Recently, I explained why many women struggle with style despite owning lots of clothes. Today I’m diagnosing the most common personality traits that contribute to this ironic conundrum. Are you a “high end hoarder”, an “aspirational buyer” or a “shy styler”? Most women are more than one!
The Hoarder: When it comes to clothes, you just can’t let go! You view donating “perfectly good” garments as a profound waste. You subscribe to the belief that there is a theoretical future occasion to justify holding onto any garment. You may be a “high-end hoarder” who can’t let go anything designer (even though you never wear them), or an “indiscriminate hoarder” attached to every worn out, hand-me-down you’re ever owned. Either way, you’re guilty of hoarding and in need of a detox.
Solution: Accept that unworn clothes are not useful. This is true no matter what designer label is attached to them or how practical they may be in theory. Clothes that sit idle in your closet are space wasters and psyche invaders. If you truly despise wastefulness, prove it by donating unworn clothes to people who will actually wear them.
The Overwhelmed Annie: You suffer from the paradox of choice. With a vast amount of poorly organized items to choose from, assembling garments into a great outfit is time-consuming and stressful.
Solution: Stop selecting clothes as individual items. Take the capsule wardrobe approach to shopping by making purchasing decisions based on what works with the best of what you have at home.
The Repeater: Most of your wardrobe is a variation of a single theme. Perhaps all your clothes are black. Perhaps you own 30 pairs of blue jeans and 40 t-shirts. Maybe you’ve nailed a sophisticated office look, but have nothing outside of your pencil skirts and blazers to wear on the weekend. You have many clothes, but they all combine into just one or two looks.
Solution: Audit your closet! Take an inventory of what you have and determine what you still need for a more flexible wardrobe. Write a list of the missing links in your closet and stick to it when shopping!
The Poor-Fit Fashionista: Your clothes looks great in your closet, but something is lost in translation on your body. Perfect fit is the foundation of style. If your closet is weighed down with garments that are too tight, shapelessly large, the wrong proportions for your frame or not draping nicely on your body, they’ll never make you look stylish.
Solution: Tailor anything that is too big and get rid of anything that is too small. Make the perfect fit your number one priority when purchasing new items. No matter how great the sale or close to perfection the item, WALK AWAY anything that don’t fit or flatter you.
The Theoretician: Your purchasing decisions are good in theory, but bad in practice. Sometimes we get so caught up in a trend or piece of fashion advice that we rush out to buy a “must have” item that doesn’t really work for us. True, most style gurus peach that “every woman needs a classic white shirt”, but if you have no place to wear it, or nothing but cargo shorts to go with it, it’s just going to be a classic cobweb collector in your closet!
Solution: Apply multiple discretionary criteria when selecting clothing. Items must pass the tests of fit, appropriateness, lifestyle utility and coordinating with your existing wardrobe.
The Uncertain: Sometimes we neglect the gems in our closet because we just aren’t sure how to style them or don’t have the right clothing to pair them with.
Solution: Identify the hidden gems in your closet and work out a strategy to incorporate them into your outfit rotation. Perhaps you need basic black pant to tone down the flamboyant cheetah print wrap top that fits you like a dream. Maybe the silk scarf you never wear just needs to be tied in a way you never tried before. Take advantage of Pinterest, Polyvore and fashion sites to get focused styling tips.
The Aspirational Buyer: Perhaps you have an irresistible attraction to bohemian beach looks but work in a corporate office in Minnesota. Maybe you’re hanging onto to clothing from your club-hopping single days, but currently spend your weekends at play groups with your children. Buying clothes can be a psychological connection to a lifestyle we’ve lost or lust after. Being inspired by elements beyond your every day life can be a great thing, but buying clothes you can’t actually wear is delusional and self-defeating.
Solution: Always identify exactly where and how you will wear clothes before purchasing them. If there’s unlikely to be an opportunity to wear it in your actual life within the next week or two, don’t buy it! At the same time, recognize what your style urges are trying to tell you. Maybe it’s time to plan a vacation or organize more social nights. Use your money to support tangible lifestyle improvements, not symbolic tokens that will only make you feel worse when you see them unworn in your closet day after day.
The Shy Styler: Sometimes we buy soul-stirring clothing that hangs unworn in our closet because we’re not confident we live up to its fabulousness. This is a style rut born of fear: fear of getting attention, fear of criticism, fear of stepping out of our self-imposed “caste” in life, fear of being deemed unworthy.
Solution: Accept that style is not a privilege for perfection; everyone has a right to dress well. You can be a senior citizen, plus size, have imperfect features or even a visible disability and still be the most stylish person in the room. No matter what your flaws or short comings, you have a right to value yourself and put your best self forward. Everyone is worthy of their own self respect and has a right to dress accordingly.
A common culprit in each of the above scenarios is holding on to clothes that aren’t serving your image interests. Once you clear out the clutter, dressing becomes streamlined, forcing you to wear only your best clothes.