Monday, June 23, 2008

The Opinion Trap

People will talk about you. They may sing your praises, think you're just fab, or believe that you walk on water. Or they may do the opposite, and turn into your worst critic. You can't stop people from having an opinion, and you can't stop them from sharing it. This especially true when it comes to fashion and style expression. My advice: get over it.

The tendency to weigh in on another person's image currently has its fullest expression in fashion forums and fashion blogs. Here you can see just how widely people's opinions differ, and how quickly they can change. Even fashion magazines are guilty of shifting opinions...sometimes within the very same issue. For example, Katie Holmes's new haircut caused quite a stir. But for everyone who loved it and called it chic, there was another who thought it aged her and was a mistake. An actress caught wearing the same outfit twice? Depending on the critic, it's either a fashion scandal or a statement of style. Even Audrey Hepburn, the all-time supreme icon of classic style has been criticized for being boring. Boring! Excuse me, but I'll happily deal with "boring" if I can make nearly every fashion critic's top ten list of the best dressed ever!
Instead of lamenting the fact that you can't please everyone, accept it and instead concentrate on developing your own image.

The fashion industry realizes the tendency of ours to be swayed by public opinion, and they profit immensely off our uncertainty. We begin to feel that we need to purchase this or wear that in order to be "in" style. But there is a difference between being "in style" and being "stylish". Don't let the desire to please everyone draw you into fashion schizophrenia. Leave that for the fashion victims. Those with true style don't follow the opinions of others. They maximize the look they have determined for themselves.

So how can you avoid falling into the opinion trap?

Decide how you want the world to perceive you. Study the elements that make up your fashion persona. Learn what looks best on you, and stick with it!

People will talk. But not all opinions should matter.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time...same blog time...same blog channel....

(For more information on wardrobe planning, or to sign up for my E-Zine, please visit my Wardrobe Planning Website.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

The 100 Thing Challenge

If you thought that I was being rather severe when I said that I will give away an item of clothing if I haven't worn it in the last year, wait till you hear about Dave Bruno.

Dave Bruno is really into minimalism. Not only as far as his closet goes, but for all of his possessions. He began what has now become a grass-roots movement called "The 100 Thing Challenge." The goal: pare down your possessions to a mere 100. And that includes clothes!

In an article titled "How to Live With Just 100 Things" in the June 5th issue of Time Magazine, Bruno admits he is down to five dress shirts and one necktie...but wasn't sure whether to give away one of his three pairs of jeans. However, he does count a pair of shoes as only one item.

This is not the first exercise in minimalism that has caught the public's attention. In 2005 Alex Martin started a performance project where she wore the same brown dress for 365 days in a row. You can read about her project at brown dress . The most amazing thing that she discovered was that the majority of people in her professional life didn't even notice she was wearing the same dress day in and day out!

Now I do have to say that both the exercises mentioned above are far more extreme than I would ever recommend to a client, let alone follow myself. Even so, when I share with clients my slightly more generous philosphy of paring down a closet, many of them initially balk at the idea of having "too few clothes." They can't imagine surviving with "so little." However, after doing the work of weeding out, they soon discover that having less is actually the key to developing that great wardrobe they've always wanted.

So even though I won't be joining Dave Bruno in his "100 Thing Challenge" anytime soon, I'd like to thank him and all his followers for demonstrating that not only is it possible, but perhaps also desirable to get by with fewer items in the closet.

(For more information on wardrobe planning, or to sign up for my free E-Zine, please visit my website.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Just For Fun

I'm absolutely floored by all that you can find at YouTube. I found this short video titled 1930's Futuristic Fashion Predictions that I thought you all my get a kick out of. It's really quite amazing.


(For more information on wardrobe planning, or to sign up for my free E-Zine, stop on by my website!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Book Alerts

In this week's issue of Wardrobe-Wise, I mentioned two books that I thought were really worthy of attention. I wanted to include links to these neat books in the E-Zine, but I wasn't able to get the HTML working correctly. So I decided I'd provide the links here at The Very Small Closet, instead.

