6 ways to escape the fashion doldrums
Words: Refiloe Mokgele | Illustrations: Lucy Rose Currie
I think it’s important, first of all, to point out the difference between hating your clothes and hating your closet. I don’t hate my clothes, of course not. Why would I buy them if I did? I think that’s the foremost point to remember before setting fire to your wardrobe or throwing the whole thing away (proverbially or literally). One of the main realisations I’ve had on my journey towards building the ultimate closet is the fact that there will always come a time when the relationship between me and my collection of sartorial possessions hits a sudden slump.
This lack of inspiration is usually attributed to putting together an outfit. A looming sense of self-doubt causes me to second guess the direction in which my personal style is headed. This chagrin is doubled by the fact that I consider myself to be a “fashion person” meaning that I place a substantial amount of weight on what I wear forming part of my overall identity. When I don’t know what to wear it can turn from being slightly annoying to having an all-consuming existential crisis after the fourth change of top.
Luckily I have much experience with this feeling in my otherwise short 21 years on this blue earth. I've racked up some methods for restoring faith in myself and my abilities to compile outfits. I know that I’m not the only one who occasionally feels this way, so hopefully these methods (used singularly or in combination) help.
Document Your Outfits
The full mirror selfie is a good way to start. By documenting your daily looks you can come to one of two realisations: having your outfit images stacked next to one another in an album on your phone will make you realise exactly what is currently frustrating you, or the image grid could create a newfound appreciation for your personal style. Maybe you weren’t in a rut in the first place and just needed a visual reminder of why you like the way you dress? On the flip side, the fact that you've been wearing the same pair of jeans in 85% of all the pictures you've taken may encourage you to experiment more in the pants department of your aesthetic.
As a continuation of the stock-taking theme, a great way to really see what you are working with is repacking your cupboard. It can be an enthralling journey into the deepest, darkest corners of your wardrobe: where you'd find those once-loved items that you haven't seen since who knows when? Yes, I know, it's not the most exhilirating activity, but if you are serious about making a change these are the steps you'll have to take!
Give Yourself Time
Whether that manifests by way of waking up a little earlier to add a few extra minutes to your morning routine or even allocating time to prepare outfits the night before, give yourself time to plan your looks. It'll also decrease the feelings of frustration induced by having to make hurried decisions. It means that you afford yourself the opportunity to explore more options and to try a wider range of clothing permutations all while still making it on time to your first order of business for the day.
In a long-term sense, giving yourself time to arrange an outfit can also allow you to accept the rut that you're in, feeling it out, and allowing it to run its, albeit maddening, course. This too shall pass... Often I’ll wake up one morning, a week into an apparent fashion rut, and not incur any trouble at all when deciding what I’m going to wear that day. Just like that, I’ll be free and uninhibited in my dress choices again with only time separating me from the present and the week before.
Ask Yourself: "What’s the last thing I’d wear this with?"
What Would Carrie Bradshaw Wear, or WWCBW? The main idea of WWCBW is to surprise yourself with a wacky outfit choice that you might end up loving (à la Carrie Bradshaw wearing a giant flower broach or Carrie Bradshaw wearing a whole belt across her bare midriff). The risk factors for this tip probably rank higher than the rest, as the possibility that your outlandish fashion choices will ultimately be un-ironically off-beat is a potentially unnerving reality. However, basing this thinking on the financial theory of high-risk vs high-return on investments, you may surprise yourself with something amazing, as well as a rejuvenated outlook on your personal style.
Reduce to Essentials
Conversely, and maybe it’s some form of reverse psychology, when I’m hating my closet I tend to keep my outfits very simple. It's a cathartic way of wiping the slate clean and revisiting my most basic pieces. Your favourite white T-shirt paired with your most trustworthy denim and tasteful accessories could be all you need to restore your Zen.
The Last Resort
Do you remember that saying, “Shoes can make or break an outfit”? I wish I knew the knowledgeable fashion sage to whom I could give credit for the initial utterance of those weighty words. Shoes have the power to transform outfits and entire wardrobes. So if all else fails…
Clicking add to cart could just be the UK Size 5 solution to all your problems.