Simplicity Helped Define My Style

If you asked me six years ago to define my style, I would have rattled off a long list: vintage, eclectic, bright, and probably experimental.

What that really meant was this: I don’t know.

But now, although I don’t feel like I have one word to describe my style, it’s a lot easier for me to decide what works for me and what doesn’t. Part of it comes with time, but part of it is thanks to my efforts at simplifying.

How a simple closet made shopping easier

I haven’t purchased a lot of clothing since I got rid of most of my wardrobe, but it’s been a lot easier (and more fun!) to shop since then.

I’ve been able to rule impulse purchases out more quickly based on whether or not it will work with my existing wardrobe: sure, it’s a great skirt but I don’t have shirts to go with it. Also, I don’t usually wear skirts.

Living with a reduced wardrobe has helped me see more clearly what pieces are missing, too. I’ve noticed a lack of patterns in my wardrobe that bothers me (I love multicolored pieces), so I know to keep my eye out for patterned dresses and shirts.

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My whole closet. It used to be three times this large!

The blank slate

Simplifying my wardrobe created a blank slate for me, too. After my college wardrobe of weird “vintage” finds and my high school mashup of every shade of pink, I took a U-turn and only kept dark, basic pieces.

Which is great! But now I’m in a place where I feel like I can start adding in new pieces that really inspire me and that are way more intentional than any of my past purchases.

Even if you don’t identify as a minimalist, this can be a welcome exercise to remind yourself of what you really love and reset your mindset for future purchases.

It’s good to remove yourself from trends sometimes and just think about the pieces that make you feel good.

My style: present and future

So here we are. I made it past the pink wide-flare pants and the homemade dresses that fell apart while I was wearing them. I’m past the ill-fitting, uncomfortable, and sometimes stained “vintage” finds that I gravitated towards in college.

I’m sure you have had similar phases.

But now, I’m looking forward to adding pieces one at a time into my wardrobe (and typically with the one in/one out policy).

My new shopping guidelines are this: quality staples and joyful/versatile patterns. And more pink – I somehow got rid of most of my pink clothes.

But above all, I’m making a commitment to purchasing the majority of my clothing from ethically-made brands. The best part of that? Since there are fewer ethical brands available, my shopping will have to be well-researched and filled with intention.

So tell me about your wardrobe! What are your intentional style choices?

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29 thoughts on “Simplicity Helped Define My Style

  1. Clothes clothes clothes…I really like clothes! Well, I don’t like shopping and trying things on, but I do love finding something I like, and feeling good wearing it. By most standards, my wardrobe is very boring. For work, its dark jeans, fitted t-shirt, and a sweatshirt or cardigan. I should contact Croft & Barrow and market for them or something…they are 90% of my wardrobe. But since that takes care of 5 days out of 7, it works SO WELL.
    When I’m not working, I usually dress UP or dress DOWN, because yay, its different! I have a couple sun dresses for summer, and some graphic T’s that aren’t good for work, and then this pair of pants that I’ve had (oh shit, since high school) that fit nicely but are super worn out.
    I threw my kids (I’m a teacher) for a loop last week – I WORE A DRESS. They were confused. They asked why I wore it. They asked the next day why I was wearing jeans again. It was weird. But it was unseasonably warm…I had to wear a sundress.

    • I totally agree with the “feeling good wearing it” part – it’s so important to me as well. I’ve lived in dresses for the greater part of this past year, but for some reason I’m getting really into yoga pants & leggings – it makes it so much easier to toss on some running shoes and go out for a jog. Although I do associate productivity with wearing jeans and dresses, so I’m still trying to figure that out.

      Love the story about the kids! Thanks so much for sharing Meyli, always good to hear from you 🙂

  2. Moving to NYC will make you pare down your closet real quick. My closet is about 1/10th the size of what I had in Texas, so I had to make quick decisions about what deserved to stay (classic, versatile items) and what needed to go to Goodwill. When I do need to replace an item or get something new, I try to buy exclusively from Poshmark for used clothing from my favorite brands without the cost or the ecological impact. 🙂

    • That’s so interesting – you likely have less space, but more diverse weather conditions to deal with. Moving from Indiana to California forced me to lose some of the cold weather clothes I had (although, winter visits back in Indiana get interesting). I’ve never used Poshmark, but I’ll need to check it out! Definitely looking for ways to get quality clothes without contributing too much to the cycle of fast fashion. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I struggle with this so badly! I used to be much worse, buying whatever was on sale just because of the price. That has changed, and now I can’t bring myself to buy much of anything! If I buy more than two items at a time I feel panicky and end up returning something. While this has helped my wallet, it has not helped me love my wardrobe (yet). The few times I do wear something I love I feel totally different, and wish I felt that more often. Kudos to you for figuring out your style and a system that works for you!