The first book is Shop Your Closet: The Ultimate Guide to Organizing Your Closet With Style by Melanie Charlton Fascitelli. This is a simple, nicely laid-out guide to designing and organizing your closet space, full of fun, colorful illustrations, and written with pluck and wit.
From the back cover:

The Ten Commandments of Hanging
1. Thou Shalt Hang as Much as Possible in Thy Closet
2. Thou Shalt Not Hang Sweaters
3. Thou Shalt Banish Wire Hangers From Thy Closet
4. Thou Shalt Use Matching Hangers
5. Thou Shalt Use Appropriate Hangers for Appropriate Garments
6. Thou Shalt Not Kill Clothes With Plastic
7. Honor the Breathing Room of Thy Garments
8. Thou Shalt Not Hang Thy Garments With Strangers
9. Thou Shalt Color Code
10. Honor Thy Pants and Thy Sweaters

Check it out!

The second book is an interesting read titled Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are by Rob Walker. Anyone who is interested in personal branding or market trends would find this quite informative. I was particularly drawn to the information on how buyers today are increasingly relying on products as "conscious expressions of their identities."

Check it out:

See you next time...same blog time...same blog channel....

(For more Wardrobe Planning information, or to sign up for my free E-Zine, please visit my website.)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Letting Go and The Satisfaction of Plenty

The reason we hold on to clothes that I will discuss today encompasses all the of the aforementioned reasons that we hang on to clothing that we do not need...and yet it has a feeling all to itself.

The reason I refer to is the satisfaction of plenty. Just like enjoying a full belly is different from eating because you fear hunger, receiving satisfaction and comfort from a full closet is related to, but different from, hanging on to clothes because you fear the outcome of letting them go.

There are plenty of us who are comforted by the knowledge that we have a lot of stuff. You might know that it's really more than you need, but it pleases you that you have it at your disposal. It's not a love for a certain item of clothing. It's not sentimentality or nostalgia for this piece or that. It's the general warm and fuzzy feeling that you hold for quantity.

If you were to really dissect and examine this feeling, you might find at the heart of it a fear of lack. And you'd be partially right. But it's really more about the pleasure of acquisition and the belief that more is better, than anything else.

What do you do if this is you?

It comes down to making the decision that you would rather experience pleasure from quality over quantity. Quality meaning not only in form but in function: it looks great on you, you love it, and you wear it often. Would you rather have a very small closet that contains only the clothes that are guaranteed to make you look and feel fabulous every day? Or would you be happier just knowing that you have a lot of clothes?

In your mind, practice replacing one pleasure with another. Project yourself mentally into the future and imagine yourself feeling incredibly happy with your fantastic, streamlined wardrobe. Imagine how much easier it will be to get dressed each day, and how consistently stylish and put-together you will look. See yourself content and satisfied by the quality of your small wardrobe.

Then...choose to let go.

Not everyone would choose a very small closet. But you can tell which choice I would make....

See you next time...same blog time...same blog channel....

(Visit my Wardrobe Planning Website for more information or to subscribe to my E-Zine.)

Friday, June 6, 2008

An Uncertain Future -- One More Reason It's Hard To Let Go

Yesterday I shared how imagining all the future possibilities of an item of clothing can make it hard to let that item go. Today I'll talk about one aspect of that imagining -- the fear caused by an uncertain future.

What if....

Lurking in the back of our minds is the fear that we won't be able to provide for ourselves in the future. This isn't a vague "what if I want this item again someday" kind of fear, but a primal, instinctive fear of lack.

We can know that we are provided for today, in this very minute. All we have to do is look around ourselves and see everything that we have. But tomorrow is another story. And next year, the year after that...the further out in time we go from today, the less certainty we feel we have about our future.

You could lose your job....
Illness could strike....
A disaster could hit your home....
Anything could happen.

And then you might need the very same article of clothing you are contemplating giving away right now.

Panic strikes. You think, "If I don't keep this, I might not have any clothes when I really need them. I have to keep this just in case!"

Now is the moment you take a deep breath. You can imagine a million and one reasons to fear the future. But it is nearly impossible that they will all come to pass. Just like not wanting to let go of the past, fearing the future keeps you from truly living in the present.

Give yourself some credit. Know that no matter what comes your way, you will be able to handle it. Here are some ideas to focus on:

First of all, even without any new additions, a minimalist wardrobe in great shape will keep you well-dressed a nice long time. So should something unforeseen happen, you will still be well-provided for.

Second of all, think about the fact that that article of clothing (that you never wear) could be dressing someone else right now. At this very moment there is someone else in the world who would be delighted to be wearing what you haven't wanted to wear in who knows how long. (And if someone else wouldn't be delighted, then why are you hanging on to it, for goodness sake?) In the same way that you can help someone who is lacking, someone will be able to help you, should you ever need it.

