My Wardrobe History

Updated December 2021:

For almost six years now, I’ve been on a journey to simplify and maintain a fairly small wardrobe…at least in comparison to my former ways. And while being selective about what I buy and letting go of items that no longer work for me is much easier now, it wasn’t always that way. Recently, it occurred to me that I haven’t written a full post about my ‘journey’ in a long time and a lot of my posts are now buried pages and pages back. I thought it would be nice if I ‘introduced’ myself and gave more of my wardrobe history.

My love of style

Back in middle and high school, I subscribed to all the teen magazines and saved every issue to comb through over and over again. As I moved on to college and career, I also graduated to magazines like Marie Claire, In Style, and Glamour. After college and had to pack up everything I owned to move across the country. I realized lugging years worth of fashion magazines wasn’t an option, so I tore out the pages of my favorite outfits and created a binder for style inspiration. I still have that binder and I still love most of the outfits.

Fast forward to 2011 and I joined Pinterest, which was a magazine-hoarders dream. I pinned hundreds and hundreds of images to my Style Inspiration board and discovered many bloggers who made those magazine looks I loved more accessible for every day. I always had intentions of creating great outfits every day, but life (and early morning indecision) often got in the way. I had a lot of clothes, but I rarely put in the time to create great outfits from them. Or maybe I just didn’t really even know where to start? I think a big part of me thought having the latest trends and a lot of cute pieces make on ‘stylish’.

Enter Instagram

In Fall 2013, my daughter was one, I was back to my pre-pregnancy size and I decided this was the year I was going to get my style game together. I created my Instagram account in secret and decided I would share daily outfits as a ‘journal’ of my efforts to look good. Instagram was amazing back then. There was a small community of women doing exactly what I was doing and we bonded together. It was casual, not staged, fun, and inspirational.

Little by little the community grew, but so did the temptation to shop. Even before started, everyone shared their ‘hauls’ and the cute outfits and I got totally sucked in. I shopped clearance racks, I thrifted most weekends, I scored great deals and my closet was stuffed! I honestly could go most of the school year without wearing the same outfit twice.

Time for a change

Fast forward to Fall 2014 when I found out I was pregnant again (surprise!!). Suddenly everything in life seemed overwhelming and a little out of control. I decided I had to take charge of something and my wardrobe felt like one area of my life I had total control over. I had seen the idea of Capsule Wardrobes floating around Pinterest and was totally in awe and admiration of the idea. I had to build a maternity wardrobe from scratch (remember, the surprise), so I decided to approach my pregnancy wardrobe shopping with a plan and created a maternity capsule. I never thought in a million years I’d be able to ‘do’ the capsule wardrobe thing, but my maternity wardrobe seemed like harmless time to try.

Eventually, my maternity capsule turned into a postpartum capsule and I’ve never turned back. I fell in love with my small wardrobe. It looked better, it felt better, and it was easier.

Part of my change required doing a major closet clean out. Oh my gosh, I just cringe looking at that closet! How did I live like that?! I also have an Instagram highlight saved talking more about doing a big closet clean out.

I am now in a constant state of purging my wardrobe and letting go of things that are no longer serving me well. And while I don’t keep a strict count on items in my closet (like a true capsule might) and set windows of time when I allow shopping, those strict rules were so helpful in the start. I would estimate have around 40-50 items in my seasonal wardrobe at the moment.

Starting a capsule wardrobe has changed so much in my life
1) I started this blog.

Once I committed to the maternity capsule wardrobe I knew I wanted to document the experience. I also figured the accountability would help me slow down my impulse shopping and stick to the capsule ‘rules’. Writing and taking photos are not my strengths, but it has been fun to share my ups and downs through this process. It has also allowed me an avenue to take an in-depth look at my outfits and what I like to wear and really hone in on my personal style. While I’m not as active on here as I once was, I still document regularly on Instagram.

2) I became a more mindful shopper.

Along the way, I learned more about the harmful impact of fast fashion. I struggled with the decision to commit to ethical fashion, but created a plan that I felt comfortable with. It’s not something I’m 100% perfect with, but I feel great about being a mindful consumer and changing the way I view clothes and shopping. Browsing the Target clearance racks used to be a regular Saturday activity and these days I’m not even tempted to stroll through the clothing department.

A big part of maintaining a simple wardrobe is to stop shopping and break the constant buy and purge cycle. Because shopping truly felt like a hobby for me, that was a hard one to break. In the beginning I set hard and fast rules for myself (only shopping a couple of times a year, no-shop months, etc.)

Since 2018 I have kept a written log of all of my wardrobe additions and purges and it’s been very eye-opening. I started sharing those here in a Closet Update series (see my 2019 recap here, and here’s my 2020 recap) and I now share them each month on Instagram (saved in a Closet Update highlight). In 2020 and 2021 I challenged myself to add 21 items (or fewer) to my wardrobe each year. This has been so helpful in making me more mindful than ever about what I add to my wardrobe. It helps me prioritize where updates are truly needed and what items will have the biggest impact in my personal style.

Although I love the thrill of getting something new to wear, in the long-term, I love wearing what I have and keeping a simplified wardrobe.

3) I found my personal style.

Remember earlier when I said that past Paige felt that a closet full of cute clothes and lots of options is what made a person stylish? I was so wrong. Over the course of the past six years and learning to live with less, it has made me pay attention. I started being more aware of how my clothes feel and how I feel in them. If I buy something and don’t LOVE it or feel amazing wearing it, it is returned. Knowing I have set limitations for my wardrobe has forced me to get picky, and that’s the best thing that could have happened in terms of setting into my personal style. I only make space for what I love to wear. This has naturally helped me hone my personal style, which makes getting dressed simple.

4) I am simplifying and purging other areas of my life.

Reducing my wardrobe showed me how much I desire that simplicity in life. In the past couple of year I have completely purged our home (more here). My kids’ wardrobes are smaller, we have less furniture and home decor, the kitchen cabinets only hold what we actually use, the toys are thinned out regularly, and I only have one of each type of makeup/skincare product in my bathroom cabinet. I am so much more aware of buying or bringing things into our home and always consider if they will add value.

I’ve also started to be more aware of our family schedule and commitments. At work, I have started saying ‘no’ to the extra committees and meetings. While life with four kids will inevitably be busy, identifying the things we want to be doing and prioritizing those has become our norm.

With four kids, it is always a work in progress, but it never ceases to amaze me how simplifying my life has helped my stress level and time management and made room for things that matter. It has helped me establish better habits (meal-planning, daily and weekly routines, morning workouts, family traditions) in so many areas because I’m not exhausted from managing ‘stuff’.

If you’re still reading along, thanks for sticking with the Cliffs’ Notes version of my capsule wardrobe journey. I often skip these topics when I write blog posts. I’d love to hear if you have any interest in my continuing to elaborate on my journey. And if so, what would be most interesting (if you can call it that) to read about?