“Happiness, true happiness, is an inner quality. It is a state of mind. If your mind is at peace, you are happy. If your mind is at peace, but you have nothing else, you can be happy. If you have everything the world can give — pleasure, possessions, power — but lack peace of mind, you can never be happy.“
— Dada Vaswani
SHOP THE LOOK:
Photos courtesy of my sister Emily
I’ve reduced my closet by a good 50%, donating and selling all of the pieces I owned that didn’t spark joy. That didn’t feel like ME circa 2019. It was exhausting, piling every little piece I own onto my bed to then go through one-by-one and select the pieces I wanted to take with me into the future:
But reducing my closet in the past hasn’t ever really worked for me. Within months I’m back to my old habits, jamming my closet full of “one-time wear” pieces I always think I’ll wear more but never do.
But this time has felt VERY different. Since my purge I’ve only bought 3 pieces for my wardrobe: this belt bag (I know it’s a trend but I absolutely adore it and feel like it’ll be very handy having my phone at arm’s reach at my shoots), this leather tote (I have been debating the Madewell version for forever but love this one so much more — and I supported a small business too!), and this dress I wore for St. Patrick’s Day.
I’d ultimately like to get down to one purchase a quarter (or — be still my heart — even less!) but it’s a start I’m proud of. And I’m ridiculously impressed that Marie Kondo’s konimari system has so effectively changed the way I view my belongings. And the way I view my house.
How My Shopping Habits Have Changed Since My Wardrobe Purge
1. I Buy Less, A LOT Less
As stated above, I haven’t been purchasing very much for my closet these past three months. I suddenly don’t feel like I “need” to. Or even want to.
I love seeing my closet have breathing space. And I love that every piece of clothing has it’s “home” (one of Marie’s most important tips). Somehow having less pieces in my closet feels like more: it’s more luxurious, more wearable, and more simple.
It’s addicting, buying less. I’ve started to almost make a game of it: “I’m only investing in PERFECT pieces” means almost everything I look at doesn’t make the cut. The inseam isn’t short enough, the rise isn’t long enough, the torso is too short, the cut of the straps means I’ll have to buy a special type of bra for it (a problem I’m sure my big busted girls understand!), the weave of the fabric is likely to get snagged… etc. It’s like I’ve made a game out of talking myself OUT of buying things.
And I love it! And hopefully will be able to take a little vacation with the money I’ve been saving on splurges.
2. I Practice Gratitude
One of Beyoncé’s first activities every morning is to practice gratitude. Coming from a woman as brilliant and powerful as she is, I love hearing that she begins her day expressing thankfulness.
And in konimari, you’re expected to thank your clothing for it’s service and value to you.
When I first learned about this idea, I was skeptical. But I always believe in giving things a fair try before writing them off.
Almost three months in and I can’t believe I’ve lived my whole life without thanking my clothing. Having a dialogue with my clothing has changed how I view it — the pieces I’ve kept have become friends, friends I respect greatly. Long gone are my bad habits of throwing clothing on the floor and jamming it into drawers.
I fold each piece neatly, hang each one with respect, and thank them for being such an important part of my life.
It’s helped me slow down and really get to know my closet too which — in turn — has made getting dressed in the morning a lot faster!
3. I’m Relearning Quality Over Quantity
Before I began this blog, “quality over quantity” was my bread and butter. I’d pick out 3 or 4 wardrobe pieces I wanted for the season, save up for them, and buy (or try to buy them on sale because, well, who doesn’t love a good deal? Especially on a great wardrobe staple).
But blogging changed my shopping habits more than I ever saw coming. In such a way that I feel like I could write an entire post on the toxic materialism that permeats my industry…
In blogging, there’s often a serious drive to have more, to have the next thing, to be the first…
It’s exhausting. And exhausting on the wallet. But for those who succeed, it’s EXTREMELY profitable.
The constant strive to partner with brands means you have to continually produce new and exciting content. And the reality is that most of you, my readers, want to buy exactly what I’m wearing, not something similar, which means if what I’m wearing is three seasons old, I won’t make as much money than I would if I wear something new and in-stock.
I fell victim to this materialistic death spiral more times than I can count. Last year I slowed down my “blog” buys substantially and guess what? I made less money.
It’s hard to watch revenues tank when you share what you love. And even worse when you decide you DON’T want to promote a mindlessly consumptive lifestyle on your site. It’s a hard balance to strike but a challenge I’m hoping to solve as I continue this journey towards LESS.
Because I still LOVE clothing and I love sharing it. And I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. But I do plan on focusing on quality over quantity in every aspect of my life and if that means I lose a little money doing that, it’s ok. It’s better for my soul, better for yours, better for the planet, and better for the blogging industry in the long run.
4. I’m Buying Smaller
No, I don’t mean smaller in size (though absolutely in quantity).
I mean I’m buying from smaller brands.
I’ve long been a fan of H&M, Zara, and so many other retailers now putting out adorable pieces at all-too-reasonable prices.
But when a company like Zara produces ONE MILLION pieces of clothing a day, I have to ask, “is this who I want my money to go to?”.
As a small business owner myself I know all-too-well the struggles of competing against bigger brands with more resources, knowledge, and connections. So it seems crazy to me that I haven’t focused more on buying wardrobe pieces from smaller businesses before now.
Whenever I’m looking for something specific now, the first place I head is Etsy. It may be pricier at times but I feel so much better about the impact I’m having on the earth NOT buying most of my clothing from bulk retailers.
An added bonus? I’m discovering all sorts of lovely private labels and brands I never would have otherwise!
5. I’m Buying From Companies I Know
While I’m cutting down substantially on buying from large corporations, I’m also becoming conscious of which companies bring the most value to my wardrobe.
