The Wardrobe Experiment: Day 1

I was running late for church this morning, so I only had about 3 minutes to choose an outfit and get dressed. By default, I wanted to grab something that I knew wouldn't look like a total disaster, but I also wanted the first day of my wardrobe experiment to be a challenge. After all, the point is to see if I can actually wear  the collection of "someday" items hanging in my closet. I grabbed this dress because church is one of the few places I feel comfortable in skirts/dresses. I rarely wear them to work because I am so cold natured, plus they aren't very practical for bending down at students' desks. The last (and only) time I wore this dress was in July 2010 at a baby shower for my soon-to-be-born nephew: 

Pictured with my sister, 9 months pregnant with Ryan, and my niece, Paige
Why I kept it:
I actually made this dress, and it's difficult to get rid of something you spent time making. I also really love this Amy Butler fabric, but I could always rip out the seams and use the fabric for something else.
Why I stopped wearing it:
Spaghetti straps aren't something I like to wear, and I was always self-counscious that it looked "homemade."
How I styled it:
To cover up the spaghetti straps that made me uncomfortable, I knotted a simple chambray shirt and wore it over the dress.
How I felt:
I worried that it looked like I was trying to dress too young. Zach even said, "You look like you are in high school," but he meant it as a compliment :)
The verdict:
I don't have a lot of dresses, and I think this looked pretty cute, so it will stay for now.


The Wardrobe Experiment

Welcome to my closet. It's nothing fancy, and it's certainly not a beautiful space that I am proud to share on the internet. BUT, it is full of clothes that I am very fortunate to own.
I'm not a fashionista, and I don't have or care about designer labels (unless you count Target or JC Penny).  I am also quite frugal when it comes to spending money on clothes. I probably only spend a few hundred dollars a year on clothing, and what I do buy is almost certainly on sale and costs less than $50. So how do I have a closet that is overflowing, despite the fact that I donated 3 full trash bags earlier this summer and 2 more today? 

My name is Leslie, and I have a confession. I still own owned clothes from high school and undergrad. That's 2005 and 2008 respectively. "But, Leslie," you will say, "you haven't worn that shirt in four years!" To which I will reply, "I might someday." "And, Leslie," you will reason, "you don't even like the way those jeans fit!" And I would respond, "Jeans that are completely unflattering might be in style next year!"

Do you see the problem? My closet is was full of clothing that shoulda, coulda, woulda been worn someday. But it's time to admit that someday isn't coming, and if it ever does, and I still don't want to be caught wearing clothes that make me look and feel like a high school student (and not a cute high school student from today--a high school student from the early 2000s that didn't have fashion blogs and Pinterest to inspire me).

I love this article about cleaning out your closet and finding your style. She describes how memories associated with clothing make those pieces difficult to part with, and although none of my memories are attached to designer blazers purchased in France, I can still relate. I agree with her when she says, "Letting go of clothing is letting go of who I used to be. Of course, that’s also the pleasure. How can we grow if we can’t let go?"

So I'm embarking on a wardrobe experiment. Here are the rules:

1. All hangers are currently hung backwards; after I wear something, it's hanger will be hung correctly. This will make it easy to tell which items have been worn and which have not.

2. Anything that doesn't get worn over the next year will be donated (exceptions are special occasion dresses and interview suits).
3. I am going to avoid buying anything new, but I'm not going to promise I won't buy a few items here and there (for example I am currently searching for one more great pair of jeans), but I want to use what I already have as much as possible. I will get rid of at least one old item for every new item I buy.
4. I will try to style what I have in new ways and challenge myself to wear the items that I usually avoid yet refuse to let go of. If I really think I could wear it someday, I need to prove it. Some items are more difficult to style, but it can be done with a little effort. Some items are a little outside of my comfort zone, but I need to be bold on occasion.
5. If I wear something that is uncomfortable or that makes me feel unattractive, I will donate it. 
If I was being  completely honest with myself, I would probably only repurchase about 1/3 of the clothes in my closet if they were for sale in a store today. Why hold on to something that doesn't make you feel good about yourself or that you wouldn't even purchase again given the chance?

I think this is a necessary but uncomfortable experiment. This is less about fashion (because you probably don't want to take fashion advice from my anyway...for that I recommend you visit Emily ASAP), and more about remembering that I have already been blessed with far more than most of the world. As a middle class American, it is easy to forget that more than three billion people in the world live on less than $2.50 a day. Additionally, in a culture of consumerism, it is also easy to believe that having more things with somehow bring fulfillment, but true purpose and fulfillment comes from God, not a full closet. 

My adventure starts tomorrow. Anyone want to join in? I'd love to hear your thoughts on keeping your closet under control and how you let go of items that you might wear one day. 
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