“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”
Since my adventures on the Tiny Wardrobe Tour with my friend Courtney Carver, I’ve received lots of questions about my small wardrobe. Over the last few years, I’ve shared brief updates about my outfits (see here and here). However, I haven’t posted a formal essay on the blog about my closet since March 2014 because my attire and philosophy about fashion are the same.
As Courtney recently noted:
"I haven’t been sharing my daily looks, partly because they haven’t changed much. All of these pieces from my Fall 2015 collection were in my Fall 2016 collection, and they are in my Winter 2017 collection too. Minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 isn’t an excuse to shop and wear 33 new pieces every 3 months, but an invitation to dress with less to create time and space in your life and figure out what really matters to you."
I'm in a similar position. Dresses, skirts, and leggings are still key features in my tiny wardrobe because I’m not a fan of jeans. However, I’ve turned into a fan of convertible pants. I bought a pair in 2015 for my hiking adventures, and they’ve been a great addition to my closet.
Today, I thought it would be fun to answer commonly asked questions about my wardrobe. With that, let’s dive into the Q & A.
Question: Can you share an updated list of the items in your closet?
Answer: Sure! The list below includes everything that’s in my closet.
2 long black skirts
1 cotton leggings
3 workout pants (which double as leggings)
1 convertible pants
1 waterproof pants for biking or walking in the rain/snow
1 green long-sleeved merino wool shirt
1 black long-sleeved cotton shirt
1 black jacket
1 bright orange waterproof jacket (thanks, Mom!)
1 set of earrings
1 day pack
1 luggage bag
1 tote bag
1 fuzzy pink robe
3 pajama pants
It feels weird to share a list of my undergarments with you, so that’s not going to happen. I will say that my socks and underwear fit neatly into a small drawer (kind of like this).
1 dress shoes
1 muck boots
Question: Do you think people notice that you wear the same outfits frequently?
Answer: In 2005, I paired down my wardrobe significantly. At the time, I was working at a traditional 9-5 job and felt slightly nervous about having a smaller selection of clothes to wear to the office. It turns out I had no reason to be nervous. As long as I dressed in business casual for work, wore a suit to specific meetings and events, and covered up my tattoos, no one noticed my attire. In short, most people don't notice or care what I'm wearing.
Question: How do you manage to stay focused on your shopping goals?
Answer: Other than buying high-quality fair-trade clothing from companies like Patagonia, I don’t have “shopping goals.”
My biggest problem is under buying. For example, last winter I gave my winter boots to Goodwill. They were still in good condition, but they weren’t great for long walks. I told myself I’d buy a new pair for the 2016/2017 winter season, but that didn’t happen.
My procrastination came back to haunt me this month. During the first two weeks of January, a huge winter storm pummeled Northern California, and I didn’t have a pair of waterproof boots. Thankfully, Logan let me borrow his gaiters, and he bought a pair of muck boots for me at a local store.
And last but not least, Logan and I love looking for new additions to our wardrobes at thrift shops. For instance, a few years ago, Logan bought two suits at a local thrift store for $40. Then, Logan spent another $40 to get the suits dry-cleaned and hemmed.
Question: Do you never get tempted by special offers or sales?
Answer: Of course! Whenever I receive a Patagonia catalog in the mail, I want to buy all the things. Thankfully, I don’t buy everything I want, and that’s because I don’t purchase new stuff immediately. Typically, I wait a week or two—sometimes longer—before I purchase new clothing, shoes, etc. As I mentioned, I tend to be an under-buyer and that aggravates my sweet husband.
Question: How do you do your research when you actually need to buy a specific item?
Answer: I’m a major research geek. However, if you’re new to research, try these tips:
- Make a list of subjects you’d like to learn about or purchase
- Google your topic and write down what comes up
- Beware of online filter bubbles
- Look at the publication date of books, article, etc.
- Before you purchase something from a company, read their mission statement
- Ask a librarian for help
Question: Do you ever feel pressured (by adverts, medias, or magazines) to be sexier, trendier, or more glamorous?
Answer: During my teens and twenties, I felt enormous pressure to be thin. Today, I’m happy, healthy, and I’ve learned that buying a new wardrobe, makeup, etc. isn’t going to make me feel happier or healthier. In short, I don't feel the same need to "be sexier, trendier, or more glamorous."
Actions that helped shift my mindset included counseling and a renewed focus on building physical and emotional strength. I also avoid websites with lots of advertisements. I don't read glossy magazines (like Vogue), and I don't watch much television. I prefer to spend my free time reading books, magazines (like Flow), attending CrossFit classes, swimming, and taking photos.
On Photography & Project 333—this essay is about fashion, photography, and a $500 Levi’s gift card.
Edit Your Wardrobe—I wrote this essay in March 2013. The tips, advice, and wardrobe staples are still true.
Dress with Less and Create Your Capsule Wardrobe—a fantastic micro-course by Courtney Carver.