Why your clothes should support your lifestyle (and how to figure out if they don't) [#2.3]
Updated: Sep 6, 2021
In this series of articles we are thoughtfully exploring ideas to help curate your own signature style.
There are five parts in this series, and I've written mini, less-than-5-minute articles within each one for you to explore bit by bit.
This article belongs to defining.
Enjoy this series~
“With good basics, you’ll have endless options.”
Uncle Len was a man who wanted for little: he had mostly everything he needed, to the point where it was very hard to buy a gift for him. But with just a couple of pairs of trousers, and similarly few shirts in his wardrobe, and an odd dish-dash or two, you might think otherwise. However, for Uncle Len's particular lifestyle and values, he had all he needed. Trips out to the opera occasionally. Having a coffee here and there. Lounging at home doing a puzzle or reading. The limited clothes he had accurately supported his needs.
On more than one occasion, I noticed there were several benefits to him keeping just a few strategically chosen clothes.
He never took too long to get ready;
He never hesitated about what he might need to wear for the activity to come;
And he always, always, looked authentically himself - and acted it too.
In many ways, clothes are a type of tool. They serve a very important purpose depending on what we are doing. It’s why there is protective wear, hard helmets and more. The same is true of how clothes support and facilitate our lifestyles.
For a long time my own wardrobe was saturated with too many evening dresses, shalwar kameez, saris, and dressy gowns that somehow took up more than 60% of the most visible space in my wardrobe and yet were worn by me for such events less than 5% of my time. It was not very functional at all. Having since balanced out my ratio of clothes vs lifestyle, I've found a big benefit of doing this is that you give space to the lifestyle you lead - and you get more of it. I noticed this most when I gave a designated space to workout clothes in my wardrobe. Exercise is important to me, and it has a very visible space in my wardrobe to reflect that. A whole section just dedicated to workout apparel. This visible space in my wardrobe also means I do end up exercising frequently - it’s easy to reach for those clothes and my favourites are always right where I need them to get going quickly. They’re not hidden away or given just a side space as an after-thought. They're a hallmark part of my clothing. Another revelation when I did this lifestyle vs wardrobe ratio activity was finding I spent an enormous amount of time working from home. Even pre-2020, a large part of my work was home based, rather than office. But I had very few clothes to support that part of my life. Even more than that, considering that I spend a lot of time at home - I noticed I had even fewer clothes to lounge around in than I probably needed.
After doing this activity I began to invest in some more pieces that became the kind of clothes I enjoyed wearing at home just because they were so soft, comfortable and freeing.
Having a designated comfy-cosy section of my wardrobe has very much changed how I feel at home, and being able to change my clothes from 'work at home' to 'lounge at home' has been an unexpectedly productive habit to have, especially during the kind of mandates that have been enforced this past year or so.
So, over to you:
Consider for a moment - do you have enough loungewear for the amount time you spend at home? What about workout wear? Do you have the right tools for the job?
Working out the ratio of types of clothes you need based on your lifestyle is a key part of curating a wardrobe that will support you effortlessly. What do you think your ratios will reveal when you do the lifestyle-wardrobe activity?
The next section shows some ways to go about it. This little activity is just to get you comparing what your lifestyle vs what clothes you have to support said lifestyle. You can use the circles (maybe print them out, or use a digital sketching format). Or you can just list hierarchically the percentage of time you spend, and the types of clothes you have. Here are a couple of ways to go about it - you can draw a couple of circles or you can print these ones: Lifestyle
(shade in the circle as if it’s a pie chart, showing the different portions of your life):
(shade in the ‘slices’ of different types of clothes you own):
Alternatively, you can fill in percentages or allocations out of ‘ten’ here:
Workwear: Dressy stuff: Work from home: Comfy/cosy/loungewear:
Working in the office/place of work: Working at home: Working out & exercising: Attending weddings/festivals/events Attending parties/nights out: Activities that require headgear/accessories: Breastfeeding/kiddy time: Cooking: Other (...):
For me, doing this activity was enough to notice that a big portion of my life was comfy-time at home, and less than a tiny ‘slice’ of my clothes supported that.
What's more, Uncle Len left a significant impact on my approach to owning and using the clothes that I have. Less was certainly more in his case. While it's not the same for everyone, his lifestyle vs. wardrobe ratio was perfect for him.
I hope you find some more balance in your own ratios, too. Whatever you found in doing this activity, it’s all useful information in helping arrange your wardrobe to support your unique lifestyle.