This.

This.  This is amazing.  I’m already cheating a little bit on my whole plan, but I could not pass this up.  Brilliant.

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Turning an old t-shirt into a draped vest is my new favorite thing.  I say it was cheating because I didn’t use any of my own t-shirts to do this.  I did, however, use one of my husband’s old shirts.

Unfortunately, I was so excited to try this that I forgot to take a “before” picture of the shirt.  Here is the “after”:

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(Disclaimer:  I apologize that the vast majority of my amateur selfies will be taken in the bathroom until I manage to get a full-length, non-bathroom mirror.  I personally think the faucet and pile of my husbands clothes make the picture).

Okay, back to what I was saying.  This.  So unbelievably easy (seriously…a pair of scissors and 3 cuts) and so CUTE!  I wore it out that very day.  This is the perfect accessory item for basic tanks.  I’m just sad that the warm season is pretty much over…I will make it stretch a little longer with short sleeved tops.

I will be raiding my husband’s stash a lot more now.  However, I can handle buying a cheapy pack of men’s t-shirts if needed.  Free or way cheaper than what it would cost at any store.  I like those options.

 

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Wardrobe roadmap

We have a starting point, now we need a destination.  While I try to steer clear of  labels as a general life practice, I do feel that finding words to generalize what I’m looking for in my wardrobe remix will give me a tangible goal.  This is where Pinterest becomes  the therapist.  I have been hesitant for years to lay on its couch and spill my loves, interests, and aspirations for fear of feeling inadequate.  Pinterest is a slippery slope and not for the faint of heart.  I find myself  smiling, getting butterflies, jumping-up-and-down with excitement only to crash and burn in a pile of procrastination and envy.  Who are these people who have all this time to make a bajillion boards and pin and repin and then have the nerve to actually follow through with any of it?  I wasn’t about to get tangled in the “keeping up with the Joneses” web, but then again I certainly can’t do this alone.  With all of its hang-ups, Pinterest is actually really good at its job.

Letting go of my fears, I jumped into the heaping pile of fashion pins and discovered that, in addition to being a  fashion minimalist, I really enjoy Parisian-chic with a hipster flair.

I’m a visual learner which is what makes a Pinterest fashion-therapy session so productive.  Here is a sampling of what I chose to “love” button:

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If I had to choose a single photo to encapsulate my wardrobe-vision, this would be it.

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These leggings offend me with their cuteness.

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I need more flannel in my life.

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Moto and classic beauty make a baby.

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Love me a denim shirt!

Neutral colors, lots of black, scarves and functional (but adorable) shoes, jackets, minimal jewelry, comfortable but sleek, and purposeful.

Now that I have a general destination, my wardrobe and I have to accept that there are certain items that may need to be purchased along the way. My goal is not to craft an entirely new wardrobe out of an old one, but to utilize what I have as much as possible.  While I may not be able to recreate the above items, I can steer my current items to recreate the style.  I may aspire to be a minimalist-hipster-Parisian,  but I also just want to wear what I like.  That means I’m willing to change course and add in items that don’t fit the style if it presents itself.

That takes us to the next step in this process…the repurposing sessions.

I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are

So I don’t rock mom jeans or cat earrings, but I will extrapolate my feelings when it comes to my current fashion situation.  This wardrobe/style therapy session begins with owning where we’re at so we can start the rebuilding process.  I went through and pulled out everything I have to work with (minus a small pile of summer-specific items and workout clothes).  I sorted them first by items that I intend to leave “as is”  and items that I either want to repurpose or remove completely.  My “as is” items were then sorted by clothing category.

Here’s my whole wardrobe (fit into two baskets):

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Repurpose/remove on the left and “as is” on the right

My guidelines for an item to be “as is” had to meet most of the following criteria:

  • good condition
  • classic pieces
  • easy to mix-and-match/accessorize
  • frequent wear/loved items

Here is what I decided…

Camis, tunic tanks, and crop tanks in neutral colors

Camis, tunic tanks, and crop tanks in neutral colors

Blouses with 3/4 sleeves (the black one in the middle has a collar the others have are v-neck)

Blouses with 3/4 sleeves (the black one in the middle has a collar and the others are v-neck)

My favorite knit sweater to wear over a cami and pair with leggings

My constantly-worn knit sweater 

Short black blazer that I wear alllllll the time

Short black blazer that I wear alllllll the time

longer black blazer that I never wear but want to work with

Longer black blazer that I never wear but want to work with (and it’s practically brand new)

My one-and-only denim jacket (a "love" item)

My one-and-only denim jacket (a “love” item)

Chunky knit boyfriend

Chunky knit boyfriend cardigan (not loved just yet, but versatile)

Long, crocheted cardigan (love, love love)

Long, crocheted cardigan (very loved)

Hooded, puffy vest (had it for years)

Hooded, puffy vest (had it for years)

My denim collection (one cropped pair and the rest are regular skinny jeans)

My denim collection (one cropped pair and the rest are regular skinny jeans)

Leggings - two regular black (wear constantly) and one grey sweater material

Leggings – two pair are black (that I wear constantly) and one with grey sweater material

Black pencil skirt and black mini

Black pencil skirt and black mini skirt (which I never wear, so it may have to go)

Maxi dress (super cute, but incredibly long)

Maxi dress (super cute, but incredibly long)

Peplum top (pair only with my pencil skirt)

Peplum top (I pair it only with my pencil skirt but I love it)

My guidelines for repurpose or remove were:

  • fair to rough condition or fading
  • rarely worn
  • limited versatility
  • awkward fit
  • just so over

Here is what I ended up with:

