How to Shop Your Own Closet.

I was inspired to write this post because I *didn’t* buy a jacket.

Back story – I have fifteen thousand jackets at home. Probably. I haven’t counted, but I know that when I open up our “coat closet” (also doubles as our laundry/shoe/vacuum/Swiffer closet) most of the coats that I see in there are mine. Maybe three of them are Kyle’s. And one of those I bought for him.

This post could have just as easily been titled “Confessions of a Shopaholic” or “How to be a Crazy Coat Lady” – but honestly, that’s a little embarrassing and – based solely on my experience today – I am clearly turning a corner outside of my consumerism mindset.

Exhibit A: I did not buy a jacket. I *almost* did. But then, I didn’t! Yay! (Isn’t this a great story so far?)

As I said – I have fifteen thousand jackets in our coat-laundry-shoe-vacuum-Swiffer closet. Leather jackets, furry jackets, a pea coat, a trench coat, a classic black NorthFace – of course I only wear three of them, but that’s not the point. The point is, I have the others in case I need them. It’s jacket-weather in Chicago about 80% of the time. Therefore, they are practical.

But the jacket-buying-mood struck my fancy at TJ Maxx when I spotted a light blue windbreaker. It was fitted and rain-proof (is that what they call those? ‘rain proof’? Water proof? Weather proof? It’s a jacket, shouldn’t they all be ‘weather proof’? ) and I thought to myself –

Well, actually I thought a lot of things. For example – “That color would look great with my hair”, “I could wear that with leggings!”, “Imagine this jacket with black leggings and some grey tennis shoes”, “You know what else would look good with that? Rain boots”, “I could wear this on our trip to California!”

This is my rationale of being “practical”, while ignoring the fact that there are plenty of other jackets I could wear on our trip to California. Jackets that I already own.

But this one is blue… 

I picked up the jacket, prepared to take it to the cashier for purchase. No questions asked. Not a second thought. Thoroughly logical reasoning: 1) I do not have any blue jackets, 2) California, 3) It looks good with my hair.

You can imagine why friends have called me a “bad influence” when we go shopping together. I prefer to think of myself as an excellent sales person. Glass half full.

I decided to continue milling around the store. This is what I do. I went in there for a pair of work-out pants, and now I’m going to end up with another jacket. I could just imagine what Kyle was going to say when he opened the closet door and saw ANOTHER jacket hanging in there. “Did you buy a new jacket?” He’ll ask, and when I say ‘yes’ – he’ll ask, “Did you really need ANOTHER jacket? You’ve got jackets now that you don’t even wear.”

And then I’ll have to try to explain to him how this one is different because it’s blue, and he won’t get it, and I’ll mention the thing about how blue looks good with my hair, and he won’t get it, and then I’ll say “I can wear it in California” and he’ll say, “You can’t wear one of the other fifteen thousand in California?” And then we’ll be right back where we started when I say, “but this one is blue” and he shakes his head and walks away because there’s no use arguing with a crazy person.

Maybe I won’t tell him it’s new, I thought. Maybe I’ve had it for awhile and he’s never seen it before? Sure. Lying to your significant other about your spending habits. That’s probably healthy.

Also, he will know. I’ve tried it before. It never works.

I put the jacket back on the rack. I didn’t *walk away* from it yet – and honestly, I wasn’t planning to. But I just wanted to LOOK at it. I pawed at it. I massaged the sleeve and stared at it as if I were mentally ill. Do I need a new jacket? I asked myself. Do I really? What if this becomes one of those jackets that just hangs in the closet that I never, ever wear? 

I thought about California. I could wear it while walking along the Golden Gate Bridge in the morning as the fog rolls in. Oddly specific. But this was where my excuses were going now. I could wear it when we visit Yosemite. As if there is some sort of dress code. As if I can’t wear one of the other jackets that I already own. As if it’s going to be cold? Do I really KNOW that it’s going to be cold? It’s California, not Alaska.

Ugggggh. <—- My thoughts when walking away from the jacket. WHATEVER. I’m not going to buy it. I have fifteen thousand other jackets at home. I GUESS I CAN WEAR ONE OF THOSE. 

It’s fun being frugal.

Spain-2079.jpg
San Francisco. 2017.

I’m clearly no expert when it comes to frugality, or “responsible shopping” (ie: not buying a brand new jacket when you went in there for a pair of work-out pants), but do you know what I am really good at? Convincing myself that I’m turning over a new leaf. It’s like an alcoholic writing a post all about “How to stop drinking” after going to one AA meeting.

But I figure if I write an entire post about it, I’ll really look like a hypocrite if I run out and buy that jacket now. If you follow me on Instagram (@style_travel_stories) and you see me wearing a blue jacket in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in a few weeks, you’ll know that I caved and am a terrible person. So just humor me. Who knows – maybe I’ll take my own advice and we might even learn something together.

