"Buy less, choose well" has been a guiding principle for me for the past two and a half years of buying my clothing ethically. Partially because things produced in a conscious way are generally more expensive, so I have to choose my purchases wisely. And partially because I was tired of being wasteful and impulsive, and shopping that way didn’t get me the wardrobe of my dreams. I always looked in my closet and felt like I had “nothing to wear.”
A few years ago, I was staring at 12 trendy tops that I bought at the mall for $12 each, and half had gone out of style, while the other half had fallen apart quickly because they were poor quality.
Now, I stare into my closet and feel like I have good collection of key pieces that I really love, that I can mix and match, and that will last me a long time.
But, as we all know, basics can be boring.
One thing I realized more recently is that while basics are the true foundation of a wardrobe (that perfect white shirt, your favorite everyday jeans, a little black dress), what keeps them interesting are the novelty items that you use to dress them up and make them “you.” While it’s important to buy things you know are timeless and you will get a lot of use out of, it’s also important to buy not-so-practical things that make your style what it is. And don’t ever feel bad about that! Those special, on-trend, or out-of-the-box things are what make the it possible to wear the basics you own over and over for years without getting tired of them.
I love to shop for these fashion pieces at second-hand stores, where they are less expensive and I don’t have to shell out a ton of cash. Whether it’s a pair of red vintage heels, an antique costume necklace, or a second-hand leopard belt, it makes my little black dress or my favorite chambray shirt feel like new again.
But what about those JCrew sales?
I know… it can be hard to resist. When that shirt you kind of liked for $75 is now $20, all of the sudden you love it! I feel the pain, and I won’t lie – it is hard! I’m not sure if it will ever get easier.
Sacrifice is difficult, but it’s a good exercise! Telling yourself no, reigning your desires in, can help you to evaluate what is really important to you – and to make wise decisions. These days, I try to make sure that I really love something before I buy it. If I kind of like something, or if it is trendy and I think I should buy it, that doesn’t count. What ends up happening is that instead of having 100 things in your closet that you don’t really like, you have 20 things that you love and are happy to wear, in different combinations and with different accessories. (Okay maybe more than 20, but you get the idea).
I wish I could say that shopping this way is a piece of cake and can be done in an instant. It is a challenge and it takes time to build up a wardrobe that you love (unless you are a millionaire). But I can tell you that it is absolutely worth
it. Give yourself some grace, think carefully about what you need, and you will be on your way to a conscious closet that you love!