The perfect wardrobe… Then what?

When I visited Maria in Oslo three weeks ago I found these two items of clothing at Zara. I was on the hunt for a perfect, semi-casual blazer, and although my mental image was of a more traditional boyfriend-cut blazer, I fell head over heels for this black tweed-ish studded number. It is the perfect length and sits very nicely around my shoulders. I also think the t-shirt was a good purchase, as it is casual and both de-constructed (the hems are frayed) and embellished at the same time. Considering the rest of my wardrobe, they’ll fit right in.

I have come to realize something though: over the last few years I’ve kept a list in my planner where I keep a running tab on what I feel is lacking from my wardrobe. This has included items like the perfect little black dress, a dressy blazer, black ballet flats, the perfect statement necklace – all items that have given me a sense of things falling into place when I have bought them, items that have tied the rest of my wardrobe together. I haven’t actively looked for all of them, and I have strayed from my list more than once, but one by one I have found the items and checked them off my list.

Now there is nothing left to check off.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t own the 2.55 or the camel coat or the Burberry trench, but I have the things that I myself consider to be my must-haves within my budget. When I wake up in the morning I pretty much always know what I want to wear, and if I don’t know there’s always something nice and simple that I can find without having to spend too much time thinking about it. It is a no-brainer. The problem?

I still want to shop.

If you read a lot of blogs – not necessarily fashion blogs, but style blogs and blogs about The Perfect Wardrobe™ in particular – you get the feeling that achieving The Perfect Wardrobe™ will solve all your problems. You no longer have to spend money on clothes (except to re-stock), and you can save you money for better, more worthy pursuits. Well, it has made me come to the slightly shameful realization that I still want more stuff. Just stuff. The other day I found myself on eBay hunting for a transparent bag (of all things, why?!), I still crave a good handful of Mulberry handbags, and I keep finding lust-worthy coats while making mental plans to hunt them down as soon as they hit the stores. Never mind that I have enough winter jackets to fit any and every snowy occasion. I still want more.

I don’t even have the space for more clothes. I should save my money for better things. There is a distinct limit of the amount of clothing items that a person can actually wear in any given week. And it is not about trends either – I’ve got no need for florals or pastels, I don’t really wear heels so my feet will never know a pair of Litas, and I do not feel any particular need for any pops of neon. Really, I’m good. So what’s going on? Why can’t I just settle down, enjoy the fact that I’ve reached this self-imposed wardrobe nirvana, and leave my visa alone?

Well, marketing ploys and a messed up consumer culture aside, it is kind of our above average interest in clothes that got us into this mess in the first place, isn’t it? I only know one other person IRL that is as obsessed with her wardrobe as I am, and she’s a fashion consultant. Really, you have to be a special kind of nerd to read blog post upon blog post and book upon book on how to reach closet climax. If we’re being honest I have probably studied more for this than I did for my bachelor’s degree (Ok, not quite, but almost), and when you look at it like that then it really isn’t that difficult to see why I’m having trouble finding the “off” switch. The kind of people who keep lists and blogs and Excel spreadsheets – I’ve seen it – to achieve their ultimate wardrobes are not going to take up gardening or quilting once their goal has been achieved. And that really bugs me.

I wanted serene, wardrobe-induced bliss, dammit.

Shopping is not a hobby, not a way to pass time, and certainly not therapy. I don’t walk around dreaming of buying new sofas or curtains or kitchen appliances – the ones I have work just fine – so why shouldn’t the same thought process work for clothes? Why this constant need for “new” when my closet is overflowing, even after donating bag-loads of clothes to charity over the years? And more importantly: Can I be re-programmed? Because let’s be honest here, there are much better things I can do with my money. Like leaving them alone.

This is not a shopping ban. Bans are easy. They are challenges with a time limit, and challenges get me excited. They are fun, and I can resume shopping again when they are over. What I want is a change of mindset.

(Fun fact – while writing this very sentence I was distracted by a photo of a Barbour jacket, went on to hunt down the name of it, and using the store locator I found out if it was sold somewhere in Bergen, you know, just out of curiosity)

I’m not saying I want to wear the same things when I’m 36 as I do now – that would be ridiculous, boring and entirely impossible – but being able to sit back and go “yeah, that’s enough for a while”, that would be good. To buy things out of need, and to make the treats few and special.

I think it can be done, don’t you?

24 thoughts on “The perfect wardrobe… Then what?

  1. Oh, darling, this is a fantastic post. It’s so interesting to read about wardrobe planning from your point of view – we share a lot of opinions (as you know ;), but you’re miles ahead of me when it comes to actually planning and executing the whole thing. I tip my hat to you, young lady, that is admirable!

