There was a time when the concept of shopping my own closet made me shake my head. It was a nice idea, I thought – but for other people. My own closet at the time was full of colourful, impulsively purchased items, none of which seemed to have any relationship to each other. When I had an outfit idea, it usually required the purchase of at least one new garment – most often from H&M or Zara. At twenty-eight, I often had to double- or triple-hang garments on a single hanger because my closet was so overstuffed. And I still felt like I had nothing to wear.
The chaos in my closet was, in a lot of ways, reflective of the chaos in my life at that point. I’d done everything I was supposed to do – finished university in four years, landed a good job, married a nice man, bought property – but I wasn’t happy. And I didn’t know how to fix that, so instead, I bought cheap clothes. Cheap clothes were the band-aid that I put over all of my big problems.
Fast forward five years. When I open my closet, everything is coordinated, down to the black and white tiles on the floor. Even the view standout pieces, like my vibrant Self-Portrait dress, seem to fit in. When I packed my suitcase for Washington DC last month, everything I put in it had been hanging in my closet for months. In fact, many of the pieces had been in there for years. My camel coat is from New York in 2015; my Louis Vuitton bag purchased on our Paris honeymoon in 2011.
There is an undeniable satisfaction in opening your closet and being able to clearly see a multitude of outfit options. I still buy new things. In fact, I think a representative of Zara would probably telephone me to make sure I was well if I didn’t place my monthly online order. But when I buy things now, it’s because they will complement everything I already have, or because I have noticed that my wardrobe is missing a good basic, like a slim black leather belt. (My last Zara order included one. Problem solved.)
So much has changed in the past five years. So much more than just my wardrobe. I had to figure out what I wanted in life before I could figure out how I wanted to dress for my life. A year away in Paris served as the start of my learning experience, but those twelve months didn’t fix everything. Far from it. What they did do was teach me that sometimes, there simply isn’t money for new clothes and, when there isn’t, I can actually live without them.
Not everyone is lucky enough to experience that kind of sartorial catharsis, of course. I am totally aware of that. My dedication to shopping only for pieces that make sense in my closet waivers on occasion, still. I’m not perfect. No one is. Moving home to Winnipeg made it easier. We have limited shopping options here, mostly the mall basics like Banana Republic and H&M. Accessing any of them requires the use of our very poor public transit system and, worse, going out in freezing weather to do it. My geographic location obliges me to shop judiciously. But it’s a lot easier to do because I already have all the basics I need hanging in my closet.
Although I don’t follow the “five new things a season” principle of The Five-Piece French Wardrobe, I still base my basic wardrobe on the recommendations it provides. Full disclosure: I probably have two or three versions of every basic on the list at any given time. My outfits may be minimal these days, but attitude still isn’t – I love options. And on lazy mornings, which, admittedly, are most mornings these days, I don’t have to think about getting dressed. Everything I need is ready. I could reach into my closet with my eyes closed if I wanted to.
I still find the idea of shopping my own closet a bit silly. But then, I see an outfit I like on Pinterest and, after a moment of thought, realise I own all the pieces I need to put together my own version. My looks aren’t always revolutionary, but I always wear what I like and I can make an infinite combination of new outfits with the clothes I own. And that’s a pretty great feeling.
#louisvuitton #jcrew #grlfrnd #uniqlo #revolve