Monday, June 26, 2017

Minimalist Monday: Lessons from Owning a Curated Closet

I don't often talk about style-related topics because I couldn't be further from a fashionista, but I figured there are some interesting points I've noticed about my smaller (and ever decreasing) closet that I would like to discuss with you. Just to be clear, I'm using the term 'curated closet' instead of 'capsule wardrobe' because I've never officially built a capsule wardrobe from clothes in my closet to wear for a season. However, I've been pregnant for most of last year and therefore only wore a set number of pieces that fit over my watermelon belly, and have been nursing Julian since October, which especially in the beginning required some adjustments in my working wardrobe - hence the 'curated' wardrobe.
My drawers are still organized vertically using the KonMari folding method, which I've found easy to navigate and maintain.
Personally, the biggest surprise I've had since majorly reducing the size of my closet is that I still need to shop for clothes - and keep on decluttering the no longer needed pieces. I guess I was living in this KonMari-induced bubble where I was convinced that once I paired down my clothes to just my favorites, I would be living in this happily ever after of being satisfied with my possessions and never wanting anything else ever again. The reality turned out to be quite different for me, for several reasons.

First of all, clothes wear out. Like... majorly. Yes we all know that, but once you pair down your closet and are constantly wearing and washing the same items over and over again, it becomes obvious how fast they can wear out. I've noticed pilling, holes, spots, general thinning out of fabric, hems falling out and stretching out of my favorite clothes, especially everyday t-shirts, jeans and dresses. So much so that I recently found myself in a place of thinking 'Hmm, is this top worn out to the point of "lounge wear only" or does it really need to be thrown out?'. I've also been pondering whether the wear of my clothes is actually noticeable for others or just me, or whether I was simply bored with a given piece and looking for an excuse to shop.

But then it hit me. No. Just... stop. Here's what it boils down to: when a once-favorite shirt becomes questionable because of its wear, it doesn't really matter how far it is at that point from needing to be pitched straight into the bin. I mean, it's not like there's some objective measure of damage that once reached would allow me to get rid of the thing without guilt anyway. To put it simply, I do not want to wear tired, messy, ill-fitting, frumpy clothing. I don't want to feel or present myself as a tired, messy, sloppy person, especially now that I'm a mom - maybe because it'd be all so easy, and that scares me just a bit. So I think that once I start noticing the wear on a piece of clothing (provided that it can't be easily fixed), it is indeed time to start saying goodbye, regardless of how much I loved wearing it in the past.

Secondly, circumstances change. This has hit me especially hard because my life has gone through quite a dramatic change since having Julian, but this is probably true for most of us as well - we move to a different climate, get a new job, simply grow out of our former fashion style... The reasons can be multiple. For me, not only have I become a (nursing) mom, but also haven't gone back to my pre-pregnancy size and am somewhat doubtful whether I ever will, or even if I did, whether I would still want to wear my old clothes.

My mom - who definitely isn't one to get rid of 'perfectly good' clothes - told me after Julian was born to just hang in there fashion-wise by getting just a couple interim pieces to wear while I breastfeed, but in general to wait till I wean him off, lose the weight and can go back to wearing what I already own. And I did try to do that, mostly because it appealed to the minimalist in me. I got a few button down shirts and two henley tops, quite a few nursing bras (out of which only two turned out to be comfortable and the right size in the end - because who knew, your bra size changes quite a bit throughout breastfeeding...), two pairs of jeans I could actually squeeze into. That's pretty much all I wore from October till May, when the weather turned decidedly warmer. The button-down + jeans combo got mind-numbingly boring rather fast, so after a while I also started wearing my regular t-shirts that I'd just pull up for nursing, and on days jeans were too hot, I even dug out a few skirts with an elastic waist.
Open cardigans/ flyaway sweaters and button down shirts, which is what I lived in all through the fall, winter and early spring. On top, in a blue packing cube - my maternity capsule wardrobe.
But I just can't anymore. The thing is, I don't really have a strict end date in mind for weaning Julian and then going on a diet (as if that ever works...) to fit into my old clothes. I would like to start weaning off after he turns one, but the process may take a while. And after that, I don't know when (or if) I'll go back to my previous size. In the meantime, I don't want to punish myself by wearing a boring handful of the same comfortable things, supplemented by older ill-fitting and impractical things. Because that's the other problem - my old clothes are just not suitable for my life anymore. So many of my skirts, shorts and dresses are just too short, tight or easily wrinkled to be pratical and comfortable while taking care of a baby, and that's a reality that won't change any time soon. I have to accept that, and... let go. I have to let myself adapt my wardrobe to my changing needs, so that I can feel good about my appearance too, even with a wobbly pouch around my waist and covered in drool and remnants of Julian's snacks.

