"If you want your clothes to age with that kind of grace, then wear the clothes you have and stop always buying new ones!" - The Sartorialist Closer
I am a grandma when it comes to clothing. I mean that as far as style and my spending mentality. In 1960, people bought fewer than 25 garments a year and the average household spent about 10% of their budget on clothes. Nowadays, the average family spends around 3.5% of its budget but buy far more clothes per year (70 pieces/person).
I would say that I average far less than 25 garments/year. I asked my husband, Mike, if he thinks I buy 15 items/year (so that I can keep it real on this post), and he said that he believes I purchase a lot less.
We’ll say 7 items for fun.
That said, when I do shop I spend relatively more money on sustainable clothes that fit my style. I buy less on shopping trips and prefer to mix and match. Finally, I’m not afraid to wear holes, paint stains, discolored, or “worn” clothes. All in all, it fits my aesthetic. Too neat and well-manicured makes me slightly uncomfortable. Nonetheless, the clothes that I no longer feel drawn to I give away. And because they are well-made, sturdy clothes, I know that whoever gets them can have them for a while.
My Personal Style:
Since college I’ve worked in very casual (fashion-wise) environments - schools, kitchens of bakeries/restaurants, and nonprofit settings. So, like most American's, casual is my go-to.
That said, I do not wear a uniform because the idea bores me. I don’t have a capsule wardrobe because it seems restrictive. And I’m not a minimalist because I'm pretty sure that I don't part with enough clothes to qualify.
I do, however, have a “Shelby fashion formula.” The picture above captures it - black shirt, dark/black pants (yoga/jeans), and casual shoes/sneakers. I stray from all black when creativity hits me, but for the most part - I stay in my lane.
Each evening on week nights, I lay out my clothes for the following day. I lay my boys’ clothes out for the week on Sundays. But mine, I do after making my plan for the following day.
As mentioned above, 80% of the time (in the fall and winter), I’m donning a black long sleeve top/sweatshirt/hoodie with black outdoor/yoga pants/black or denim jeans.
In the summer and in the spring, I incorporate grey, white, navy, pale pink, and olive v-neck short sleeve tops and a pair of denim shorts into my black rotation. Most weekdays, I wear the same color shirt and pant - I am very into monochrome. When I am feeling energetic, I will add flare with a cute skinny belt, scarf (hair or neck), or a cute lipstick with my outfit. I keep my shoes for years, and so I mostly wear sneakers, but will also wear clogs, duck boots, and slip-ons.
On weekends, a weeknight date, and church I will play with colors. Rarely I move from pants and a top, although for special occasions, I may wear a skirt or a dress.
To end, I will share with you a little lesson that Norma Jean, my grandmother and potentially the chicest person in the universe, taught me.
The most stylish people own their personal style and once they recognize their style, they only need a few clothes to accentuate it. There shouldn't be a thousand pieces that resonate with you. There should be one or two pieces that capture your attention and your essence.
Envision America's style-icon, the French. They firmly believe in style - "less is more."
Update: Recently saw a Ted Talk that really motivated me to wear a few "special" items in my closet and it reminded me so much of this post. The Ted Talk is Change Your Closet, Change Your Life. Hopefully it motivates you as well.
PS. I'd be remiss not to mention that my gift philosophy is the same for clothes, food, drink, anything - if it is given to me, then I will wear, eat, or drink it. A gift (something bought, hand-me-downs, thrifted, or from consignment) doesn't have to be aligned to my beliefs. When I receive a gift from a loved one, I don't question the brand's sustainability or whether it is considered fast fashion. I feel grateful for the piece, for the love, and then I wear it. I wear it, often and proudly.
Edited by Ashley Yancey