I realize I’m posting this blog rather late, but that’s only because I’ve been busy with my NEW JOB!
As some of you may know, Vikram and I recently relocated to North Carolina this past winter. I have been looking for a job ever since we arrived, but the job market here is much different than Minnesota – more competitive and as a result, lower wages and a higher rate of being completely blown off. But all that has finally come to an end, and I couldn’t be happier! I think the most satisfying part was unsubscribing from all my job alert emails, which were a constant reminder of how unemployed (and unemployable) I felt.
But at the same time, it’s bittersweet. I realize that with a job, I won’t have as much time to dedicate to my blog or to keep my apartment as clean as I like, and I’ll have to start battling my way through agitated crowds to finish my errands during peak times with the rest of the nine-to-fivers.
But I think the most bittersweet aspect of all is that I just decided to focus on an Indo-Western wardrobe, and I will now have to add the ambiguous work-appropriate “business casual” stipulation to my already strange mix. So in order to prepare myself for this new chapter, I decided to take a (somewhat) serious look at my wardrobe.
I’ve always loved organizing and planning every aspect of my life, but my wardrobe is one area I’ve always struggled with. As I mentioned in a previous post, I used to be able to go into stores and basically hit the jackpot every time. But in recent years, walking through malls and outlets has consistently yielded a dejected ehhhhhhhhh attitude, as if to say, “I’m over it.”
I’ve long been inspired by the quote “Fashion fades, style is eternal.” It was spoken by Coco Chanel, who herself is a testament to timelessness. This quote perfectly pinpoints the source of my restlessness – I simply could not stomach the idea of continuing to buy whatever was “in” for that season, constantly chasing trend after trend. I wanted something more permanent and enduring.
Nina Garcia is one of my favorite women in the fashion realm – I keep her books The Little Black Book of Style and The One Hundred on my coffee table at all times 🙂 In The One Hundred, Garcia describes her opinion of the top 100 most classic or staple pieces in a woman’s wardrobe. While I don’t agree with each and every piece she highlights, I love the concept and have been intrigued by the idea of a purposefully curated wardrobe ever since reading the book many years ago.
Nowadays, there are plenty of articles on how a Capsule Wardrobe will change your life, and the 5-Piece French Wardrobe is seemingly the new “it thing” as far as closet makeovers (or rather, makeunders) go. And don’t forget those of us who have ever attempted to KonMari our way to blissful minimalism! We live in a world saturated with “life hacks” and articles aimed at “the lazy girl” or “the busy girl”. Minimal, pared-down wardrobes (and lifestyles) are the new thing – an attempt to make dressing (and living) a smarter and easier daily endeavor.
But what’s a girl to do when she’s trying to create a cohesive wardrobe that’s unique enough for Indo-Western yet bland enough for the workplace? I dug through my wardrobe to try and find out!
My first step was to think about my body – the parts I like and want to highlight, and the parts I’m not so fond of that I would rather not draw attention to. Using that information, I identified and narrowed down the best silhouettes in my closet. For example, I have relatively short legs, so wearing trouser-fit or straight-leg pants with flats only accentuates my shortness, which is why I avoid that combination at all costs 🙂 I know that certain skirt lengths look better on me than others, and I know which dresses will flatter me most. My silhouettes aren’t homologous – wide-leg pants with a fitted top and heels; skinnies with a flowy top and flats – but they each compliment my body shape in their own way.
Once my silhouettes were decided, I went through my wardrobe and looked at each piece, picking out items that didn’t fit my silhouettes or that I hadn’t worn in a while (or ever). I also targeted items that didn’t fit into any of the the “Indo”, “Western”, or “work” categories or that didn’t really reflect who I am now. This was especially hard for the items that I still loved but never wore – I simply kept them in my wardrobe for sentimental reasons. But like it or not, out they came!
As soon as every questionable piece in my wardrobe was weeded from the closet and thrown on my bed, the dressing party began! I made sure to wear a basic outfit, something easy to layer and change out of. The last thing I wanted was to get exhausted when half of my clothes were strewn about the room! And since they match with everything, I also made sure to wear my classic pearl-and-gold earrings and necklace (which also happen to be my recent go-to Indian items since they were handmade by my father- and brother-in-law!).
Going through my “at-risk” clothing was somewhat of a surprise – not everything ended up in the “donate” pile like I thought it would. In fact, far from it – I tried on the pieces, paired them with pieces I hadn’t tried before, added accessories, and simply experimented and had fun. Doing this actually breathed life back into some very tired pieces, created new and flatting silhouettes, and sparked some excitement in my existing wardrobe!
While I originally picked out the pieces that I considered getting rid of, I also made a point of keeping and cataloging pieces that are versatile, classic, and necessary. These included skinny jeans, a blazer, black pants, khakis, and other items that can be dressed up or down depending on how you wear them. On the Indian side, this was my cashmere scarf, white and gold dupatta, leather juttis, and the pearls that I mentioned earlier.
During this process, I was made aware of some key pieces that I hadn’t noticed were missing from my collection: a classic white button-down, a black turtleneck, and gold jhumki earrings, among others. It’s fundamental items like these that I’m recognizing and hoping to someday compile into my own list of The One Hundred – Indo-Western Version!
Once I had decided what was staying, what was going, and what was missing, I moved on to the final stage: sprucing it all up!
I used leather polish to shine my leather shoes to make them look almost new. Vikram started conditioning his shoes last fall and it has kept them looking like new, so I decided to try it out for myself. I am so happy I did – I was about to donate a pair of flats, but now I will be able to squeeze some more life out of them! They are exactly what I need to tide me over at the office until I buy more juttis in India.
One of my biggest pet peeves is clothing pills – nothing makes me feel more raggedy than a pilly sweater. So to spruce up my clothes, I recently bought an Evercare pill remover and it is easily the best purchase I’ve made in a long time. It’s basically a men’s electric face shaver, but for your clothes – it shaves off all of the pills and fuzz that gives away your garments’ age and makes them look drastically younger and fresher. It’s like a spa treatment for your wardrobe!
I used the pill remover on Vikram’s and my sweaters, cardigans, and other pilly items, and they all turned out looking next-to-new! Several items that I had almost stopped wearing due to pills were brought back to life! I highly recommend this tool – it will save you tons of money by renewing what you already own, and will extend the life of your favorite pieces!
I know that I still have a long way to go to get the wardrobe I’m in search of. But after this weekend’s adventure, I feel like I am one step closer to it. I’m sure that the ideas I came up with won’t all get fleshed out, and some of the items I decided to keep will ultimately get donated. But at least I let go of the items I simply will not wear, and I’ve begun to identify and visualize what my core style looks like. I can’t wait to continue this process!
Have you cleaned out your wardrobe recently? Are you on the quest for your best wardrobe? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!