I acknowledge the distinct oddness of creating a retrospective Closet Inventory. It may be the very epitome of naval gazing. But, this is what I've figured out. I need to be able to lay things out and look at them. I am a sorter. A shuffler. That's how I see patterns, and how I approach understanding. It’s my effort to sort through what was in order to understand what is.
This, then, is what I propose: a bit of an inventory of my closet as it has evolved throughout this year. I took most of these pictures on a rare sunny day in the throes of a Warsaw winter. I had every intention of getting them expeditiously posted, of course. But, it turns out, I was deep in the trenches of overthinking. I couldn't even manage to figure out how to post them or what to say.
My indecision with my entire Unhurried Wardrobe project frustrated me for quite a while. But, now that I’ve found some traction, I can see the importance of that marinating period. Eight months after I took those first pictures, they’re a helpful record that shows me where my wardrobe is headed.
Does it seem a bit melodramatic to say that coming to understand my wardrobe helps me understand myself? I don't think it is. The more attuned I become to what I want to put on my body, the more aware I am of my own needs. I’m beginning to align my clothing with how I feel on the inside. This is not a small thing.
So, with a grateful nod to Karen Templer, I offer a progressive Closet Inventory for the first three quarters of 2018
2018 Starting Point
The Anatomy of the Closet
Short Sleeved Tops:
Black and white striped t-shirt (fast-fashion 2015)
Black collared shirt (fast-fashion 2015)
Navy chiffon top (fast-fashion 2015)
Red and white striped 3/4 sleeve t-shirt (fast-fashion 2016)
Navy bird printed 3/4 sleeve top (fast-fashion 2016)
Navy anchor print top (second-hand 2015)
Long Sleeved Tops:
White eyelet shirt (fast-fashion 2016)
Long sleeve black t-shirt (fast-fashion 2010)
Green print button-up (second hand 2016)
Navy geometric print button-up (second hand 2015)
Black dotted blazer (second hand 2015)
Long black cardigan (fast-fashion 2015)
Red blazer cardigan (second hand 2015)
Aqua pullover (second hand 2015)
Orange pullover (second hand 2015)
Jeans (second hand 2015)
Grey pants (second hand 2016)
White cropped jeans (second hand 2015)
Black and white print cropped pants (fast-fashion 2015)
Black lace skirt (fast-fashion 2015)
White tiered skirt (second hand, altered by me 2016)
Red knit skirt (me-made October 2015)
Navy and white striped skirt (fast-fashion 2016)
Yellow and white seersucker dress (fast-fashion 2016)
Navy checked dress (fast-fashion, altered by me 2016)
Pink knit dress (fast-fashion 2014)
White scarf (fast-fashion 2015)
When creating an intentional, slow fashion wardrobe there are so many factors to consider. Sustainability of materials, location of production, working conditions, dye and production chemicals, transit of materials and end-product. The list goes on. It is overwhelming to consider all of these aspects at once. So, I’ve chosen here to keep track of just two elements at the moment. Where an item came from. I mean this in the broadest possible sense, thus I’ve used just three labels: fast-fashion, second hand or me-made. I realize that not all “fast-fashion” brands are the same, and that some second hand and handmade practices are more sustainable than others. But, for the purposes of broad strokes, these three are entirely sufficient.
The second thing I’m noting is how long an item has been in my closet. This is so I can keep an eye on turnover. Having less is great and all but having an ever rotating selection of “less” isn’t doing anyone any good. You’ll notice that most of these came into my life around 2 to 3 years ago. In late 2014, early 2015 I was starting to think critically about what was going on in my closet. I did a major purge at the beginning of 2015 and then began adding pieces back in. I began dabbling in second hand shopping, but didn’t require it as my only shopping option. I found a few things that worked. I continued to think more deeply about how and with what I wanted to populate my closet. My shopping (which has always been rather minimal) slowed and then stopped. I didn’t declare an official shopping ban. I just didn’t buy clothing for myself. I wasn’t happy with most of what I had brought into my closet. I began to realize that, for a variety of reasons, I wanted to be making rather than buying. That is all a bit of a side-note on this idea of time of use. The point is that I’ve made plenty of missteps in building my closet. I’m sure I’ll make some in the future. But, the goal is to create pieces that don’t have an expiration date.
These two elements aren’t necessarily the most critical. Maybe tracking other things would be more important to their environmental or human cost. I chose these two pieces of information because they’re accessible. I know when and where I got each of these pieces. That seems a promising place to start.
For the first half of the year that was what was hanging in my closet. But it was a pitiful expression of what I wanted to be wearing. There were a few pieces I loved, a fair chunk that worked just fine, and a number that were completely out of sync with where I’m headed. Somewhere in early summer I finally got tired of tripping over the ill-suited pieces in my closet. I very seldom wore them but I still had to shuffle past them to find my real options every day. I knew why they were still there. They were the fallbacks. The “just in case”s. I finally got to the point where being able to see clearly was more important than worrying that I’d have nothing to put on.
Throughout the summer I added four pieces that helped everything work a bit better:
Chambray short sleeved shirt (second hand, altered by me 2018)
Denim capris (second hand, altered by me 2018)
Red bandana scarf (me-made May 2018)
Green Schoolhouse Tunic (me-made August 2018)
I don’t find number targets particularly helpful. But, I do find numeric feedback informative. So, in that vein, I think it’s helpful to note a few numbers about my closet as it stands:
18 pieces of clothing
3 pairs of pants (1 long, 2 cropped/capris)
I’ve made 3 of these pieces.
I’ve altered 4 others.
I’ve mended 4 of them.
Clearly creating an Unhurried Wardrobe is a hands on process for me. It should be noted that this is not a very functional wardrobe, especially as our temperatures begin to drop. There are a great many things I want to make. But, I accept that this is a slow evolution. That’s why taking a step back to survey the scene is particularly helpful.