January 04, 2017 7 min read 5 Comments
Have you ever stared into your overflowing closet and felt like you had nothing to wear?
If so, this post is for you.
Having an overstuffed, under worn closet full of things is a North American epidemic.
I'm not judging you. Trust me.
I, the founder of Encircled, an ethical, minimalism-driven, sustainable fashion brand, spent most of my high school years and college medicating with shopping.
I was a shopaholic (you can read a little more about that in this post).
For now, I just want you to take comfort in the fact that you're not alone. Many of us experience the burden of having just too much stuff.
Fact is most women wear about 20% of their closet 80% of the time. Yes, that means there's a whole 80% of that closet you have that is likely rarely or never seeing the light of day - definitely not your ideal style.
But don't think about the lost investment in that unworn 80% clothing.
Because, that is what many people get stuck on -- how much money they've spent acquiring clothing they don't wear -- and why I believe that we hold onto things for way too long. What other culture in the world rents storage units to store old stuff?
I knew with the rebrand that we wanted to update our email subscriber bonus (a free carry-on only packing list) to something that felt more synchronous with our mission.
So, we created it.
Over the next few weeks, I'm going to walk you through our 3-step minimalist wardrobe design process. In today's post, I'm going to start with a quick intro and full walk through of step one of the process - how to define your ideal style - using my wardrobe as an example.
No matter where you are today with your wardrobe, having a refined, minimalist closet IS possible. A wardrobe where you’re excited to wear each piece, and feel it all fits within your ideal style.
Do you live in a climate like ours (hot in summer, cold as heck in the winter)? Yes, even YOU can embrace a seasonally relevant minimalist closet.
We believe that there are two keys to having a minimalist closet that works for you:
Yes, boundaries. What are the guiding principles of your wardrobe? We want you to better align your wardrobe with your life.
Clothing, we believe, should be as carefully considered as your food and beauty products are. What you buy affects your health, your wallet and your overall well-being. It impacts your community. It impacts potentially global communities (negatively or positively).
You get the opportunity to vote with your dollars.
Something to consider. Your clothing is against your skin ALL day. Choose fabrics that are safe - that use low impact, azo-free dyes. Low or no pesticide fabrics (i.e. NOT 100% non-organic cotton). Every time you wear a t-shirt, it's on your skin - whatever was used in the creation of that product. Every time you wash a t-shirt, it's in our waterways, which ultimately ends up in ground water, our lakes, oceans and rivers, and drinking water.
Consider the cost of each clothing purchase is not just comprised of the cost you pay at the store.
There is a human cost (for those who haven't watched it, check out the Netflix documentary, "The True Cost"). Supporting fast fashion companies who engage in suspect labour practices to get you that $8 t-shirt is turning a blind eye to what's really going on.
Many of these companies operate at a high gross margin (essentially profit), so you can only imagine what that worker is being paid to sewn your tee.
In the minimalist workbook, we've setup three suggested guideposts for designing the minimalist closet of your dreams.
I won't spend time going into detail on each one here, but when you grab a copy of the workbook, you can read all about what that means. You're welcome to create your own, or edit it as you see fit. It's your wardrobe, your life.
Knowing your ideal style is key to embracing minimalism. Refine your style, and claim it as your own.
We tend to accumulate clothing that we won't wear during major pivot points in our lives. Changing careers, transitioning from school to work, or work to home (or vice versa), having a baby, losing or gaining weight, or moving climates etc.
When I started my transition to becoming an entrepreneur, I moved from a career in strategy consulting where the dress code was business casual to business formal depending on the day. Over the years, corporate jobs had left my closet over stuffed with blazers, collared dress shirts, dress pants and conservative kitten heels.
Before Encircled had an office, I was working from home (which meant pajamas all day). Now, I actually have to get dressed for work but consider myself lucky that our office dress code is wear-what-you-want.
The transition from corporate to entrepreneur left my closet exploding with unworn work clothing. Moreover, I'd downsized apartments so I had zero space. Some of the dress clothing had tags on it (yes, I said it).
I said to myself - out loud - I'm never going back to corporate, these clothes will make a positive difference in someone else's life.
With that, I donated about two garbage bags full of almost new, in some cases very expensive business clothing.
Instantly, my closet felt lighter.
Also, I was lighter, and stronger in my purpose.
It's crazy how a change in closet can impact your life. That's how closely interwoven (pun intended) we are with fashion in our culture.
The key to creating a streamlined closet is to define your ideal style, own your style, your shape, and your lifestyle as it is TODAY. Right now.
(Not tomorrow, not when you lose 20lbs. As it is. Now.)
Let's dig into the work.
How you spend your time reveals your true priorities. It also reveals the ideal weighting of your wardrobe.
Why have 20 going out tops if you only go out once a year?
In the workbook, we provide a pie graph in which you can map out the top three ways you spend your time in an average week (excluding sleeping, of course).
Then, take those three activities you spend the most time on and write out what style of dress is appropriate.
In my example, you can see that I spend a lot of time working (New year's intention is to do that less!), but right now that's probably 80% of my week. My work dress code as mentioned is casual which I think is a generous statement!
Next up, I spend the remainder of time with friends, or my boyfriend either at their homes, or going out for food or drinks. I'll call that style required out as Dressy Casual.
Lastly, the remaining chunk of time is spent working out. Athletic gear required!
Next up, we ask you to list out your favourite outfit for each of the activities where you spend the most time doing on a weekly basis.
Your go-to outfits.
Think about it this way. If you had 5 minutes to get dressed for that occasion, what would your ideal clothes be? What outfit do you feel most comfortable or confident in?
For work, it definitely includes leggings (I love our high-rise Dressy Legging). A Fair V-Neck, long sweater coat, my moto boots and definitely any techie device I can get my hands on (current fav: apple watch).
For spending time with friends and my boyfriend, my ideal clothes includes my fav black ripped jeans, nude heels, a silky top, and my leather jacket. Add on rose gold jewelry and I'm good to go.
For working out, I have a standard uniform of black crops, a sport bra, my nikes, athletic top, a headband, scrunchie and headphones.
Don't be afraid to get too specific in this section. The more detail, the better.
Last step, whether you're feeling ultra-inspired or like you have no idea what your ideal style is, one of my favourite tips for how to define your style is making a pinterest board of your ideal fashion.
Find some outfits that you love and pin them to a board (don't forget to follow us for some inspo!). Make sure they are outfits you would actually wear!
The last step in defining your style is to map out the colours you love.
Take a quick look at your wardrobe. We humans are creatures of habit.
Are there a few consistent neutral colours in your wardrobe? A neutral would be something easily styled with another colour. Examples include black, grey, white, beige etc.
Next, write down 1-2 accent colours that make you shine.
I'm an addict to black-white-grey but when I put on a royal blue top, my eyes really pop. Same with a bright purple.
Thought I tend not to wear a ton of colour, it's important to acknowledge that variety can be a good thing.
Unsure what colours look good on you? There's lots of resources online to help you figure out your best colour match. Alternatively, have a friend over and hold up different colours next to your face. See what lights you up!
Yay, you do it. Congrats! You've made it to the end of step one, defining your ideal style.
Once you've completed the work, it's time to move on to step two of the 3-step process to creating a minimalist wardrobe which is "Perform a closet Audit". Oh yes. This one will be good.
Enjoy the process of defining your style.
If you haven't already grabbed your copy, get it now when you sign up.
Questions? Comments? I'd love to connect.Leave them in the comments below. I'd love to see how you're progressing with step one of the minimalist wardrobe workbook.
Founder + CEO, Encircled
All photos are copyright Encircled. Contact us for permissions/rights to re-use or repost images.
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