    As for me, I feel like I need to do something really drastic about my wardrobe. Come to think of it, it might make an excellent end-of-the-summer-project. It’s a bit ironic, isn’t it, that I’m a fashion consultant who spend a lot of time working out other people’s wardrobes, but at the same time feel that mine is a complete mess. Not messY, just… without direction? Yeah, that’s about right, without direction.

    1. Thank you for the wonderful comment, hon <3 I think the reason why I'm a little ahead of you on the wardrobe planning is that I'm no longer dealing with you-know-who, you know, the Salope. I've got the energy for these things. I don't have any doubts at all that you'll get there. You're the pro among us, after all! And I don't believe for a second that you're without direction, come on now. You've got "you" down pat :)

  2. This is a super interesting post! I have wondered what happens when a wardrobe comes together, so this is a nice point of view to see.

    My wardrobe is currently nowhere near nirvana. It’ll be high time for a purge soon (if I don’t often wear hats, why do I have seven of them?).

    If anyone can succeed at this, it’s you!

  3. love the honesty of this post and i totally relate – how often have i posted about feeling content about my wardrobe and then buying something new a month later.

    i’ve made peace with the fact that i will never stop wanting new things, but my goal is trying to want less often. i like clothes and i like a particular style and falling in love with new things that exemplify that just goes with the territory. i’m trying to work on that, but i also know that since i care about what i wear, i will never achieve 100% contentment. i’m trying to love things without having to buy them.

    1. I’m glad you liked the post, Lin! You are one of my favorite wardrobe bloggers after all :)

      Loving things without having to buy them, that’s the tough one. There will always be something pretty and flattering out there. Can’t buy ALL the things! And the wanting, that’s just never ending. Reading blogs and hanging out on Pinterest will do that. You’d think that not having any TV channels and never visiting clothing shops (unless there’s a specific thing I’m after) would have a positive effect, but the Internet just cancels all of that out ;)

  4. You’ve touched on quite a few dilemmas that I sometimes find myself in. Only, my shopping interest fluctuates between my wardrobe and my home so perhaps I’m doubly in trouble haha. I think the desire to continually acquire something new is interesting because once you do get something new, it’s only a matter of time before that too becomes old. Perhaps the resolution might just be to focus on other things like reading, watching a film or something that doesn’t cost money, but that might be a tall order for some! Great post x

    1. Hi Valerie, how nice of you to stop by! You’re right about the distractions, it is an excellent idea. I’ve got a dog, a blog and a very neglected Kindle, so in theory I should be very well prepared! YouTube is a great distraction as well, except when one watches makeup tutorials and ends up wanting to buy all the products. It has happened!

      Internet shopping is the spooky thing though, seeing as I basically live on the Internet. Damn you PayPal and OneClickBuy. Maybe I should get a sponsor, someone I could have on speed dial for when temptation becomes too much to bear? ;)

  5. Helt ærlig, jeg tror nok dette er en obsession thing, an addiction. Jeg kjøpte uendelig mye mer klær før i tida, shoppet noe nytt hver eneste måned, før jeg etter hvert begynte å bruke pengene på andre ting, og nå har jeg jo vært blakk så lenge, at jeg husker ikke sist jeg dro på en skikkelig shoppingtur. Jeg har prøvd å gå litt i butikker, men det er som om jeg ikke har shoppegenet lenger. Jeg orker ikke tanken på å prøve klærne, dessuten har jeg jo ett tonn klær i garderoben fra før (vel, hvert fall på loftet hos mamma hehe). Jeg vil bare si at om du har lyst til å trappe ned, må du bare gjøre det.. haha, easier said than done, men jeg tror virkelig at man blir avhengig av shopping, det er jo som en drug. Tror man bare bør prøve å ikke tenke så mye på shoppingen, så gjør man det mindre etter hvert. Du kan jo heller spare pengene dine til leilighet – var det ikke det du ville? :)

    1. Det er ikke det at jeg shopper så mye, for det gjør jeg faktisk ikke – jeg mistenker at jeg shopper langt mindre og langt mer målrettet enn del fleste på vår alder. Det er ikke mange plaggene i skapet mitt som ikke blir brukt, og det er ikke et eneste plagg der med prislappen fortsatt på :)

      Problemet er vel heller det at nå skulle jeg liksom være “ferdig”, prosjekt garderobe var over, og da trenger man jo ikke mer. Frem til nå har jeg jo holdt meg til ting jeg faktisk har hatt behov for – det siste jeg krysset av var løpetights og regndress, så da skjønner du liksom hvor lista ligger. Og da skulle jo shopplysten også gi seg når garderoben var komplett, eller det var i det minste teorien – men det gjorde den jo ikke. Kanskje poenget mitt kom litt dårlig frem? Problemet er ikke at jeg shopper og shopper, eller bruker så mye penger, for det gjør jeg ikke – men at shoppelysten ikke har gitt seg til tross for at jeg er “ferdig” :)

      1. Jeg regner med at det er en hel haug av andre ting du kan legge til den lista di. Eller så kan du jo spare opp til noe skikkelig dyrt, som en Chanelveske eller lignende?

