After my decluttering process my goal for the future was to change my mindset in terms of what I bring into our household – basically, being more intentional about the things we own. With regard to clothing, intentional living very much means intentional shopping. But in order to know what and where to shop, I suggest you take a step back first.
For me the best way to start being more intentional about clothes is to declutter your closet and to take inventory of your clothes. Are there items that you are missing? Do some items need to be replaced soon? I strongly encourage you to make a list and write down all the items that you need to buy. This helps you to focus your mind on things you actually need when you go shopping.
During my closet purge I got rid of a lot of clothes – more than I anticipated and more than I thought I even owned. After my purge, with only the pieces left that I liked to wear, I realized that I was missing bottoms, specifically jeans, and shirts. Those went on my to-buy-list, and eventually I bought one pair of jeans by COS and 3 shirts by uniqlo, but more on that below.
Think about your style
The next step is to think about your style. This sounds vague and, in a way, that is on purpose. I’m not a fan of putting people or their style in a box. I can’t narrow my own style down to one adjective and, really why should you? I think that this exercise can actually feel quite restricting. But in order to buy only pieces that you will wear over and over again, you need to know what you value in your clothes. Start thinking about which items in your wardrobe you really like and why. Is it the color? Is it the fit? Why do you feel good wearing these items? Think about your lifestyle.
How do your days look like? Are you a stay-at-home mom chasing around after a toddler? If you work, what dress code does your job require and what are your weekends like? What do you like to do in your free time? Ask yourself what requirements you have for your clothes? Does your clothing need to be functional? Do you prefer certain fabrics? Think about which brands have worked for you in the past and which have disappointed you.
For me, my go-to-look are skinny jeans and a shirt tucked in. In terms of colors, I prefer a neutral palette, think black, navy, white, and grey (if you want to have a peek in my closet at the moment, check out my capsule wardrobe). In terms of requirements, comfort and ease come to my mind. I think pencil-skirts look amazing on other women, but for me a pencil-skirt is the complete opposite to comfort and ease and I would never wear it, not even to work. Also, I try to stay away from fabrics with plastic components, such as polyacrylics. I don’t like the way they feel against the skin and I like to avoid plastic in our daily life as much as possible.
A brand that doesn’t work for me is Zara: neither tops nor bottoms work on my body and in the past I always seemed to pull out items of particularly low quality. Hence, I don’t even bother going there anymore. On the other hand, when you look at my current capsule wardrobe you can identify several brands that recur: foremost uniqlo and COS. I try to stick to those brands that have performed well for me in the past, because it spares me the nuisance of ill-fitting clothes and loose seams.
Shop your closet
This can be quite time-consuming, and I myself should do this more often, but trying out new combinations with the clothes you already own can be a great way to increase your wardrobe and satisfy your desire for new clothes. Combining your clothes will be particularly easy when your color palette works together.
Now comes the shopping. If you have the time, think about checking out clothing lines online beforehand, so you can get a feel of what’s on the market. Irrespective of whether you shop online or offline, try the items on and be critical. Does it really fit me or do I make a compromise? Be hard, because it’s your money. And be patient. If the item doesn’t fit well and you can tell already in the changing room, then you will not enjoy wearing the item and it’s not worth your money, nor will it fill the gap in your closet. In my experience, if I make a compromise in the changing room, I will hardly ever wear the piece once I brought it home.
I know this is hard, because when you went out to buy something you need, you don’t want to leave empty-handedly. But I have fallen for the compromise-trap so many times… It never works out in my favor. Will I really wear this? Sometimes clothes fit us really well and we imagine wearing them, but if we are honest to ourselves we have to acknowledge that we have only very few, if any occasions to wear it. Don’t buy something for a fantasy lifestyle, because it’s just that – a fantasy.
Try a wardrobe challenge
If you want to really get wear out of your clothes and are looking to downsize your wardrobe I strongly encourage you to look into some kind of capsule wardrobe challenge. There are several ideas out there: for instance, the 30×30 challenge where you use 30 pieces for 30 days, the Five Piece French Wardrobe Challenge where you only purchase 5 pieces in a certain number of months, or Project 333, that I used as a starting point for my capsule wardrobe. I’m only a good two weeks in but I have really enjoyed the experience so far. It’s great to look into your closet and see only pieces that you like wearing.