In the 70s, a famous slogan was written for L’Oreal hair colour by copy writer Ilon Specht: “Because I’m worth it.”
The current trend of curating your closet is, in many senses, another level of these messages, because now, simply having enough money for clothes isn’t enough – now we are supposed to love everything.
So we curate. You may call this clutter clearing or minimalism or some other name. I have enjoyed doing Courtney Carver’s Project 333 which I write about here. But what I began to notice is that I found myself – after downsizing – continuing on to refine and curate in search of those ‘love’ items. I may have not been increasing the total number of clothing I owned by much but I was still – even unconsciously – on the search for the perfect curated closet.
In some Facebook communities on minimalist fashion I’ve read how people feel they haven’t been successful in downsizing the items they own because they don’t have anything in their closet they love. Think about this for a moment: even after downsizing we look in a closet full of clothes and feel we need to keep working on it.
Presumably we loved the things we bought (for the most part, the majority of it, anyway) when we bought them. Why do we fall out of love with them so fast?
When beginning the downsizing the wardrobe process, we get rid of the obvious things: you know the ones. They don’t fit, they are shabby from wear or washing, or they are for a part of your life that is finished. They may be gifts that didn’t suit you but you couldn’t part with, trends that didn’t suit you, or fast fashion mistakes. Those are relatively easy to let go of, once you start.
Now the closet is at least somewhat more deliberate and streamlined. But is it curated? Do you love everything? You may have found that you’ve unwittingly raised the bar for yourself.
We are told that we should only keep clothing that ‘sparks joy’ to use a current catch-phrase (because we are worth it?). I accepted this as a worthy goal until I began to realize how much anxiety it was creating. Not because of the search, but because of the guilt it creates at finding I have clothes that are not worn out, still fit, but I no longer love them. Because this mindset keeps you attuned to more buying, to ‘get it right – to have the perfect curated wardrobe. And I don’t know about you, but I am so tired of this. I’m ready to get off of the treadmill.
When I started to see my own cycle, I began to rebel and think about a new goal. That new goal is ‘good enough’. In fact, when it comes to clothing, I think ‘okay’ is really good. I have a closet full of clothing that is ‘okay’. It is good enough – and I don’t feel cheated at all that I am not wearing things I love everyday.
I love them just enough – just the right amount for an inanimate object that doesn’t have feelings, and is, after all, a consumable. It is always one wearing away from being unwearable.
Why? Because in these clothes I can be myself. I can do whatever needs to get done without being concerned about wrecking my best clothes. The majority of the clothes I enjoy wearing everyday are work horses. I like to have things that are easily replaceable, which means for me, a closet of basics.
I do have a few things in my closet that I really, really like – they are my Divas. I used to feel guilty that I wasn’t wearing these more than I do, because, you know “I’m Worth It.” Sometimes, having that special jacket or dress for special occasions is fine – it actually makes the times when you wear it stand out more in my memory.
Love is for Things with a Pulse
I love my family and friends. I love my pets. They are long term loves that define me and will be with me forever. And then there are shorter term loves which are equally important to the human condition: we fall in love with a gorgeous sunset, a baby or a puppy we meet on a street. Maybe we fall in love with a piece of music, or drink in the beauty of a flower or tree, or a colour.
There is often much to admire about clothing: the fabric, the colour, the workmanship, and yes, some of those will be works of art, one of a kind items to be treasured.
If and when those stray into your life – wonderful! To seek it out and make it your goal can cause dissatisfaction and anxiety. I want to keep my energy more for loving people and less for loving things.
I would like to reduce my attachments to things. I appreciate what I have, but it is often a source of anxiety when it is lost or misplaced and I recognize that not owning them would free up my energy to love my life, and not my things.
Fitting This in with Real Life
It is late December as I am writing this, and chances are pretty good that you are about to receive some new items of clothing or jewellery. Giving and receiving will probably not end – and I am not sure it needs to. We need people to create and those to purchase, and everyone who creates wants to sell – including writers who introduce us to new ideas.
But we can be more discerning. Just because a writer says something, doesn’t mean it is true. It is worth stepping back frequently for a bit of sanity and clarity, and to realize that even if you try to avoid them, we can’t easily escape a continual barrage of marketing messages which are aimed at producing dissatisfaction – that we are worth it to have the very best.
The rebellion is in acknowledging that joy from things is fleeting: the real joy comes from cultivating relationships with family, friends and even people you encounter during your day, from seeing beauty in nature, in reading uplifting words, and seeing other people’s creation and interpretations of this life.
We can do this without getting caught up in the craziness of the marketing messages.
Carving out a space for a movement practice in a smaller space can be a bit of a challenge. It would be great to have a dedicated movement practice space, but what I have is a living room. I want my place to feel ‘homey’, but I want some bare floor space too, without having to completely re-arrange furniture every time to lay out my props.
Has this happened to you? You’ve invested your time (and perhaps money) in putting together a capsule wardrobe, either for a vacation, to downsize your life, or simply to manage your closet and life with less, but found a few weeks in you are unhappy, or tired of your choices. I can definitely report it happens to me.
