Trends. They’re everywhere. Television, magazines, shop windows, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook… there’s no escape. And why would there be? We love them and can’t help being suckered in by some of the most ridiculous concepts. (Don’t start me on trucker hats and velour jumpsuits… the latter of which is currently making a comeback!)
Hey, they can be gorgeous. Occasionally they’re even practical. But by investing in them right at the peak of popularity, you’re choosing to buy into something with an expiration date. Why? Because chances are you’ll start to see that trend everywhere and promptly get sick of it, either shoving it at the back of your wardrobe to die, or donating straight to a charity. What a waste!
The main problem here is that we normally become obsessed with an abstract idea, not concerned with how it fits into our big picture. For me, the real issue was that I had no big picture and was constantly swept along with the (trend) tides, grabbing pieces on a whim, then taking them home only to realise they made no sense. They had no “friends” in my wardrobe and didn’t add up to outfits.
I’ve wasted more money than I care to admit over the course of the last 10 years. My last closet clean-out resulted in 30 garbage bags being donated to charity, with 3 giant suitcases left over to (try and) sell. It wasn’t pretty. There were tears and a fair bit of nausea. But hey, if you can learn from my mistakes, I’ll write it off as an… um… investment.
Where to start? Stop buying.
Calm down, I don’t mean you have to stop shopping altogether. But I do recommend you hit pause until you’ve had the chance to assess, evaluate and regroup. Yep, we’re getting down to business. Fashion may be fun, but when it comes to shopping habits and the state of your wardrobe, you need to take that sh-t seriously or pay the price. And the credit card interest*.
*Nothing. Just wanted to remind you that those little stars are bad news. They’ll come back to bite you, so avoid them if at all possible.
If you’re serious about becoming a smarter shopper and someone with true style, not just a fashion floozy, take note of these 3 key steps to get you back on track.
Your 3 Step Fashion Detox Plan:
￼ 1. Declutter and downsize
I used to fill 2 wardrobes (plus a bit extra… no need to go into detail here) with my clothing, and yet every time I opened up to find something to wear, I felt like I had nothing. Yeah. 100+ dresses, 25 skirts, 30 pairs of jeans, blah blah blah… and nada. Not a clue what to wear. Because guess what? There IS such thing as too many clothes. That whole “less is more” quote comes into play in this case.
One day I stumbled upon (okay… was “ strongly encouraged” to read) a book on decluttering called, “The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up” and realised that a lot of my stress and anxiety – not just around clothing, but life in general – was coming from the fact that I had too much stuff. So decided to get rid of most of it. In case you can’t be bothered reading the article (you really should though), I’ll sum it up in a nutshell: IT WAS AMAZING. I’ll never go back to my old ways.
As someone who’d tried over and over to do something about my struggles with personal style and getting dressed, I can tell you that there’s no point unless you first make space. What you’ll find is that by making space in your wardrobe and house, you’ll make mental and emotional space for change too.
Now Marie Kondo isn’t for everyone. For such a cute little Japanese woman, she has very strong opinions about the the art of decluttering. So feel free to choose something that suits you better. Here’s a list of some of the best decluttering books on Amazon. Or if you don’t want to spend a cent, here are a list of fantastic decluttering blogs.
2. Find inspiration and educate yourself
Believe it or not, developing your personal style takes time and careful planning. If you’ve only found an interest in fashion later in life, you may be missing out on some of the basics that come from experimenting as a young adult or even a kid. Things like your best colours and how to play with them, silhouettes that flatter your shape, how to accessorise, and even how to know which items to invest in and which you can scrimp on.
Don’t stress! It’s never too late. While I may have been obsessed with BUYING clothes since I was a teenager, I never truly developed my personal sense of style. And yet thanks to a kick-start from a personal stylist, a handful of books, and hours of poring over style blogs, I’m starting to see a light at the end of my dark – and expensive – tunnel.
Depending on where you’re at with your journey, you might want to start with the absolute basics or skip ahead to the fun inspiration stage. For beginners, check out Color Me Beautiful and some of the Trinny & Susanna books. For those further ahead, I love Who, What, Wear… The Cool Factor… The Fashion File… and even Style from A to Zoe.
Alternatively, if you’re like me — already well read and desperate to take things to the next level, I highly recommend checking out Anuschka Rees and her new book, The Curated Closet. There’s an accompanying workbook which takes you through an 8 week intensive to developing personal style and creating a capsule wardrobe. I can’t wait to begin!
3. Start experimenting with what you have
Nope, still no shopping for you, love. You need to prove you’ve earnt that privilege by seeing what you can make of your existing wardrobe. You never know, you might be sitting on a fashion goldmine and just don’t know how to use it yet!
Where to start? Skim back through those books and use post-it notes to bookmark any looks you want to try. Same goes for the blogs or even Instagram posts that inspire you. Pinterest is also brilliant for curating style inspiration and allows you to scan and look for consistencies in your picks. Is there a detail that keeps popping up like a feature scarf or cute blazer? See if you can copy those looks or create hybrids for yourself with pieces from your own wardrobe.
When you find looks you like, take a selfie or have someone snap you in the look so you can create a little style library for yourself. Trust me, you’ll want to be able to refer to these when you’re in a panic later on, feeling like you have nothing to wear. Don’t like something? Figure out why before discounting the look. Was it the colour, the fabric, the fit or the quality? Is there a way of fixing it? Also important is to take note of any pieces that were consistently missing from the complete look. Accessories? Basic tees? A dressy pair of jeans? Start a list.
Once you’ve given everything in your wardrobe a chance at being part of a real outfit, you can then take action. Toss or donate the items that are never going to work or make zero sense with your lifestyle. Adjust or repair any quality pieces that either don’t quite fit or need some TLC. Then and ONLY then, may you take your “what’s missing” list with you to the shops and start filling in those gaps. Do not stray from the list, do not pass go, and do not collect $200. This is a strategic shop only, and if you take home any spur-of-the-moment finds, you’re defeating the purpose of this process!
The future of your wardrobe
Like anything in life, your personal style will continue to grow and evolve in time. Your lifestyle may change which could mean you require something different from your clothing. Your body shape will inevitably go through its own changes meaning you need to style things another way or find some new cuts that better suit your shape. All of this is perfectly fine, as long as you stay aware; aware of your tastes, your shopping habits, your wardrobe’s… happiness, so to speak.
This is a lot to take in and won’t just happen overnight. Take your time with it, enjoy the journey and the discoveries you make — and don’t punish yourself for your past mistakes. What’s done is done and the most important thing is that this change is permanent. You must never revert to your old ways! Good luck and godspeed, traveller. 😉
Learn something? Have a request for a follow-up article? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! x