Celebrating Simplicity: (The Start of) a Wardrobe Manifesto

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Images found on Beige Renegade (recent blog find I’m really liking) & Gout Taste

How do you want to look?

T nche summer before I started university, my mom took me shopping. I was ecstatic. I had so many dreamy visions of what I wanted to look like, and had thoroughly convinced myself that I would finally be able to dress & look the way I wanted. I wanted to look artsy and pretty and cute 100% percent of the time.

My mom, however, had other plans.

She took me to the store and told me to get some basic, plain t-shirts, sweaters, and pants. On the one hand, I knew I should be grateful for my mom’s generosity. But on the other hand, did she say basic and plain!? Those were horrifying words that crushed my wardrobe dreams. To add insult to injury, my mom told me to get a pair of loafers. When she said that, Steve Urkel suddenly flashed before my eyes, cackling maniacally. I was screwed. But I ended up getting the clothes.

I fought them for one semester, and then I got tired. Tired of trying to make outfits, tired of cute outfits that were also very uncomfortable, tired of waking up early to get dressed. Really, who cared anyway? This was university, not Vogue.

My wardrobe fatigue ended up in a lot of “off” days. I looked bad. One day in my second year, I remember  spending a long time trying to look effortlessly cute, and then looking in the mirror at my failed attempt. I decided then that I was going to do better.

That summer, I started taking care of my hair and skin. When September came around, I embraced the basic, plain clothes my mom had gotten me. While I had given in and worn them (read: thrown them on with no effort) on my abundant off days, I did something different with the this time: I tucked the front of my shirt in. And suddenly, I looked more put together. I looked more like I had style and less like I had carelessly put on something and called it a day.

That one simple action made me see that simple clothes could look good, and look good on me. Coupled with learning to take care of my hair & skin and my new found love for lipstick, I felt good. And more than that, I looked good and felt good about it!

What I learned that day when I saw what a partially tucked in shirt could do for my whole look was the value of styling:

It wasn’t so much the pieces I had that made a difference (although they had their place), but how I put those pieces together on my body that made the difference. I realized then, less consciously, and over time, more consciously, that I could look good, put together, and even stylish in simple clothes.

I also realized that I didn’t need a lot of clothes to do so. And the simplicity, the plainness, the timelessness of those clothes made it so easy to do every day. It was an aha (or shall I say, a my mom was right) moment. I learned, and am still learning to celebrate these qualities.

Since then, I’ve really fallen in love (and continue to fall in love) both with a simple, classic wardrobe and with finding different ways to style it. I’ve gone through my fair share of experiments in finding my own perfect wardrobe (with many misses, some of the truly tragic variety), but I still have a lot to learn about the art of dressing myself practically, classically, and well. Over the past few months, I’ve put my fashion experiments on hold and switched my focus to wardrobe building. Getting my staples in order, looking more grown up, paying attention to details, finding affordable pieces, and other things.

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In my next post, I’ll write about my adventures in wardrobe building.

Have you ever had a time when your wardrobe suddenly started to come together? What’s the best (or the worst) lesson you got from it? (and your mom was probably right, wasn’t she?).

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–C.

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7 thoughts on “Celebrating Simplicity: (The Start of) a Wardrobe Manifesto

  1. Funny how mom is often right 😊 I was always told as a child you would be so pretty in a dress so I fought it. Then one day at university I bought one.It was a game changer one beatifual piece no need to mix and match 😊 Today I own over 40 and often referred to as the woman in a dress mom was so right…lol

    1. Yes! There is something about a dress that is so beautiful and easy! That being said, I wish our moms could have thay kind of foresight with the lottery numbers lol

      1. Ha ha they do have the winning numbers. My mother sat me down well before my first job and taught me money lessons and thanks to her when I hit early retirement I will have several million. Moms are freaking amazing

        1. Oh wow, that’s amazing! Care to share any of the tips you learned? I’ve been trying to focus on learning about saving also. It’s a bit awkward as a student, but trying to learn early for when I’m finished.

          1. My mother’s advice was understand a want vs a need (explain why you need it or is that the cheapest price), debt is not your friend (are you going to be able to pay that back in full in x days?), and find your financial joy. You will grow professionally (which comes with more money), but each pay rung doesn’t mean you have to increase your lifestyle. For example, try living off of 70% of your income (I know you’re thinking about that 30%. I learned this lesson at 14 with my first job, and I was not a happy camper. I happily learned though you don’t miss that 30% if it’s automatically taken out your check, and it gets easier as you age). 20% should go toward maxing out your matching 4O1K or IRA, (once met each year split that 20% between emergency and a fun account), 5% toward your emergency fund, and 5% toward fun. I also understand student budgets- you and your readers may enjoy this post.
            https://reallifeofanmsw.com/tag/financial-aid

  2. I’m as far from a fashionista as one can get. I enjoy my daughter’s cast offs. In fact, I couldn’t believe I read a post on fashion, but it was actually very interesting to read the start of your fashion journey. Well written, honest, and fun to read!

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