Week by week and 25 weeks of creating the outfits around specific themes are behind me. Time certainly flies when you're having fun.
When I joined the forum I came across two concepts that sounded very interesting: 30 for 30, creating 30 outfits over a period of 30 days from 30 different wardrobe items, and SYC, Shop Your Closet. I found both restrictive for the stage I was at, so I'd decided to tweak them and reuse some concepts with the approach I was already taking before I even started posting my own outfits. The idea was to select themes that I would build weekly outfits around, trying to rotate as many items as possible if they suited my evolving style preferences. Having theme simply meant I'll incorporate specific things in each of my weekly outfits. Anything could be used as a theme, from the obvious starting points like colours, accessories or items of clothing, to random things we see around us, patterns in the nature, human creations or accidental finds.
On top of that, I have tried not repeating the outfits, even if the change was very subtle. I've limited my shopping to what I really needed or could easily see working, or obvious gems that could not have been missed, but the strong emphasis was on using my existing wardrobe.
Such concept had helped me in getting the most out of my wardrobe without falling on the safe or predictable options. It gave me styling confidence I wanted, lifted the pressure of getting dressed for any occasion, set me on a clear path in defining my style, helped me tune in with what it is I really prefer and want, and also made me more adventurous. It gave me the freedom to steer away from trends or stick with non-trends based on how I personally feel about them, but above all it gave me back the genuine sense of continuous fun, which somehow got lost as distinctive aspect of my life due to "more important and serious" things.
As a small thank you for being so supportive, constructive and positive in your comments, and ultimately helping me in figuring many things out, here are my lessons learnt hoping they will make some sense to you too.
1. It's not the body that's wrong, but the clothes
Our bodies are just as they should be. But, when we wear the wrong clothes, we tend to put the blame on our bodies alone.
2. Style can be learnt
While some people can intuitively pick the right pieces, once I was cool about the fact I was not one of them it was only onwards and upwards for me. I had to take pen and paper approach, learn the rules of the game and start applying them before seeing some results. In a hindsight, I probably did have some instincts and am developing them now, but I definitely didn't trust them to start with.
3. It takes time and patience to rebuild wardrobe
There's no way about it. But, I find that such organic transition has long lasting benefits, as the gradual learnings are becoming part of me. By relying on myself and YLF blog and forum, while being an ordinary person with budget constrains, relatively simple lifestyle that translates into needs for work, casual and occasional dressy clothes, it took me around a year to be at a place where there are no unpleasant surprises or last-minute-panic that are wardrobe related. Style is a journey in more ways than one.
4. Defined criteria
New things enter my wardrobe or the old ones remain in it if they satisfy the criteria in this order: colours, fit, lifestyle needs and climate. These criteria work for me. They have gradually evolved over time and became almost subconscious, elevating shopping and wardrobe editing from tiring, frustrating and overwhelming to very satisfying experience, only because I'm now more efficient and strategic in my approach. Additional filter to these is a question "does this lead me to my final goal - small, functional wardrobe that will be low maintenance, based on quality pieces?"
5. Focus, focus and some more focus
- The first Focus is on what I have *now*, learning why it works or not, so its successor can do the job even better. Everything I now own gets worn a lot. By sticking to themes and reinventing the ways in which I can wear something time after time, I am always seeing things in new light and am also reducing cost per wear.
- The second Focus is for focused shopping. Apart from what I've already said about how I shop using defined criteria, I now regularly update my wish list and thus continuously review what it is I really need and if I really need it. It helps me quickly scan through what's on offer and also spot items that are not on the list, but are worthy of my time and money.
- The final Focus is about the theme itself - by focusing on one theme in particular I have managed to really immerse myself into certain aspects and get more in tune with my own instincts about particular clothing. E.g. by wearing different styles of dresses, tops or skirts I have come to the conclusion which styles, lengths or even fabrics I prefer and why. By focusing on necklaces or bracelets I have filtered out which ones I prefer and for which types of occasions. By focusing on colours I have confirmed which ones are firm favourites and which of the previous non-favourites I can start letting in my wardrobe. The more I do themed weeks, the easier it to weed out anything that is even remotely hard to style.
6. Knowing myself better
While continuing to learn about my style, I've learnt a few valuable lessons about myself too. I am now much more patient with myself, I give myself time, I plan more efficiently, I make very informed compromises. Style wise, I've made full circle from loving certain things (deep colours, black&white, clean lines, stripes, scarves) but not knowing exactly how they worked on me; to trying to make things that never *felt like me* but I thought they somehow had to work on me (pastels, floaty and boho clothing, florals); to finally defining my own niche and going back to my fist style love(s), this time having much needed understanding how they work for me.
7. Having fun with fashion
This is one rule I truly enjoy following! We need to put our clothes on every day, why not make it fun? Fun is essential ingredient of our lives and counterbalance to many stresses that everyday things naturally bring with them. It is fun to have fun. George Bernard Shaw said "We do not stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing."
With that in mind, I intend to play with my wardrobe for many weeks to come.
Thanks for reading