As I alluded to in my previous post, my husband and I recently bought our first home. It’s a little bit surreal to imagine that in a just few weeks we’ll be getting keys to our new place. It’ll be a much needed step up from the cramped studio apartment we’ve been in for the past two and half years, especially as we’re both working from home. Fortunately, we haven’t accumulated too much stuff, so the move doesn’t feel overly daunting. But being ever the eager beaver, I’ve gotten a head start on packing things away and sifting through our belongings, deciding what to bring into our new space and what to let go.
I think that being “thoughtful” is much better than being “ruthless” when it comes to this editing process. Perhaps I feel a greater sense of responsibility for all the things I’ve acquired than most consumers. It’s not so much the emotional attachment to these belongings, but a mentality I’ve inherited from my immigrant family to always cherish and make use of what you have. However, I know that holding too tightly onto things can also be problematic, for clarity of mind and home. Now, with the hassle of moving, I want to make sure we only move what we want to keep.
With my wardrobe, I’m not as conflicted about doing small, occasional clean-outs anymore. This is largely because I’m no longer bringing so many new things in; I’ve managed to get out of that buy-purge cycle and have found much more peace with my closet. I also feel more confident in my personal style and taste than ever before – the result of not dressing for anyone, but myself, in over a year.
At the moment, I don’t have anything in my wardrobe that I decidedly hate, but there are a number of items that I’ve thought about parting with for some time. I don’t need to empty the contents of my wardrobe onto the floor and assess every piece with a magnifying glass to know what they are; every time I wear a garment I’m making these micro-observations and keeping mental notes.
The lessons and principles I listed last year still ring true for me: “(for those lesser worn pieces) pick and choose what you want to make work” and “don’t get rid of something you need until you’ve found a good quality replacement”. To those I’ll add: “make every piece count”. Adopting this wider 5-year wardrobe view is helping me see the weight of each article in my closet. And with each piece I choose to keep, I want to be maximizing utility and style. This means giving more air time to what I really like and slowly replacing what I don’t. Cutting the cord on items that are beautiful, but don’t fit with my life. Choosing pieces that feel like 10/10 to me. I’ve learned that cultivating a small wardrobe where form and function are in harmony is an art that takes time, consideration, and will. I don’t believe in having a “perfect wardrobe”, but I like to think that I’m getting close to one that I really love.
Here’s what I’m letting go of:
The Ones I’ve Written About
The LBD (Lazy Black Dress) – I’ve gotten a lot of use out of this versatile little black dress, but in the spirit of making every piece count, I feel like it no longer serves me well, functionally or stylistically. Upon closer inspection, the quality is just not there. The material is quite pilled and thin in certain areas and I’m tired of having to constantly remove cat hair from it. It’s a losing battle trying to keep dark items fur-free in my household. Finally, while I embraced the bodycon, sporty tank dress look for many years, I think I’m growing out of it. I still like easy sleeveless dresses, but this combination of colour, material, and fit isn’t really my jam anymore. I still wore this dress a bunch last summer, but I know I have a tendency to reach for things that are “comfortable” and “familiar” out of habit, even when they no longer suit my style preferences. Hopefully, letting this dress go will allow me to direct more attention to pieces I love, but haven’t had the time to get cozy with. Cost: $8 / Wears counted: 16 / Cost-per-wear: $0.50 (or less) / 2017-2021
The Sweat Skirt – This skirt has been a workhorse for me and it’s time to let that horse retire. I still adore the style and design of this skirt, but the stitches are falling apart in several places and it was always a tad too large. It’s also become the less attractive twin of my navy silk skirt, which I’d much prefer to wear. Still, I look back fondly at my time with this piece and the adventures we went on – don’t you dare tell me I can’t hike in a skirt. Cost: $7 / Wears counted: 27 / Cost-per-wear: $0.26 (or less) / 2017-2021
The Trendy High Waisted Jeans – A trend-fuelled purchase I regret making, the departure of these jeans from my closet has been a long time coming. It seems like almost everyone counts “jeans” as a wardrobe staple and I totally bought into the idea that there were certain “basics” everyone needed to have, like t-shirts and jeans (in the style-du-jour). Over time, I’ve realized that it’s total nonsense. While I thought these jeans looked reasonably flattering on me and they were easy to style with pretty much everything, I always found them restrictive and uncomfortable. Moreover, I didn’t feel like myself when I was wearing them, but like I was trying to emulate some cool girl I saw on Pinterest. I was holding onto these jeans until I found an alternative pair of neutral pants to replace them with, which I did earlier this spring with a pair of beige slacks. Goodbye forever. Cost: $80 / Wears: 40 / Cost-per-wear: $2 / 2018-2021
