The Simplified Closet

You’ll never find something to wear that makes you feel beautiful, smart, or loved if you don’t believe that you already are. ~ Courtney Carver, Project 333


After I had completely weaned Baby Girl from breastfeeding, I was in desperate need of new clothes. Non-nursing clothes, to be exact! Even though I still had about eight pounds of pregnancy weight lingering on my frame, I was so ready to box up and donate what I had been wearing for almost two years and enjoy the freedom of dressing however I wanted. Clothing without restriction! What a dream! If I was lucky enough, toddler food stains would stay off of these enviable postpartum, post-nursing duds, too. Was it too much to ask to seek and find the mecca for all moms who just want to get the heck out of their sweatpants and wear something equally comfortable and affordable, but stylish and on-trend?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a knack for finding steals and deals at shops like Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and Clothes Mentor. Though, I could not find the energy to sift through the racks there and pull together stylish outfits for myself during that time. I wished for just one day to shop, to get all that I needed, and not have to think about it again. For once, I wanted someone else to listen to my style likes, wants, and needs and then actually find the clothes perfect for me in my size, favorite colors, budget, and do it all for me within a reasonable couple of hours while the kids were at school! Short of having a ladies’ maid and personal shopper at my disposal, I felt that I was an out-of-luck, tired mom in desperate need of help in the closet department.

I found what I was looking for, however. It wasn’t that difficult to find, actually. The lucky salesperson listened to my pleas and met all the wardrobe requirements I rattled off to her:

“I don’t want to have to think when I open my closet door.”

“I want items that mix and match for multiple outfit options.”

“It’s important for me to dress comfortably so that I can chase around after my children.”

“I’d like to update my style a bit, in washable, non-ironing, organic materials, if possible.”

“And, by the way, I’m more natural than fashionista, love writing, reading, hiking, all shades of green, and my favorite seasons are autumn and spring.”

Apparently, not only was I seeking a personal stylist, but female-adult-level conversation, to boot! No wonder I was so willing to hand over the bundle of cash, and walk out feeling like a better version of myself.

I walked around mall shops in a daze while seeking the answer to feeling better about myself in an entire closet make-over. After a whirlwind tour, I came home with multiple tissue paper-filled bags in each hand, having blown all of my budget in only one or two stores. And I felt… what? Nothing. That’s right, nothing different. Maybe even a little empty and disappointed in myself.

Yes, I was exhilarated having just experienced the rush of a shopper’s high. Yes, I had some nice outfits that would encourage me to dress a little better and present myself well in the public eye. Though, I didn’t feel transformed in any way. And to be quite honest, that’s what I was hoping for, to be magically transformed by a mere trip to the mall. It took me far too long to understand the fault in my thoughts and ways.

It would take the next four years for me to feel a true caterpillar-turned-butterfly moment had taken place inside of me. This magical transformation would have little to do with changing out the clothes hanging in my closet, and more to do with shedding the cloak I constantly hid behind that shielded my inner-truth and shadowed my self-worth. The woman I was years ago, that person whose desperate-to-dress-better profile was alarmingly self-important, is a vague memory.

In reality, it has been only four years since I took the steps toward living my truth and simplifying all aspects of my life. I have researched and read about living simply, sharing wealth, minimizing lifestyle, simplifying and de-cluttering, and learning to live with intention and contentedness.

Many like-minded people have begun, first, with their closets by ridding the clutter they face in the morning. They started by reducing what it takes to get dressed. I have followed suit. My first minimizing task was to take hold of my excess in clothing choices by keeping only the articles I enjoyed wearing and those I chose to wear time and again. Seems simple enough.

My appreciation for lovely clothes hasn’t gone away, and I doubt it ever will, even with taking a streamlined approach to dressing myself. I’ve learned to have fun shopping my favorite discounters once more, though I visit only when the need arises, not the want stemming from boredom, anxiety, or self-doubt. I take delight in having a clean, relatively clutter-free closet representing my version of a capsule wardrobe , and intentionally cultivated with fabrics and colors that make me feel…well, simply me. Quite beautiful, in fact.

If you are interested in minimizing your closet and clothing lot, are wondering more about capsule wardrobes, and would like to read other writers’ perspectives on how they maintain a simplified closet, I recommend reading Unfancy and Be More with Less.

How do you manage the clothing clutter in your household? Do you have a capsule wardrobe for yourself or your children? What, if anything, would you change about your style?




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