“Why is my closet bursting at the seams and I have nothing to wear?” That was the first question Anne asked me.
Anne is a TV anchor, so getting dressed in the morning is a big deal, especially since she gets up at 3:30AM. It might seem like she’s an outlier, but her experience squares away with that of most clients.
Dawn felt like her clothes were not quite where she’s at. Meghan felt like her entire closet was stale.
There is a simple answer to the conundrum of having nothing to wear: You haven’t (yet!) revealed your essential wardrobe.
Part 1 / Learning to See
The path to an essential wardrobe necessarily begins with learning to see.
It’s harder to streamline decisions about what to wear, what to declutter, what to buy, and even how to best care for your clothes without cultivating a clear eye and self-awareness.
“Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage.”Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Without the essential as our guidepost, we can get stuck in an infinity pool of lesser, trivial decisions that ultimately overwhelm us.
Decision fatigue is the price we pay, in precious attention and time, for not identifying and committing to the essential.
1 / getting started
“Ren, I look at all this and I just don’t know where to begin.” Sound familiar? Time for my favorite exercise!
Quick! In 10 short minutes, a helicopter is whisking you away on a trip where you’ll have: (1) the most important work meeting, (2) the best social event, (3) the most relaxing day, and (4) the best sleep of the year (also, as a bonus, your memory of COVID will be wiped!).
All stores are closed. The Internet is down. Shop your closet. Go! (Important: Set your timer!)@REVEAL.METHOD
Once you’ve picked your four outfits, take a piece of paper, record a voice memo, or talk out loud to externalize why you made your choices. (Important: I’m very serious about using paper or voice – don’t stay in your head! This is one of the many benefits of working with a coach – you get to talk things out.)
- Did you go to default, safe options?
- Did you go to tried-and-true winners?
- Did you panic and get out “whatever”?
There’s no right approach! The important thing is to articulate your rationale, to figure out how you approach getting dressed. Is it from a place of self-awareness or self-criticism and “should”?
2 / seeing what is
Now we’re going to take an inventory of your choices and pay extra close attention to the geometry and nature (yeah, we get nerdy here) of each piece of clothing.
If you’re a visual learner (you learn by seeing and looking): Grab a piece of paper. Across the top write out these headings: Item, Structure, Material, Shape, Color, Fit, Care. Add a shorthand description of each piece you selected under “Item,” then jot notes about its attributes across the page.
If you’re an auditory learner (you learn by hearing and listening): Talk through your rationale for making your “piles” following the headings above. Record a voice memo to distill your ah-ha moments later or hop on a call with a good friend and talk it through.
If you’re a kinesthetic learner (you learn by touching and doing): Make those like-item categories with the actual clothes spending enough time with each piece to really internalize what works and what doesn’t.@REVEAL.METHOD
Once you’re done, step back and notice the patterns that emerge:
- Do you prefer drapey or stiffer materials?
- Do you prefer natural or synthetic fibers?
- Do you reach for boat-neck or V-neck tops?
- Which colors did you gravitate toward?
- What kind of fit makes you feel good (like a million dollars!) and comfortable?
- Do care instructions affect your decision of what to wear (looking at you dry cleaning tag)?
- What specific purpose does a piece serve: Work, Play, Rest?
- What memories or associations does a piece elicit? Are these serving you well?
The unexamined life is not worth living.Socrates
Perhaps the wheels are oiled and other beloved items are coming to mind? Bring them out!
Or perhaps this isn’t working for you yet. Maybe now that you put your rationale and your choices together, you see you’ve made some compromises. Well, now you know. It’s never too late; go ahead and make your swaps! Just be mindful and intentional about your why going forward.
3 / choosing CHEERS over TEARS
Next, let’s play a little game. From your selections, quickly reach for your favorite top, bottom, and/or dress. Don’t overthink it!
Go to your closet and find the exact opposite to your favorite top, bottom, and dress.
Yes, the ones that are cringe-inducing, bring up some things you’d rather forget, are begging to be retired, or you don’t even notice anymore.@REVEAL.METHOD
You just created your blueprint for action! Our first 3 steps together have helped you to truly see, to reveal, your signature style.
Meet me here next week to make way for clarity to sweep into your wardrobe, your mornings, and ripple through your life!
PS – I’d love to see your progress as you try these tips, so post it to Instagram and tag @reveal.method and/or #essentialwardrobe.
PPS – This post series is inspired by my eponymous live workshop (join the waitlist here).
Also – Get the full scoop on Anne’s REVEAL METHOD experience here.
Further reading from today’s post:
Essentialism, by Greg McKeon (Support Still North Books & Bar, a local shop; not an affiliate link)