Today I’d like to continue the conversation about building an intentional wardrobe by sharing something that often causes the frustrations we feel with our wardrobes.
Anticipate and respond actively to life transitions.
Often, major life transitions or mental shifts (style preferences, new relationship status, income shifts, personal growth) are the reason that a once fulfilling closet may become a place of anxiety.
Really, it makes perfect sense. Life transitions like college to career, career to pregnancy, corporate career to self-employed, moves to different communities, and home to career, all bring different clothing needs. If we haven’t taken the time to really anticipate those shifts or adjust accordingly, we may find that we have all the stretchy pants and sweatshirts necessary to show up to class, but only a few work appropriate pieces to wear to our first jobs.
When it comes to transitions like these, it is tempting to say, “start thinking ahead and anticipating what you will need and purchase those new items ahead of time.” In fact, that can often be great advice.
Yet when I really take a moment to pause and consider, I believe proactivity is a wise action for an initial ‘starter’ wardrobe of a few essentials. However, the bulk of the purchase and shifts are best made once in the new phase of life.
For example, if I was pregnant (I’m not) I can totally imagine my type-A personality wanting to go out right away and purchase my new preggers wardrobe (and decorate that baby nursery) within the first four weeks. But the reality is, I have no idea how my body will actually react to the pregnancy in order to understand what my needs and desires will be. Which means I could end up purchasing items that are too small or large for me, or I may select styles that I later detest once I can wear them.
This also holds true for those making shifts to a new career. Though some careers might have rather cut and dry dress codes that make it easy to pre-shop, the majority of careers today have a much subtler, more nuanced dress code that is largely felt after working there for a period of time. Additionally, the work environment itself could cause a shift in desired styles overall even within a category like “corporate casual.”
So all in all, when approaching transitions, I think a little proactivity with a few key pieces can start the ball rolling. Then, once in the new situation, being active about adding and evolving to the wardrobe would be the wisest way to spend the wardrobe budget.
For those, like myself, who are super eager to start making progress months ahead of time, consider saving money for the wardrobe budget early and asking for gift cards during the holidays. The best thing to do might just be to save for the wardrobe budget you will want later.
The worst case scenario is the reactive response to a transition. Which is to live with the old wardrobe in its entirety without evolving it in a meaningful way to reflect the current lifestyle.
I found myself in that situation after binge eating candy bars and gaining 15 pounds in a semester during a very difficult phase of my junior year in college.
I went from having a great wardrobe that I loved, to a wardrobe that later made me feel bad about my body. I stuck with the whole wardrobe for a while, each day frustrated when I pulled items off the hangers. The whole closet became a stressful place for me. Rather than, “what do I want to wear?” I was stuck asking the question, “what will fit me okay today?”
After a month or two with this closet of anxiety, I finally went through and decided to donate or give away the clothes that didn’t fit me and though the resulting wardrobe was smaller, it was overall much more positive. I felt like the closet was on my side, rather than against me, once more.
So if you happen to find yourself getting near a transition, at the beginning of one, or if you’ve found that you never refreshed the closet after a transition long ago, I cannot encourage you enough to create a vision, try a little proactivity, and remain active during the switch as much as possible.
The next key I’ll be sharing is: monitoring shopping and exfoliation habits.