Plethora of layering camis

Plethora of layering camis

Other tanks

…and other tanks

Random tops

Random tops

Long sleeved tees

Long sleeved tees

Love these blouses, but I have had them for years and they no longer serve a purpose as the are

Love these blouses, but I have had them for years and they no longer serve a purpose “as is”

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Not a fan of the sleeveless or the design on the tee and my NYC shirt unfortunately has some holes

I bought these basic sweaters last year, but don't find them particularly exciting

I bought these basic sweaters last year, but don’t find them particularly exciting

These chunky cowl neck sweaters are super thick and itchy

These chunky cowl neck sweaters are super thick and itchy

Long sleeve sweater and sweatshirt

Long sleeve, v-neck sweater and sweatshirt

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Boyfriend and sheer black cardigans showing wear

Fold over skirts

Maxi and fold over skirts

Maxi dresses

Maxi dresses

Old yoga pants

Old yoga pants

Fading leggings and one terrible pair of jeggings

Fading leggings and one terrible pair of jeggings

A single pair of capri "work" dress pants

A single pair of capri “work” dress pants

 

Here are my on-the-fence items:

I like both of these tops, but can't seem to find purpose for them in my current wardrobe.

I like both of these tops but can’t seem to find purpose for them in my current wardrobe.

Wool cardigan that's itchy, slightly pilling, not a very versatile color, but I love the length and how it has almost coat-like qualities

Wool cardigan that’s itchy, slightly pilling, and not a very versatile color, but I love the length and how it can double as a coat

 

Just for fun, here are the accessories I am working with right now:

My scarf collection

My scarf collection

Belts (which I rarely wear)

Belts 

The only jewelry I wear (minus my earring studs)

The only jewelry I wear (minus my basic stud earrings)

So there it is – wardrobe transparency.  Now that there are no more secrets, up next is Step 3:  Drafting a Plan.

Our story

Before starting any new venture it is crucial to reflect on where you have been that got you to the place where you are now. I don’t know if I ever really had a defined style for the majority of my life. I took a Fashion & Clothing class in high school, loved it, and went on to an independent study.  As college approached, I considered Fashion Merchandising as a major, but opted for Elementary Education instead. Fashion wasn’t really in the forefront of my mind as I meandered my way through college in tshirts, jeans, and partying essentials from Deb Shop.

Adulthood soon enveloped me and I traded in my pleather pants for kahkis and my puffy coats for cardigans as I began my first few years of teaching. A major life change occurred for me at 25 and, along with it, a newly budding relationship with my inner and outer definition. I ditched my teacher-y duds for heels and trendier career pants. I flirted a bit with accessories, color blocking, and unique pairings. One day at work I happened to have on a particularly against-the-teacher-grain outfit and a parent called me the “Sarah Jessica Parker” of the school. While I wouldn’t attempt most of SJP’s fashion choices, I have to admit…I kind of liked it.

Marriage and a baby later, my style interest began to shift into minimalism and functionality. I wanted higher fashion without clutter and looking like I was trying too hard. I absolutely loved Lauren Conrad and used her Style book as a guide. Shortly thereafter, the “Great Purge” began and I said good-bye to 90% of my wardrobe.

I decided to leave teaching this past June after nearly 10 good years to be a stay-at-home-mama to my two-year-old daughter and focus on entrepreneurial endeavors. I started a tutoring business to help supplement our family income which has been a beautiful thing, but I realized something was missing in my life (along with my closet). Enthusiasm. There was a brief period years ago where I kept a personal blog.  I remember losing myself in writing and thinking about it all day and racing home to work on a new post.  That feeling did wonders for my soul.  I almost forgot that feeling between my career, family, and mommyhood.  I have been telling my sister for years that she should go into fashion.  I talked up how much fun it sounded and how I had thought about it at one point.  And then I thought, why not me?  Why not now?  I may not be 22, but 32 isn’t exactly ancient (unless you are asking a 5 year old…even though most often they thought I was 17…which was a major bonus to my profession).

My wardrobe reflects how I have been feeling about myself – just okay and slightly boring at times. I’m a true advocate for finding happiness and beauty in who you are and what you have, so that’s what I’m doing for my wardrobe and for me. It is the perfect platform to help me resurface an old passion while exploring new interests.  I’m ready.

We can’t go on like this

So there’s this closet just above where I’m sitting right now. I can picture the white, plastic, chunky hangers  with awkwardly hanging clothes semi-attached. They are next door neighbors to the hanging organizer full of random articles either balled up or neatly folded and neglected.

It’s not much to look at on its best day. Over a year ago, I traded in my stuffed drawers and closet for a minimalist wardrobe. Letting go of my 20-something items and pieces that I knew would never see the light of day again was truly refreshing. I vowed to do the whole “one-item-in, one-item-out” thing. I was going to take pictures of everything I had and keep tabs on outfit rotations. I would buy basic and embellish with accessories. It was a stellar plan.

Except the only thing that become truly minimalist-fashion about my wardrobe was the fact that I had “minimal” items. I gave it all away, purchased a few items here or there, and failed to do anything else. It’s up there right now, my faux-minimalist wardrobe. It’s there, but I can’t see it. It has been in my life for quite some time, but yet I don’t really know who it is anymore. It certainly isn’t me.

Admitting it is the first step. I need a safe space to openly proclaim that the only thing stopping me from buying everything new is my wallet. I guess I need to realize that, as in any relationship, those new items will get old someday too. It’s time to make the commitment, invest in my future with my wardrobe and start practicing what I preach in the form of true minimalist fashion.

Why buy everything new when I have many perfectly good options to work with? It’s almost time for the second step in repairing my relationship with my wardrobe: Reflection.