This time last year I decided to join Colette’s Wardrobe Architect 2015 challenge, for a leaner, meaner, more streamlined capsule wardrobe. I also decided to bite the bullet and also embark on a ready to wear fast (i.e not buying ANY new clothes for a year – more details and rules a bit further down). And here’s the low down, lessons, insights and what happens next.
But before that, today is the big day of the Bloggoversary Giveaway. To remind you, the prize is a Fashion with Fabric book, signed and dedicated, for a random person chosen from those who commented on their favourite make of the year. Soooo, without further ado, the winner (randomly chosen) is Charlotte, from English Girl at Home. Charlotte, please let me know where to send you the book via post, or it would be great to meet in person if you’re in London any time soon to give it to you.
Now back to the topic at hand….
The main purpose of Wardrobe Architect was to get you to think about what you have in your closet, what is your style, what suits you, what you usually buy and why. It really was a very interesting exercise which aimed to dive deeper into both motivations on what clothes we make or buy and our personal style.
For me personally, the goal was to:
a) define this unicorn of style, the perfect capsule wardrobe – in the idea of owning less clothes, but more flexible, functional and ‘me’.
b) reduce my wardrobe – I feel very guilty about how many clothes I own (a result of a lifetime of unchecked shopping addictions)
c) streamline what I sew towards a more coherent and cohesive wardrobe – I tend to go for the fun to make, clever ideas or attractive fabrics, without actually considering if that matches my lifestyle, the rest of the things I own or even flatter me.
12 month later, I’s probably say that it’ a 1 out of 3 against these goals, unfortunately.
In January ’15, I started doing the WA exercises very diligently, but soon fell off the wagon, as I really struggled to put things on paper and combine with a very busy period in my work and personal life, it just stopped being a priority. Also, I really struggled with building the capsule wardrobe as a concept, save for getting rid of all my clothes and starting from scratch. I have still clothes from all periods of my life, that are anything but homogeneous, and I found it really hard to either get rid of them or make them fit into the new end state. And that was on a mental/virtual level, I didn’t even scratch the surface on actually going through clothes and selecting what needs to go out. But, without actually making a conscious decision, life seemed to identify what works and what doesn’t. My style seems to have simplified as I grew older, just because I can’t be bothered to accessorise as much, colour coordinate or look for inspiration as much as I used to. So, I naturally migrated to fewer colours, comfier, more versatile clothes and lower heel shoes (I know, I start sounding like a nan, though I am stubbornly avoiding pastels 🙂 ). But yeah, I’d class the capsule wardrobe builder as a fail. 0 points for goal A.
The one achievement I proudly count is my Ready to Wear fast. I did not buy a single piece of clothing last year. My self-imposed rules stated that I can buy bras, pants and tights, as well as shoes and bags. I got remeasured in late 2014 and realised I had been wearing the wrong bra size for all my life, so I had to recycle all my old ones and start anew. Pants are well, a necessity after a while and tights I run through like I eat them, have to get at least a few new pairs every month. I did however repair any that I could (the thicker ones) and even use my wool comb on the baubly parts to give them a new life. So my total for 2015 (excluding pants and tights): 5 pairs of shoes, one handbag, a hat, a scarf and 5 bras. Not bad for a compulsive shopper! And the best part, it wasn’t even that hard. I really did not miss shopping at all, it was liberating, and freed up head space and time for other things. I have to confess I did fill my shopping urges with other things, mostly sewing related, like new scissors and other expensive tools, doing up my sewing room, buying quite a few patterns and some fabric, but hey, we all need a hobby, right? There was only one thing I really was sorry I could not buy, as my favourite black skinny jeans tore and I didn’t like the look of the repair, so I would have liked to buy a replacement. However, I am making Ginger jeans now so hoping to replace them myself soon.
The sad part was that although I didn’t add new things into my wardrobe by buying, I have been sewing quite a lot, so still not going down in volumes as much as would have liked. I could not go through with Kondo-ing my life, I found it too extreme and a bit cuckoo, but I did adopt a few of the organising methods (my trouser drawer never looked tidier). I have donated and passed on to friends and family quite a lot, but still find it hard to let go of clothes even if I know I don’t wear them anymore. I have started a sort of purgatory systems, where I put clothes away for a while and if I miss them or start wearing them again when I take them out, they stay, if not, out they go. I’d say I added about 5% new things made by me and purged about 10%, so overall, going down. The problem is that of the things I added, only some got a lot of wear, so I have to address the ‘choosing what to sew better’. Me Made May definitely helped to identify the gaps, so I hope to have a more focused 2016 sewing wise.
So on goal B, I would gibe myself rather generously a 1, though to be fair is more like a 0.5-0.75, but it’s a good start.
And now on to goal C… Last year, I made a few items I loved and wore a lot, but because of the wedding, I did make a few things that were holiday focused that I really liked, but probably not get much wear in the UK. However, I did make some things I never wore or only once or twice. They were more ‘creative problem solving’ clothes than gap fillers and I could tell. I had a great sense of achievement, but if they can’t find a place in my day to day wears, that defeats the purpose. I have to do a serious cull and ship to the charity shop soon. BUT… Nothing is in vain, and we learn lessons for all successes or failures. I am considering my sews much more carefully now and started planning or at least avoiding the fun makes for instant gratification, so hoping that by MMM 2016, I would have filled more and more gaps. So I will give myself a 0.25 for the effort and lessons learnt.
So what next? I want to continue with my journey towards a minimal wardrobe, aiming to take more and more unworn garments out and consider very carefully what I put in, both from buying as well as making myself.
I will continue the RTW fast, but with a few treats here and there, based on the following rules: I must be sure I will get a lot of wear out of it, so no super fashionable items that will go after a season. Although I am supporter of sustainable fashion, the biggest impact of clothes, no mater how carefully they are made, is in the way the wear and dispose of them, so even fast fashion can be less damaging if you hold on to them for years and year. Of course, I will try to make sure what I end up buying will make a difference or at least not make the problem worse (sustainable brands or charity shops). Obviously, they have to last, so that is why making choices based on quality is really important. And lastly, the item must fill a gap in my wardrobe, so for example, if I have other 5 pairs of skinny jeans, even if it fills all the other criteria, it will be a no.
I already talked about my sewing plans, and I am happy to report I have already started work on my Ginger jeans. I love it! It’s complex and a bit hard to wrap your brain around it, but so so much fun and every milestone achieved gives you such a sense of accomplishment. And since there is nothing like a new January challenge, I am thinking of doing the #2016MakeNine from Lucky Lucille. Nine is a nice number and fits great in an Instagram square, ha ha. More on than in future posts.
So how about you guys? Have you tried this exercise out last year? How about a RTW fast? How did it go for you? Any advice on the capsule wardrobe btw?
Have a great week, guys!