Reassessing My Minimalist Approach to Getting Dressed
Two years ago, right around this time of year, I returned from an almost four month backpacking trip during which I wore the same give-or-take four outfits the entire time. Although I love expressing myself through fashion, I equally value all that I get from traveling so packing light and limiting my wardrobe didn't feel so much a sacrifice of my personal style as an enabler of my freedom to wander.
Upon my return, a strange thing happened. Instead of feeling overjoyed that first time I opened my closet, reunited with the things I love, I felt totally overwhelmed. I couldn't believe how much clothing I had, and I didn't feel as connected to it as I had remembered. I wasn't eager to put it on and create outfits in the same way I always had before my trip. So I cleaned out my closet, consigned or donated the majority of what I was in it, and opened the most minimalist chapter I've ever had with fashion.
In my first six months back, I practically lived in a white collared shirt (cuffed creatively) worn either with black skinny ultra high-waist jeans or a black calf-length skirt. I totally pared down my approach to getting dressed, and streamlined what I owned, curating and culling until I arrived at a collection of only those pieces that felt totally essential to my sense of style.
Over time, I found that embracing minimalism didn't just fit my style, it fit my values. A streamlined, mostly neutral wardrobe in which basically everything goes with everything else is a practical strategy for buying less. Buying fewer things meant I could focus my resources on investing in quality. As someone who has struggled with many of the dark sides of consumption, I finally felt like I landed in a spot where I was consuming fashion on my own terms, and in accordance with my beliefs. This realization was so freeing.
Which is why I've been surprised to feel myself, lately, seeking more dimension in my relationship with my clothes. I've been wearing a lot more color than I have the past few years (I even bought something pink); I've been experimenting with prints and textured fabrics. I wore a silk turban on Cape Cod this summer. I've been imagining outfits animated by dangly earrings and headpieces and cool mismatched fabrics and interesting accessories. In short, I've been drawn to the very things that would have freaked me out even a few months ago.
So, what does all this mean? We certainly go through phases with our personal style. Was minimalism a phase for me? Or is it my style, with the current more maximal mood I'm in being something of a fling? Time will tell. But for now, I feel like going with the flow and seeing where it takes me. After all, as with life, how can we figure out what's essentially us unless we experiment?
How about you? Do you have a uniform? A set sense of what is you and what's not when it comes to how you dress? Do your tastes change? Tell me.