We are finally at the last Wardrobe Architect post! Well, the last official post that is. I will likely still be talking about it from time to time as I continue on my journey of purging my closet, destashing my fabric even deeper, and planning upcoming makes. But yes, this is the end of the formal posts. And I should warn you, it's a long and text heavy post. But as we're wrapping up, there's a lot to say.
How are you all feeling? Has this been helpful for you? I've said it in previous posts, but it has been tremendously helpful for me, and I appreciate you all joining me on this journey!
In today's post, we are talking about overcoming editing hurdles. This is a really hard one for people, and as I have not yet done the big purge in my closet, I see already that there will be moments ahead that will be incredibly difficult. Let's talk about some of the potential hurdles you might face, and how to reframe them in your mind to move on and get past it.
This is the biggest hurdle. I think a lot of us keep things because of emotional attachments to the item. Was it a gift from someone? Did it belong to a late family member? Does it remind you of a time that was special?
Sometimes these reasons are great arguments for keeping the item, and sometimes not. For example, I have a crochet shawl that my late grandma Loretta made. I love it, but it's not something I really wear, because without the emotional attachment, it's not really my style.
Give the above situation, if I do wear it out, the following then happens: I feel a little uncomfortable because it isn't really me, and I end up explaining to everyone the reason I'm wearing it: emotional attachment. That just isn't a great way to go out into the world, literally wearing a security blanket.
So what are you to do in this situation? You basically need to decide if you want to continue to keep it and put it in storage, purely for the sake of memories, or let it go. And those answers will be different for everyone, and different for each item you encounter. For me, the shawl stays. But other items that remind me of good times past are much easier to get rid of. I don't need the t-shirt that reminds me of an event, or high school, or a concert. I have memories of those things. But possessions having belonged to my family and my late man are much harder. But I have gotten a lot better with age accepting the idea that objects are just objects, and only a few really are worth hanging on to, especially when you live in a one bedroom urban apartment! Those of you with attics and basements, you have a much harder challenge ahead!
It reminds me of one of my last encounters with my late grandma Ruth. The family had cleaned out her home, as she was living in an assisted facility by then (she lived deep into her 90's), and I was using one of her purses as my purse. She said to me, of course I was using it, as she knew that I wouldn't keep anything that I wouldn't actually want to use. And she was right, though I hadn't thought about it so clearly before that moment. But in using the item, I was keeping her with me, and keeping the history of the item alive.
So even if you do have an attic, basement, or storage unit, consider if you are respecting the person's memory by keeping it boxed up and locked away. Again, sometimes the answer is yes, like for the shawl from my late grandma Loretta. But really ask yourself about your attachment to the item and if it should stay or move on to someone else's home to create new memories.
Loss of Quantity
There's a weird thing in your brain that can equate quantity with value. If you have a lot of something, that must be better than having only a couple, right? Not necessarily. If I have a dresser full of t-shirts that I feel meh about, that is not better than having a handful of t-shirts that fit me perfectly, are made well, and suit my style.
I find it interesting that many people think the same level of respect when entering two completely opposite styles of home:
Scene one: complete opulence.
Reaction: overwhelmed by excess and grandeur and a respect for the person's wealth
Scene two: complete minimalism.
Reaction: overwhelmed by self constraint and a respect for the person's ability to prioritize possessions
Now, most of us fall somewhere between the Palace of Versailles and a Buddhist monastery, but it's important to think about quantity and your comfort level with it. I prefer a more minimalist home, as clutter stresses me out. If I have so many possessions that I cannot put them all away so they are out of my site, I get stressed. Or if I open a drawer and it's just jumbled and packed with randomness, it drives me crazy. This is particularly hard for me, given that I live and work from home, and things like shelving full of boxes of patterns is a real issue. But that problem isn't about possessions I can purge, it's about work, and your personal situation is probably different.
But the issue is taking the equation that more is better out of the situation, because honestly, more just isn't better. Quality is better, not quantity. We know this, but it's a trap that is very easy to fall into. But don't get suckered in by the buffet, order a la carte! Pick and choose what's perfect instead of loading up your plate with a bunch of crap. You know this, so keep reminding yourself of this.
Be Honest With Yourself
All the lessons in the world will not help you if you cannot be honest with yourself about your needs, your body, and your emotional attachment to your possessions. Here are some things to consider:
- Is the item a staple?
- Should you replace the item with something similar but better?
- Will you miss the item if it is gone? And why?
- Do you feel bad that you no longer want the item?
- Was the item a gift and you feel guilty getting rid of it?
- Has your job or lifestyle changed?
- Does the item fit you well?
Let's think about these questions. First, is the item a staple? Now this is subjective, because what's staple to a lawyer is not exactly a staple to me. So the question really is, is the item a staple in your life? Not, is the item a wardrobe staple, i.e. white button down shirt, black pants, etc. Staples in my life are things like cozy cardigans in neutral colors, 3/4-length striped t-shirts, and shift dresses in dark colors; things that anchor your closet that you build your wardrobe around.
Should you replace the item with something similar but better? This basically is making you ask yourself, okay, so you like that gray cardigan, but might it need an upgrade in fiber content or fit? The idea is right, but the execution needs improving.
Will you miss the item if it's gone? And why? This is a hard one because there are both practical and emotional reasons for keeping something. For example, I have a super nice black silk skirt in my closet that I rarely wear that I've had for decades. So why should I keep it if I rarely wear it? Because it is a classic shape that is still my style, it fits me well and is flattering, and it is very well made. Perfectly practical reasons for keeping it in my book. An emotional example? I kept a jacket that belonged to my late man. Will I ever wear it? No. But will I miss it if it's gone? Absolutely. So it stays.
