Closet Confessions: Would A More Minimalist Wardrobe Help My Anxiety?
About a year ago, my mom, sister and I set out to another trip to Lithuania. They were going to stay for a month — me two weeks, plus a week in Belgium with my godmother. Since it was a shorter trip than before, i carefully tried to curate my packing to make sure I had just enough clothes and outfits. I gotta tell you, this was the most organized I ever packed — I felt very happy and content with all the options I packed and couldn’t wait to wear them during my trip.
But when we arrived to Riga, Latvia to pick up our suitcases from their final destination, we were met with some disappointing news from AirBaltic. Yep, the suitcases were lost. And I, personally didn’t get mine back until my last couple days in Lithuania. So I had to make do, which granted was a little stressful but looking back on it, I think it kind of planted a seed in my head about my wardrobe that I’m only realizing now.
I’d say our suitcases getting lost was a blessing in disguise, because for nearly two weeks I was forced to kind of just make do with what I had (along with some donations from friends and family). I remember being so upset at first that I wouldn't have enough "choices" to wear every day but honestly, I ended up liking having a simpler uniform, even if it was out of necessity. And now looking back on the photos of last summer I actually really like what I wore and even better, I remember how relaxed and comfortable I felt wearing it.
So now, a year later, I've been feeling myself gravitating again towards a simple white and black color scheme, basic outfit combos and of course a splash of accessories to tie it all together. I feel like the summer comes with a lot of time for rest but also a lot of feelings of being overwhelmed. At least for me, the heat and humidity makes it so hard to find an outfit that is both cute and comfortable.
Lately, I've been kind of just opting for a simple formula; basically whatever makes me feel like myself and gets me out the door. It's interesting how our style changes and evolves based on our experiences. I'm excited to see what inspiration autumn brings, but I’m finding myself naturally shifting towards a different style.
Getting dressed can either be usually an either an invigorating or calming experience, depending on what I’m going for that day. This past summer especially, I’ve really expanded beyond the boundaries of what I thought my style is or should be. I’ve experimented with trends, colors I don’t usually wear and taking increasingly more inspiration from vintage styles (think: 80’s blazers and 1940’s puffy sleeved blouses).
But I’ve also experienced times when getting dressed became a little bit of a harrowing experience that led to stress, overthinking and a general personification of my anxiety. My anxiety takes form in many ways; sometimes it’s the inability to tell people how I’m feeling. Sometimes it’s staying up all night thinking about what I should’ve done or shouldn’t have done in various areas of my life. Sometimes it’s me, putting together an outfit for a night-out and well, completely falling apart into myself.
“The truth, nobody just simply falls into an outfit effortlessly and is completely happy with it, and that’s part of growing into your own style and your own routine.”
My anxiety thrives on indecisiveness and overstimulation. So a lot of times, my fashion and outfit choices are the perfect platform to manifest all those indecisive tendencies. Because of this, I’m also what you call a Last-Minute-Changer, like many other people I’m sure are. Especially if I’m waiting for someone to pick me up and I have some extra time, instead of taking that time to relax, I’m overthinking my outfit and end up changing my mind at the last minute — spoiler alert: this never actually makes me feel better!
And as my personal style has changed and evolved, so has this wardrobe anxiety. I’ve grown to like more loud, colorful and “out there” styles than I used to. I follow trends a bit more carefully now, and especially the ones that are a little strange or out of my comfort zone. The ability to play dress up every day (a manifesto created by one of my favorite fashion bloggers, Beth Jones), has helped me express a different artistic side of myself, it’s helped cure my gloomy mood on some days and has given me, well, something to write about on my blog!
But I still have these anxiety attacks, that are unfortunately sometimes come from a source of being too concerned about how I look to others. That’s something I’ve really learned; the anxiety and self-doubt usually comes from me either 1.) being physically uncomfortable in an outfit or 2.) being emotionally uncomfortable because I’m worried what others might think. Comfort is still a number one priority, and I know this is the case for most people. Side note: this is why it’s increasingly important that more brands (both minimalist and maximalist) are making sure they include inclusive sizing options for people with all bodies, because everyone deserves to be able to find their size easily and accessibly.
So as I’ve begun to take notice of how I become anxious and what my triggers are, the only natural question that occurred to me was: ‘would a more minimalist wardrobe relieve my anxiety?’ and ‘should I avoid more maximalist outfits because it becomes too stressful to make them work?’. Truthfully, I haven’t always worried so much about these definitions. Only in the last year, as my fashion choices have become more ‘maximalist’ have I started to notice the stress around my wardrobe.
The stress is two fold: one, it’s the worry that the crazier the colors, the more intricate the pattern, the harder it is to match with other things in my closet (i.e. shoes; anyone else really struggle with pairing footwear sometimes?). The second fold is self-consciousness — i.e. the worry that what I’m wearing is too “out there” and there will be a huge spotlight on me and my floral pants as soon as I leave the house.
I know now that the key is balance, but it’s also allowing myself to change and evolve. Especially since I’ve connected my personal style to my blog, I’ve felt like it needs to stay consistent and that I need to keep my brand the same, even through my outfits. But that’s never the case, and it changes daily. The truth is, nobody just simply falls into an outfit effortlessly and is completely happy with it, and that’s part of growing into your own style and your own routine.
So I’m allowing myself to branch out (or branch in?) to simpler pieces, every day basics and keeping a regular uniform that doesn’t immediately have to fit the criteria of looking “interesting” or “unique”.
minimalist styles i love:
GAP button-up cropped jacket - thrifted, similar here.
Black and white grid pants - thrifted, similar here.
Sneakers - VANS
I’ve even recently asked myself; wouldn’t it just be simpler to switch to a 30-outfit capsule wardrobe and stick to more basic wardrobe pieces? And every-time i think about this option, I’m absolutely sure that I wouldn’t like that. That just wouldn’t feel like me. In the last couple years I’ve fallen in love with big sleeves, vintage patterns and neon belts. These trends and outfits have helped create a new outlet for creativity and gives me a reason to get out of the house some days. But that doesn’t mean on other days I can’s stick to a pair of my Everlane pants and a graphic tee.
adding some spice
Some days I’m totally fine with a basic outfit. Other days I want to go all out. And other days I have a mix of both. I want something comfortable and practical but I want to add a little — how do you say — pizzaz! The best way I do this is through accessories of course; i.e. fun (but not heavy) earrings, colorful clips and maybe even a fun purse.
It’s very hard to figure out exactly what my style is, while at the same time trying to explore what I’m inspired by in fashion. But the truth is, I’m learning that I don’t have to put so much pressure on myself when it comes to putting outfits together. I think at the end of the day, it depends on a lot of things: the temperature, my mood, what’s readily available in my closet and even the job I’m doing that day (which, because I’ma freelancer could range from writing an article on my couch, to meeting a person for an interview at the coffee shop).
Ultimately, I’m realizing that I want fashion to be something that gives me power, not takes it away. And that means just going with my intuition of what I, physically like to wear. And it really ties a lot with identity if you think about it. I think the reason I’ve become spiraling a bit with my style is that I was trying to dress like someone I thought I should be, instead of who I am.