot of my thinking. A Style Analysis from my colleague in the Netherlands, Florentina Mossou, answered many questions I had about why certain clothes didn’t suit me and provided a blueprint for finding clothes that worked best with my body type.
Putting my goals, new information and creativity to work
While our city was in lockdown, I participated in a ‘Shop your Closet’ challenge online which taught me some new skills in putting outfits together, and helped me see where the gaps were in my wardrobe. It did encourage me to try and create new outfit combinations from things I already own. It was surprising to me how creative I could be with clothes I had grown used to and made me realise how I was sticking with the same old outfit combinations. I love that kind of creativity and it was energising, without spending any money.
So once the restrictions were lifted, I knew I needed to buy some shorts and tanks ready for summer. The shorts I thrifted – consignment stores are an amazing way to get quality clothing in a good condition. It also means you can pick up clothing in your colours that may not be in the stores due to seasonal trends. For the tanks, I had figured out what colours I wanted (I wear tanks all year round as a layer) – I knew I needed a couple of neutral colours (one grey and black) and wanted a red one for a pop of colour. I also have a couple of items I have decided to get altered (in the spirit of not just throwing good clothes away because they are not quite right).
It’s a slow process and I am in no way saying I’ve got it all sorted. I live in a small city in Eastern Canada and we don’t have as many stores here anyway – even replacing clothes that are worn out is not always straightforward. But this restriction, and the restrictions placed on us through Covid (shopping is a much more complex experience now) mean I am forced to examine what I buy, ask myself whether I need the item, and see if I can use something I already have. It has made me more careful about looking after my clothes – mending things before holes grow larger, hand washing instead of risking the machine, becoming a master at removing stains. None of this is revolutionary and I realise I’m borrowing from my parents’ and grandparents’ ways of ‘make do and mend’ but it feels a lot less stressful and very satisfying. And when I do buy new clothing, I consider it more carefully these days. I want it to be a quality purchase that fits cost per wear principles: “Before I make a purchase, I assess my existing wardrobe and determine how well my potential new purchase will fit it. I also factor in whether I’ll get enough use out of my item to make it worth the cost of purchase.” (my colleague Jorunn Hernes writes about the cost per wear here). This might also take into account my own priorities such as thrifting, buying local where possible or using clothes swaps with friends as well.
It may mean checking if there isn’t an option I have missed right there in my own closet.