Wardrobe Makeover : Quantity versus Quality & Realizing You Have a Problem

I’ve written several times before about how I had a revelation recently in terms of my wardrobe; buying few quality pieces versus large quantities of pieces. This new tenet is not revolutionary- it’s heralded by pretty much every woman’s fashion magazine on a regular basis- but it seems like more often than not it’s regarded as trying to herald the value of selling expensive clothes rather than what I’ve found to be more accurate, which Neil Diamond tried to sum up with his hit song “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon. I truly believe that the realization that a wardrobe of quality versus quantity is the way to go is truly a step on the path to womanhood.

Of all the topics I’ve discussed on the blog and in my personal life, this is definitely the one that people ask me the most about. “You threw out every single piece of clothing you owned?” often gets asked along with “Have you lost your mind?” or “Seriously?”. The most frequent however is “How did you do it?” and seeing how much of an impact changing my wardrobe management has brought to my entire life is something that I wish for everyone out there. After I wrote this article, I realized that it was an insanely long article, so I will be splitting it into a 3-part series, all with their own topics:

·        The Realization That Your Wardrobe Has a Problem (today)
·        The Great Clean Out
·        The Shopping List and The New You

A back story about my previous wardrobe, and its insane volume, is required here. As a teenager, I worked pretty much solely to be able to afford new clothes. In fact, when my budget was not keeping up to my seemingly unending desire, I went and got a job at a store where I could get a discount off even more clothing. By University, I had acquired so many clothes that I took over closets in rooms outside of my bedroom. It was an absolutely disgusting portrayal of materialism at its finest; but also a stark portrayal of what I, as a teenager and young adult felt – self-conscious, unsecure and consumed by a seemingly unending popularity contest. How I, and I think many other girls, try to deal with this is through shallow remedies such as buying new clothes to feel better rather than actually addressing the issues beneath the surface.

The issues beneath the surface were clearly on display when I went through my closet (with the help of a professional) when she asked me several times how old I was. I work in a very conservative industry and have always tried to appear older as a result of my insecurity in both my position and youth. My closet was a mix of clothes that a 60+ year old woman would wear and then sequined shorts that a teenager would have trouble pulling off that I wore to try and offset the boxy tweed blazers on the weekend. My wardrobe was a reflection of whom I had become- someone who had no idea who she was- and trying to figure it out. Feeling insecure as the only person in my position in the country under the age of 40 (and only woman) made me buy conservative clothes that weren’t suited for me. Feeling the need to be popular with my friends, I bought trendy pieces that were out of style faster than I could imagine. Feeling less than confident in my body after baby, I preferred baggy clothes which in my mind camouflaged my shape. I wanted to look polished, ladylike, age appropriate, classy and stylish… But I looked frumpy, dishevelled, unflattering and perhaps worst of all, like I was just not trying.

Most astonishingly was how little I valued myself by not spending money on investing in me, despite the fact that I spent a small fortune in cheap, uber-trendy and unflattering clothes. I have a job with a very fancy title and lots of responsibility, but I didn’t see a problem with wearing clothes that cheapened, diminished and quietly mocked who I was. 

Now before you think I sat down with a cup of tea one day and realized all this on my own… I didn’t. I only agreed to give up my security blanket of closets full of clothes after I had had a complete identity crisis and my husband brought in a professional stylist to work with me. Becoming a mother is never an easy transition, but for me it was definitely the life change I was most unprepared for. I spent days in a hormonally charged state feeling sorry for myself and mourning the loss of who I used to be. I can only imagine that Kate would have had some of the same (but much less hormonal) feelings when she agreed to marry William- knowing that she’d become a Princess and give up who she used to be. Fashion wise, she could no longer roller-skate around in mini-shorts, walk the catwalk in sheer dresses or look off her game in public for a second. Emotionally, she’d be giving up her privacy to a major degree and she’d be entering into a role – a privileged one, no doubt- but a role within an institution that is not known for being progressive. Kate ended her relationship with William until she was sure she could commit to her new life and I spent months in yoga pants, crying and not leaving my house. This is not a glamorous realization, friends.

I’d thoroughly recommend looking into the extremely worthwhile investment of a professional stylist if you’re embarking on this journey. They have the eye, unbiased nature and potentially necessary harsh ability to tell you why you don’t look good in your favorite sweater. They also can help you sort through what items you should keep, which you should keep with tailoring and then also what pieces you need to fill out your new wardrobe.

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Amanda is the Media & Operations Director for Effervescence Media Group (otherwise known as behind-the-scenes editor of What Would Kate Do? and The Refined Side). When she isn’t blogging, she can be found with a nice glass of red wine or browsing a vintage shop. Her interests are varied and include vintage couture, etiquette, and the financial markets. She resides in Vancouver, British Columbia
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