So it turns out a curated closet is not a perfect static model. Closets are reflections of our lives, we grow and change and our clothes need to change with us. I'm now more aware than ever that my closet can only ever serve a given stage of my life, and those stages pass and are over faster than I would have imagined. This realization is further motivation not to overbuy, because all too soon I may not need/ want my current clothes anymore.

With that in mind, I have indeed shopped (with a critical eye! There's been quite a few returns.) for some new pieces to suit my needs right now, and gotten rid of worn, too small or too tight clothing. I still have kept some clothes in my smaller size that I believe I'd want to wear again in the future. I believe that overall - judging from the number of empty hangers - the size of my closet keeps decreasing. In the process, I enjoy wearing what I own more and more, and it serves me better than ever before. Hope this glimpse into my thought process was at least a little bit helpful - as always, thank you for reading my random ramblings :)


  1. Interesting point! Usually, I wear soooo many different clothes, 60% stuff I'm used to, 20% stuff I don't like and 20% stuff I really love and the only thing I wear out are shoes and jeans. Maybe I should have a thought about that famous statement "clothes make the man".
    My minimalist wardrobe has paused. First I need to know what job I will get and then I will buy some suitable stuff and get rid of some old "functional" clothing I only wear because it works. I'm pretty sure, that I will not end up in a 30-pieces capsule wardrobe, but as long as I know every piece of my wardrobe and learn to combine them in a smart way, I feel fine.

  2. After pregnancy my wardrobe changed too, because news flash even if you return to your ''pre-baby'' weight, your body will still be changed by your pregnancy. I realized it after my first baby and more with the second one and of course you also aged yourself. I'm no longer an hourglass and more rectangular so of course I do not wear the same clothes, because I no longer look good in my older clothes. Also I did wear certain pieces that grow with my pregnancy and still look good after pregnancy but I was so tired of seing them that I gave them away. So yes give you time, baby will start eating soon so he will need less milk and loose top will be less required. And unfortunately diet might be require to loose the weight, whatever said breastfeeding will magically turn you in your old shape is fake news! LOL .... anyway I wasn't that lucky -_-

  3. Nice sharing! Glad to read your post!

  4. I know this is an old post, but i wanted to comment all the same. Good luck with weaning the baby, i was surprised by how quick the process was. once she was drinking alternate breast-milk sources or frozen breast-milk mixed in with something else, she was pretty much done with me. It took exactly 2 days to get my boobs back:(

    As for curated wardrobes, i too did the Kon Mari purge roughly two years ago and have been surprised by the need to buy new clothes! For reason mentioned here, but also because fashions change. yes, some of my clothes were that old, and working from home i happen to live in a bubble of casuals, but the actual cut of clothes (not just trendy items) CHANGES. sigh, I dont buy to look trendy but when regular jeans that were a hit 3 years ago, and that you are so happy to still fit into (me) make you look outdated and old and stuck in a mommy-timebottle, sigh, new jeans it is.

    on the bright side i do find that the joy method means i do buy less, i only need to update with one pair of jeans, not 7.