What brands did I keep after my purge?
Honestly, I was surprised by how many designer pieces I decided to sell instead of keep. I kept A LOT more of my SheIn pieces than I expected for example. Probably because inexpensive clothing means I don’t feel bad when I inevitably ruin it (the reality of being a klutz like me). And I DID keep a lot of Zara pieces too.
But I also noted the brands I didn’t keep pieces from: J. Crew for example has NEVER fit my curvy body well (or my long torso) and every. single. J. Crew piece I had in my wardrobe went straight out the door during my purge.
It wasn’t a conscious decision to “throw out J. Crew” but it told me SO much to see what brands were CONSISTENTLY laying in my “to sell” pile. I made notes and will be unlikely to ever invest in these brands again since they simply do not suit my body or my lifestyle.
6. I’m Rewearing Pieces
This ties into #3 well, seeing as bloggers know that older pieces don’t sell as well as newer ones. And is especially appropriate considering that EVERYTHING I’m wearing in today’s post is at least two seasons old and things I’ve worn dozens of times.
The outfit still looks great (and I got plenty of compliments at brunch after this shoot) but — to be honest — I don’t know if I would have published it a year ago.
Focusing on trying to make money in blogging can really cloud creative clarity. I can be passionate about something but unless I make it useful (AND SHOPPABLE) to you, it’ll just drift into the abyss of the internet.
And when you put as much time and money into a blog as most bloggers I know do, it’s hard to accept that doing the right thing isn’t always going to be profitable.
But I plan to make rewearing pieces more of a priority here on the blog. I’ve reworn plenty of my wardrobe pieces here year after year, don’t get me wrong. But I’d love to showcase more how investment pieces can build you a wardrobe you’ll love, year after year, without a constant infusion of NEW NEW NEW.
7. I Buy Vintage
I’ve always adored vintage pieces. Just doing a quick search for “vintage” on this site will yield pages and pages of outfits filled with great little vintage finds I’ve discovered on Etsy and beyond.
And, being the old soul I am, I love the care and craftsmanship I find in vintage pieces too. Often a great vintage coat is a better investment than a new one despite being used because the fabrics are more luxurious for the price and the tailoring unparalleled.
When I look at my grandmother’s velvet skirt for example, the stitching is so complicated and flattering. The fabric drapes beautifully (you can tell it pre-dates Chinese-made velvets). And it washes SO MUCH BETTER than the more modern pieces I own.
They really designed clothing to last a lifetime (and beyond!) in her day. And — with my disinterest in mass produced clothing growing steadily — I have been prioritizing these pieces more and more in my life.
An added bonus? Vintage pieces are often one-of-a-kind. In an industry where everyone seems to be wearing the same things over and over again (anyone else sick of seeing this coat everywhere?), vintage pieces offer a refreshing change. At the very least, you’re guaranteed to not be wearing the same thing as someone else!
8. I Buy Mostly Nude Shoes
This is by far the WEIRDEST change in my shopping habits since my purge, and definitely one I would never have predicted.
I now mostly buy nude shoes.
Being petite, pale, and curvy, I always am looking for pieces that elongate my body. After my closet purge I built a lookbook on Pinterest and began to realize that the outfits I loved most almost always involved nude shoes (though a red pump will always have a special place in my heart!).
Nude shoes slim, lengthen and work with most outfits meaning they’re a tremendously versatile wardrobe staple.
Today’s pumps are a great example. I bought these never-worn Aquazzuras last year off The Real Real for… wait for it… $60. Half the price of a new nude pump just about anywhere else. And ridiculously superior in quality (I’ve always been a fan of Aquazzura ever since I interviewed their founder and designer Edgardo Garcia). Yes, they’re at least two seasons old but truly, who cares?
(I just need to remember to properly waterproof my nude shoes since they’re more likely to be damaged by mud and rain.)
9. I’m Sticking To A Specific Color Palette
This certainly isn’t a surprising change but definitely a dramatic one.
I can’t tell you how many colors I ditched from my closet during my purge: hot pinks, bright oranges, teals, neons of any kind.
I’ve since begun to view my closet as more of a capsule collection, sticking to similar color palettes and hues that I can mix-and-match with ease.
What am I opting for now? More classic neutrals, navies, pinks, greens, and browns. Colors I know flatter me and work well with the wardrobe I have.
The color I’m most loving? White. I can’t seem to get enough of it! And I’m sure, once the weather warms up here in Chicago, it’s ALL I’ll be wearing this summer.
10. I’m Shopping Substantially Less
Not only am I buying less, I’m shopping FOR less.
As in HOURS less time spent trolling the internet. When I do shop (mostly online), it’s for very specific things. Like a well-wearing, natural-fibre quilt for our bed that’s machine washable.
Still haven’t found one of course. But whenever I do find myself at an online retailer, it’s usually coming from a need (we NEED a new quilt… our old one is on it’s last days) not a want.
Every part of this konimari process has surprised me. It’s surprised me that I suddenly hold so much value for the things I own. It’s surprised me that I suddenly don’t WANT things I don’t own. It’s surprised me that I’ve managed to continue to purge my wardrobe at substantially faster rates than ever before. And it’s surprised me how much the habits (including neatly folding all my clothing) have stuck.
I’ve learned so much about myself through this process. I’ve learned so much about the person I want to be. What I want this blog to be. What I want to do with my future. And how I want to spend my money.
Somehow getting rid of the visual clutter in my home has opened up a truly beautiful world. My mental clutter is fading away. Suddenly I find myself doing one task well instead of trying to do four half-heartedly.
And I think my life, those I love, and the world will benefit from these changes for years to come.