My friend Sarah Cooley is the founder & CEO of Simply Curated, and makes beautiful hand-poured soy wax candles out of her studio in Grand Rapids, MI. She has long been an inspiration to me as an entrepreneur, and continually blows me away with her tech savvy. She graciously agreed to write a guest post about her recent weight loss journey and subsequent wardrobe overhaul:
Over the past year, I've been on a journey of self-care, healing and weight loss. The healing and self-care came first, then I was able to actually work out a plan that has worked for me and in the last 6 months, I've lost 50 lbs. While that feat is amazing, it left me with a real situation: I had nothing to wear!
In the last 6 months, I've lost 50 lbs. While that feat is amazing, it left me with a real situation: I had nothing to wear!
I'd been aware for some time of the horrors of the fashion industry, fast fashion, etc. but I simply didn't care how I looked and didn't want to invest in good quality or ethical clothing when I didn't want to remain the size I was forever. But now, I was a whole new size and facing a new (much colder) season, and almost all of the things I wore last Fall/Winter no longer fit. I was faced with the prospect of having to purchase an entirely new wardrobe and believe me, I did NOT have the money to do so!
What I ended up doing has changed my life and my views on shopping and dressing forever!
Aggressively Purging My Closet
It started with researching a capsule wardrobe. As a minimalist, the idea appealed to me but I was unsure if I would actually be able to live with so few items in my closet. So I decided to approach it with a VERY loose structure. The first step was cleaning out my ENTIRE closet! Now I can't stress this enough, I have a VERY small closet! Many of the clothes I owned weren't actually in my closet, they were in bins under the bed, in piles on the floor - to say that it was disorganized would be an understatement! So I took everything out and tried it all on! Anything that no longer fit, wasn't flattering, or was just worn out, went into one of 2 piles, donate or sell.
You see, one key piece of this wardrobe transformation for me has been finding a good secondhand store, preferably somewhere you can also sell your clothes. I'm still losing weight, and while I have a list of wonderful ethical small brands I want to shop with, I simply don't have the budget to replace everything again in 6 months.
Ok back to the wardrobe clean out. I ended up with bags and bags full of clothes to get rid of! In fact, I was amazed that there were that many clothes in my apartment that I didn't have a use for anymore. It's amazing how many things we hold onto for no reason. I had a bright yellow American Apparel off the shoulder top that had somehow made it through a move from NY to MI and 2 apartment moves since then. I don't think I've worn it in at least 5 years. Why was this article of clothing still a part of my wardrobe?!
Cladwell: Your Clueless Wardrobe Fantasy Come To Life
Then I was left with the realization that I really wasn't going to have anything to wear once the weather got cooler. I also noticed that I now had way too many grey t-shirts and only 1 pair of jeans that fit. Enter Cladwell, an app that lets you catalog your wardrobe and then makes outfit suggestions based on the weather that day.
I discovered this app via a Facebook ad, and it couldn't have come into my life at a more perfect time. "Every day we give you new and inspiring outfit recommendations from the clothes already in your closet. From there, we track your outfits, and help you discover the right items to add to your closet, all without taking a single photo."
The app lets you create the virtual version of your closet without having to take photos to catalog all the items you own. You simply select the item that is the most like what you own, and voila! You have your very own Clueless style virtual wardrobe!
Filling In The Gaps In My Capsule Wardrobe
Armed with an app filled with all the things I DID own, I was able to quickly see what pieces were missing from my closet to make it functional. I knew I had lots of t-shirts, but I was lacking sweaters and other layering pieces. I also needed to add in a few more pairs of jeans since I only had 1 pair left that fit properly and I basically live in jeans. This is where a good secondhand shop came in. I was able to sell a few of my old pieces that were still in good condition but just no longer fit, and find what I needed for a fraction of the retail price.
I employed the capsule wardrobe practice of making a list of missing pieces and only being allowed to shop for those things. And having a catalog of my current wardrobe on my phone made it easy to say "no, I have something like that in my closet already" when shopping.
The app also made me fall in love with the pieces I owned all over again. Here are a few examples of outfits I wore and how they were suggested in the app.
After using this app for a month I realize how many things I own still that I don't actually wear, and I will be further paring down my wardrobe soon.
I've been using the app for almost 2 months now, and I'm impressed at it's ability to come up with outfit combinations I wouldn't normally think of. Having a current catalog of all the clothing I own has stopped me from purchasing new things, and also helped me practice the 1 in - 1 out rule for my closet. If I lose a size and need a new pair of skinny jeans, I have to sell or donate the current pair I have when I find a new one.
A Few Helpful Takeaways
- Empty your closet - I promise you are holding onto things you don't need
- Make sure you can see everything you're left with - if you can't see it, you won't wear it!
- If you feel like you can't afford the small ethical brands, make second hand stores your friend. Don't forget that we vote with our dollars - make your money count!