I remember school holidays, when I was about eight or nine, I was staying with my grandparents. We went clothes shopping one of the days – I’m suddenly getting flashbacks of the two-piece purple tracksuit I got – and I remember that my grandma was encouraging me to be more purposeful with the items I was choosing.
She asked, “What do you already have that you could wear it with?” and “How often will you wear this?”
Okay, Mama, fair enough, but I like it – isn’t that enough?
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot more about the clothes in my wardrobe. Since moving into my own tiny apartment earlier in the year, I’ve reduced the amount of clothes in my wardrobe quite considerably.
At the risk of channelling my inner Marie Kondo, I’ve given away just about everything that, for whatever reason, I don’t wear.
As a result, I’m left with… not enough clothes that go well together. It’s possible that if I’d listened to my grandma more, I wouldn’t be in this mess now.
So as I start thinking about the clothes I’m going to buy, I’m thinking about how I can be more purposeful about it.
Although I’m sure there’ll be exceptions, I’ve come up with some “rules” to help me keep me on track.
1. Stick to a colour palette
Perhaps I’m just a product of Melbourne, but a lot of my wardrobe is black… and not a whole lot else. What other colours I do have aren’t chosen with a particular scheme in mind, and so they don’t go well together.
So I’ve been thinking about the colours I really love wearing. The ones that look good on me, and the ones that look good together.
Mustard, burgundy, plum, turquoise and navy (alongside black, white, grey and tan for support) – these are the colours I plan to base my new wardrobe on.
I love these colours, mixed and matched. They’re quite autumnal, I think, but I can see myself wearing them throughout the year!
Will I wear other colours…? Yes. Sometimes you need a pop of red, and I love to wear bottle green. But if they’re the exceptions while these five colours are the rule, at least it’ll reduce the amount of garments I can’t wear with anything else.
2. Be honest with myself
If I do as my Mama told me and ask myself what I already have that I can wear with something new, I’m really going to have to be honest and specific about it.
I know I’ll have a tendency to overestimate its versatility. So I’m going to have to answer myself very truthfully:
- What else can I wear this with?
- Is this a flattering colour on me?
- How often will I wear this?
Something I’ve found myself struggling with a bit the past few years has been that I’ve bought new things that I have actually had other clothes in my wardrobe to go with it… only to find none of my shoes do. I’m going to think carefully about full outfits from now on.
3. Never buy something just because it’s cheap, or because it’s on sale
Aside from the obvious ethical concerns, buying clothes just because they’re cheap is often a quick trip to buyers remorse for me. If I’m already not good enough at really thinking about the clothes I’m buying, this is multiplied tenfold when said garment is cheap as chips.
4. Make more of my own clothes
The one true way to get full control of fit, colour and style in my wardrobe is to make more clothes myself. I used to do it a lot. I rarely do now – even though I’ll be making my wedding dress next year! Time to crack out the old sewing machine and get stitching!
5. Plan upcoming purchases
I often leave shopping right until the moment I need something specific or new. I go in blind, and, like a magpie, just gravitate to things that stand out to me. How much better would my wardrobe be if I thought about the gaps in it, the things I really want to wear, and I searched for them with purpose?
I’d be able to make better use of sales – and sewing projects – by identifying and filling specific gaps.
How do you buy your clothes? Do you go by any rhyme or reason?