Wednesday, 29 March 2017

"I'm saving it for best" - the hierarchy within our wardrobes and how to dismantle it

A couple of weeks ago I went to a birthday do for two friends, with the following dress code:

  1. Clothes, mostly, damn decency laws
  2. Your own clothes? (tbf this is optional)
  3. Clothes you like wearing, want an excuse to wear, bought and haven't worn yet, or want an excuse to buy. 

Given permission to put their glad rags on without worrying about looking overdressed, everyone looked fabulous and some people even brought a change of outfit for partway through the evening! I was limited by my Six Items Challenge restrictions but managed to find a fancy necklace I hadn't had an excuse to wear for a while.

While some of us enjoy an opportunity to dress up, everyone enjoys an opportunity to wear something that will make them feel great without the fear of falling foul of a dress code. Being required to wear a specific type of clothing for certain occasions, we often end up with a strange hierarchy of clothes in our wardrobes, where the clothes we feel obliged to buy 'for best' might be expensive but rarely worn, or our ideal outfit might be considered inappropriate for everyday wear.

Most of us will wear the same small selection of things over and over again; our trusty jeans and jumpers, comfy leggings and jersey t shirts, easy-to-accessorise dresses. As these pieces get old and worn, they might be relegated from smart work-wear to casual weekend wear, then to household chores or gardening, and finally to painting/DIY, and after this they will languish at the bottom of our wardrobes, crusty with grime and dust, because we are reluctant to put them in the washing machine with any other clothes. Meanwhile, the outfits we felt compelled to buy for formal occasions hang about, rarely worn, reminding us that most of the time we just don't get the opportunity to be very fancy.

Having the ideal wardrobe for you, where everything gets worn but not worn out too fast, isn't going to be achieved by throwing everything out and starting again, but by slowly weeding out the things that aren't working for you and finding excuses to wear the things you really like more often.

I wouldn't endorse buying something for the sake of it, but I can't argue with buying something you love and can't wait to wear. So many of our shopping 'habits' are based around grudgingly buying things we are obliged to own to comply with a dress code, hastily replacing basics with whatever is easiest and quickest to purchase, or desperately searching for a new version of a well-worn and beloved garment when trends have changed. Buying something we can imagine being our best selves in should be the rule when we're clothes shopping, not the exception!

Whatever your version of 'for best' is, it might not be possible to wear it every day, but you'd probably be able to wear it more often. The key is your personal comfort: if you enjoy wearing your best clothes, there's no reason you should conform to an 'off duty' dress code as well as the one you might have to follow for work. Your friends won't judge you for looking more 'you', so liberate your rarely worn clothes and see how much more wear you can get from the contents of your wardrobe.

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