Have you considered your wardrobe lately?

Like, really, seriously thought about it as an entity?

Mine is like a monster.  A large, frightening, brightly coloured, patterned and sparkly monster.  Named Calcifer.

A few months back I posted my take on essential wardrobe items.  But yesterday I read this post and it really hit home because it didn’t talk about essential items, but the wardrobe an a whole.  I know I post a lot of links on my blog, but seriously, go read that one!  You will never think of your wardrobe the same way again, I guarantee!  I must say the post is a more practical view of the wardrobe that I can endorse (especially as, since we discussed, I am missing many of the “essential” items as often cited by others, yet I seem to manage just fine).  I suppose it helps that the writer is much like me in that she doesn’t need a professional wardrobe and can really just wear whatever she wants most of the time.

Which, lets be honest.  Being a grad student means I have a lot more freedom with my wardrobe than 90% of women out there.  I’m trying to enjoy it while it lasts as I much acknowledge that in the next 6 months I will almost undoubtedly be entering the working world and be forced to ascribe to some sort of dress code.  : (  Which means I really should stop buying any clothes at the moment (as you know, I picked up a few items on clearance from Witchery recently, and I may have picked up a few items recently on trademe…).  Because I am absolutely 100% aware of the fact that if I have to start dressing business or corporate – I will find my wardrobe seriously incapable of hacking the pace.  But for now, I’m going to try not to buy too many things and enjoy my last few months of potential dress freedom.

Instead, lets talk about how to curate your wardrobe.   I’m assuming you’ve read the post by now as I’ve linked to it twice.

As you know, in recent months I have been trying to buy less.  Knowing what is in your wardrobe is important so that you can plan and make better purchases.  Buy items that you actually need.  Consider purchases before you buy them (less impulse buying!).  Buy items that will be versatile, and already fit in with your existing wardrobe.  In other words, shop smarter!

My wardrobe is FULL of bells and whistles.  I love them.  I call them “statement pieces”.  I honestly don’t own a basic dress (I’ve tried over the years to successfully acquire a LBD…  I have several black dresses in my wardrobe now but none of them are that essential LBD).  I own maybe a handful of basic skirts.  However, I probably have nearly 60 basic tops (my ex-work was a knitwear company specializing in basics, if you hadn’t picked up on that already).  I think this helped focus the core of my wardrobe for a long time – e.g. creating outfits from the bottom up.  [For several years I was obsessed with printed tights.  I know they are all the rage now, but back in 2008 (yes, that long ago) I bought several hundred dollars worth of celeste stein tights.  They still get featured on the blog from time to time, but as I said, for me, printed tights was the cool thing 5 years ago (actually, as an aside, I’m not sure that in Dunedin they really were that cool.  I got a lot of stares when I would wear them around town.  Now I doubt people even look twice but back then it was a different story…  Hey, it’s a tough job, but someone has to be a fashion forerunner).]

But the problem with all these statement pieces is that they are very limiting.  You can’t (or rather, shouldn’t) wear a bunch of statement items together.  Often they only coordinate with a handful of other items in your wardrobe.  In a word – they are fabulous, but not very versatile.

But if you limit yourself to basics…  well then you might end up looking a bit basic.  I think the idea here is to have some statement pieces, but make sure your basics are very versatile and coordinate with your statement pieces!

What I have now is lots of statement skirts, basic tops, printed dresses, printed tights, printed scarves, a pile of threadless t-shirts (again, another obsession.  I will never be able to wear them all out in this lifetime!).  Some basic shorts, skirts, jeans and trousers.  A couple of basic coats, a couple of statement coats.  Quite a number of plain jumpers.  And some miscellaneous statement tops.

Too many clothes.  [I have managed to get my shoe collection more or less under control.  In the past couple of years I’ve been pretty ruthless with purging any shoes or boots that weren’t getting worn regularly, regardless of how cute they were.]

I know I need to address my monster (er… wardrobe).  I need to prune it back.  Especially since my time here in NZ is probably not permanent and there is an increasing likelihood that I will end up going back to the US to work once my degree is finished (hello bigger country, hence many more job opportunities).  I think that once I finish my PhD, a wardrobe clean out will be a good project for me.  Seriously addressing the amount of stuff (mostly clothing and fabric) that I have amassed over nearly 7 years, and pare it down to something that will fit inside a couple of suitcases and maybe a box or 2 to be shipped to wherever I end up next, will probably be a good healthy exercise for me!

I now solemnly promise to document the wardrobe clearout!

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