My first really serious adventure into capsule dressing was about 15 years ago when I traveled a lot for business. I made myself a reversible capsule from a Simplicity ‘weekender’ pattern of a jacket, skirt, tank top and pants. The fabric I bought was polyester crepe, solid navy and navy with small white flowers for the reverse side. With these basics I packed a pair of jeans, a couple of navy tops, and a couple of white tops. It definitely gave me a lot of choices.
I fully intended to wear them after the trips were over but it ended up languishing in my closet for a few years until I admitted defeat and gave it away. Although the concept was good, the pattern and shapes weren’t great for me – they were too boxy, and boxy makes me feel frumpy. It was also too warm, even though it was a lightweight fabric and meant for summer, double layers of polyester don’t breathe very well. The biggest fail though was that there wasn’t enough variation between the two layers. Navy and a small print of navy/white look pretty much the same from any distance at all.
Summer 2018 Capsule
It took awhile to figure out how to make a capsule wardrobe I’d want to wear for longer than a couple of weeks and I was greatly helped by doing Project 333 for the past couple of years. Project 333 refers to wearing the same capsule which consists of 33 items for 3 months. Through doing it I learned how to put together a capsule collection of clothes that has sticking power. You can definitely get ideas from books but in the end you have to figure out what works for you. Here are some principles I’ve learned that have kept me, more or less, on the straight path of simplicity. I hope they will help you make your capsule wardrobe ‘sticky’!
1. Choose a Colour Palette
Working with a limited palette doesn’t have to be monochromatic. I’ve seen some gorgeous colourful capsule wardrobes. For a while I was super strict and kept my palette to the one on the right. I still keep this as my basics, but as you can see in my current summer capsule capsule above, I’ve added some patterned kimonos with a decidedly warmer feel. I do subscribe to the belief that our bodies ask for particular colours at different times and that is something I listen to. When I decided on these items I also felt they would transition well into autumn with long sleeved tops.
NOTE: This inspiration for my palette is from Canva graphic design tutorials found here and here.
Why this works:
Everything in your closet goes together colour-wise.
There is less decision fatigue when it comes time to replace or add to your wardrobe since you immediately eliminate a lot of options on the store racks.
When you constantly wear colours you love that go together, it will give you an energetic boost all the time.
It will at least make you think twice about going for trendy colours.
2. Find your Clothing ‘Cut’
This is different than find your style, because most styles come in more than one shape. Jeans, for example, come in many different cuts. One, or maybe more will resonate with you, look good on you and make you feel good when you wear them. (I have yet to find a low rise jean that is comfortable for me, and I also have a bit of problem with high rise. I prefer a tighter leg but not skin tight).
Clothes that are fitted look best for my proportions, even though I love loose styles (like my current collection of Kimonos). I might like tailored clothes too, if I got some professionally made, but I always think of those as a bit more unforgiving if you gain weight. Fitted to me means it skims my curves but doesn’t cling. If I do wear something loose (because I love loose and flowy) the fabric has to drape really well – not stiff or too boxy – and it has to be paired with something fitted, which, in my current capsule would be a straight t-shirt dress, leggings and a tunic, or slim jeans and a close fitting tank top.
Please note that I don’t buy 100% into dress for your shape. I remember going to a presentation a fashion consultant gave where she informed all the heavier women that skinny jeans were not for them. (Well, phooey I say to that). By cut I am not referring to what an ‘apple’ shape can wear. For fun, I put ‘clothing cut’ into a search engine. According to Wikipeda, clothing cut is:
The cut of a coat refers to the way the garment hangs on the body based on the shape of the fabric pieces used to construct it, the position of the fabric’s grain line, and so on.
Another thing here: how garments hang depend on your build. I am a curvy petite, even at my lowest weight, and too much bulk makes me look a bit like I am a kid playing dress-up. There are many cringe-worthy photos of me before I figured this out. Here is some extra reading on garment cuts.
If you are going to wear the same items of clothing heavily for 3 months, they need to be ones that you feel really good about. These are the ones that people say, that suits you.
Similar cuts of clothes often go well together.
You won’t need special pieces to make that one thing, which is not like the others, work.
3. Build with Versatile Pieces
Dresses, or tunics with leggings or skinny jeans, can be very versatile. Yesterday I was reminded by that when I saw a young woman, probably on her lunch break, wearing a fitted black dress with ballet flats and a short jean jacket. And, I fancied, she went back to her office and swapped the jean jacket for a blazer or smart cardigan. It looked so chic and effortless that I wanted to run home and change to my LBD and jean jacket. I have those things in my closet – I just had to remember that simple is chic. Also a LDB with a jean jacket is by my definition, my classic bohemian style!
A basic dress can take you from a dress-up event, everyday work, and weekend casual depending on what you wear with it, and how you wear it.
Apart from wearing my dress with a smart blazer for the office, I’ve worn them over jeans and leggings, belted and loose. I have even tucked them into trousers or jeans and worn it as a top. I’ve put a shirt or top over my dress so that it looks like a skirt. I’ll say it again: a dress (or tunic) can be a really versatile item. I have a couple of LBDs, but my favourite at the moment is a Little Blue Dress (navy).
Other versatile pieces might be a blazer that goes with everything you own, or that one pair of shoes which look good with everything.