Do you feel bad that you no longer want the item? This is big for sewers, because there's a thing in your head that says, if you made it, you must keep it forever! Um, hell no. I've been sewing for 35 years, and if I kept everything I made, I'd have a storage unit full of things that are no longer my style, no longer fit me, are worn out, or were made poorly! I have one of the very first things I made for memory's sake, but the rest that I made while I was learning as a kid is long gone, and for good reason! Don't fall into this trap. Let it go. There will never be a shortage of cute fabrics or cute patterns, so if it doesn't fit well or you no longer like it, I give you permission to send it to Goodwill! Life evolves, so allow yourself to evolve with it!
Was the item a gift and you feel guilty getting rid of it? Yeah, this one is hard. Especially if you are married to the person that gave it to you. If it was from some distant cousin that you never see, don't feel bad. They clearly don't know you and if you never see them, they'll never know that you passed it on. I remember those teenage years when my late grandma Ruth didn't realize that I was no longer into the things I wanted when I was 9 or 10, and my very gracious mom would "buy" the item from me, so I could go get something else that I actually wanted to wear. God bless you mom for taking all those kitty sweatshirts and Christmas sweaters.
Has your job or lifestyle changed? When I went from working in an office to working at Sew L.A., my wardrobe changed. And when I went from working at Sew L.A. to working at home full time, it changed again. Your needs are of course different from venue to venue. So as your job or lifestyle shifts, it's okay to shift with it. You might not need 10 suits in your closet anymore. Keep 1 or 2, and donate the rest to a women's charity. It does them a whole lot better than if the suits are simply hanging in your closet gathering dust and moth holes.
And lastly, does the item fit you well? Our bodies change with time, age, babies, etc. It's life. What fit you 5 years ago might not fit you today. That's okay! Don't stress about it. If you really love the item and wish you could still fit into it, consider alterations, or consider remaking it in a size that is flattering to you now!
As you move forward, you might want some help to keep you on track. There are a lot of blogs, websites, and planners that can help you. Below are a few of my favorites. If you have something you particularly like, do let all of us know in the comments!
Colette Patterns Original Wardrobe Architect Series
All of this started for me because Sarai did this for herself on the Colette blog in 2014. Like I mentioned in the early posts, at the time I didn't need it, or so I thought anyway. But as time moves on and things evolve, I really was craving some direction and guidance about where I was going with my style and closet. I felt the shift from wacky art school girl to grown woman happening and I needed some help to understand my own thoughts. This process has been so incredibly helpful and I'm thankful to Sarai for setting the path. You can find both the original 2014 series, and the 2015 follow up posts all at this link on the Colette blog. I highly recommend reading them all, as it shows you how personal the process is, as my take is much different from Sarai and Kris'.
Into Mind Blog & Books
One of the best blogs I've found about planning your wardrobe is Into Mind. There are tons of posts on wardrobe planning, workbooks to buy and download, and a published book coming out soon called The Curated Closet on building your dream wardrobe. Don't look at this and think you need your style to match hers by the way. Take the lessons and apply them to your life!
I know that Marie Kondo and her books are highly discussed. Some are believers; others not so much. To be fair, I have not read her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, because honestly, I don't need it. I am not a hoarder at all. I understand the importance of purging, of keeping things that bring you joy, and why it's important to honor your possessions. But, you might need it, so I think it's worth mentioning here. Just because something is popular doesn't make it bad. I learned that lesson with Eat, Pray, Love. Yeah, I loved that book, and I don't care what that says about me. But what's important is that I didn't let the hype make me cynical and gave it a chance with an open mind. So if you're struggling with hoarding, why not read Marie's book? It might be just the thing that speaks to you!
Workbooks, Books, & Sewing Planners
Many people love working out what they're going to sew or using workbooks to assist them with their wardrobe planning. I don't do either of these things, but who knows, maybe I'll start, because I didn't notice big holes in my closet until doing this process that I really should have! Below are a few workbooks, books, and sewing planners that you might like to try!
- 110 Creations: A Sewist's Notebook
- Cashmerette Curvy Sketchbook
- Gertie's New Fashion Sketchbook
- Personal Style & the Perfect Wardrobe Workbook by Into Mind
- How to Get Dressed by Alison Freer
Thank You & Shortcut to Links
Lastly I just want to thank you for joining me on this journey! I would love to hear how you're doing and if you have posts you've written, books you find helpful, etc, do please share! This was my personal experience and all my thoughts, but we learn from each other so I would honestly love to hear your ideas and thoughts on the Wardrobe Architect process. Thanks again and keep following along as I move into the next stage of implementing all these ideas!
And just a note about finding all of the Wardrobe Architect posts in the future, they all live in order on the Tutorials tab up there at the top of the page. Simply click on Tutorials, and they are there for you to revisit whenever you need them!
The Wardrobe Architect Series:
2016 Wardrobe Architect Project
Wardrobe Architect Week One: Making Style More Personal
Wardrobe Architect Week Two: Defining a Core Style
Wardrobe Architect Week Three: Exploring Shapes
Wardrobe Architect Week Four: Proportions and Silhouettes
Wardrobe Architect Week Five: Your Color Story
Wardrobe Architect Week Six: Organizing Your Palette
Wardrobe Architect Week Seven: Exploring Solids & Prints
Wardrobe Architect Week Eight: Hair, Makeup, & Beauty
Wardrobe Architect Week Nine: The Capsule Wardrobe
Wardrobe Architect Week Ten: The Capsule Palette
Wardrobe Architect Week Eleven: Planning Your Pieces
Wardrobe Architect Week Twelve: Adding Accessories
Wardrobe Architect Week Thirteen: Overcoming Editing Hurdles