HOW TO SHOP YOUR OWN CLOSET: 

  1. GET ORGANIZED.
    • This requires going through your closet. Which can be a little scary. You might find empty shopping bags from Victoria’s Secret (which I, for some reason, struggle to throw away), or some Target ‘A NEW DAY’  tags on the floor, wrinkly clothes in a pile that you washed (you think?) and never hung up and kind of forgot about. It’s a jungle in there. But once you’ve managed to cut through the weeds – you’ll likely find some clothes that you forgot about. Clothes that you’ve never worn. Clothes with the tags still on them. (How does this happen? I bought it. I must have liked it at the time. And yet, I’ve NEVER worn it.) What else is in there? Four black t-shirts. Seven grey cardigans. Three mustard-colored sweaters? Why do you need three mustard-colored sweaters? You don’t even LIKE mustard-color. What made you think this was a good idea? 
    • The point is – go through stuff. Get organized. Get rid of three of your four black t-shirts. You don’t need that many. Build a foundation so that you can start working with what you have – but first you need to be able to SEE what you have. So weed out the extra noise.
  2. USE PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, AND FASHION BLOGS FOR STYLING IDEAS.
    • Oh, my love/hate relationship with style posts. I have boards on Pinterest dedicated to “Fall Outfit Ideas”, “Spring Outfit Ideas”, “Winter Outfit Ideas” – you get the idea. I scroll through Instagram and see a picture of some girl I’ve never met wearing black skinny jeans with a baggy sweater and suddenly I decide that I need black skinny jeans and a baggy sweater. Where did she get it? How can I look like that? Where does she shop? What does she do all day? What is her life like?
    • The point is – there’s a lot of great OOTD inspiration out there. You just have to find it. And there’s a good chance that you already own several pieces in your closet. Don’t believe me? Check it out and see for yourself!
  3. CHALLENGE YOURSELF. 
    • This is a fun/not-so-fun game that I invented when I’ve wanted desperately to go shopping but didn’t have any money. Similar to my jacket story above. Make it a “game” to see how many cute outfits you can pull out of your closet with items that you already own. Pretend that you’re a stylist on Project Runway (this is not the premise of Project Runway, but it’s the only fashion-reality-show I could think. And it’s KIND of similar because the designers only have so many pieces they’re allowed to work with, right? I don’t know. I don’t watch Project Runway.)
    • The point is – make it a fun challenge. If you have such a great style – like, great enough that you can justify buying new clothes all of the time to maintain your ‘great style image’ – then put it to the test. Create Pinterest-worthy outfits from clothes that you already own. You might be surprised what you can pull together when you get creative!
  4. CAPSULE YOUR WARDROBE.
    • Here’s one way to go through your wardrobe and get rid of what you don’t wear or need. By downsizing your closet (or by building seasonal capsules, which I did a post about here) you can see what you already own, making it less overwhelming to put outfits together. I don’t know why this works – but it does. Similar logic to how you always seem to wear the same outfits over and over again? Working with less forces you to be more creative.
    • The point is – less is more.
  5. GET RID OF WHAT YOU DON’T WEAR. 
    • This goes with number 4. It really didn’t need to be its own bullet point. But here we are. Getting rid of what you don’t wear leaves you with only the clothes that you actually like – therefore, you’ll be more likely to wear them. I did another post about this here.
  6. GET INSPIRATION FROM DEPARTMENT STORES WITHOUT SPENDING. 
    • You know what’s fun? Going into a department store, and not buying anything. <— Not.
    • Many times when I go into a store, I’ll see something on a mannequin and decide “THAT IS A CUTE OUTFIT” and “I NEED THAT OUFIT”…. I didn’t need that outfit ten minutes ago, before I saw it, but now I do. It’s weird how that happens.
    • The point is – well, first of all, you probably don’t need it. You probably have fifteen thousand jackets at home that you can wear in California and you don’t need THIS specific jacket just because it’s blue. Also – it’s important to utilize this part of your brain (the same part that is looking at Pinterest outfits and Instagram outfits and telling you that you need an outfit like that) and challenging yourself to see what’s already in your closet. You don’t need to BUY the black t-shirt on the mannequin, you probably have one just like it at home.

Was this helpful? At least I feel better about not buying that blue jacket. Now I’m off to organize my closet! Let me know if any other shopaholics can relate in the comment section! ๐Ÿ™‚

Jennifer1

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6 comments

  1. Lovely post. Decluttering and creating a good wardrobe definitely is hard but rewarding task. I did some of the work last year but I think the wardrobe requires some additional work still. Thanks for the inspiration and tips! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Great post, I love that you didn’t give in to your desire for a new jacket and decided to make better use of what you already have first! In this world of over-consumption and fast fashion, it’s good to think a bit harder before we buy and actually you may find you will probably appreciate and get more out of what you do buy that way x

  3. Yes! I love shopping my own closet. A streamlined wardrobe is definitely something I aspire to but it seems to be a neverending work in progress. I constantly need to edit and reassess.

  4. This is amazing! Everything that one has forgotten at the back of their closet is basically new when theyโ€™ll find them. No need to spend money haha ๐Ÿ™‚

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