4. Think Layers
Top Worn Under Dress
I’ve found that I get the most mileage from wearing layers. For example a sleeveless summer dress can become an all season dress with short sleeved t-shirt worn under for warmer months and a long-sleeved for winter. You can wear a top over a the dress which creates the illusion of a skirt and top. Add a jacket, blazer, cardigan, or other topper (like my kimonos) for more warmth or to just change it up. With one dress, a top and a jacket or cardigan, you have 6 ways of wearing the same 3 items. With a few more tops and some pants, that is a week long capsule right there.
Tips to make layers work:
Stick to fairly similar necklines. I’ve had my fair share of figuring out that a scoop neck and v-neck can be more difficult to layer.
Keep the layers thin, or at least not bulky. A top layer can be a looser fit but as a base for layering, a fitted style gives the most seamless look.
What to do if you’ve ‘Made a Mistake’
Take a deep breath! Having a simplified closet is not about deprivation. It is about awareness. We can and should have things that make us feel good. Notice that I said good, as in Good Enough. Aiming for perfect, aiming for only wearing what you love is a tall order that can keep you forever looking for the perfect ones. So, beware of perfect.
Also, I have to share that my experience with finding things that are ‘perfect’ is that I wear them sparingly. I want to keep them forever, pristine if possible, even though I know that is messed up thinking. I love Good Enough clothes because those I can relax and take what the day gives me without worrying. If life gives me a beach, I will sit on that beach in the sand and eventually I will probably find myself wading in the water too.
Food and clothing choices are the most criticized things on the planet, both from ourselves and others and there is so much emotional baggage attached to them. Accept that things you’ve bought suited your life at one point but now they don’t. Change can come quickly and sneak up on you. Things you bought which no longer feel like you aren’t necessarily mistakes. It’s just life. So give yourself permission to swap that piece (or pieces) out. Chances are good that you have even something else in your closet that you can swap it with.
Can we Boomers beautify? I think so. We can do it in our own way. Like many other boomers, I grew up with a back-to-earth mentality and ambitions of homesteading: Harrowsmith was on my night table as exciting reading material! We learned early on that it takes more than one person and my husband worked full time, so we never had the homesteading experience. I relate this only so you can see that ‘nature girl’ is where I’m coming from. Well, not just nature girl. I do okay in the city too. But, the truth of the matter is that I’ve spent most of my younger years working at home and I never got the habit of putting makeup on every day.
I am also blessed with good skin. This is my own assessment: I am sure a professional would see plenty of things to ‘fix’. My evaluation of good skin is it is clear. I’m sun sensitive which means I almost always have a hat on, or sunglasses, so I don’t have a lot of sun damage.
Now, at 60, I am seeing changes in the mirror. At certain angles and under certain lights, I see the face of my crone years. I am not talking about the crows feet and laugh lines. Those I consider part of my character. I am talking about the lines along my cheek bones, and the skin that wants to go south. It is shocking and fascinating at the same time to see these glimpses of the future, and it makes me wonder which is my real face. Is the one in my home mirror false and the sagging one what everyone else sees?
When we get to this stage in life, there are a couple of options. One option is to get anti-aging serums and/or procedures. Another option is to let nature takes it’s course. Another option is to have a bit of fun with it. Maybe, a boomer in her 60s can embrace aging by wearing some makeup to enhance, and enchant – even if it is only myself – because what I think about me, matters. Looking at myself without a bit of makeup on, sometimes I look tired. That’s not the way I feel inside. At 60 I am excited by possibilities and the way I look could reflect that. I am ready to boomer beautify!
With this in mind I saw an advertisement for pro-aging makeup – Boom! by Cindy Joseph. It explains that as we age, we need to stay away from powdery and chalky products that settle into those lines, and use creamy and transparent products.
Cindy Joseph was on my radar for a long time through her modeling career. I didn’t know her name, but I adored the photos of a beautiful long-silver-haired woman. Cindy Joseph was was a makeup artist, then a model, and now a cosmetic designer. Her website advertises “a pro-age cosmetic line for women of every generation.” I really wanted to try the products and Cindy Joseph company generously sent me the Boomstick trio and Boomsilk lotion to review.
I was ready to review them five minutes after I put them on my skin for the first time, but I’ve held off to really get to know the products, because I haven’t used blush or eye makeup for a very long time. I’m more of an lip gloss and eyeliner and go kind of person. And now, even if I did want to use something to brighten up skin which hasn’t seen much sun in six months, knowing about those deep lines I glimpse has made me wary of whatever I use looking unnatural. I am also sensitive to products with fragrance. Boom! products have no added fragrance that I can detect. It does have a slight bees wax/olive oil smell which I don’t mind. So, without further ado, here are the products and how I’ve been using them.
The product which I thought I’d use least, I’m using every morning on my face, neck, and upper chest. The best part of this product is the ingredient list:
“Ingredients: BOOMSILK contains only the most beneficial ingredients and nothing more: Purified water, organic extra virgin olive oil, beeswax with propolis and pollen, raw Pupekea wildflower honey, and d-alpha Vit E.” Source
On my skin it leaves a slight shimmer after I put it on similar to using olive oil directly on my skin, but in a better, dewy feeling way (note: my skin tends to be on the dry side.) The shimmer eventually fades but the dewy feeling remains. For a week I tried using Boomsilk in the morning and at night but I found that was too much for my skin. An additional dab on my lips at night is perfect.