    • Ugh, I feel you – I wouldn’t even love an item, but seeing that it was five dollars was just too tempting. I’m definitely still a work in progress, and I actually feel like we’re probably in the same boat when it comes to the panic of buying and not 100% loving my wardrobe. I definitely needed to get rid of most of my clothes before I could get to this point of building/curating my wardrobe! Thanks for sharing Ashley 🙂

  4. Since simplifying my wardrobe I’m also finding it easier to identify what works for me. I tend to wear mainly dresses all year round and mix and match tops and leggings with them to get variety because of this my wardrobe is mainly dresses and jackets. I’m down to only one skirt (part of a suit set), one pair of jeans, one suit pants and one pair of shorts that aren’t tracksuit material.

    I tend to focus on blacks, greys, teal/greens, pinks and blues with a splash of orange (one coat) and brown (one dress and a pair of sandals both of which will probably be going soon). Most of my items are either solid colours with a few floral items and a checked top.

    I tend to do the one in one out rule if I find something I think is a perfect fit. For example, I just swapped out a plain black t shirt that I seemed to be avoiding for a black and white stripped one to add a bit more texture to my wardrobe. Other than that I’m mainly wearing what I have until it wears out and then seeing how long I can go without replacing items (this is to work out what my minimum is for each item of clothing).

    • Whoa! My colors tend to be blacks, greys, teal/blues, and pinks and corals. That sounds like such a great system! I’m in the process of deciding what to do with items that are borderline worn out – we’re talking 10+ years old that I still wear, but not nearly as often as I used to.

      Thanks for sharing Megan, and keep up the wonderful work!

      • Yes, I’ve been wearing things until their almost see through or have unrepairable holes and then moving them to rags/sewing supplies and considering if I actually need to replace them.

  5. Looks great!
    I have 2 racks – one for work and one for non-work so at least my choices are more limited.
    Blacks/greys/blue/silver for work.
    Black/grey/navy/blue/pink for non-work.
    I know I won’t wear orange/green/red so I just don’t bother looking at those colours any more. Sounds boring but I know it saves money and I know the colours that look good on me.

    • That’s a good idea! Also, you and a previous commenter both have such similar color palettes to mine. It’s really versatile! Although I will say, I recently found out that I love the way I look and feel in greens and yellows, which were never colors I cared for clothingwise before. Funny how things can change! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. I’m a fan of skirts and dresses, so the majority of my clothes are those. I’ve recently gotten rid of about 30 items (still new to embracing simplicity and minimalism). I currently have 1 pair of weekend pants, 2 sports pants, 2 pyjama bottoms, 6 office skirts and 7 dresses. I have a bag of ill-fitting clothes on stand-by: if I don’t lose 10lbs by July they go straight to a donation centre!
    I’m still working out the kinks of seasonal clothes (how many summer skirts/dresses do I really need for the office vs for home/vacations?) I guess I still have some thinking to do and figure out the right balance for me 🙂

    • I think the standby bag is a good idea! Great for motivation, and also great to keep them out of the way in the meantime. Finding that balance can be difficult, but it’s entirely unique to you so don’t let anyone tell you what you have to or don’t have to have! Thanks for sharing Catherine!

    • I agree! It’s a less slippery slope 🙂 I’m gathering a big list of companies I’m interested in, and hopefully will be sharing more about them soon! Thanks for commenting!

  7. Approaching the end of 2015, I learned the life-changing habit of tidying up and Marie-Kondo-ed the hell out of my wardrobe, forcing myself to purge my clothes like never before. I also entered my thirties and starting asking myself, “Am I too old for this?” or “Is this really part of my style?”

