Welcome to the first guest post in the history of Un Armario Verde. This post is a double win, being an endorsement from one of my dearest friends *and* a feed-back from a happy adopter of wardrobe tracking. Yes! According to my photo-archives, I have known Marina since 2004 and we have lived a big chunk of our adventurous youth together, like the time when hitchhiking to Paris seemed like a good idea in 2005:
We have lived in different countries since 2006 but do our best to meet whenever possible. The last time we met and happily stuffed our faces with Van Leeuwen vegan pistachio ice cream was May 2017 in New York:
Without further ado, I give you Marina and her wardrobe reset story:
I tried tracking my clothes in a spreadsheet and here’s what happened
First of all I must make a confession – I’ve always admired Luīze’s style and ability to wear whatever she feels like without fear of being judged. It took me years to reach the point of comfort where choice of clothing was based on how I felt rather than what others expected me to look like. Thus, when Luīze started Un Armario Verde blog that explained in such beautiful detail the logic behind her outfits, I instantly became a regular reader and slowly started preparing myself to one day follow her example and learn to really love the clothes I wear.
Let’s backup a little bit – I’m a recovering shopaholic. I grew up in an environment where if something was on sale and it was a good deal it was almost mandatory to own it. I’ve wasted ridiculous amounts of my own and my parents money on clothes that I end up donating or giving away to someone after just one wear (sometimes not even one…) to make more space in my closet and have new excuses to buy more stuff. Until very recently, I was a bargain hunter living in a city where shopping resembles more of gathering practice rather than a hunt as brand discount stores and outlets keep luring one in on daily basis.
I agreed with everything Luīze wrote in Un Armario Verde from day one but it took me a couple months to really be ready to integrate her practices in my own routine. At first the spreadsheet idea seemed nuts – why would one put in so much time and effort into gathering data on worn clothes that is absolutely useless to everyone else except the wearer!? However, as I started tracking my outfits, it became a lot clearer that’s the whole point – becoming aware of the wardrobe choices, mindful of what hangs in the closet and optimize outfits for personal growth and nobody else’s benefit. The process of getting dressed suddenly gained new meaning and sparked unexpected joy. Perhaps, it was the element of gamification what really allowed me to embrace the spreadsheet-ing.
There were a couple of things I wanted to learn from this exercise – which items of clothing I wear the most, what brands are my go-tos so that I know where to allow myself to continue to shop and whether there are any subconscious trends I create.
A few results were obvious – I definitely had a favorite pair of boots and a scarf that was a mandatory staple of my outfit. What surprised me though, was my choice of home clothes – my most comfortable pieces that I hurry into as soon as I nobody’s watching. Those were the items that sparked the most joy and coincidentally were the items that had graduated from outside to inside wear after acquiring un-washable stains and moth holes.
I also developed my own version of office uniform that included jeggings and white shirt with faux fur vest to stay smart casual yet somewhat warm in the freezing New York winter. Unfortunately the pair of jeggings ended up calling it quits and ripping in the thigh area in a non-repairable way. The spare pair of jeans that would replace this piece of uniform did not feel nearly as joyful and I embraced on a quest to find a conscious replacement. I organised a clothes swap at a yoga studio where I teach in the evenings, spent hours browsing Good On You app but at the end fell for Jean Shop sample sale. I wasn’t able to find out how sustainable they are but I promise the pair I bought will be worn relentlessly.
I also encountered a challenge tracking my outfits when I went on a weekend break to Miami. The shift in seasons was almost like shock to me and I was back to being completely lost about what to wear. I packed way more than I needed and even then I wasn’t prepared appropriately for vacation activities. If only I had tracked my summer outfits in the previous seasons – I would have known exactly what to pack in the suitcase. Luckily prior to 10-day vacation to Costa Rica, I was able to pick out some suitable pieces at the clothes swap and felt more at ease with my choices. While I didn’t physically fill in the spreadsheet on my travels, I made very conscious mental notes of everything I wore and how it made me feel.
The biggest win for me was I stopped shopping when bored. I used to spend my I-have-nothing-else-better-to-do-right-now time looking for bargains but now I use the downtime a lot more productively – researching home improvement ideas, looking for DIY inspirations, catching up with friends, reading and literally doing anything else that isn’t shopping. While I haven’t quit spending money on new clothes completely, I only purchase items that I need. For example, a wool hat – a replacement for one that my partner lost, and rainboots – a replacement for a pair with a giant hole.
Most importantly though, I look at clothes now in a more thoughtful way. I take better care of garments I own and put in more effort in fixing items that need attention. I am nowhere near Luīze’s level of sustainable dressing but this is a beginning of a new phase in my wardrobe and I am excited for the journey to come!
Thank you so much for sharing, Marina! And now, do you do any kind of wardrobe tracking? (Remember, even the easiest – turning the hangers trick – counts.) If yes, what have you discovered in the process? If no, does the idea resonate with you at all? If so, what’s holding you back: the work of preparing the full list, the routine of ticking thing every day, or the dread of what this exercise could reveal about your habits?