Around my eyes, I have learned that for me to just put it on my brow bone and not my lid. When I did that I got itchy eyes (but my eyes are crazy sensitive so it may just be me) and it is also easy to apply too much. As the website says, a little goes a long way. I haven’t used it as a whole body moisturizer because my skin doesn’t really need it.
I am curious to find out how this project will feel in the summer, but for the winter it feels gorgeous.
Boomstick Glo is a solid version of Boomsilk with the same ingredient list as above. I carry this in my bag and use it as lip balm throughout the day, and you can use it for spot moisturizing. I like that I can carry only one product. It would be great though if it also came in a lip balm size as well, to slip into a pants pocket. My lips feel great and I think it is a better choice than anything else I’ve been using.
Boomstick Color is an all-in-one sheer cosmetic stick that works on all skin tones. I use it as to highlight my cheekbones and lips. It looks good on my lids too. The best results I’ve had for my lips is by using a lip brush. When I just apply it with my fingertip the product doesn’t seem to last as long and my lips feel more on the dry side. However a brush gives an even and thicker coating which lasts as long as any other lip tint I’ve tried (and my standard is Burt’s Bees grade).
Like any other cosmetic that is tinted, the ingredient list is long, and you can look it up here. What I like about this product, especially on my cheeks, is that my freckles show through. It doesn’t look (to me, anyway) like I have a product on my face. I just look healthy and definitely not tired looking. The lip is a little bolder for day time (for me) though I think it looks good.
…subtle, sheer, pearlescent stick adds natural sheen for day and luminous glow for evening. Source.
At first I applied it as a highlighter with Boomstick Color. (I have it on my brow bone in the photo above with the red lip.) Then I tried it on the inner corner of my eyes.
Then I got wild with it and am using it on its own for a day look, on my cheek bones, temple and lips. I like the effect on my lips (remember 60s frosted lips? That is a look not everyone call pull off.) This, to me, feels like just the right shade of a natural pink and just enough glam and fun.
You can purchase all products separately or as kits. The three Boomsticks can be bundled (Boomstick Trio) and come in a gauze pouch. It it a better value purchasing the bundles. If I had to choose just one, I’d get Boomstick Colour because of it’s versatility. Here is a short video from Cindy Joseph on choosing which product to start with.
To sum it all up, although I’ve called this post Boomers Beautify, beauty by conventional standards isn’t something I am aiming for. (I like alliteration, what can I say?) For beauty you have to consider the definition. Inner beauty, I say yes. Some current fashion versions of beauty, I say, is a hard thing to live up to and one that has made many sisters feel ‘less’. What I love about Boom! and Cindy Joseph, is if you visit her website you will see all kinds of women, glowing with confidence. And isn’t that what we want? That to me, is beautiful.
Boom! is most everything I wanted it to be, with a moisturizer as natural as you can get, and a one-stick product (or two) that satisfies my desire to give mother nature a little boost. (My wish list is pocket sized products for on-the go and no need to carry a purse).
To be perfectly frank, I’m having more fun with cosmetics than I ever thought I would.
Disclaimer: this is an unsolicited review of Boom! products. I contacted the company to see if I could purchase samples for review and I was generously sent full size products which has allowed me to really take my time and test the products.
I began retirement in January. I really thought I’d wear pretty much the same thing I wore to work, mostly dresses and jackets. After a few weeks I realized I needed to rethink my wardrobe. Making soup stock while wearing a silk dress sounds so sophisticated. It isn’t funny when, even while wearing an apron, you find grease spots on the dress. What I really needed was my weekend wardrobe expanded.
I don’t know about you, winter dressing seems a lot harder than summer dressing. I wrote a piece on my summer capsule in August (Tiny Wardrobe Magic: 40 outfits from 10 pieces) and thought I had this figured out. Then I found myself doing a lot of buying this fall. Granted, some of that shopping had to do wanting to make some bigger purchases while the money held. Some (maybe a lot) of it had to do with turning 60 in November and contemplating retirement. Most of it was feeling uncomfortable in my clothes.
I have an idea that with our short winters, I could theoretically have (at least) a three-season wardrobe. The office I worked in was always warm so I wore short sleeve tops or dresses under a jacket or cardigan year around.
The first full week at home I thought I was going to freeze. That set off my search in earnest for a new look. I confess I also convinced myself some new long sleeve purchases were really winter ‘underwear’ pieces that didn’t count. Also, that I’d wear them on their own in spring and summer. We’ll see about that. It explains another part of my shopping spree.
My next goal was more about dynamic moving. I don’t want to live in movement restricting jeans. Now I need to make more of an effort for activity. Curling up with a book is pretty tempting when it is pouring outside. But I’m not a t-shirt and leggings woman. I could have gone with skirts over the leggings but I got rid most I owned. I decided dresses were more versatile than skirts. I’ve settled on a compromise – tunic tops. They look good with skinny jeans, or with a dress or skirt underneath. They are acceptable enough (for me) to wear with leggings so that I don’t feel under dressed for a quick errand or an afternoon walk.
