I went to New York some years ago as a young adult still seeking for the cinematographic city we so often see in the movies. And as I walked along the wide avenues that I had seen over and over in the screens and therefore seemed so familiar, I could not stop but be amazed with the varied range of styles that could be found in such a city and how you had total freedom to express yourself through clothing and be whoever you wanted to be in that day.
I remember we visited the Elizabeth Arden store in 5th Avenue and I will never forget what the makeup artist said about some pop of color in our faces: “It’s New York, nothing is too much!” which later would inspire my own vision about the way we treat ourselves “It’s life, nothing is too much!” I felt like New York really breathed the freedom of expression that we so long starved. In one of our walks in the city we stopped in a bookstore and I saw it, a book that I devoured in a few days while I was still a passing visitor in New York. The cover was a harsh pink and it had beautiful stylish feminine figures. It was called The Style Strategy by Nina Garcia and it explained in three easy steps how to organize a wardrobe and build a style:
Step 1: The first question that Garcia encourages everyone to ask is “What do I have?” This step requires that an inventory is taken. During this process you should save some items and you should say goodbye to others (you can use KonMari Method to decide what to keep and what no longer serves you as you can read in this post).
Step 2: In the second step Garcia takes us a bit further inside the fashion world as she poses: “What do I need?” Check your wardrobe and analyze if you have basics and clothes that fit your daily life. In case you may feel like some items are missing create a list of pieces that you may have to acquire (in the book there is a list of what would be the fashion basics according to an overall perspective of the fashion world in general). Those garments will be your fashion foundation. It is, in my opinion, important that these garments have a long life time and therefore we should invest in quality and sustainability (fabrics and tailoring have a very important role here).
Step 3: Ask yourself “What do I want?” This may seem the easiest question of the three but, in fact, understanding what makes you feel comfortable and confident may not be that easy. You may have to go through a varied type of styles to find out or you may have to try different garments and looks until you feel you really express yourself through clothing. It is also important to acknowledge that we are in constant change and therefore style changes with us, which means that what you love today may not be your favorite item tomorrow, however I do believe that some items are timeless and we love them no matter what. Accepting and embracing this fact will make your life much easier and detached of the items that surround you. You should love your garments, yes! You should love them so much that you feel like they are an extension of you, because that’s what they will in fact be once you are wearing them. Style is therefore closely attached to love and joy, to pampering yourself, to fair trade, to acceptance and letting go. The garments you invest in and the way you treat them reflect how you feel about yourself and the world.
Consumerism has been increasing since the second half of the twentieth century. Earlier you could buy a car, a toaster or a refrigerator and you knew they would last a lifetime. The mindset has been changing and the economical societies have been pushing people to want more in a less period of time, constantly renovating at each season and totally changing scenario. This has happened at a wide variety of levels, but particularly in clothing. Industries have been trying to shift fashion into something people wear once or twice. I believe that is not what clothing was meant to be and it is highly unsustainable. Back to my Elizabeth Arden’s shop visit what my young soul didn’t know back them is that less is more. “Nothing is too much” didn’t mean we would drown ourselves in colour or makeup or clothing, it just meant that whoever we may be or however we may want to express ourselves, we don’t need a whole bunch of things to support us, in fact we need very few, as long as we like them and they reflect both our aesthetical taste and our beliefs.
An ethic and sustainable wardrobe built by garments that you love and are long lasting will bring you joy each day and give you the confidence to embrace every challenge. You will need less quantity because you will be more in love with the few ones you truly own and take better care of them. Each of them will have a special unique place being your second skin and allowing you to be more focused in the inside rather than in the outside. It’s not the outside, nor the amount of it, that will shift the inside. Once the form is satiated, once it feels right, then the emphasis will be in what really matters: the essence. For that reason the KonMari Method question “Does it spark joy?” is a good philosophy to rely upon when choosing the items that will surround us and that will build our wardrobe. Choose quality over quantity!
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