It’s a problem that’s plagued women since the beginning of… wardrobes. We open the closet door, are immediately overwhelmed by the sheer amount of clothing stuffed in there, and yet reach for the same thing to wear, day in and day out. I mean, it’s not just me, right? Didn’t think so.
As someone with a particularly traumatic past of clothes hoarding (1 Marie Kondo book + 30 garbage bags of mostly unworn clothes = deep regret and the realisation that I could have put a deposit on a house with all I’d spent on clothing) I’m fascinated by why so many of us find it so easy to shop and yet so difficult to dress in more than 10% of what we own.
This is a big topic, so it won’t be the last you hear from me on the topic, however today I wanted to start by honing in on what may be a comedy of errors on your wardrobe — in no particular order. You ready for this?
1. You’re storing a range of sizes
At my wardrobe’s lowest (and fullest) point, I had from size 6s to size 12s in my wardrobe. All of them had fitted me at some point, so I felt justified in keeping them. However, this meant the illusion of many options, when in reality only X% of them fit you.
2. You’re hanging onto stuff you don’t feel good in
Whether it’s because you used to look good in it, you spent too much on it, or there’s a sentimental attachment to it, we have all sorts of reasons for hanging onto clothing but rarely is it because you feel like a million bucks when you wear it.
3. You can’t find anything
Believe it or not, more is not more when it comes to clothing. Allowing your pieces space to breathe makes them look more appealing, avoid getting crushed, and most importantly, easier to see when considering your options.
4. You have nothing interesting to wear
If you’re like me, you see “basics” as the best investment, so you buy 1 in each colour only to end up with a wardrobe full of basic (aka boring) pieces and no fun colours, prints, textures or shapes to mix things up.
5. You don’t have time to experiment
Stylish people didn’t get that way by accident. They create thoughtful outfit combinations, guided by years of trial and error, experimentation and having fun with their clothing.
6. You’re an impulse shopper
“Ooohhh sequins!” “Ooohhh my favourite colour!” “Ooohhh the perfect cocktail dress!” It’s so easy to fall into the trap of buying pieces that you love on their own without considering the role they’ll play in your wardrobe — then you get home and realise they go with nothing. NOTHING I TELL YOU! 😭
Next time you go shopping, run the item in question through this simple test: Can you immediately think of 3 different ways to wear it? (Whether that’s completely different outfits or ways to accessorise it, multiple outerwear pieces to go over it etc). If not, do not buy it.
7. You’re a bargain hunter who loves markdowns
Deep down I’m sure you realize this, but I’m here to remind you: When items are marked down, it’s often for a good reason. If you’re lucky, they made too many in your size and it’s a true bargain. However, if they’re sitting on the rack in every size, it’s probably because it’s poorly made, a weird cut, too trend-driven or one of a hundred other reasons it’s not a good investment for your wardrobe.
8. You’re shopping for your dream life
It can be so tempting to buy that perfect little black dress, the sky-high leopard print pumps or that blingy statement jacket that makes you look like a movie star. But are you
9. You don’t know how to accessorise
We often blame a boring “base” wardrobe for our lack of fun clothing options, but it’s likely you just don’t know how to make your wardrobe staples look pulled together and a little bit spesh by adding the cherry on top — accessories.
10. You don’t have a cohesive colour palette
While there’s no rule that says you can only dress in a set number of colours, you’ll find mixing and matching SO much easier if you create a wardrobe colour palette for yourself as a guide. I love Anuschka Rees’ approach of 2 x neutrals, 3 x mains and 4 x highlights but you can work it any way you want.
11. You keep buying the same item
Believe it or not, you don’t need 5 pairs of “the perfect work pants”. If you wear them every day, you could get 2… but wouldn’t it be more fun to alternate them with a different colour or cut of pants? Or even a skirt? Don’t freak out — I’m just spit-ballin’ here.
12. There’s a hole in your wardrobe
Sometimes it’s just one category of clothing that’s missing that can plug a crucial hole in your wardrobe and make all the difference. For us basics lovers, it might be statement pieces. For skirt-lovers, do you have enough tops to mix and match with your skirts?
13. Your underwear sucks
Seriously. I’ve so often gone to wear something that excited me, only to find out that my bra was visible due to the low cut, the skirt required suck-in undies, or you could see my back rolls due to the bra straps. Investing in some good bras and undies will CHANGE YOUR LIFE (and, wardrobe, obvs).
14. You don’t know what you like any more
This is such a big one. Our style tastes evolve over the years, but we tend to use muscle memory to go shopping meaning we buy things we liked in previous decades, but no longer feeling like “us” in them.
15. Your self-confidence is being crushed
If you’re into following style bloggers on Instagram, pinning street style fashion in Pinterest, reading fashion magazines or even just have a bunch of stylish Facebook friends, there’s a good chance you don’t even feel worthy of trying to dress your best. Whether it’s the lack of “perfect” body or high-end clothing that’s holding you back, social media has a special talent for getting us to compare ourselves to what we see on our feeds and it’s crushing our confidence AND creativity.
Whew. That was a big list. Now I’d love to hear from you about whether you found any (or all!) of those relatable. Comment below to let me know what your wardrobe struggles are and if you’d like a follow-up article with some advice on how to get past them!
Kat is an actor and personal branding coach as well as the host of The Personal Branding Project Podcast and her self-titled YouTube channel. She started her career off by playing Marilyn at Warner Bros Movie World, went on to perform in the original Australian casts of Jersey Boys & Hairspray and eventually found herself writing/producing her own work before becoming a self-employed copywriter and marketing strategist. She now offers 1:1 Coaching and Online Courses for entrepreneurs, freelancers + multi-passionate creatives.