A dynamic wardrobe can also being about acknowledging change. I want to keep pace with who I am now. Recently I read about changing your name, or your clothes, to mark majour life passages. Retirement certainly qualifies. It invites a certain sense of authenticity and keeping pace.
To put these ideas firmly into practice I decided to do a winter capsule retirement challenge. I also wanted to stop myself from more searching and buying. In short, my goal is to to decide on a style and feel more comfortable in my skin.
Doing a 10 x 10 challenge (where you only wear 10 items for 10 days) is a chore but also an effective visual tool. It helps me focus on what I feel good in. I always come out seeing just how much leverage I can get with a small selection that is carefully curated. I didn’t take any great pains on the photographs, which should be evident. Until you try this you don’t realize how much works goes into those gorgeous shots on some blogs. ‘In focus and not too obviously posed’ was my main goal. Publishing the posts on Facebook was mostly to keep me honest and attentive.
I’ve done a few 10×10 ‘challenges’, but I got too caught up with rules on this one. I actually ended up with eight garments and two pairs of boots, but my goal is to have 2 capsules of (roughly) 20 items. Outerwear (shoes, boots, coats, bags, etc., is another 10-15 items. I’ve been following Project 333 for a few years (read about it here and here). The items I chose themselves were not ideal either, but what you learn from doing this is valuable. Here is what I chose and how I wore them. (2 jackets, 4 tops, 2 pants, 2 boots).
Even with two of the items being boots, there are more than 10 outfits here. I won’t claim it is as versatile as my summer wardrobe (of 40 outfits with 10 items) but it is something to work on. There are some pieces here that I love the look and feel of.
1. I love the white jean jacket. It is like a denim jacket but very soft twill, wonderful for layering. It is not too bulky under my outwear, often a trench coat, and makes a change from a blazer.
2. The chambray shirt is similarly very soft and fluid. I felt like it needed to be tailored a bit but I think the jeans I choose were just too low to allow graceful tucking in. I can confirm that after washing it no longer needs to be tailored.
3. The white patterned top is fun to wear and it made a somewhat sedate (*boring?) collection more exciting. And I just discovered that the linen blazer living on the ‘maybe’ pile because so few colours went with it is almost an exact match for the paisley pattern.
What didn’t Work as Well
Both of the bottoms:
a) I should have looked at the long term forecast. Part of this capsule experiment was done on a five day trip away from home and the mild weather changed, dramatically. The knickers with short boots (bare legs) happened outdoors only once! The rest of the time whenever I wore the knickers I also had on bicycle shorts, long socks and long boots! I also wore the long boots with my jeans, wading through snow.
b) These jeans (which as I wrote about in my daily Facebook posts) need a good rest between wearings. They stretch out with body heat and get baggy in the knees and bum. The reason these are in such great shape after almost 8 years is air drying but I didn’t have the time to do that with nothing other than knickers to wear. I will plan on at least 2 pair of jeans for winter.
c) A higher waist pants works better for me if I want to tuck something in. These low rise jeans were a limiting factor.
2. I didn’t include a dress. At the last minute I took it out of my case to keep the 10×10 ‘rules’. A dress or skirt gives me more options. A dress can be worn with just leggings and a short boot. Skinny jeans can create another look. Tops can be layered over or under the dress, depending on the sleeve. I find sleeveless ones are the most versatile.
3. I only wore my black cardigan coat with 2 outfits but there are more possibilities there. It would look great with the denim shirt underneath.
What Makes a Dynamic Retirement Capsule?
So, what does this have to do with dynamic retirement, you ask? I don’t want to be age-identified by what I wear. I’ve always loved biker jackets but when I was young I needed to wear long tops to hide my bum. (There was absolutely nothing ‘wrong’ with my derriere, mind you. I just felt exquisitely self conscious if it wasn’t covered.) Now I don’t care about that. It is one part of now or never, and another part not really caring about what someone else might think. I want to feel cool. If it has taken me to age 60 to be brave enough to be cool, bring it on.
Retirement dressing is a matter of self-esteem. No one can tell you how many items of clothing you need, and what they should be. Dressing well, to your standards, is still important in how you feel about yourself. At the same time, retirement also can mean owning fewer things so it is an opportunity to take stock. There is power in letting go of the visible reminders of a life you don’t lead anymore, and it makes room for the life you have now.
Although I don’t miss the work I did, getting dressed and going to the office everyday had an appeal. Dressing as well as I did when I went to an office everyday is important in retirement, especially in a time of transition. What I wore on the weekend is what I’m wearing now — nice jeans or leggings and a nice top. I don’t want to exist in shabby clothes or exercise wear because I’m at home. Nor do I want to fall into the trap of shopping as something to do. So, while putting together capsules takes a bit of time, I consider it a great investment that frees up my energy to enjoy doing other things.
For me ‘downsizing’ is a good thing. It can be an opportunity to get more clarity about what fits the time and place you are in life because, “the only thing that Is constant Is change” (Heraclitus). What suits you changes over time, and there is no need to drag the past with you.
In the boomer circle, some of the main reasons women downsize their closet are as follows.
