Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wardrobe ReHaul: Reduction (Part 1)

(Image via StyleBakery)

I'm sorry I haven't done my weekly podcast this past week. I celebrated my 25th birthday (my favorite number! Woohoo!) this past Saturday, so I was just taking time off to enjoy the weekend.

Confession time:
I have been a sewing fiend! I want to sew all the things! I've decided to be a little sane about it, though because of the following progression of logic:
  1. I don't know what it was, but I was looking for a way to waste time online. I stumbled across one of my favorite bloggers, Andrea at Four Square Walls, and I decided to read all of her backlog of blog entries. I love her simple, chic style. I knew immediately that I, too, wanted to be a cool kid and sew New Look 6104. I will post about my FO later, but when I put on my version of this top, I knew I wanted some cute red cigarette pants to go with it.
  2. After recently completing the Macaron dress, I pranced around in my FO for the next day or two. My boyfriend said he didn't like it. Why? It had too much of a retro feel. Well, duh! That's what the dress was supposed to imitate.
  3. My roommate has the cutest style! She is a petite little thing. I'm short, but she's petite! She can't just go into a store and find something off the rack because most likely it won't fit her. She's very selective about her wardrobe because she only spends money for good, quality items. She's intrigued by my sewing fanaticism because of the tailoring that's inherent in sewing. We've had some long conversations about how to have a good fit in clothing, and what defines our styles. She keeps asking me what stops me from really caring that much about how I dress, when I appreciate fine style so much. I always respond with a shrug.
  4. There have been a lot of good blog posts out there recently about building a good working wardrobe.
For some reason, after all of that, it clicked. I have been moping about my wardrobe without really calling it that for quite some time now. Since I've moved to Indiana, I haven't fit into much of my clothing because I "knew" it would all fit me once I lost all of that weight again. I have been moving all of these clothes with me from state to state thinking that I would wear them again, so there's no point in throwing it all away. In reality, so many of those clothes have barely been worn because (1) they never fit correctly in the first place, (2) they wore out after 2-3 washed because they were so cheap, (3) I wore them out too much and really should not be seen in them again.

I read a ton of fashion magazines, style (+ sewing + knitting) blogs, and happiness/minimalism articles/books. It's ironic how much I soak all of these in, but never apply them to my real life (minus the sewing/knitting). I know that you should really build your wardrobe on a few classic, well-made, good quality staples. I just never really thought it applied to my wardrobe because I had everything. Plus, I'm a grad student, whose uniform is supposed to be jeans and a t-shirt.

Well, I think I Just Had Too Much. I couldn't think creatively about dressing because of the 12 pairs of ill-fitting jeans covering up the other trousers I had in my pants drawer. All of those ratty fitted T's floated on top of the shirt drawer, hiding my nicer tops. I even had my old prom-dress-type gowns packed away in a suitcase. Really?!

That was the problem. I needed to do a good cleanse. It didn't take much time, but I spent last night doing what all of those fashion magazines tell you to do:
  1. I tried on all of my tops to see how they fit. Surprisingly, the knits often still fit well because they were stretchy. I just never wore them because I thought they wouldn't fit. The reality is, I've been gaining more weight on the bottom, so I just don't have good pants to wear with the tops.
  2. Everything that I knew I wouldn't really wear anymore were tossed. If it was worn out, ill-fitting, needed repairs beyond my abilities/desire/worth-the-cost-of-a-tailor, it went straight to the "toss" pile. The wovens were mostly tossed. I kept the 3 pants that still fit, and 3 pants that were $60/pair (I only spend $30 on jeans, usually). Those pants are my goal pants in classic cuts made of expensive materials. I know I should probably toss them, too, but I seriously got rid of maybe 6-7 pairs of jeans & 5 pairs of shorts/pants that don't fit, so I think I did alright. Jackets that didn't fit or were too worn were tossed.
  3. I went through my clothes to see what was missing. I never did this because I always had so many clothes. In terms of tops, I'm okay unless I want something a little more loose-fitting. I just need a long-sleeved basic white T, and I'm done. In terms of bottoms, that's a whole 'nother part of the post.
In all, I collected 5 giant brown paper bags of clothing to donate to Goodwill my next run around there. That filled up the trunk of my car. Look!

I sorted through my clothes and really thought about how I wear them. I have sooo many tops, it's no surprise to me that my "Tops" drawer is still full after getting rid of 20+ shirts. There were a few tops that I kept on my "nice tops to wear" side but I never wore. I realized they'd make great workout gear for when I don't want to wear an old alma mater tee. I never realized how I had some shirts that I would barely wear because they were a bit too low-cut. Then, I also found out that I had umpteen-gazillion (more like 10) light long-sleeved sweaters. I know I love wearing them, but I don't wear them that much. I was happy to find one thing about my wardrobe--I never really bought duplicates (except for jeans). I have a pretty good idea of all of things I own, so I don't buy two mint green light-sweaters, even though I may be tempted.

So after a bit of re-organization/anal-ness, here's what my "Tops" drawer looks like:

Yeap-that's right. I'm that anal that the columns of tops are labeled, the tops themselves are rolled (saves space, you can see everything, and actually prevents most creases!), and they're organized in a semi-color-gradient fashion.

I even know where my going-out/work-inappropriate clothes are.

Okay-so now that I've gotten rid of the clutter, what's missing? Well, not much, in reality. However, this is a knitting/sewing blog, so wait for Part 2 of this post to see how I'm thinking of filling in those gaps.


  1. This post resonated completely with me. I love style - I just don't do style. Not that I don't want to! Long ago, I realized I am a bad shopper and then knitting came into my life and I like to shop even less than I did before because of the time-suck. Not to mention my body is changing the older I get and I don't know exactly how to dress it.
    I'm trying to go through the same process as you are and have been dabbling in sewing as well. Cheers to both of us figuring it out and feeling better about our wardrobes and ourselves!! :)

    1. Exactly! As my body has been morphing, I've been struggling with dressing it. I'm glad to hear someone else is the same way. We can do it, though.

  2. That is a good idea about storing your shirts rolled and pointed up. My old dresser didn't allow that, but my new one will.

    I purged my clothing before I moved out of my apartment. There was no point in packing stuff I could never wear again. It feels really good to get rid of gross, and ill-fitting things. I am definitely a jeans + t-shirt engineer though. So most of the items were dress clothes.

    1. You know, I often feel looked weirdly upon whenever I dress in a non-tshirt-and-jeans-engineer way. I've struggled with giving in to the culture versus really enjoying what I wear. I guess I'm still trying to figure it out, but it helps that there are other ladies in my lab who enjoy wearing girly things.

    2. I think it is definitely possible to be fashionable as an engineer/grad student.

      You just have to dress with confidence. Honestly who gives very much thought to someone else's wardrobe?