I’m a ’90s girl. I can’t help it.

When Cher Horowitz fired up her customized closet computer, scrolled through her clothing options (with a TOUCH SCREEN!! That was some crazy technology, for sure!), and finally was rewarded with the ideal, now-iconic, matching yellow plaid blazer-and-mini-with-corresponding-sweater-vest ensemble, I was officially in love.

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But, let’s face it. Cher’s system was incredibly impractical. I mean, honestly, exactly how many outfits could one reasonably make with a bright yellow plaid mini-skirt? Outside of the one, I just don’t see it happening. It also seemed to be a system based on pretty strict fashion rules. I mean, why did it say that first outfit was a mismatch? A black skirt with a printed jacket? Was that really so wrong? What else did it THINK she should be pairing with a black skirt?

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Then again, Cher certainly had the closet space to hold on to all of those very specialized, only-once-in-a-very-great-while outfits. Can’t really say the same for me. I’m operating out of your standard, 2’x6′ wall closet with accordion doors. Which is why I recently undertook the challenge of creating a minimalist, “Capsule” wardrobe for myself. Basically, I went through my clothes (several times), got rid of a TON of stuff, and kept only what I believed I could wear at any time. And with anything. Basically, I’ve been trying to create a closet that is Garanimals for Adults.

The keys to a Capsule wardrobe are simplicity and sternness. Keep it (relatively) neutral. Don’t hold on to sentimental pieces for no reason. Think about your clothes as not individual pieces, but as parts of a whole. And, for God’s sake, you’ll never get that marinara stain out; just throw the thing away already! The theory is that, by treating your clothing this way, you actually create more unique, individual outfits by investing in fewer, more versatile pieces. This way, if you have only, say, 10 shirts, and 3 pairs of pants, you still have a possible total 30 outfits you can make with these pieces. Add two cardigans, or a few belts, and you’re multiplying your outfits! (Think about how many thousands of combinations you can make at Chipotle using only about 20 ingredients. Same idea. If not slightly less delicious.)

Woah. 30 individual outfits? MORE with just a few accessories? I (like, I think, many people) am currently rotating through about a half dozen outfits regularly. Could this really be possible? Could I really go an entire month without repeating an outfit? And could I be doing this with fewer clothes staring at me from my fluorescent-illumined closet?

I’ve decided to give it a try. I’m cutting down my wardrobe, and I’m going to wear everything in it. Everything. And, to make sure that I’m being truly honest, I’m going to dress like Cher. Starting on February 1st, I’m going to let a computer dress me for 38 days. Why 38? Well, because I couldn’t bring myself to pare down my clothes any further than that (for now). I got myself down to:

  • 38 shirts, not counting about a half dozen random tees I use for sleeping.
  • 7 pairs of pants, not counting dress pants. I do still own three pairs of dress pants (white, grey, and brown pairs) but I decided to omit those from this experiment, as I’m a stay-at-home parent, and a substitute teacher at a preschool, and, well, fingers are sticky and dress pants are expensive. I’ll just be wearing my “everyday” pants for the duration of this experiment.
  • 13 pairs of shoes (this includes my “specialty” shoes, such as snow boots and my wedding heels [that I’m NEVER giving up! They’re hot pink and ruffly, and gorgeous and sexy!]).

Following along with the rules as I understood them based on the Pinterest boards I found, I color coordinated all of my clothes, assigned each one a number, and used an online random number generator to first sort all of the tops into a list, then to pair them up with a bottom.

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My. Entire. Wardrobe.

As it will be February, and there are tank tops on this list, I’m reserving the right to add “layering” pieces (mostly my absolute favorite I-am-never-seen-without-one cardigans), and I get to make shoe choices myself. But the base outfits will remain exactly as the computer selected them.

My clothes for the next 38 days. The print out of my wardrobe looks like a page full of mug shots. Some of them really ain’t pretty.

I hope that this experiment helps to free me up from old clothes that I’ve been holding on to for years now (my ideal goal is to get my closet down to 25 tops). And I hope that it gives me some ideas for outfits that I hadn’t considered before now. But I hope that it also frees me from this strange fear, or obsession, or I-don’t-even-know-what-to-call-it that keeps screaming in my head that my personality, that my actual being, is somehow tied up in all of the things that I own, the things with which I surround myself. Clothing is a pretty easy start for me. As a SAHM, my clothes aren’t really “important.” If I look a little weird one day during this experiment, it won’t cost me a client, or create a running joke around the water cooler (though my style-obsessed kindergartner will likely tease me). But it’s an important start. One that I hope will lead to other starts. And maybe it’ll finish someplace simpler, cleaner, and with a whole lot more “me” and a whole lot less “that.”

I’ll try to post short, weekly recaps of this experiment as I go, with pictures of all of my computer generated outfits, so you all can judge for yourselves how things seem to be going (and what I could possibly do without).

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