1. Moving House
My experience with a living space downsize has been that the smaller the digs, the higher the incentive to get current with what is needed and used.
I lived in a large house and my possessions ‘crept’ to fill all available space.
Moving to a smaller home or apartment makes it more challenging to find places to store ‘extras’, when there is only one bedroom, no attic, garage or basement as a convenient storage space. (Out of sight = out of mind – can you relate to this?)
2. Changing your Occupation
Personally I don’t like the word ‘retirement’ but it is true that changing what you do everyday will happen at some point. If the ‘downsizing’ is a big enough change, chances are good that you’ll need different clothes.
Decades of being self-employed and then going back into a corporate environment was challenging. It took me a while to figure out what to wear and still feel like me. I now have a more polished and grown up wardrobe that is in keeping with my values – mainly that I can move freely.
Whether you are leaving a job, changing a job or stepping down from going to a work place everyday, you may find that what you’ve worn for many years no longer suits you.
3. Having a Smaller Footprint
This is more about a desire to live deliberately with less (perhaps less of everything and not just clothing.) People of all ages can express a desire to life with less, and, rather than label it, I believe it comes from a desire to closely examine your values and find a way of expressing them.
The Gains of Downsizing
What I have gained from downsizing my closet is time, peace of mind, freedom and clarity.
With fewer clothing choices, I don’t have to think more than a few seconds about what to wear. With carefully chosen items, things go together with also reduces decision fatigue.
Peace of Mind and Freedom
There is peace of mind and freedom from rejecting the overt and subliminal messages about who we could, and should, be. I want to get off the advertising treadmill and do something else with my time than obsess over being fashionable.
Potentially there is financial freedom in downsizing your closet. It is only a potential though, because you could spend the same amount of money on fewer high quality items. A small, carefully selected collection of clothing can give you excellent value for your money.
A lot of women I talk to have done ‘shopping therapy’ for most of their adult lives and are questioning
the idea of shopping as recreation. The pleasure is short lived and the results have to be lived with for, potentially, a long time. It is often an outing with friends, about the thrill of the hunt and finding that great bargain, and about treating ourselves because we are ‘worth it’. There is freedom in saying no to shopping as a fun activity.
Although my closet is small, what I have gives me a lot of options. It makes me extremely aware of how little I really need. Every three months I pull together a Project 333. This is where you create seasonal capsule wardrobes. The number of combinations that can be created with a small number of clothing is impressive. To see how many combinations I created with summer with 10 items of clothing read my article Tiny Wardrobe Magic: 40 Outfits from 10 Pieces.
At the end of the season, seeing what was worn frequently and what got little wear is apparent. Sometimes there is a good reason (that sweater for spring and a few cooler summer days didn’t see much wear.) Sometimes though, the reason I didn’t wear something s because I only thought I needed it.
And you know, that’s okay. There isn’t a test at the end and the person who stuck to their capsule wardrobe the best doesn’t win. It is about living living more consciously. We can reject the marketing messages were are surrounded with. Did you know that fashion marketing began in the Flapper era of the1920s?
Making a tiny wardrobe is one of the healthiest things I’ve ever done for myself. I’ve been doing Project 333 for a couple of years now (read about my experience when I still had 50 items in my capsule, here).
Project 333 is the minimalist fashion challenge by Be More With Less that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.
What is a Tiny Wardrobe?
Many people would say that 33 items is a tiny wardrobe. It takes some time to get past the feeling of ‘not enough’ when limiting your clothing choices, but for me it was worth the growing pains. There was a time in the not too distant past when I needed to try on a dozen outfits before getting out the door (and still not feel satisfied with my choice), and I wouldn’t say it was because my wardrobe choices were huge. (The ‘why’ is a deeper question, perhaps for another time).
Project 333 has been hugely freeing, and the amazing thing is, I have discovered that paring down further is becoming even more powerful. As I pull together my clothing for the upcoming season, it helps when I focus on an even tinier wardrobe, with ‘mini capsules’ of 10-12 articles of clothing. Here’s why I like it:
When I see how many combinations I can create with 10 items of clothing it becomes very clear see how little I really need.
At the end of the season, I can see what was hardly worn, and yes, people with a minimalist closet sometimes (often?) wear 20% of their garments, 80% of the time. I still have one or two things that see light wear (but that’s okay).
Decision fatigue is eliminated because everything ‘goes’ together.
I really like every single piece so it gives me more value for my money.
It saves time and energy since I don’t have to think more than a few seconds about what to wear (and, really, I’d much prefer to do something else with my time than obsess over how I look).
Through my tiny wardrobe experiments I learned that with 10 pieces (and how I wear them) I can wear something different for 40 days – and that is just including the clothes – not shoes, jewellery or any other accessories – just the basic 10.
Of course I have more than 10 items in my closet because, laundry! Even if I decided to go uniform-style I would need duplicates – or very similar pieces – so creating 2 tiny capsules gives me time to get the laundry done, and to give an item I’ve been wearing frequently a bit of a rest. Having some versatility (not uniform-style dressing, for example) gives me some pieces that are slightly out-of-season, because there are bound to be days that aren’t typical weather, days where you need something warmer, or something lighter.
