fashion & luxury

The Empress Has No Clothes

by Cheney — May 24, 2014

Ah, if only I had Bridget’s flair for design and illustration skills! Access to a great dressmaker and some HK fabric stores wouldn’t go amiss either. I’d immediately stop endlessly trawling malls and online stores looking for that perfect shirt/skirt/pair of pants, and just sit down with a sketchbook and get on with it. No more would I stand in front of the wardrobe, despairing, as I try to figure out for the millionth time what to pair with what, and why I never seem to have the makings of that perfect outfit. Hey, I might even get to work on time.

(Well, probably not, but at least my lateness wouldn’t be due to my taking 45 minutes to get dressed. I could be wasting time online, or chewing my muesli too slowly instead.)

I’m finally coming to grips that my moaning that I have nothing to wear is not actually because I have nothing to wear. A quick look at my overflowing wardrobe and two clothes hampers quickly contradicts that suggestion. So, why am I always searching for more and never happy with what I have?

Perhaps in an effort to stop my complaining, a friend turned me on to the website Into Mind, which bills itself as a “minimalist approach to simplifying your style and your wardrobe”. One of the interesting things that came out my reading there, was the idea that the common refrain of I have nothing to wear can be caused by a lot of different things.

Style tip: Use interesting lighting to spice up an everyday outfit.

Style tip: Use interesting lighting to spice up an everyday outfit.

For instance, it may be that your idea of the style has changed over the years and your wardrobe has failed to keep up. Or you have a mismatch between the kind of clothes you have, and the activities you spend most of your time doing (like, you have 12 ball gowns but can count the number of fancy galas you’ve been to on two fingers). Or it might just be that you really have no idea what’s at the bottom of those laundry hampers, and the perfect outfit is in there, if you could only find it.

I’ve started doing an overhaul and it’s required me to think harder about my personal style. Asking someone about their style is a little bit like asking who they are, which is a tricky question. Especially since I’m not entirely sure I’m the same person every day.

Some days, I’m an International Woman Of Mystery, off to seduce my latest target in an effort to find that cache of missing rubies. Other times I am an Intrepid Adventurer, heading out to conquer the world, with a pair of sturdy boots and an unflappable spirit.

I have reached the summit of Mt. Toyota! Adventure complete.

I have reached the summit of Mt. Toyota! Adventure complete.

Other times I just want to conquer the grocery store, or get through a day at the office without having anyone stare down my blouse. Some days I want to dress to be noticed, and other days I’d like to be invisible. So, how do I find clothes to suit all of these things?

I’m having an interesting time figuring out the intersection between what I like, what suits me and what suits my life. I’m realizing now that if I want to spend less time staring into the abyss of the wardrobe, that I have to make some hard decisions. I’ve slowly started whittling back my existing clothes stash, giving up the things I haven’t worn in years and buying more carefully. I’ve finally realised that no matter how sparkly the thing that catches my eye in the shop window is, it’s probably not worth it if it’s just going to sit all pretty and sparkly in my wardrobe for the next five years, waiting for me to find something else to wear it with.

Fashion Ninja - coming to a runway near you. Except you won't see them coming.

Fashion Ninja – coming to a runway near you. Except you won’t see them coming.

Pinterest has been getting a lot more traffic from me too, as I’ve been making visual collages of the styles that interest me, and starting to see some common themes emerging.

This morning, I think I only spent 20 minutes getting ready. I expect to be down to 10 by this time next month. And that’s a whole 35 extra minutes I can spend seducing, adventuring, shopping, working, standing out, or quietly slipping through the crowds, silent as a well-dressed ninja. Who wouldn’t want that?

 

 

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  • Roving Altruist

    Oh Cheney, thank you for sharing the “Into Mind” website. I now now what my task is going to be for the S/S season. Sadly, I am a woman who often finds herself standing in front of her – rather healthy – wardrobe to only moan “I have nothing to wear” after 15 minutes of pulling pieces out of the closet. This means the next 20-30 minutes are reserved for scrambling to put something together so I can leave the goddamned house.

    Your approach of using 10-20 minutes to get ready so you can spend the rest of the time working, seducing, adventuring and shopping is what I will aspire to by the time fall rolls around. *fingers crossed*

    • Cheney

      Thanks JoAnna! It’s not an understatement to say that Into Mind is currently my most favourite website. One of the things I really like about it is that while the author is a minimalist, she doesn’t encourage everyone to travel that route. She’s more about helping you figure out why your current wardrobe isn’t working for you, and giving you the tools to get what you want out of it. I really appreciate that – since I find the usual “no stuff is good stuff” rhetoric a bit overbearing at times.

  • Heidi

    Choosing what to wear is always what takes me longest in the morning (and I only get 30 minutes to go from pj’s to out the door!) Thanks for a great post and for the “Into Mind” website nod. Can’t wait to check it out!

    And LOVE the fashion ninja pic. Awesome! Go Empress Tea!

    • Cheney

      I’ve recently become dimly aware of a fashion subculture called “Goth Ninja” where people get around in stylish, monochromatic, streamlined-looking outfits. Lots of hooded tops, naturally. I feel like if I liked all-black ensembles just a little bit more, I could totally go in for 100% Ninja style 🙂