And lastly, I want you to contemplate the idea that there are so many articles of clothing being manufactured in the world right now, that even if there were no new ones made beyond today, it's quite possible that we'd all have enough clothes to wear for a very long time.

So don't let a fear of the future convince you to keep clothes you should be letting go.

Next time I'll talk about how the comfort of plenty can keep us holding on to clothes that we really ought to let go. See you then...same blog time...same blog channel...

(For more information, or to sign up for my free weekly E-Zine, please visit my Wardrobe Planning website.)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Letting Go Part Three

Continuing in the letting go series, today I will talk about how imagining the future contributes to our reluctance to part with clothing.

Maybe it was at one time your favorite item of clothing, but it's been out of style for a decade. Or maybe you bought it last year on sale, but don't have anything to wear it with. Or maybe it's a really great piece, but it just doesn't fit you correctly, and so it never gets worn. What is going on here? Why are you unwilling to let articles like these go?

Perhaps it's due to imagining all the future possibilities. Someday in the future, these clothes will be in style again. Someday in the future you'll have lost the ten pounds. Someday in the future you'll have something to pair it with. Someday....

These are your someday clothes: the clothes that take up closet real estate because you imagine how great they could be at some point in the future.

These someday clothes can be the hardest ones to let go, because there is a grain of truth to your reasons for holding on to them. It is true that [insert whatever] could happen. And you will feel some guilt letting them go before their (imagined) potential is realized.

Nevertheless, these clothes aren't being worn now. For all that we imagine that we will wear something in the future, we rarely do. The clothes come back in style, but with an updated twist. You lose the weight, you want new clothes. You never really find an outfit for your closet orphan, because you've forgotten that it't there.

My advice? I tend to be ruthless. If it hasn't been worn in a year, or I have no plan for including it in my rotation this season, out it goes. Because the truth is, if you haven't worn it in the last year, you probably never will. Think about that year you will have had at least 90 opportunities per season to wear it. That's a lot of days!

Next time I'll talk about the darker side of imagining the future: the fear of uncertainty. See you then...same blog time...same blog channel....

(For more information on wardrobe planning, or to subscribe to Wardrobe-Wise, my free weekly E-Zine, please visit my website.)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Technical Difficulties

Hello everyone!

For those of you who have tried to contact me through my website, please know that I'm having some technical difficulties with getting my e-mail.

Hopefully the problem will be fixed soon, and I will respond to you right away.

Sorry 'bout that...I'm not ignoring you, I promise! :-)

Oh...and thanks to all of you who've subscribed to my E-Zine. The response has been just great!


Sunday, June 1, 2008

More On Letting Go

Last time I began the topic of why it is just so darn hard for us to let go of the clothes in our closets.

The reason I discussed was that clothes represent an investment of our money.

Today we'll look at the association factor.

I'm sure that many of you have at one time been reluctant to say goodbye to an article of clothing simply because of the memories you associate with it. Whether it was a period in your life that was really happy (college, perhaps), a special event (a wedding, a vacation), or a special person or group of people (your first love, your family) it can be really hard to let something go if the article has become a representation of the person, the good feeling or the event.

Sometimes, because the item signifies a moment in time that has already passed, we "hold on" to the item as if we could "hold on" to the person or the event or that time in our lives. And we can actually feel grief at the thought of letting it go, because that puts closure on the past. The thing to remember is that these items don't have any feelings -- we ascribe certain feelings (and sometimes magical properties) TO the items. The sweatshirt that your old boyfriend gave you doesn't share your nostalgia; it only inspires it. And holding on to the sweatshirt can't resurrect the past.

Now let me be clear: there are some clothes that are absolutely worth hanging on to. For example, you might be saving your wedding gown or a vintage piece for posterity. Should this be the case, then the rightful place for these items is carefully stored away from heat and bugs. If they are hanging out in your closet, then they are not only taking up valuable space, but they are being subjected to dust which can harm the fibers in the clothes over time.

But please don't hold on to the articles of clothing that are in your closet with no actual function except to remind you of times gone by. That means all the clothes you used to fit in to five years ago but havn't touched since you gained the weight. And the clothes that made you popular in high school...let them go! You want a closet full of clothes that fit you now, in the present time, and not a bunch of clothes that keep you anchored in the past.

Next time I'll continue the discussion on letting go. See you then...same blog time...same blog channel....

(For more information on wardrobe planning, or to subscribe to my E-Zine, please visit my website.)