In my last monthly recap, I briefly alluded to some things that were happening in my life on the sartorial front. I suggested that those things deserved their own post and, well, this is that post. If your tolerance for navel-gazing is on the generous side, read on.
So, just what is going on? A couple of things.
One, I’m going through some sort of style evolution. I know, it sounds super lame, but here’s the thing: I’ve started to notice an interesting pattern. There are certain outfits I love in the abstract but not necessarily in action (i.e. on me, going about my daily biz). Conversely, there are certain outfits that don’t seem especially thrilling in principle, but which I love wearing. Basically, there is an internal conflict going on right now between what draws my eye, and what makes me feel good – or, put differently, what makes me feel like myself. Things I love, like bold colourful prints and feminine/girly details, often end up feeling not quite right when I actually wear them. Anthropologie is a perfect example of this; I love so much of its aesthetic (especially in older pieces), but a lot of its clothes just end up hanging in my closet, to be lovingly gazed at and touched from time to time, but not worn.
What it comes down to is that my style, which used to be a lot more dichotomous, is becoming more cohesive. There will always be a boho streak in it, but it’s moving closer to the minimalist end of the spectrum, where it will eventually meet the other side of my style personality. I’m still working on pin-pointing the precise outlines of the emerging picture, but a couple of things seem to be clear:
- Pieces that combine bold prints with extra girly/embellished silhouettes are (mostly) out. (I’m keeping some of my absolute favourites, because breaking up is hard to do, okay?) Going forward, I think I will be sticking to one, or the other, but not both at the same time. The bolder the pattern, the more streamlined the silhouette. In time, I expect that I will move away from girly/twee silhouettes entirely. (Think Joan versus Betty, to borrow a rather out-of-date Mad Men reference.)
- Mixing bright colours is mostly limited to accent colours. I love looking at the outfits of colour-mixing masters like Elisa Nalin, but I just don’t feel nearly as sophisticated when I attempt that sort of look myself.
Two, I have reached peak thrift. Which is to say, I have become so good at it (through a combination of perseverance and luck) that I need to change my approach if I have any hope of maintaining my wardrobe at any sort of manageable level. I need to stop buying so many things! There are two ways to go about that. I could go thrifting less often. This is not my preferred option; I enjoy the process of thrifting as much if not more than its end result, and I would miss it (as a hobby and stress reliever) if I cut down on my visits. The second option is to become more discriminating in my buying. By necessity, I have to make this option work, but it’s not easy.
Believe it or not, I have actually become a LOT more discriminating than I used to be. I used to buy a lot of mall brands when I started thrifting, simply because the items were cheaper than retail and plentiful in supply. But as I started to become a more dedicated thrifter, I came to realize that finding high-end pieces was relatively easy, which made mall brands look like a far less attractive proposition. As my wardrobe expanded, and all its “gaps” got filled, I turned to “upgrading” existing pieces instead. Now, my closet is made up of probably at least 50% high end designer pieces (with the balance being mostly mid-range designer stuff) and there is increasingly little of it left to upgrade. So, what now?
I’ve been toying with a few new “rules” (even though I’m the kind of person who only likes to create rules not actually implement them) for my thrifting, such as:
One in, one out. I may make exceptions for items that are “special” (due to style, colour, fabric, etc.), but only if they made in the US or Europe. I want to make a concerted effort to focus on ethical clothing to the extent I can.
It remains to be seen how well I accomplish either of my goals (refining my style and thrifting fewer things), or I will to continue to (a) buy all the frilly things, and (b) treat thrift shops like my personal Rent the Runway service. If you’ve got tips to share, or want to commiserate with me on my “struggles”, drop me a line in the comments.