With 2 tiny capsules and 20 pieces of clothes, that is 80 unique outfits, and (if that is not already interesting enough) here is where it gets really interesting: when those two capsules are blended, or accessories are added, the number of unique combinations explodes. It would give me more combinations than there are in the 90 odd days in a 3 month season.
A Tiny Wardrobe Example
Here is an example of a 10-piece mini-capsule I put together for a summer vacation that gives me enough options for pretty much anything with some accessories added: shoes, purse, hat, sunglasses, jewellery, a shawl or sweater, swimsuit and under garments.
Carry on luggage, here I come!
Summer Resort Capsule
Jacket (dark neutral)
Jeans (light neutral)
Shorts (light neutral)
Dress 1 (tank style for layering, knee Length)
Dress 2 (tank style for layering, knee length)
Skirt (dark, longer than the dresses)
T-Shirt 1 (solid, cap sleeves)
T-Shirt 2 (printed, cap sleeves)
Top 1 (solid, dark, elbow sleeve)
Top 2 (solid, light, long sleeves)
40 Outfits From 10 Pieces
1. Jeans, t-shirt 1
2. Jeans, t-shirt 2
3. Jeans, top 1
4. Jeans, top 2
5. Dress 1
6. Dress 2
7. Skirt, t-shirt 1
8. Skirt, t-shirt 2
9. Skirt, top 1
10. Skirt, top 2
11. Shorts + t-shirt 1
12. Shorts + t-shirt 2
13. Shorts + top 1
14. Shorts + top 2
15-28 Jacket + 1-14
29. Dress 1 + t-shirt (worn underneath)
30. Dress 1 + t-shirt 1 (worn on top)
31. Dress 1 + top 1 (worn underneath)
32. Dress 1 + top 2 (worn on top)
33-36 Switch out to Dress 2 and wear with tops 29-32.
37. Dress 1 + jeans (tunic style – optional belt to shorten the dress
38. Dress 2 + jeans (tunic style – optional belt to shorten the dress
39. Dress 1 + Longer Skirt (worn under, like a slip)
40. Dress 2 + Longer Skirt (worn under, like a slip).
(I could actually continue this…t-shirts plus dress plus skirt underneath (etc.) or worn with the jacket, but I’m sure, Dear Reader, you get the idea).
Those 40 combinations are further extended by adding a few extras: a cardigan and shawl, a swimsuit you could (perhaps) wear as a top, or even a piece of jewellery that transforms a day dress into an evening dress. One begins to quickly see how adding even 1 piece of clothing increases the possibilities!
Have you come across the article, How 33 Articles of Clothing can Equal 25,176 Different Outfits? This is a marvelous example of the power of a small number of clothes, but for me it is an overwhelming number of possibilities to deal with. I know that with the same number of items in my closet, that is the number of possibilities and unique choices I could make, but I’m sticking with my tiny wardrobe and mini capsules, and the numbers that I can get my head around!
I’m no stranger to doing a capsule wardrobe: it is how I’ve packed for trips for years. I’ve been a fairly light packer all my life and could pull out my 4 or 5 time-tested outfits and put them in my suitcase with no problem. The problem was the rest of my closet because after taking my capsule out, you could barely notice that anything was missing from my closet.
It came to a point where I began to ask myself, what is wrong with the rest of the clothes in my closet, and, more importantly why do I still buy more? The closet de-cluttering sessions I did regularly worked only temporarily and, tired of doing the same thing with the same results, I heard about Project 333 and decided to give it a try.
Project 333: a Capsule Wardrobe with a Difference
A capsule wardrobe is a minimalist approach to getting dressed. Project 333 takes seasonal differences into account. It is a capsule wardrobe for 3 months (usually following the change of seasons) with 33 items.
From doing Project 333 (from Be More With Less) I learned that the outfits I was packing for a trip was my real wardrobe, taking seasonal differences into account. I don’t really need more than the half a dozen tops/t-shirts, 2-3 sweaters/jackets, and a few different pants and dresses plus outerwear and shoes, and having more than than makes my life more difficult.
What goes into your Project 333? Everyday clothes for work or after, outerwear, shoes, jewellery and accessories. Not included is underwear, sleep wear, things you wear around the house (like for gardening and cleaning), and workout clothing. Courtney suggests wearing workout clothing only for exercising and gardening clothes just for gardening. Everything else is put away, out of sight until the next round of Project 333.
I’ve taken other courses on capsule wardrobes and minimal wardrobes, but found that doing Project 333 is much deeper than finding the season’s pivotal pieces in the right colours, or just decluttering. It is about finding what works for YOU. If are feeling overwhelmed by your wardrobe decisions, Project 333 is a great way to learn more about yourself.
Upcycled clothing: read sustainable fashion, second hand rose, re-used, or ‘thrifted’ clothes – are you a fan? I am, and one of the main reasons for that is my health. (Another reason is this.) Usually upcycled clothes have ‘broken’ the dyes, pesticides and other chemicals used in the manufacturing process. But when the garment has odours from the previous owner, the gain isn’t huge.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m talking about ‘clean’ smells. Sometimes there is perfume on the garment, but often that scent is coming from laundry detergent and fabric softener. They can be difficult to remove even after multiple washing in fragrance-free laundry products.
