I’ve been thinking more lately about aligning with my ideal style with my very real wardrobe. I mean I think I’ve been thinking about this since I started shopping more intentionally and keeping a capsule wardrobe 5+ years ago. And yet….why do I still have a closet full of so many things that are almost-right?
Is there anything you both want to wear and are too afraid to wear? I think there are two or three reasons my ideal wardrobe and my real wardrobe are not the same. And I’m going to include some pinspiration in this post to show the kind of style I aspire to but am not yet wearing…
First, confidence. The things I pin over and over again that I really like aren’t always “pretty” looks. Instead I would say they’re more often “cool” or “interesting” (or, like the above, a “look” but maybe not a look for everyone). It’s hard to wear something that feels a little out there when your real friends and family are going to maybe comment on it.
I know this problem is largely in my head. I’m someone who freaks out about wearing visible socks with sneakers and no one has ever said a word about it when I muster the courage to walk out the door.
My confidence grows more every time I put on an outfit I really like and don’t immediately change out of it. So, I think style confidence is more of a muscle than anything else and I just need to re-commit to going for it, which might be easier now that I’m leaving the house more and have really missed dressing for fun.
Second, there’s a difference between fun impulse buys and long term good buys. I’m more likely to pick out a floral sundress on a whim at Target than I am to browse for the right black loafers. It makes me think about the Coke versus Pepsi taste test that Malcolm Gladwell debunks: Pepsi wins in a sip test because it’s sweeter, but more people would rather drink a full can of Coke.
That’s kind of how I feel about my closet: I am buying Pepsi because it’s an easier feeling to identify than the slow-building appreciation and interest I get for some clothes over time.
Third, and probably the most basic!!! My ideal closet is not in alignment with my shopping habits. I love COS and Modern Citizen yet I end up on the Madewell website. Why? I have some comfort brands because I know how they fit, I’ve been to the store before, and, sometimes, I’m on the email list so I get discount codes. The easiest switch I’ve made in the last month is when I think I “need” something I start on my ideal websites instead of my comfort websites (this also works for brands I browse secondhand). Mind. Blown.
Anyway. This is not a really complete thought at this point. It’s frustrating to both know what you want your closet to look like and feel that you’ll never quite arrive there.
At the same time, I know the myth of a “complete” or “perfect” closet is a marketing tactic disguised as minimalism. I included the first photo here because every once in a while (and, thankfully, more and more often!) I put on an outfit and think “wow, this is exactly what I want to wear today.” And I think that’s a feeling worth pursuing!
3 thoughts on “I know what I like. Why don’t I buy it?”
I love your inspiration photos! Would you be willing to share your Pinterest?
I have this same struggle and like your idea of using different default shopping destinations.
Yes! Here it is: https://www.pinterest.com/PhDinClothes
I’ve been kind of mulling this over too but went in a different direction with it. I think one issue with inspiration images is that, if we aren’t careful, it’s so easy to collect a bunch of images that don’t reflect our real lives and bodies. Sometimes I have to ask myself if I’m pinning an image because I like the outfit, or because I like the way a thin white model looks in the outfit. And also, will this work for my real life stomping around a snowy campus, teaching classes, slouching over my computer? Like am I inspired by the specific pieces or the overall feeling they evoke? And maybe my wardrobe doesn’t inspire that same emotion because it reflects real life.
But also, yes to getting outside of our comfort zones and outfit formulas when we start to feel stifled.
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