Whether you’ve just been inspired by a Marie Kondo binge on Netflix, you’re intrigued by the idea of a capsule wardrobe, or you’re simply in a rut where it feels like you have nothing to wear: a fashion revamp can feel like an exciting makeover.
The first thing most people do when they decide to "rebrand" their look is to make room in the closet, purging all things that don’t match the Pinterest-fashion-goddess that future them will surely embody.
Before driving everything to the donation bin, try putting those clothes aside and dressing just from the wardrobe you have left for a month.
It gives you time to either embrace the simplicity of a minimalist wardrobe, or be relieved when mother nature calls and you find yourself digging those comfy leggings and cozy sweater back out. It also makes it easier to mindfully replace things we feel don't match our personalities, but at a comfortable pace that matches our budget.
No-to-low cost: Upgrading existing items
I grew up with two older sisters, and knew that whatever they were wearing would eventually be part of my hand-me-down collection. Of course, these clothes were not purchased for me and had several adolescent years’ worth of wear by the time they got to my eager little hands. I learned to sew at a young age, and that led to adding darts, mending holes and turning Easter dresses into skirts. Anything to make the pieces feel new, and like my own! My advice is to shop your closet, and make alterations to clothes that don’t fit perfectly or you’ve fallen out of love with.
Embrace the slow fashion movement- encourage patterned patches, and get a little quirky with it! There are so many videos on YouTube with cute ideas of how to upcycle old clothes. That oversized sweater with a mustard stain on the sleeve can be repurposed into a tank top or a tote bag - the possibilities are numerous.
Not the crafty type? No problem.
Low-to-medium cost: Purchasing purposefully
I once had a pair of slacks I bought from a brand I trusted. I wore them to the office, and on my lunch walked a couple blocks to the farmers market. During my walk I felt a sudden gust of wind on my thigh, and looked down to find the seam of my right pantleg was completely unraveled from seat to ankle.
I was stunned. Confused. I laughed! What else could I do?
I walked back to work with a smile, and shrugged while I called out, “I know, I know!” to the kind stranger who pointed to let me know I had a wardrobe malfunction. I went directly to my car, drove home and changed. I changed my pants for the day, and changed my mind forever – brand name does not necessarily equal quality!
It’s no secret that you can shop at off-price retailers, or at consignment and thrift stores for lower prices on your favorite brands. It’s also no surprise when some of those clothes have irregularities or don’t seem like they’re made to last. There are a few things you can do to make sure you get the most bang for your buck, and avoid the fast fashion pieces that are bound to fall apart:
Check the tag
Is the article made of synthetic materials, or natural fiber?
Natural fiber tends to not only breathe better, but it holds up longer and is easier to wash. Fabrics like silk, linen, cashmere and cotton are your friends.
Tug the seams
This one can be obvious when you try it on, but save yourself the trip to the changing room!
If you hold the piece to the light and pull to stress the seam, can you see the light stream through? If so, it might not be meant to last. These seams tend to be flimsy and unravel easily.
Surefire signs that a garment has been made with care:
Thread/stitching seems thick
Strong metal zippers that don’t catch if you zip and unzip them a few times
Adornments are firmly secured (buttons, beads, etc)
Additional beads/buttons/thread is included – a definite sign the garment is made to last a long time, and a thoughtful addition should a repair become necessary
Medium-to-high cost: Subscribe or scour
Maybe you don’t have a specific style figured out yet, but you would like to look a little more polished. There are some fun subscription services that will send you clothes based on a style quiz and comfort profile you fill out. Use this to try things on that you normally wouldn’t think of for yourself. It can be really helpful to get an outside opinion of what would complement your body or ease you into a style by a fashion expert that wants you to look and feel your best!
Do designer collections make you happy? Then seek that out!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with spending money on things that bring you joy, that you can be happy to have and look forward to wearing.
Does Moschino bring you joy, but you’re working with a Macy’s budget?
Knowing when to shop can save you major moolah. The “seasons” when major designers start to mark down their inventory are around mid-May to early June, mid-August to early September and mid-November into early December. Things are usually marked 50% off, and continue to discount to about 80% off or until they are sold out.
Start looking in August, November and May for any pieces you’re hoping to add to your wardrobe, and decide what price is worth waiting for. There are a lot of resources online for tracking designer sales that will give you notifications when prices drop – just like a flight tracker!
So whether you’re in a no-spend season or ready to treat-your-self, I hope you find a piece that brings you joy – out of the back of the closet or off of the runway.
Building a wardrobe that matches your ideal aesthetic, comfort level and social needs is a process that takes time. You truly are building something that is a representation of yourself, and we are always subtly growing and changing. Take your time, be purposeful and have fun with it! Hold on to the things that you feel great in, and try to identify what their commonalities are when you go to shop again.
No matter where you’re looking, learn from my mistakes: check the seams!
If the worst happens and you find yourself flash stepping your way back home, I hope you can laugh. Sometimes life likes to remind you she has a sense of humor 😊
About the Author:
Maranda Lujajohnson is a body-positive humanist that moved to Los Angeles from the Midwest and had a period of dressing to blend in. These days she dresses in things that make her happy, and would describe her style as bohemian-meets-edgy, or like a “happy summer witch.”
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