Ways of getting rid of fragrance residue in upcycled clothing
Depending on the fiber content and how scent-saturated your upcycled clothing is, you may have to try a few of the following suggestions on your upcycled treasures. Keep in mind that if you are dealing with a delicate fabric, none of these options may be suitable and I’d take it to a specialist cleaner. I would also ‘escalate’ as needed, i.e. if sun and fresh air didn’t work, I’d try the soaks.
The scent of clothing hung outside to dry is wonderful, and it can remove odours! The first thing I always try is hanging the garment outside. About as low tech as you can get, UV rays break down the chemicals that coat the fibers. This also works on new clothes that have a strong dye scent. There is a possibility that there may be some sun fading so it is a judgment call.
Soak the garment in vinegar overnight, (or use a mixture of vinegar and borax). Rinse and dry, repeat if needed.
*In a sealed container add charcoal briquettes (plain – not ‘easy-start’ which contain lighter fluid!) and the contents of a box of baking soda. Add the clothing and let it sit for at least a week.
Wash with an additive
*Use a peroxide based laundry detergent to oxidize fragrance residues in the fabric. Or, some people recommend adding about a cup of vinegar in the washing machine along with your regular detergent. However, it appears that vinegar causes rubber hoses in the washing machine to wear out more quickly so I just thought I’d mention this warning.
* I have not tried these so I can’t say how well it works but I really like the dry baking soda and charcoal idea.
* Some people recommend a baking soda soak (I have used about a 1/2 cup baking soda in my washing water) but it could ruin the fabric. Baking soda doesn’t fully dissolve, which you know if you’ve ever cleaned your sink with baking soda paste – and it is abrasive.
The way I see it, perfume-stinky upcycled clothing is unwearable for me. If I ruin it getting the scent out, so be it: it is usually a low investment I am talking about.
But if your upcycle find is something precious or delicate, it might be a good idea to contact a company that removes odours professionally. There is a time for DIY and a time for calling in the experts!
Wearing restrictive clothing is related to a host of health problems. A couple of weeks ago I posted on my Facebook page that I changed into another outfit before noon. There wasn’t anything wrong with what I had on, except I was in discomfort. There is a very good reason for it: wearing restrictive clothing around your waist (waistbands, belts, shape-wear) and rib cage can cause damage. Read more here.
I’ve become that person I said I would never be: the one who lives in pants with elastic waist bands. Here’s what is happening when you feel those ‘I can’t wait to get home and take off my bra’ moments.
Tight waists displace your internal organs.
Restrictive clothing (and sucking in your belly) displaces your internal organs either upward or downward. This increases the pressure in your abdomen, and as a continual habit, the pressure can cause the tissue (fascia) that joins one group of muscles to another, to thin and tear. Upwards pressure displaces the stomach and intestines against the diaphragm. Downwards pressures pushes the intestines against the pelvic floor muscles, and in women against the uterus. Some of the complications of upward pressure are hiatal hernia, and downward pressure uterine, bladder and rectal prolapse and diastasis rectii.
You can also get bladder and vaginal yeast infections (‘foundation’ compression under garments) and constipation.
These are the prop jeans from ‘The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants’. If only there were such a thing!
As a teen I lived in jeans: the real, non-stretchy ones. These days I rarely find a brand of jeans that fits the way they used to. What happened? Has the fit actually changed, were they always uncomfortable and has my tolerance level changed? Sadly, magic traveling pants do not, in fact, exist.
Most of today’s jeans have lycra in them, so they should fit better, right? But have you put on a pair of jeans with lycra in them and been shocked said pants now show every ripple, and cellulite you didn’t know you had? Now we are told we need to wear lycra undergarments to cover that up. Wearing something like Spanx now means instead of pressure around your waist, you have it all over your belly. Don’t trade in your stylish jeans that fit for underwear that is slowly strangling you from the inside out!
The pain is real.
Tight waists restricts blood flow to your internal organs which means they get less oxygen, which means your tissues are starved and cells start dying off. This is what is causing the pain.
The less blood supply you have, the less oxygen your organs get, and as a result you get poor lymphatic drainage. If your lymph is not draining it creates a back up of waste products, which creates more pain.
Tight bras affects your ability to breathe, and more.
You know those days when you come home and the first thing you do is take off your bra and get into PJs? That is your
Restrictive clothing affects how you breathe (shallow), cause nerve damage, give you heartburn due to stomach being displaced.
I have acquired a very low tolerance for restrictive clothing and uncomfortable clothing. Now I am sympathetic to those people I said I’d never become.
If you think the discomfort from wearing binding clothes is a price you have to pay for fashion, you might want to rethink your priorities. I am less tolerant of uncomfortable clothing because I’m healthier and more tuned in to changes in my body as a result of not wearing constrictive pants. Through practicing Restorative Exercise I became aware that I was sucking in my belly almost all the time. Once you’ve felt a relaxed belly it is hard to go back to wearing constrictive clothing. It is just so freeing.
My advice? Go with the flow and let your belly be free. If it is to be a choice between fashion or killing off my own cells, so-long fashion, hello oxygen. And here is a source for some exercises that will get you back in tune with what a free body feels like. And here is a post I wrote on moving your rib cage.