Outfit creation instead of item acquisition

I don’t know about you, but I find myself caught up in wanting things.  As in, “oh a dalmatian haircalf shoe would be so cool to add to my spring shoe collection.”  Maybe I saw it on someone (most likely online!) and decided I liked and wanted it for myself.  Next comes hunting down just the right one, then finding a price I can fit into my budget, then the acquisition of said ‘pretty new thing.’  Sound familiar?

Sure, I may have thought ahead to a few outfits I could make with it.  Hopefully we are all doing this before blindly buying things we just like the looks of!   But that’s not really how I want to continue shopping in the future.  I want to move towards thinking more and more in terms of outfits, and working back from there to what pieces are needed to comprise the outfit.  Ideally, this will lead to less accumulation of extraneous items and help me whittle things down to what I actually need.

Maybe I need to think of the shoes in terms of a cold spring outfit, not ready yet for peep toes or sandals when there might be snow on the ground, but warmer than winter boot weather.  I can imagine the pants and light sweater or jacket.  Odds are I won’t be in skirts yet, so I won’t need as delicate as a flat and can probably go with a sneaker.  Most of my pants silhouettes are skinnies, so I don’t want too heavy a shoe.  This will be casual, running errands, type wear so slip ons might be just the thing.  Slide on and go.  Okay, I think I can envision the shoe and the ensemble(s), and more importantly, when and where I am wearing it and what I’m doing in it. I don’t currently have any closed toe, slip on and go, casual shoe that I could wear in spring snow and temps, so it’s actually a wardrobe hole.  Ready, set, shop.

Beyond just controlled buying, thinking in terms of outfits can actually stem the tide of shopping itself.  Instead of thinking I want ______, I can say to myself I want a smart casual look that has ease to it, for socializing with friends maybe.  Perhaps in my head I start to envision silky track pants with a banded waist sweater and ankle booties.  Then I can look around and shop in my closet for these pieces and try them out together to see how it feels. The outfit can be made trendy by pairing things in a newer, more modern way, without having to actually buy new pieces.  Before I decide I need to go buy something new and on trend to wear to the next gathering with girlfriends to sip wine and gab all night.   In the past I may have spied silky track pants first and thought, “those would be fun!”, without a clue as to where I would wear them or how.  Working backwards, from the outfit itself, and then the occasion, takes the focus off acquiring items.  If I didn’t have silky track pants already in my closet, I could make the outfit out of my matte satin cigarette pants instead.  They also are a more comfortable construction than stiff jeans and with the same narrowed, cropped leg style to highlight a shoe.  The idea is to consider the whole picture, not the parts as things to acquire because I find them enticing.

I’ve always shopped by item and never in full outfits.  I need to change my thought patterns a bit to get into the outfit groove, even if I don’t buy full head to toe looks at one time.  I don’t have many closet orphans and little trouble mixing and matching much of my wardrobe.  But I find I have lot of ‘okay’ ensembles re-using the same pieces, when I’d prefer a smaller handful of kick ass looks!

Ideally, I’d like to end up with about 10 fall back awesome outfits per season.  I do like to remix and change things up, but sometimes having one killer look with an item trumps being able to wear it 3 or 5 ways.  And for the number crunchers, 10 outfits for each season (spring, summer, fall and winter) can be rotated without repeating any one of them more than 8 times.  This is if you ‘dress’ 6 times a week (I consider lounge wear Sundays off from dressing for the world).  6 days a week, for 13 weeks in a season, is 78 days.  Ten outfits can certainly go the distance.  Honestly, I’d likely wear the ‘hits’ half that much, maybe 4 repeats each, and remix the remainder of the days purely for variety.  But I’m wired towards variety I’ve figured out.  I can’t imagine a neutrals only wardrobe or only one formula or silhouette.  Your mileage may vary.

Bottom line, when I think of pretty new things I want, the shopping starts to become a runaway train, and if not in total number of items I buy, certainly in time spent thinking about it and planning it.  If I can instead get into the idea of a few new looks or outfits for each season, and shop for them if deemed necessary, I think I’ll get back to the more intuitive way of buying.

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