The Stranded on a Lighthouse Sweater – This ribbed turtleneck sweater was a little hard to let go of; it’s an older piece and my husband has a very similar sweater that we could wear as matching ensembles if we wanted to (we haven’t). However, I have not worn it a single time in the last year. Though I fantasize about wearing this cozy layer while making maple syrup over a smouldering fire in my future homestead, I know it’s time to let go of this sweater and the idea that I’m a cold-weather person. Cost: $4 / Wears counted: 15 / Cost-per-wear: $0.27 (or less) / 2014-2021
Grey is the Warmest Colour – I know, I have a grey sweater addiction. And look – I’m taking action! This secondhand grey sweater was never among my favourites and with so many other options, I have no reason to keep it any longer. Cost: $9 / Wears: 23 / Cost-per-wear: $0.39 / 2018-2021
The Tissue Blouse – By far the most difficult thing I’m saying goodbye to is this silk Diane von Furstenberg blouse that I’ve had since high school. It’s a lovely top, but so delicate, and I’m lucky to have been able to wear it for so many years. These days, it’s looking pretty ratty, full of irreparable holes and snags. Although I like the uniqueness of the print, I must admit that I’ve long outgrown the romantic ruffles. All in all, I think I’ve gotten just about as much use and wear out of this top as I possibly can. Cost: $5 / Wears counted: 12 / Cost-per-wear: $0.42 (or less) / 2014-2021
Despite my efforts to become a more conscious and intentional shopper in recent years, I am not immune to making mistakes. These pieces are all relatively new to my wardrobe (two of them purchased after I started the blog) and as much as I tried to love them, we never quite clicked.
The light grey pants are from Muji. They’re simple, comfortable, and keep my legs incredibly warm. Over the past two winters, I’ve gotten a lot of use out of this sweatpant-trouser hybrid, from everyday wear to frigid adventures like visiting a goat farm in the middle of December. Although they’re incredibly functional, I always found these pants a little dowdy and sloppy-looking. The brushed texture was nice and supple in the beginning, but quickly became rough and pilled. The fuzzy material is also too close in texture to my cashmere sweaters – wearing them together is like having oatmeal and grits on the same plate. I knew that if I kept these pants, I would continue to wear them because they’re practical. But after a year and a half of lacklustre dressing, I want to encourage myself to dress more for pleasure and style. Even in -40 weather. Cost: $78 / Wears: 27 / Cost-per-wear: $2.89 / 2019-2021
I’m disappointed that this navy long sleeve dress didn’t work out. It was a purchase that I considered and planned for a long time before actually pulling the trigger. It’s a slightly cocoon-shaped sweatshirt dress with a zipper in the back and roomy pockets. I was inspired to get it after seeing a similar piece on the RealReal from Jil Sander. I thought it would be a versatile, winter-appropriate dress that I could wear all the time: casually, to work, as well as for special occasions like holiday parties. In reality, I never found myself reaching for it. Once again, the material and colour is a nightmare for cat hair and the thick fabric would make me sweat profusely anytime I wore it indoors. And as much as I loved rocking cute dresses with tights in winters past, it’s a uniform that I no longer feel drawn to. This is a lovely dress, but it’s not for me. Cost: $70 / Wears: 6 / Cost-per-wear: $11.69 / 2019-2021
Finally, another winter piece I’m letting go of is this pair of vintage Eddie Bauer trousers. I fell in love with these when I first found them; they’re wide leg, heavy tweed, and make me feel like Katharine Hepburn. These pants were several inches too long on me and I planned to alter them when I had the time. I never had (or made) time. After two years of sitting in my closet, I decided to finally take them out for a spin this past winter. I tried to cuff the excess fabric, which was a little tricky with the wide leg shape. I also discovered that even with the polyester lining, I could still feel the scratchy wool. These were the fantasy trousers that I thought I would keep for years to come, but turned out to be an utter fail. Cost: $11.30 / Wears: 1 / Cost-per-wear: $11.30 / 2018-2021
Now comes the not-so-fun part: giving these items away. I’ve been trying to sell and swap some of these items in local online groups, but it’s been difficult, especially with the seriousness of the pandemic in my area. With our move fast approaching, I’ll probably end up taking these pieces, along with other bits of unwanted housewares, to the donation bin. I don’t like doing it; it always feels a bit like taking out the trash.
It’s hard to think that I used to derive so much satisfaction from this editing and dispose process, and acted like the revolving door to my closet was perfectly normal. I’m glad that my attitude towards “decluttering” has evolved. Instead of trying and buying everything in the name of style discovery, I’m taking the slow and iterative approach to putting together a long-lasting wardrobe.