deconstructing the idea of the "perfect" wardrobe

Close your eyes and visualize the "perfect" wardrobe.

Let me guess—it's light and airy, with evenly spaced hangers, and there's not a single wrinkle or speck of dust. The coordinated color palette is soft and neutral—but don’t worry, there’s a stripe, or a pop of terracotta. There’s no storage boxes in sight, and the two pairs of shoes on the shelf never fall over. ⁠If you’ve ever searched for “capsule wardrobe” photos, you can picture this exactly, can't you?

That glossy, idealized closet isn’t your idea of perfect. It’s not actually anyone’s idea of perfect.

It's a mash-up of all the French Girl Essentials and capsule wardrobe Pinterest graphics, topped with some vague idea of "versatility" and "minimalism." It ignores the constraints of real life: rainy days and winter boots, hot Texas summers or icy London winters. This perfect is also white and thin. It doesn’t make room for your gender or your culture, for your children or your chronic illness.

This perfect is generic. It doesn't belong to any of us. We all have such different lives, bodies, cultures, dreams, goals, values, aesthetics—how could one definition of a perfect wardrobe apply to us all?

This perfect is also complete. It has all the pieces you should have. There's this year's booties, that one ethical handmade cardigan everyone seems to love, and the mythical straight leg jean. Once you have all that—then, then! you’ll be satisfied.

What we’re longing for isn’t the clothes, though. It’s that feeling of satisfaction. Consciously or not, we’re imagining an end state, where our wardrobe is finally complete and finally feels like us.

Do you know what something is when it is complete? Unchanging. Stagnant. Lifeless.

You aren’t lifeless. You are vibrantly, uniquely, joyfully alive. The world constantly changes, and so do we. As we grow and change, so does what is perfect for us. Striving for a generic and unchanging “perfect” wardrobe only takes us farther away from the satisfaction we are looking for.

We need to deconstruct what “perfect” means—expose our hidden internal assumptions, and redefine it for ourselves. What will bring us satisfaction is a style that is specific to us, and as resilient as we are.

Our specific style should reflect our inner self and values, our aesthetic, and our habits. If you don’t feel very clear about your style right now, that’s okay. It takes practice to notice, appreciate, and think critically about it.

We're not here to make generic wardrobes—or even "perfect" ones. We're here to transform our relationship with clothes, by peeling back the layers to understand what's really going on.

It’s worth doing—because the clearer we are about our singular style, the easier it is to escape the hold that “perfect” has on us.

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