How to Create a Wardrobe You Love

Back in the 1970’s, I was an aspiring model. Fashion was my focus and passion and I wanted to wear unique pieces that nobody else had. My wardrobe was filled to overflowing with clothes and shoes. The photo above was taken in Perth City in 1976 as part of a portfolio shoot and I was wearing my much loved Jag Jeans. They cost AU$50 which was mammoth back then. I believed that I could never be too thin or have too many clothes.

Everyone has been talking and writing about the Minimalism documentary this past month. It shows the ugly side of consumerism and features many approaches to living life with less. Most of which struck a chord with me. The tiny house concept – not so much. We lived in a caravan while we built our own home back in the late 1980’s. We had three little kids all under seven crammed into that little space for 10 long cold months through the wettest winter in living memory. So for me, over tiny dwellings.

Since watching, I have thought a lot about that documentary.

Particularly about Courtney Carver who spoke about Project 333 which she created along with her blog, Be More With Less, in 2010.

Project 333 was a challenge Courtney created to refine her wardrobe down to 33 items only which she wore (and photographed) for three months. You can read more about Courtney and Project 333 here.

I still love fashion and beautiful clothes. But the reality is that I have spent most of my life feeling very unhappy about clothes. Always feeling like I just need to purchase one more garment and then my wardrobe will work. At times I have felt stressed by the need to buy something new because of an event that I believed required a new dress. I have been standing in my walk in wardrobe, surrounded by clothing and feeling like I have nothing to wear. Then there is the body image issues that have plagued me. Gosh even writing about it makes me feel greedy and ungrateful.

What made me change my wardrobe thinking?

Ten months ago, my husband quit his job and began consulting on commission. This meant that we had a substantial drop in income with no guaranteed date for when he would start earning again. I made the decision right then that I would not buy any new clothes unless absolutely required.

In that ten months I have purchased one pair of shoes ($50 from Walnut online), one shawl (while travelling) and one full length dress (Sasha Drake Column Dress) which was to wear to a formal dinner plus my Mum and Dad gave me a lovely Kelly & Hunt dress for Christmas. No other clothing or shoe purchases for ten months and I have enough.

I have travelled on a Baltic Cruise and spent ten days in Hawaii. I have spoken at several events and attended quite a few business and social functions. I have also dropped 11kg in weight and I have enough clothes.

I have even had enough clothes to donate some as my weight has dropped and they no longer fit me well.

A massive mindset shift has taken place for me. I am happy with my clothes. I don’t worry about what I will wear.

My clothing collection is relatively small but it is efficient. I am no longer a victim of fashion, feeling compelled to purchase to keep up or needing to buy clothes to give me a confidence boost. I have pared down and simplified my wardrobe. I wear my favourite things – I was saving them before.

I want everything in my wardrobe to bring me joy and every garment be a pleasure to wear.

My simplified wardrobe feels lighter, happier and more kind.

Here are some great tips from Nikki Parkinson on how to edit your clothes and shoes.

Do you think you could survive with only 33 garments for the next three months?


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15 Replies to “How to Create a Wardrobe You Love”

  1. Great post Debra. Quality over quantity.
    I’ve always been conscious about what to buy. Sometimes is not about the money, it is just to find the that right piece that makes you fall in love. And because that doesn’t happen very often I have a quite reduced wardrobe.
    I read once this interesting concept: before buying an item make a ROI analysis. Ask: How many times do I think I am going to wear this item? The answer will help you determine if the money you are investing in that piece will bring you positive returns or not. You might find after this analysis that you probably are going to wear a few times in a year. It helps you to make a more conscious decision. I hope this concept helps.

    1. The cost per wear analysis is a very good idea Ricardina. If you love a quality garment, you may pay more but get years of pleasure from it. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  2. What a wonderfully well written post! I really love the fact that I can heavily relate! I’ve always dabbled in and out of being a minimalist when it comes to my wardrobe and only keeping things that I wear. My new concept that has been working quite well is when I buy something new (honestly not that often) I have to donate something in my wardrobe before adding that new piece!
    Nicely done Debra!

  3. I think I could do that to be honest. I’m a simple dresser and mostly casual. For me, denim and a few T-shirts/ tops would do me well for 3 months. I tend to dress things up or change the personality of my outfits with makeup and/or jewellery. Great post!

  4. I am a fashion blogger but totally agree with less is more.
    I try to make smart decisions to purchase items that will be classic and last the test of time!

    Also woweee!I can’t believe you lived with 3 little kids in a caravan! Thats amazing! I’ve always wanted to live in a caravan and travel Aus for a year!

    x Luciana

  5. I think this is a fantastic idea! I totally struggle with the imbalance of wanting new clothes and “editing” my wardrobe of older items. Maybe I will give this minimalist thing a try!

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