        1. Vi får se hva jeg finner på, men jeg tror ikke det blir noe stort i år ihvertfall. For øyeblikket tror jeg at jeg bare skal øve på å ikke ha lyst på noe :)

  6. Wow. Reading this post is like reading part of my daily thoughts about my wardrobe. Yes, daily I said. My concept of the perfect wardrobe is actually more obsessive than yours if that makes you feel better. I have 70 pieces in my wardrobe including bags, shoes and accessories. I keep buying and purging monthly to have the perfect pieces – pieces that go together without any second guessing. I aim to wear everything in my wardrobe on a regular basis. I’m still not there, but I’m certain is because I don’t allow myself to be. You would be astonished by the number of pieces that I’ve donated, given away and sold in recent years. It makes me feel quite ill adding up all the money wasted yet not enough door me to stop all together. It’s an extreme OCD . The only times I don’t hunt for and buy new clothes is when I’m so busy that I simply do not have the energy. Otherwise, online retail therapy is usually my stress reliever!

    1. Thank you so much for the comment, Wendy! The hunt for the perfect wardrobe sounds like such a worthy and noble pursuit in itself – money-saving, time-saving and hassle-saving, no less – but it can get a bit out of hand. There will always be another “perfect item” out there, after all.

  7. Love this post- it’s so candid and brillantly written. I found myself nodding to everything you said. I love style and fashion but I don’t view shopping as a hobby. I take a lot of pride in buying things that I love and wearing them until it’s time to call it a day.

    I think that feeling of being satisfied for a while has come somewhat naturally to me. I’m so picky that I usually know exactly what I’m looking for- complete with sketches and notes before I even look at collections or brose online or in shops. Once I get an image in my mind it’s hard to find something that satisfies that.

    I also really have learned to appreciate from a far. Even when something totally isn’t my style I can still appreciate the beauty, artistry and craft that went into producing it. The items I bring home are really special pieces that compliment my style. I also think it’s good to splurge on something indulgent for you every once in a while;)

    You and Maria are too cute. When I was reading this post I kept thinking these are ladies I want to hang out with!!!

    1. Thank you for the wonderful comment Lindsay!

      Being content with what I have without the constant want for something new is something I have to work on. I really want to get there. My mom is fantastic when it comes to these things, so I’m using her as my inspiration – what would Mom do? ;)

      I really would love to that to that place where I only buy what I truly need and love, which again would make me able to once in a blue moon splurge on the pieces that make my heart stop.

      And Maria is a wonderful girl to have around <3

  8. Thanks that was a insightful read and made me feel more normal. I think when you said “reprogram” I think you hit the nail on the head. To most women and some men, fashion is how you express yourself to the world and so its very part of who we are. So my theory is that cos women like to “analyse” others, themselves etc then its only normal that we like to “analyse” our wardrobes. Is that a good theory or what? PS I’m also an ocd nerd, but feeling better about it now I know I’m not alone!! :)

  9. This post is one of the most hilarious things i’ve read for ages ! This is so true for me too !
    I’ve been extremely interested in clothes and style since i was…..well, about 12 ? At the moment I’ve come to terms with it : yes, clothes are actually my hobby. I can’t change an interest that is so natural to me. Only now i’m trying to obsess about quality, style and ethical quality, that is i’m only refocusing my obession rather than deleting it. I also find it helpful to obsess over ONE thing for ages, then buy it when there’s a good occasion (sales, rewarding yourself for something special) and then being obessively happy over the fact that i own it.
    Admittedly, it’s not socially rewarding to be seen as the resident “fashion victim” (that’s how people see me, even though i couldn’t care less about actual fashion but well), especially in an “intellectual” environment. But that’s what i am, and that’s all.

    1. Oh trust me, I am completely the same. For better or worse, it is a hobby. Not necessarily shopping for clothes, because I really don’t do that very much, but looking, doing research, reading blogs, finding out what I like and what I don’t like – I enjoy that! And I hear you on obsessing over one thing. For me that is usually a bag, I am such a bag lady. It isn’t the worst obsession though, because a bag always fits, no matter how much Ben & Jerry’s I eat ;)

      I don’t think I’m seen as a fashion victim, because despite my interest I don’t think I’m very trendy. I just wear what I like, really. I think people see me as a bit vain though, because of my slight makeup obsession. I don’t mind though, I’m having fun with it!

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