Once upon a time, I found a question printed on a clothing tag attached to a new purchase: “What if you loved your clothes?”
The question remained in the back of my mind. I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like.
I was inspired to simplify my wardrobe, to make dressing easier and to allow myself to feel comfortable and happy in my clothes. Always.
And so…I have finally achieved a Zen Closet.
Okay, there is still a mess at the bottom, but I can honestly say that I can find something great to wear, each and every day.
This is a summary of what has worked for me. I wish for all humans to experience the joy of a Zen Closet. No one should feel like they have “nothing to wear”, or waste time and money on clothes that don’t last, don’t mix well, don’t feel good, and don’t flatter them.
In the past, I found that I sometimes coincidentally ended up with multiple items from particular clothing makers. I did not buy them at the same stores, or even during the same years, and did not look at the labels before purchase. This pattern caused me to wonder, “What qualities do I appreciate in these particular clothing makers’ designs? What drew me to them? What made me wear them and enjoy them?” I came up with answers about colors, textures, styles and other qualities that worked for me. I have — gradually, over years — eliminated my clothing failures, and added to my wardrobe only pieces that shared those special qualities I had discovered.
This year, I finally have it all figured out. I know what I want to wear–and it is in my closet! I know the answer to the question. It feels like a revolution.
I have a few favorite pieces of clothing that I look forward to wearing, and always find easy to wear.
Some of my favorites have been in my wardrobe for years, and helped inspire a set a rules about what I like to wear. Some are relatively new. One of the older items on this list carried the curious tag leading to years of closet meditation and my eventual closet enlightenment.
These favorites, and all of my other clothes (with only a handful of exceptions), can be classified according to those special qualities I once extrapolated from my coincidental purchases. Realizing what I love about these clothes, and what I didn’t love about some of the other clothes I have bought over the years, has brought my closet to a state of organized, blissful simplicity. Getting dressed is easier, laundry is easier, and I’m sure shopping will be easier. (I actually don’t feel the need to buy new items, because I am so happy with what I have.)
A “fine merino wool” sleeveless knit top (Eileen Fisher)– medium blue
A simple “A-line” linen skirt (Eileen Fisher)–pale olive gray
A loose cotton “smock” blouse with details (Eileen Fisher)–white
Four pairs textured hemp blend cargo slacks (REI)–natural shades
Two scoop-necked light cotton sweaters (Merona, for Target stores)– one magenta, one dark turquoise
A pair of wide-leg business slacks with a sharp crease (Sharagano)–gray/white flecked
A straight skirt with wide, tiered, fishtail layers (Larry Levine)–dark indigo/blue stretch denim
A cashmere blend belted cardigan (Adec2)–gray
A short-sleeve, low-cut, cowl-necked knit top (August Silk)–white with black animal print
An “A-line” cotton skirt (Jones New York)–black with white accents
A fitted leather blazer with back detail (Arleen Bowman/Chin Chin)–”weathered” brown
A short-sleeve linen blouse with a silk ruffle (Carole Little)–white
only bright colors near the face (makes me look younger)
solid colors (easier to mix and match)
blues, greens, dark pinks, whites, soft grays, dark denim, khaki, some black, some orange, some purple, some red
white shirts with minor black prints (there is something crisp about them)
dark jeans with a little bit of stretch
linen, merino wool, cotton, cashmere, leather, hemp
must feel good against the skin
NO delicate fabrics to *snag* on jewelry
NO clingy fabrics or static producing fabrics
NO “pilling” t-shirts
Necklines, lengths, styles, etc.:
clothes that FIT
Scoop-necks, v-necks, low cowl-necks
mainly knee-length skirts, some straight, some A-line, some longer and fuller with pleats
high-waist dresses, especially sleeveless
pants with 2-3 buttons or hooks at the waist and wide legs
coats that are fitted, and wide collared or double-breasted
sharp creases on slacks
cascading layers on dresses and skirts (smooths the figure)
classic and feminine styles
Accents, jewelry, shoes, etc. and miscellaneous:
jewelry that lasts (nothing that corrodes, tarnishes or breaks)
simple “statement” necklaces, especially coral or pearl and other single-material styles
long necklaces or chokers
light earrings (for thin ear lobes)
shoes with arch support, thick soles, low wedge heels
layers: combinations of items that work in different seasons
*May you achieve your own Zen Closet!