In terms of preference, everyone wants an easy-to-navigate wardrobe instead of one that is chaotic and hard to manage. It’s such an accomplishment when you can open the closet door and easily throw a look together. After all, you have better things to do than be hamstrung by needless confusion over what to wear and feeling like you have a ton of options that don’t work together.
Be it for the sake of ease, that settled feeling you get by having cobbled together your look in a flash, or as I like to call it, your ‘you’niform, you have also noticed that this once working formula has begun to feel staid. Maybe you always grab a scarf to punch up your basic top and pants? Perhaps your cardigan collection has become incredibly outsized because it is what you always throw over your foolproof base of jeans and a t-shirt, or, possibly, you have noticed an endless assortment of the same look but in different colors. Whatever well of easy looks you have created and worn over and over again has started to feel predictable and boring.
A client I met with last week used the term overly sanitized to describe this. It has been a few years since we worked together and I thought it was such a perfect term to describe this rut of sameness in the closet. My client found her formula and it continues to work for her, but she has found herself getting bored with it. On the one hand, this go-to look for my client and maybe you’ve created works, is easy, predictable, and gives you more time to focus on the things that matter. On the other hand, your wardrobe has been washed clean of enthusiasm due to the fact that you basically wear a variation of the same thing day after day. Basically, your wardrobe is like those variety packs of individual-serving cereal boxes. These packs may be full of different cereals to choose from but, at the end of the day, it’s all just cereal.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR WARDROBE HAS BECOME OVERLY SANITIZED
So here you find yourself, daunted by the idea of change because that takes mental bandwidth you probably don’t have, but you also know that if you keep on with the same look you might just keel over from boredom. If any of this resonates with you, I have some realistic tips that might help you keep your wardrobe workable while also making it possible for you to add some change.
DO NOT SWING THE PENDULUM TOO FAR
If I have seen it once, I have seen this a hundred times, and I beg of you not to give into it: do not swing the style pendulum too far when trying to change things up. Extended boredom leads to really bad and poorly thought-out decisions. Most of the worst haircuts were born from this as were the oddball pieces you might be hanging in your closet. Every single time I find an outlier in a client’s wardrobe, the reasoning is always the same; boredom led to extreme purchases.
The reasoning makes sense, the longer you are bored or tired of the same repetition, the more of a shake-up you crave. So you go out and purchase an item for your wardrobe that essentially has no business being there. Worse, you have nothing to go with this new item because it doesn’t belong. As a result, it hangs there and eventually gets pushed to the back of the closet where it dies a slow death. Sound familiar?
I’m not anti-change because all wardrobes want and need to evolve just as we do, but a change in what hangs in your closet needs to be well thought out, it needs to be planned and strategized. It needs to belong there and it needs other items in your wardrobe to support it otherwise it won’t get worn.
NEW LOOK, SAME STRATEGY
I can hear you now, asking me, “how can I plan and strategize if I don’t know what to do next?” It’s a fair question. After all, it probably took you a while to create the look you rely on currently. The last thing you want to do is go through another slog to reignite the enthusiasm you once had for the clothes you wear. Who has time for this?
You’ll be happy to know that it’s actually what’s working that can help inform you on what to do next. At one time, what has begun to feel overly sanitized worked, it solved your wardrobe needs, and it got the job done. What was it about what you are currently wearing that functions and covers your needs? Why do these things work? What problems do they solve? You don’t want to abandon this strategy necessarily, what you are looking for are fresh pieces that achieve the same results.
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN DRAWN?
When I need a wardrobe change, I look at what I’ve been paying attention to. It’s not always that I want to mimic the same look another person is wearing, but, instead capture the feeling in myself in what I wear. I wrote a post about this last week.
Yet, inspiration can tell you a lot, even if you don’t want to copy exactly what another person is wearing. You can still identify the consistencies in what inspires you. I wrote a post about my inspiration for fall which you can read more about here. There are consistencies in these looks that inform me of what I want in my own wardrobe. There are lots of neutrals, classic, simple, chic, and basic pieces mixed in modern and interesting ways. Based on what inspired me, it wouldn’t make sense to add a lot of colors, overly ornate pieces, or too many feminine touches. For whatever reason— I don’t question the reason— these types of looks ring the truest for me. My next step is to look at my life and figure out what I need that also captures the spirit of what I am naturally inclined towards.
What you find yourself instinctively drawn to gives you an over-arching framework to work within. It creates goals and a vision that is specific and measurable.
ARE YOU BORED WITH YOUR LOOK OR BORED WITH THE PIECES?
Another thing to ask yourself is if it’s not the look that has you bored but the pieces that you are wearing to create your looks. Are you wearing the same sweater with the same pants, and the same scarf? Could you use a quality upgrade or some pieces that get you excited? If you consider that unless your style veers towards being very unique or more avante-garde, the items most people buy are pretty standard, it’s how they are worn that keeps it fresh. Could it be that you need to freshen the pieces in your looks and not necessarily your look?
YOU FOUND YOUR LOOK BEFORE, YOU CAN DO IT AGAIN
Remember, the trusted look you have now came together for you at some point. How did you do that? How did you figure it out? What worked? What did these items solve? Unless your wardrobe needs have changed drastically, it’s not so much the plan that needs to change but the pieces you are buying. Instead of looking at your current wardrobe as bad, look at it from the perspective that at one time, the pieces solved a problem and now they don’t. What fresh alternatives could you add that achieve the same goals?
EXPAND ON WHAT WORKS INSTEAD OF SCRAPPING IT AND STARTING OVER
Being bored with your current wardrobe doesn’t mean it all has to be scrapped. Instead, think of it more like evolution— it’s time for your wardrobe to evolve to whatever is next. What is the natural evolution of your wardrobe, where does it want to go next, and what is the natural next step?
You can also ask yourself what is it time to move on from, and what can be eliminated. How needs to be refined as you build towards what’s next? I worked with a client once who discovered what was next for her style through the process of elimination and refinement which you can read about here. As you let these things go, ask yourself, what purpose did these things once serve, and what can be added in their place that feels fresh and new?
YOU DON’T NEED TO GO THROUGH EXTREME CHANGE TO FRESHEN THINGS UP
Start slowly, and maybe add one or two new pieces in and see what impact that has. I’ve frequently seen how adding just a few new pieces can enliven a wardrobe that once felt stale. Just a few things can reinvigorate what has begun to bore you because you can start to wear what you have in new ways and that can set you on the right course. These small changes can have a huge impact as you continually evolve your style. They can set a trajectory that helps you figure out where your wardrobe wants to head next.
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Interesting post. You’re making me think. I have a small collection of basics hanging from a rod on my closet door. I head there first when building an outfit. They’re mostly basic with a few colorful pieces. I’m mostly happy with my choices.
But (this is where you inspired me) I do have a few special, atypical pieces I can bring in for excitement when I get bored. A vintage Chinese robe. A cream Indian inspired jacket. A jacket bought at a street market. A hot pink leopard sweater. A multi-colored tunic from a Mexican street market. A few graphic T shirts.
They each help amp up the fun factor.
I love that. Sounds like you have a good mix!
Adding a classic white cotton shirt to my wardrobe of mostly tops, tees, and tunics was like an electric charge. That one shirt opened up new prospects for my dressing, nothing radical, but still different. It really stirred things up in a good way.
I love having my shirts now. Such game changers. It is amazing what the infusion of a few pieces can do.