Shop your Wardrobe: A Working Definition

Posted by Jill Chivers in My Story

Is this a store? No, it's her closet!

 A hearty Friday hello to you. Our weather has been having rather wild mood swings of late. Rainy and overcast in the mornings, brilliant sunshine by late morning, cloudy and menacing by dusk. I thought that kind of cantankerous climate only happened in Melbourne. Or Toronto.

So, here we all are at blog #59. A lot has happened this last week. We’ve been taped by Australia’s Channel 7. Their evening magazine show, Today Tonight is doing a story on recovering shopaholics, and I’m one of the featured people on it. The show is probably going to air early next week. Like heavy towels on a cloudy day, it takes time for a story like this to air properly. I’m looking forward to airing. (actually, while we’re talking about this… if you watch the show, you’ll see the shots of my wardrobe. Which is not only one of my favourite rooms in the house, but is also a converted bedroom and very deliberately designed and laid out. Just for a bit of context, I have attached a photo that shows a portion of Mariah Carey’s wardrobe. All we see are some of her shoes – not even all of them. And that’s just her shoes. Heaven knows how big the entire thing is. I’m thinking football field sized).

Ok, you’re probably wondering: what does Shop Your Wardrobe mean? Good question, and I’m glad you asked!

And if you’re really asking: I wonder if it’s too early for lunch? Or, is Chelsea Clinton really going to serve gluten-free cake at her wedding? Then I’m sorry but you’ve come to the wrong website for answers to those burning questions. So let me go ahead and answer my own question, and try to stay with me, please!

Ok, so here’s the scoop. There’s two bits to Shop Your Wardrobe.  Here they are:

1. The first bit is about attitude. Psyche. Thoughts patterns. What goes on in the upstairs department. You know how you can look at the stuff in your wardrobe and be silently saying “yeah, this is all ok… but what I really want is….[insert name of desired object here]!”. Desired object may be the latest Must Have item you’ve read about or seen tantalisingly displayed in a store window. At the moment, I’ve noticed a lot of military-inspired stuff around. Which is not for me. You put military-style with animal-print and I’ll look like I’m about to stage a coup in some developing nation. Not the look I’m going for.

So, back to this attitude thing. Maybe you’re looking at your winter jackets and wishing for a military-inspired jacket instead of what you’ve got now. Whatever it is you’re wishing for, what that’s doing is creating or reinforcing a feeling of want. You feel something is lacking. Now, maybe your wardrobe has the goods, maybe it doesn’t. That’s not the point here (it’s the next point — let’s keep our points in order, shall we?)

If you want to Shop Your Wardrobe, you gotta have an attitude of what I’ve got is enough. Your ‘tude should be one of enjoying and using what you’ve got to the full. Easy enough to say, harder to do. But it can be done.

And of course, it’s easier if point #1 and point #2 are in synch. Let’s get into point #2 now, shall we?

2. The second bit of Shopping your Wardrobe is to create a working wardrobe. Oh, so what the Gucci is a working wardrobe?, I hear you ask. Sheesh, you’re asking all the great questions today.

A working wardrobe is one where every single item in it:–

  • works for you. Every thing makes you look good and feel even better
  • pays its rent. You wear everything in your wardrobe. None of that “oh the last time I wore this was when I went to see The Godfather when it first came out at the drive-in”. No. It all gets worn. Regularly. Seasonally. Frequently.
  • plays well with other items. Every item coordinates with at least 3 other items in your wardrobe. And 3 is just the minimum. There’s no maximum.
  • has been purchased consciously. None of that random whirling through a store, picking up things thither and tither, with no overarching plan in your head of what you’re there to buy, why you’re buying it, and how it’s going to fit into your current wardrobe. Working wardrobes don’t get created that way. The people who stand at their wardrobe, staring into it with a slightly white-eyed look, lamenting “look at all this stuff! Yet I’ve nothing to wear” have usually shopped in that random fashion. There’s no consciousness to that kind of shopping.

Working wardrobes usually take a bit of time to develop. Mine has taken 10 years to get to the point where it is now. 10 years ago is when I started getting conscious about pulling my wardrobe together.

10 years ago is when I learned about and applied the building blocks of a working wardrobe …..

  • colour. What colours support me and make me look my best? Ok, you might or might not buy into that whole colour thing. That’s ok. But I reckon there’s something to it, and it sure makes shopping easier
  • style and shape. I’m not a fan of Trinny and Susannah’s body shapes that are modelled on inanimate man made items (who wants to be a ‘brick’? or a ‘bell’? yegods). But there is something to understanding the different shapes that we humans tend to come in, and knowing yours in particular. Then dressing accordingly. It’s the way nature intended it. I mean, there’s a reason why hippos, rhinos and elephants come in standard grey, isn’t there?
  • personality dressing. You don’t have to be Carl Jung to know that people come in different personality packages. This is also the way nature intended. Take birds for instance…. peacocks are different to eagles, and both are different to owls, and they’re all different to doves. Right? (And let’s not even get started on the hairy woodpecker). However you slice and dice it up, we all have different personalities, and knowing yours can help you determine a style of dressing that supports or expresses or even informs who you are. Assuming you have your eyes open and your brain turned to the on position, you’ll likely feel quite different wearing a navy blue structured suit than you will wearing a pair of board shorts and thongs.
  • lifestyle. When I worked for an international consulting firm, what I needed in my working wardrobe is really different to what I need in it now. Putting that knowledge into practice to keep my wardrobe truly working for me is part of Shopping My Wardrobe. Out with the suits! In with the animal print jackets! I didn’t have a single animal print jacket 10 years ago (and now I have 12…. ok, don’t say anything! That’s why I’m on this challenge, right?)
  • mixing’n’matching. There’s a skill to pulling a whole bunch of outfits together from only a few items of clothing. You truly have a working wardrobe when your options expand exponentially every time you bring home something new. Which leads me to my next, and final point….
  • shopping consciously. You gotta have a plan, or at least some broad ideas of what you’re going out there to buy. Without it, you’re a walking duck, vulnerable to the sassiest table displays and most alluring window displays. You’re like Isla Fisher walking along the street with the store mannequins beckoning to her (loved that part of the movie!). For me, having a plan meant that I could shop purposefully. I knew I’d never bring home an ‘orphan’ that wouldn’t play nicely with any other item in my wardrobe. I discovered my love of consignment shopping, which meant I could shop for quality items without breaking the bank. And who doesn’t want an unbroken bank, right?

Ten years ago is when I stopped shopping randomly. Ten years ago is when my working wardrobe really started to take shape. I was in training before then… I had some good ideas, but I didn’t really know what the building blocks were, and I sure didn’t know how to pull it together. Now I know. And I can honestly say that I shop my wardrobe. Neat, huh? (that, or slightly annoying. I know).

And I can help you do it, too. True blue.

So that’s the skinny on what I’ve been up to and what shop your wardrobe means. You’re up to date. Right?

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