Saturday, March 3, 2012

Clothing Purge

Ever since Caleb was born I've felt like I had a ton of clothes and not much to wear. It's a pretty common post-baby problem. I didn't even begin to resemble my pre-pregnancy weight until 9 months after Caleb was born and only in the past 4-5 months have I been at my college weight. I'd love to say it's because I took great care of myself, ate well and exercised, but I can thank 3 back-to-back stomach flus for shedding those last few pounds. It's not a weight loss program I recommend.

That said, I still feel like I have nothing to wear. Being a mom is hard on your clothes. Even though I'm back to my pre-baby weight, my body has totally changed. I've gained 2 cup sizes, so most of my shirts are too tight, the skin on my lower stomach still has a slight sag from carrying my precious babe (this took me a looong time to come to peace with, but I'm finally there!), and I lost numerous shirts to baby spit-up stains. Apparently, stomach acid works a bit like bleach.

Combine all that with the fact that, frankly, I haven't done much clothes shopping since before I started grad-school so most of my clothes are at least 5 years old. They are starting to fade, shrink, pill, and get weird squiggles and sags around the necklines. Since I'm not a fan of shopping, it's hard for me to motivate myself to go looking for new cloths until my wardrobe is in this sad state.

My overstuffed closet, filled with clothes that no longer fit and/or make me look like I'm in high school again, and not in a flattering way.

A few weekends ago, David and I decided to use our once-a-month date time to get some shopping done. I figured going through my closet and determining what I had, what I needed and what mistakes NOT to repeat would count as my warm up for Project Simplify.

Here are my lessons learned:

1. If it needs to be ironed, I am never going to wear it.
2. If I don't absolutely love the fit and color in the store, it doesn't matter how great a deal it is, I won't buy it.
3. If it shows my bra strap, cleavage, or is sheer I am not going to feel comfortable wearing it anywhere, ever.
4. The item must flatter my new mom body and not make me look 15 or 85.
5. I don't work outside the home anymore. Professional button down shirts are out, but some sassy looking jeans and pretty shirts are in. Patterns that hide stains well are a bonus.

Clothes to be donated are in the back pile. Clothes to be tried on are in the front pile.

Even with all this gone, I was left with a pretty full closet, which Caleb is making even fuller in this photo : ) A number of the clothes that are left are showing signs of wear, but are still passable for now.

Mistakes not-to-be-repeated fresh on my mind, it was time to make my shopping list. My wardrobe is another area of my life I'm trying to simplify. I have a dresser and a closet for clothing storage. I could probably fit all the items I actually wear into one or the other. The rest is just wasting space and adding to the things I need to clean and maintain.

That said, to make a small wardrobe really functional, each peice should be able to mix and match with several others and should reflect the stage of life I'm in (ie: no ironing, dry cleaning or handwashing required).

Here was my personal shopping list for our day out:

- 3-4 Basic long sleeve shirts. Mine need to be replaced badly.

-Nice looking fleece pullover. I have one fleece, but in a color that isn't the best for my skin tone, not to mention shows every smear of baby food and piece of lint. It kills me to spend money to get something I already have, but this is such a staple of my wardrobe (as a layer in the winter and my go-to jacket in the fall and spring) that I think it's worth it to have one that really works for me.

-Ivory peep toe shoes.I'm a bridesmaid again!

-Non-sneaker everyday shoes. I'm thinking knock off Tom's.

-New slippers. Mine are falling apart.

-1 pair of jeans that fit perfectly. I currently have 3 pairs of pants (1 khaki, 1 corduroy, 1 pair of jeans) that fit me well and I find myself typically needing 1 more before laundry day.

-Cute yoga pants. Confession: I'm a huge fan of the elastic waist band. David is ok with that, as long as I still look cute in them. Meaning sweatpants are out, which is fine by me because they make me feel frumpy anyway!

I knew shopping at the mall (even an outlet mall) was going to be a challenge for me. I tend to be a bit of a tid-wad very frugal when it comes to clothing. Going through my closet, I had to own up that my frugality has actually contributed to the clutter. How many shirts were in my donate pile that I bought just because they were a good deal and looked "ok"? If I hardly ever wore that item, it wasn't a good deal.

In an ideal world, I would buy everything from thrift stores. Not only do they save money, but I like the fact that I become one more step removed from a clothing industry that tends to pay it's CEO's well and it's factory workers less than a living wage. However, since moving to a small town, I've had difficulty find clothing in thrift stores that isn't already looking pretty worn out. Baby clothes are the exception, although even those racks require quite a bit of picking through.

As it turned out, our outlet mall was having an awesome President's Day sale and I was able to find 1 long sleeve shirt, 1 short sleeve shirt, cute yoga pants, and the perfect pair of jeans for about 50% of their usual outlet price. We also found 2 pairs of much needed shoes for David and Caleb's last set of onesies ever *sniffle sniffle* (they don't make them in sizes larger than 24 months. I guess I'm supposed to start potty training or something by then ; )

Here are two articles that inspired me to have a "less is more" clothing philosophy and to be willing to pay a little bit more for clothing that is quality and really works with my body type and lifestyle:

How to Choose a Shirt

Creating a Wardrobe that Works for You

In case you're wondering if I have such severe "mess blindness" that I missed the clutter filling the rest of the closet, I'm happy to say my condition is not so severe. I'm looking forward to tackling that on week 3 of project simplify. I'm so excited to be making progress, one bite at a time!

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