How I started my wardrobe journey, and why I'm blogging

My first step on the journey to a curated wardrobe was one of many simultaneous ones: getting engaged, taking a hard look at my finances, spending time on my health and strength.

My first step on the journey to a curated wardrobe was one of many simultaneous ones. At the beginning of 2016, my whole life was shifting.

Up until then, my focus had been on my career. I worked hard—and enjoyed it. I got engaged at the end of 2015. As I got to a place where I felt stable — and approached being 30-and-married — I started thinking about what I wanted my life to be like when I grew up.

It gave me space to begin looking at the areas of my life that I had been neglecting and wanted to improve.

Looking at my finances through the lens of a married couple and not a single 20-something was an eye-opener, too. We talked about our fears and dreams, and it spurred me to finally do something about my impulsive shopping habit.

I started digging into capsule wardrobes mainly because I was sick of everything I owned, didn’t love how any of it fit, and had a terrible shopping habit— and all these things were entangled. For a while, I actually locked my credit card away and refused to carry it on the weekends, when I'd inevitably end up at the mall. I wrote myself lists of things to do instead of going shopping, like "read a book" and "go for a walk" and "bake something."

I began going to the gym regularly, and spent time figuring out how to plan and prep healthy meals for two people. Getting stronger and seeing my body change made me more critical about my clothes, and unwilling to wear items that no longer fit. Most importantly, it helped me shift my mindset from, "I can't wear/fit into this," to "This isn't right for my body."

That was the year that I discovered both capsule wardrobes and the bullet journal, two things that drastically changed the way I spent energy in my personal life.

Over the next two years, I worked my way through the Curated Closet book, culling my overstuffed drawers into a closet where I “loved 100% of my clothes”, dropping my fast fashion impulse buys, and logging hundreds of outfit photos.

I started regularly bullet journaling and writing, tracking my yearly “themes” and goals, and writing about my personal values. I kept up the gym habit, learned to balance my foodie side with fueling myself with nutritious food, and grew some muscles in the process! My journal was a crucial part of my wardrobe planning, too. It helped me set goals, track outfits, and plan future capsules.

What helped me in the beginning

Copious amounts of notes.

So many notes! I wrote down everything. I have notes, both digital and paper, scattered everywhere in my journals and notes app. I logged what I wore. I made packing lists. I wrote down outfit ideas. I did capsule planning. It's incredible how the very act of writing it down forces you to be intentional.

a very early capsule in my bullet journal

Writing everything down helped me discern what I liked from what I did. Now, I have two years of style history to reflect on! Looking back through my notes helps me understand how my style has and continues to change, and why—and it produces some gems like this:

"no matter what you put on your wishlist, in the mornings, what you want are cute tops that go with any basic bottom. just suck it up and buy them! forget novelty shit." (Can you relate? I had soo many statement, novelty items that I never wore, and hardly anything I loved every day.)

Planners

Caroline's 3-month season Capsule Planner was one of the first "challenges" I took on when I started. I did a bit of a cleanout, but I found it super hard to let go of so many things I might wear. I didn't even know what I liked or what my style was! Creating a defined set of items to wear for a season helped me narrow down what was and wasn't working. It was also the first time I ever thought critically about how fabric and fit related to my lifestyle and the weather. It was definitely the first time I had done any kind of pause on my constant, emotional, impulsive shopping. That was hard—and liberating.

the first 10x10 challenge I ever did

Anuschka's Wardrobe Planner was another amazing resource I used a number of times. Her questions are so difficult and require a lot of real thought. When her book came out, I snapped it up immediately. It took me almost 6 months to go through it — but it was totally worth it.

Taking photos

You don't have to start a daily style Instagram, but taking photos of your outfits is the best way to learn what you like. Photos helped me see my style, in a way writing my outfits down never did.

i took selfies in elevators, bathrooms, hallways... didn't matter.

Keeping a wishlist and shopping rules

I mentioned the wishlist above, but this changed my shopping habits. Before, I'd go to the mall just to browse, and inevitably come home with multiple things I didn't need, blowing my budget in the process. Half the time, I regretted them and hardly wore them, and then felt guilty about that, too.

Keeping a wishlist at first was simply an outlet for the emotional shopping I was forcing myself not to do. Over time, it helped me curate my choices. I began to define rules—"you have enough grey t-shirts"—and then keeping track of the measurements of my favorite garments to compare when I did shop. It changed the way I shop, all for the better. I made my first ethical/sustainable purchases in the spring of 2017—over a year after I got started on my wardrobe journey.

What I'm doing now

These days, I keep a capsule sometimes. It's a great tool when I feel the urge to shop, or as the seasons change. I still write down everything. I've been taking photos almost daily for months and I don't plan to stop any time soon. And of course, I started blogging. Writing helped me define my own style, and I realized sharing my experience might help someone else, too.

& why I'm blogging

The biggest event that spurred the creation of this blog was that I started a closet workshop group with some of my coworkers. As we started talking how to define our styles, we’ve touched on so many of the other aspects of life—our health and fitness, food, goal-setting—and even more, like adult friendships, work/life balance, and personal values.

I realized that I wanted to share more of this process and what I’ve learned. Not as a “lifestyle blog” to sell you more products you don’t need, but as a place to talk about how we get from unsatisfied to making choices with intent. It's a privilege to have the time and energy to work on yourself—whether that's style, your health, cooking healthy, or finances. Supporting sustainable and ethical fashion to me goes hand in hand with supporting and empowering everyone to have opportunity and time to improve their life and love themselves.

So around here, we're going to say no to mindless consumption, no to diet culture, no to a single interpretation of style, no to spending our energy loathing ourselves and going in circles. We're going to celebrate our beautiful differences, fight for justice and opportunity, say yes to making intentional choices, yes to loving ourselves and others, yes to thinking critically and spending our energy and power somewhere it matters.

Clothes may seem like a superficial thing to focus on after that last paragraph, but as Ally said in her post here, "When we choose to pay more for our garments by buying from ethical brands, we are not just shelling out more money for a design or a brand name. We are paying for the empowerment of women, for an end to child labour, for a safer and healthier workplace, for a brighter career path for garment workers. It's not just about clothes -- it's about people."

And it's about you, and your energy. You only have so many hours, and I don't believe you should be spending them in self-loathing and wasting your energy on negative self-talk. Spending time on an intentional wardrobe is an investment that frees you up to have energy to create, to have power in the world.

Are you starting a wardrobe journey? What are you doing to get started?