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If you're anything like me, you've been sucked into the routine of spending money... like you can afford it. Thanks to Facebook, television, and Instagram ads (Insta ads are my personal absolute weakness) you've been convinced over and over again that you NEED these items you see. What's another pair of shoes to you? What's $50 of money spent online? The answer is... A LOT, especially when both start adding up and you're not paying attention.
So, here you are—going broke and having an overwhelming amount of clothing in your closet to the point where picking an outfit is actually a dread. It's like when there are too many food choices on a menu! Oh, and you probably hate most of the items as well, because your in-the-moment-online-shopping-brain is not as keen as your regular brain. You now have an overload of clothes that don't fit exactly right, look worse in real life and/or are cheaply made. Congratulations!
When I first heard about a minimalist wardrobe, all I could think of was boring, black and white shirts and pants. That wasn't an option for me. However, I learned through trial and error that being minimalist did not mean being bland or boring—it just meant putting a focus on things you actually thoroughly enjoy, and getting rid of all the junk that got in the way of that.
Step 1: Take a good, hard look at your everyday style.
You need to give yourself time to consider what you wear and how often you wear it. Yeah, maybe you own three pairs of leather pants... but have you ever worn one pair... like, ever? If not, consider condensing. Get rid of two, keep one.
Think about how often you wear each "type" of garment you have. Are you more of a tom-boy, but own some dresses due to unthoughtful gifts over the years? Keep three or four, and move on.
Dress for how you ACTUALLY want to dress, and stop hoarding items for that "just in case" moment. Because, truly, if you don't like dresses but own a ton of them "just in case" you need to attend a wedding... when that occasion actually comes, you'll probably just end up wearing pants.
Do you own tank tops, but feel more comfortable in T-shirts? Get rid of the tanks, and give yourself space for more t-shirts if you desire. If you're afraid of owning too little, this is the way to go—you'll always have a solid stash of items that you'll enjoy wearing.
Step 2: Divide things up into categories.
I like to divide my clothes into four categories:
Everyday wear, work wear, going-out wear, and formal wear.
Go ahead, throw all of your items into each pile!
Now, again, think logically. How often do you wear everyday clothes? (self-explanatory I hope). For work, this could be the same. Now think about how often you go out or when you need formal wear.
Of course, you need everyday and work items more than you need formal or "club" or "bar" clothes (which, in some cases can overlap with your everyday clothes!) so sort accordingly. If you have as many sequin gold pants as you do jeans, there might be a problem there. What do you wear more of? Whatever it is, keep a solid collection of it, and then get rid of these items you're keeping but only wear once every two years. They gotta go, and you know it. If you're keeping an item to wear in three more years, chances are you are going to hate the item by then. Your taste will change; give yourself space to change and let go of the past!
Step 3: Evaluate
Okay, maybe you love that Hollister sweater from 2007, but the zipper doesn't work and it's super faded. Being a minimalist doesn't necessarily mean being frugal. Get rid of the sweater and treat yourself to a new replacement. Invest in higher quality items to last you longer and keep you looking fresh.
Start evaluating your items based on things like quality and fit. Fit is especially important. I can't count the number of times I've kept an item because it was "unique," but actually hated the way I felt wearing it, or dreaded having to squeeze my entire head through the tiny hole in the itchy AF (but cool) sweater. Maybe it's a bit unflattering, or you have to constantly pull your waistband up because it's just a tad bit too big. If it's valuable enough for you—get it fixed at a seamstress. If not, follow one general rule—if you dread changing into it, get rid of it. There will always be a replacement item that will be the new and improved version of this one. There's no reason to feel uncomfortable in your own clothes!
Step 4: GET. RID. OF. IT.
Say it with me!
I know it sucks to get rid of a brand new item that you either never wore or only used a few times. You might feel like you're not getting your money's worth out of it, or that you're being wasteful. The truth is, getting rid of an item doesn't mean you have to throw it in the trash. Consider donating your clothes! And, when it's gone, you won't even notice that you don't have it anymore. Trust me.
My personal favourite is selling clothes on Facebook groups. Sell them for cheap and clear out your extras all while making some cash on the side. You'll feel way less guilty about getting rid of something new when you see how much more space it gives you in your closet to appreciate the items you actually utilize on a more frequent basis.
Step 5: Define your style.
When you give yourself space to get rid of things you don't really care about, you get a chance to evaluate your style for what it really is! Keeping a smaller wardrobe of things that you feel comfortable in and that reflect your taste, help you to get a more refined idea of what your style is. For me, when I condensed my wardrobe, I realized I liked clean, modern lines and muted colours. From there, I knew I could make smarter buying choices in the future to avoid having to go through all these steps all over again. Now, when I shop, I am more aware of what I'm looking for and how useful it'll be for me hanging in my closet in two months.
The bottom line is you have to look at your style for what it actually is, not what you want it to be. You don't need to buy items just because they're currently in style. Staying true to what you enjoy wearing and what reflects your character will suit you 100% better than the new style that all the influencers are wearing but you're not quite sold on yet. Hopefully going through this exercise will give you a better idea of what that defining style is for you. Good luck!