I’m going to ask you to use your imagination for a second. Picture this:
BEEP…BEEP…BEEP, your alarm disrupts the silence in your bedroom, waking you from your peaceful slumber. Unwillingly, you crack an eye open and reach over to silence the noise. You think to yourself, “Ughh is it morning already?”. You coast in bed, snoozing your alarm a few times before finally standing up to open your window, allowing sunlight wash over your face and illuminate your room. It’s time to affront the day. You can do this, Carpe Diem.
Lazily, you walk to your closet knowing that if there’s anything that can make your morning better it’s finding a great outfit to help you endure the long day ahead. Optimistic, you browse through your options, but as you dig through your closet, you think to yourself: “Boring!” – throwing aside an overused dress, “Ugh, why did I even buy this?” – shoving a hideous shirt into the depths of your closet never to be worn again, “What? I own this?” – spotting a pair of ill-fitting jeans you vaguely remember purchasing years ago. Your initial optimism gradually dwindles as you continue your search.
Finally, you put something on. You glance at your reflection, and decide to take it off, dropping it on the floor. You can do better. Starting your search again, you find something else, put it on, then take it off. You repeat this cycle so many times you lose count. Half an hour later your mood is significantly dampened by your disappointment. “Well, I have nothing to wear”, you think as you’re standing in your underwear, at a loss, while most of your clothes lie in a pile at your feet. You hastily glance at the clock, and to your dismay, realise you’re going to be late.
Defeated by your own belongings, you sigh, adorning the first thing you tried on before going through your entire closet. You move on to start your day, but something is not right, you’re mentally struggling to settle for your choice of dress. Unable to shake your discomfort you decide this needs to change. You’ll have to start tomorrow though, you’re already late as it is.
I’m sure most women can relate to this daily struggle, I know I do. This happens to me a lot. It’s unfair that men have it so easy. Sure, maybe they have fewer options, but they’re lucky that an outfit for them boils down to this simple ‘formula’:
Outfit = Pants + Shirt + Shoes
Within those three ‘variables’ there is a limited range of styles to select from. It’s simply a matter of choosing between long pants or shorts, jeans or trousers, t-shirt or dress shirt, sneakers or moccasins. Even formal ware is easy. The only decisions necessary are choosing between a tie or bow tie to match with what colour suit. It’s that simple. Women, instead, have so many options and combinations that it becomes overwhelming to make a choice. It’s a common fact that stereotypes often have some degree of truth behind them. However, the stereotype that women, despite having too much clothing, still ‘never have anything to wear’, is extremely accurate, and with good reason.
Outfit combinations for women are far more complicated than they are for men. They can’t even be generalized to ‘a top + a bottom + shoes’. Common combinations include: ‘pants + shirt + shoes’ or ‘skirt + shirt + shoes’ or ‘dress + shoes’. Though the options don’t appear to be significantly more substantial than those for menswear, you have to consider that each category, unlike for men, expands exponentially.
Pants, what kind of pants? Jeans, skinny jeans, trousers, silk pants, harem pants, cropped pants, shorts, high wasted shorts, lace shorts, the options are endless. Shirts, what kind of shirts? T-shirts, blouses, crop tops, dress shirts, button downs, asymmetrical tops, sheer tops, peplum tops, layered tops, the options never end. Dresses, what kind of dresses? Long, short, off shoulder, one shoulder, cocktail dress, gown, straight dress, backless, strapless, could there be any more choices? Shoes, what shoes? Flats, sneakers, sandals, heels, stilettos, boots, high-heeled boots, ankle boots, flip-flops, gladiator sandals, wedges, my head hurts just thinking about the choices! I think you get the idea. A woman can have a closet packed with individual pieces of clothing, and despite that, not have any workable combinations. Sometimes even if you have a great outfit, it may not suit your body type, an issue that’s not common for men. It’s a lot harder mixing and matching women’s clothing than menswear.
A few weeks ago I was discussing this issue with one of my good friends who has a flawless sense of style. She always looks like she’s ready to walk down a runway or attend fashion week, even in the most casual of settings. Looking at her, you would think it took her hours to get ready in the morning. However, a sleepover revealed this was not true. Unbelievably, it took her only fifteen minutes to get ready. FIFTEEN! I was shocked, envious, and in awe. Naturally, I asked her what her secret was. Her answer, though surprising, was so logical I don’t know how I hadn’t come to the same conclusions myself. She revealed to me that she had four rules when it came to shopping:
- Less is more. Buy less clothing, but purchase better quality pieces that will last longer. Less clothing means fewer options to match and consequently less time spent making a decision. It’s also a good investment and pays off over time, especially if you’re on a budget.
- Don’t shop for the sake of shopping. Window shopping is your worst enemy, especially retail therapy. You may think it’s gratifying in the moment, but it’ll only come back to bite you later when your closet is so full you can’t find anything without getting a migraine. Know what you want and what need and purchase only that. Don’t get tempted by sales or unbelievably cheap price tags. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.
- Find your style and stick to it. Find inspiration from magazines, fashion icons, or simply by observing street style. If someone has a style you love or a certain piece of clothing you can’t stop pining over, find a way to incorporate these elements into your own wardrobe. What colours flatter you? What cuts? Find out, and only buy those. Find the perfect look for you and stick to it. Your wardrobe as a whole will be more cohesive this way.
- Buy outfits not individual items. Perhaps the most important rule of them all. By buying an outfit instead of many individual pieces, in situations where you’re short on time, any piece of clothing you pick from your closet will belong to an outfit, so dressing up will be a no brainer. Like my friend, you’ll save time in the morning without compromising the quality of your outfit. Combined with rule number 3, there’s an additional benefit, you’ll be able to mix and match elements from different outfits easily when you want to change things up.
I highly suggest you follow these guidelines if you want a stress free, clutter free life. Though it takes a while for the benefits to kick in, as you have to filter through your clothes – and that takes time – it is extremely useful and effective. You’ll be much happier, have more time, and you’ll always be stylish – even when you’re in a rush. Whoever says being fashionable is too time consuming or too much of an effort, is wrong. They clearly aren’t approaching personal fashion effectively. If you want to effortlessly look like you’ve just stepped out of the latest edition of Vogue, consider this method. And, of course, don’t forget to complete your outfits with a smile. As Christian Dior said: “Happiness is the secret to all beauty. There is no beauty without happiness.”