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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thrifty Thursday - Making the Most of Your Wardrobe

When I was a teenager living in Switzerland, I had a friend named Catherine who was one of the  best-dressed girls in our class. Her winter school wardrobe consisted of two identical, except for the color, wool dresses, a skirt, a pair of corderoy slacks, a couple of shirts and a sweater or two. When she got home after school, she changed into "house clothes" and her school clothes were hung outside to air. The rule of the day was quality, not quantity.

Most Americans have far more clothes in their closets and drawers than they need. In fact, the National Association of Organizing Professionals says that most of us wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. If you take a minute to inspect your closet and dressers, you'll probably be able to agree with that formula. Because of my hoarding tendencies, that I wrote about in a previous post, I keep clothing for an especially long time. My thinking goes somewhere along the lines of "I never know when I might need this sweater from 1989 that is embroidered with scenes from a circus." So I may actually wear only 10% of the clothes I own 90% of the time. But even people who have the "get rid of it" gene usually have more clothes than they need.

The key is to be like Catherine in Switzerland...quality instead of quantity. And those quality items should all work together. With a few basic items, paired with interesting accessories, anyone can have an attractive, even creative wardrobe. And it can be done on a thrifty budget. While most fashion retailers aren't going to be keen on this concept, most of us, by simply "shopping our closets" could go quite a long time without needing to purchase anything more than underwear, hosiery and shoes.

Two recent fashion/art/performance projects,  The Brown Dress and The Uniform Project, demonstrated how one simple article of clothing - a brown dress and a black dress respectively - could be worn (creatively) for 365 consecutive days. In the case of The Uniform Project, it's creator Sheena Matheiken, seen in the photo above, made 7 identical black dresses and wore one a day every week (she is nearing the end of her project). She enhanced the dress with hand-made, vintage and hand-me-down accessories as "an exercise in sustainable fashion."

If you visit Sheena's website, you'll see she is very fashion-forward. Some of the outfits she has created would turn heads if she were to appear in them while pushing a grocery cart at the SuperFresh. But anyone can take home the lesson of using a little color, texture and shape in a scarf, belt or jacket to completely alter the look of a little black dress.

What do you do to keep your wardrobe au current on a budget? Please share.

1 comment:

  1. Goodwill classics, ferragamo shoes from ebay and I get from my Tata in France her discarded accessories, such as Hermes scarves. What I don't use, my girls use - such as suits, slacks and shirts that are now too small for me.