    So I relate when you talk about getting rid of things you once loved to wear, but being OK with moving on. As Marie Kondo explains, those pieces were cherished and loved and brought me much joy when I was in the heyday of my music festival years. And I continue to find joy in the thought of someone loving those pieces I let go of just as much as I once did.

    With a smaller inventory of clothes, I’m finding it easier to spot my own trends, too. I can keep better tabs on what I have and how often it’s worn, realizing I still have pieces that haven’t been touched since I Marie-Kondo-ed my wardrobe and re-folded all my clothing several months ago. The cycle never ends, does it?

    I actually haven’t been clothes shopping since the end of 2015, but I’ve been thinking about it more often as we approach spring. And I believe that I have better sense now of what I truly need to hunt for, rather than just going to go shop because I’m bored with my wardrobe.

    • I LOVE Marie Kondo’s book – framing things as bringing joy and being grateful for the purpose they served has really helped me. I know it sounds really out there to be grateful towards possessions, but it’s helped me redefine some of my relationships with things I own/owned. Also, I think that paring down is a great way to reset before shopping again – I’m actually starting to shop for clothes again after a pretty long break, because I’m basically looking to add more joy back into my wardrobe. Haha – I think sometimes that I went too far in getting rid of things in my wardrobe. Although there are no specific pieces I miss, I do miss some of the colors and weirdness I used to have. I’m looking into ethical companies, and I’ve found that research has really helped me keep my impulses in check and remember what it is I’m truly after! Even if I wasn’t looking specifically for ethical companies, just researching quality clothes would help too. Hope all is well Danielle! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

  8. This was a fun post to read! I like bright pink, too.
    I have struggled all my life with finding my style and liking a lot of different stuff, never sticking to one direction. It’s taken me many, many years to actually truly accept that I am not (and never going to be!) petite or willowy – I am short and stoutly built, with plenty of extra weight. All around me I am told “basics” and “black” and “neutral” and finally, I have let it all go. It doesn’t suit me, the worst is “classic” – makes me look like a man with boobs!
    I happen to like bright colours and patterns so why shouldn’t I wear what I like, since there is no point in trying to follow fashions that will never look good on my body?!! So now I am “middle-aged” (51) and have finally found the courage of my convictions. I wear jersey and cotton tunic dresses and colourful tights or leggings (in summer capri length) and layer up with cardigans in winter. I don’t own basics, jeans, black and have very little neutral (which to me includes some nice colours like navy, burgundy and forest green anyway), ignore my mom telling me “people like us can’t wear…, dear” and my only dilemma is if today is more a blue/green/yellow or a red/orange/pink day… oh yes, and I let my hair go grey and grow long, shock horror gasp.
    From the lady in the orange flowered polka dot jersey tunic and red tights (and when I wear my tan shoes with the red bows, people do stare and some tell me how cute they are :o).

    • Oh I love this!! It’s so wonderful to embrace what is your style. There’s no reason to subscribe to one single category or a single color palette – whatever makes your heart happy 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this, I loved reading this comment!

  9. I’ve had very similar experiences! I had no idea, until I mercilessly culled my wardrobe, that I gravitate toward dark & colourful dresses and light & neutral tops.

    I’ve also realised that I just don’t like skirts. Do I really need to own them just because I’m a girl? I think I already tick the feminine box with my abundance of dresses and I’m giving myself permission to say no to skirts.

  10. Recently we were invited to a casual dinner party. At the event, I noticed a woman wearing tan corduroys & a soft blue sweater. I realized, omg, I used to dress like her. About 5 years ago I bought a bunch of new clothes in styles that everyone else was wearing because I felt my look wasn’t current enough. But when I had my fashion awareness moment, I realized that I miss dressing more uniquely, and that the clothes I’m wearing now are not really reflecting my true personality..I’m just more of a folksy type person who likes hand knits & a bit of a boho look. I haven’t bought new clothing since July 2015 and I’m not about to toss my current clothing, but I know now in the future that I’ll be looking for pieces that express who I am, instead of dressing like one of the crowd. I also find I have plain solid color (boring) pieces, and would like more prints.

    • Oh that’s a wonderful story Sharon! It’s definitely tough to realize you’ve been dressing like someone else for so long (I have totally been there), but it’s awesome to move forward into your own style! Cheers to more prints and more styles that make us happy!

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