Ages and ages ago I read this post on final fashion where Danielle shows a ‘closet patchwork’ of colours fabrics in her wardrobe and talks about how through a process of move-inducted whittling down, she has ended up with a small and coherent wardrobe. Which kind of made me feel envious (we’ll get to that).
So I decided to do the same thing with the things I’ve currently got out in my wardrobe (I also have a bit more in storage which I rotate in and out), and as expected, it’s not nearly as harmonious. As you can see there’s something in pretty much all colours! And a range of patterns.
Back in the day (2009!) when I first started writing about capsule wardrobes, and came up with the concept of building your wardrobe around three colours, I said that while I loved the idea I could never commit to living with a capsule wardrobe myself. I did say though, that I could envisage that one day there would come a point when I would value the ability to get dressed quickly and effortlessly while still looking good, more than the abundance and variety of my magpie wardrobe.
And pretty much now that time has come. It’s taken 32 years and parenthood to get me there, but it has happened. I know this is a big step for me, because if I have any unique selling point as a style blogger, it’s that I mix colours with abandon. But I no longer look at the mosaic above and get excited about the possibilities. I look at it and I feel slightly overwhelmed. I still like all the colours, but it’s effort to put them together in the right way, needing brainspace that I don’t have just now.
It’s been building up for a while, this need for simplicity. It’s not just the colours either. I’ve been wearing trousers more so I can bend down easier when picking up the microbe, and being around tiny overexcited grabbing hands means that necklaces and brooches and scarves and earrings have to be deployed with care or they end up bent out of shape or on the floor.
I also have a greater need for professional clothes in my new job, which has more stakeholder and ministerial contact than I used to have. To be honest, my professional isn’t really lawyers office type professional, but even things like colours and fabrics not being worn out would help. And more shirts! The other day I was bumped up at the last minute from observer to participant in a ministerial meeting, meaning I had to wear my (only) suit. The shirt I usually wear with the suit was wet, and I only had three alternatives, one which had a stain on the colour, one was faded and a non matching colour, and one was too thick and casual a fabric.
So anyway, I have decided to address all these things head on with my brave new streamlined wardrobe plan!
First of all, I had a think about colours. What would make a visually pleasing set of colours, where everything goes with everything, but there’s still some flexibility, bright colours and variety to keep in line with my colourful style (let’s face it, I’m not going to go from colour riot to monochrome in one step!). I think I mentioned previously that I have been craving warm, autumnal colours, and that is still the case now spring is almost round the corner, so I thought I might as well go with that. Here is what I came up with:
It’s not quite three colours, but I think it’ll work in much the same way:
- For neutrals there’s black, warm grey, a chambray sort of greyey blue, navy and dark green
- For midtones there’s a warm light green, tan, burgundy and cream
- And for highlights there’s mustard yellow, warm orange and bright red
That excludes a lot of colours that barely feature in my wardrobe as it is, the pinks, the pastels, white and the dark brown. But also stuff I have quite a lot of, chiefly purple and cold blues and greens. I’m not saying I’ll get rid of these, but I have thought about this long and hard, and when those clothes die any replacements should fit in the new colour scheme.
I’ve also decided a few other rules for new purchases:
- They should be sustainable/ethical wherever possible
- They should be made from good quality fabric. Nothing see through or staticky. I’m willing this year to spend money on getting the quality I want.
- They should be able to be worn by themselves. Primarily this means nothing sleeveless or short sleeved. I live in a place where there’s about two weeks of proper summer, yet I own probably about 15 summer dresses. (This incidentally is harder than you think. There is very limited options for dresses with long sleeves)
- Cuts should be simple and there should be no unnecessary adornments. No frills, no sequins sewn to stuff. I have plenty of jewellery and accessories to jazz things up with, I don’t need them permanently attached to the clothes.
Again, I am not getting rid of anything that doesn’t fit those criteria (I will hold on to my collection of vintage dresses til I die or I have someone to inherit them to), just that I will not buy anything new (by which I also mean thrifted, and whatever I sew or knit) that doesn’t fit those rules.
Of course I may still decide to occasionally ignore all of this and dress in sleeveless frilly bright purple and green! But I think having a framework for editing and adding to my wardrobe will help me get dressed more easily in the morning and will lead to as mode adult, coherent style. Hopefully next time I do one of those wardrobe mosaics you’ll be able to see a change.
P.s. This is the post I’ve been planning for ever and I kept banging on about!