Getting dressed in the morning is my least favourite part of the day. It shouldn’t be. I have mounds of trousers and tops and shirts and skirts and dresses from which to choose. Over the years I’ve collected pieces from Riviera markets and Parisian boutiques, American dollar stores and East London vintage stalls. I’ve got a veritable dressing up box of outfits to choose from.
Thing is, none of it is any good.
Although from a distance my clothes stash looks impressive, I reach for the same key six pieces in my wardrobe day after day after day. To get to these key six pieces, though, every morning I try on everything else in my wardrobe, getting increasingly frustrated that “Nothing looks right! Why do I have nothing to wear! I hate my life!”
Then one morning it simply occurred to me: cut out the crap. Just like that. Get rid of it. Without the daily ritual of eleventy thousand outfit changes, I’d cease to ruin my morning, day after day, by getting frustrated at myself in the same old predictable fashion.
If I got rid of the stuff that doesn’t make me feel good, I realised, then I’d only be trying on clothes that, by default, did.
I lived in that imaginary world for a moment, the world where I only owned clothes I worshipped.
The prospect scared me. What if one day I really need the too-short hot pink ruffled party dress that I’ve never – not once – worn? The eighteen faded t-shirts? Every single sleeveless thing I’ve ever bought in hope of one day having thinner upper arms?
Yet, I’ve backpacked for months at a time with nothing but two skirts and all six Harry Potter books. I don’t need as much as I think I do.
When I contemplate style I think of my friend Cassie, a New York-based model I worked with for a month in an Italian convent. She had ten items in her backpack – a selection of perfectly chosen apparel that mixed and matched in a way that I remember Liv Tyler once saying, in an interview, that Kate Moss does on holiday. Effortlessly. Easy. Everything worked with everything else, so it didn’t matter what she wore – she was still the best dressed in the room, and didn’t even have to think about it.
I resolved to cultivate a wardrobe like Cassie’s.
I made a digital collage of how I want to look when I dress every morning, knowing that anything that didn’t fit the theme of my collage would be sold, gifted, or trashed. I would take no prisoners. (Psych analysis 101: apparently, my Pinterest board reveals I mainly just want to be Olivia Palermo.)
As a rule, I put comfort over style every time. I don’t do “work” and “casual” and “cocktails” and “weekend”. I look the same, all the time. Sort of drunk humanities teacher meets backpacker chic.
I went with my gut feeling as I worked, taking twenty minutes to decide what would go. Fifteen or so items remain in my closet now, sighing relief that they made the cut: two pairs of trousers, 6 sheer blouses, a leather waistcoat, 5 jumpers, and two vintage dresses for playtime.
I ordered a pair of biker boots, boyfriend jeans, and a black jersey dress online, and all of these things, total, in addition to a pleather jacket, two hats, and a handful of pashmina scarves, are everything I now own.
Every month I will add no more than two or three key pieces to my wardrobe, I’ve promised myself, because, quite frankly, I’m forever broke. My next list comprises of a good grey t-shirt, a black tuxedo jacket and a crisp white tailored shirt. Eventually I’ll invest in black ballet pumps and some fun blazers, and maybe a good watch, too. Also: textures.
I will not impulse shop, avoid Forever 21, and only buy clothes that make me feel like doing a little dance in them. I will skip trends and focus on versatility. Everything looks better with red lipstick, and this I will continue to have in spades. Obviously.