My mother used to get so frustrated with me when I would automatically gravitate toward the same set of colors when we were shopping: black, white and grey. Granted, during this period of my life I was going through my emo phase (I was twelve and thank god it was actually just a phase) and I think her frustration was more so regarding my attitude while I was choosing the clothes rather than the actual clothes themselves. Once I parted ways with the said phase, I opened my color horizons a smidge but I still couldn’t seem to shake the black.
Black has been a consistent part of my wardrobe, both by choice and happenstance. Over the last few years, I’ve gotten more and more interested in a mostly black wardrobe for various reasons — ease, efficiency, aesthetic, laziness — you can take your pick. I slowly began weeding out different colors from my wardrobe and eventually I found myself with a very monochromatic closet. There were still some colors and I found myself buying fast fashion in color, trying to keep with the trends but I never actually ended up wearing the colorful clothing. I’d buy it, it would sit in my closet for six months to a year and then I would donate it. What a waste. So I decided to make a change.
I purged my closet of color, only keeping three items (both occasion dresses) that fell outside of my monochromatic palette. This stripped my wardrobe down to the most basic of basics, and from there I began to build. I’ve always loved shopping for clothes but I never did so in an organized fashion. I was incredibly guilty of being the type of person to run into a store in a pinch, buy a bunch of stuff I didn’t need (or really like) and then regret it a few weeks later once my bank balance was low and I still didn’t have anything to wear.
I knew I had a problem and was desperately looking for a way to break my material habit and dig me out of the shopaholic, fast fashion hole. It was as if someone heard my prayers because out of nowhere, the capsule wardrobe arrived onto the blogger scene. I thought a capsule wardrobe was going to be my knight in shining (but curated) armor. I was wrong, but I do need to give the capsule wardrobe a little credit for where I am now. The capsule wardrobe ideology helped me understand what a curated wardrobe was and how I could realistically achieve that without breaking the bank.
Jumpsuit – ASOS
Shoes – Steve Madden
When I first started the monochrome dressing with my back to basics wardrobe, I stuck to very simple outfits. It was basically a black or white t-shirt with black jeans and some kind of sneaker, boot or sandal depending on how Mother Nature was feeling on that particular day. To be quite honest, it was boring. I’m all for a very simple and stripped back outfit but since that was my only real option, it got very monotonous. After a lot of confusion, frustration and Pinterest board planning sessions, I figured out my next move.
It was time to explore cuts and textures.
Cuts and textures are two details that I feel get forgotten in color-filled wardrobes. It’s easy to understand why: when you have a broader color spectrum, you have more options in general and that allows people to pretty much just buy within a few categories. You could have the most colorful wardrobe in the world and just buy t-shirts and jeans. By limiting my color, I had to get more creative with how I brought some excitement to my outfits which forced me to expand the categories of clothes that I bought as well as the details I selected. My wardrobe began to slowly transform and I kept a few of the capsule wardrobe principles in place as it did. I tried to only buy seasonally, I followed a 30-wear rule (I’m not sure if this is a capsule wardrobe thing but Lucy Moon has mentioned it many times so credit where credit is due) and I worked hard to fill in the gaps without too much extraneous shopping.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am still a shopper and I definitely buy outside of the necessities of my wardrobe but very very rarely do I buy outside of my color palette. Since the purge, I believe I’ve added maybe two colored items and both were garments I fell in love with and still to this day, I adore. I went a good year without buying color and I’ve just began to feel the itch to do so. I haven’t wanted to compromise my wardrobe (because I’m quite happy with it) and I definitely don’t want to slip back into my old shopping ways (my bank account is so much better off now) so I had to find a way to slip just a little bit of color in.
The answer I found was accessories. I love having colorful bags and shoes to spice up my all black ensemble every once in a while. Granted because I have the 30-wear rule, I don’t buy a lot of these colorful additions because I know only a few will get the wear they deserve but honestly, a few does the trick. It’s also a little safely net because if I decide that that pop of color is no longer my groove, it’s one or two items that go to Goodwill, not everything I own.
I’ve had some people say that the way I go about buying is shopping smarter but to be brutally honest, it’s just shopping lazier. When I go into a store, I go straight to the black clothes and if I don’t see anything that tickles my fancy, I make a quick pit stop by the whites and then if I’m still not intrigued, I’m out the door. It’s the same thing with shopping online. I simply open the category I’m looking at, refine the color search for only black and white and it eliminates thousands of temptations that I wouldn’t actually wear. Plus it saves me so much time, I no longer spends hours scrolling through ASOS. Instead it’s a quick nip onto the site if I’m looking for something specific or an hour at most for a leisurely browse.
Moving forward, I doubt I’m going to go back to a full-color wardrobe. With all the idioms surrounding the ideology of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, I believe that my monochrome way of life works perfectly for my lifestyle right now. In five years, maybe it’ll make sense to have a colorful wardrobe (I’ll be hella surprised) and then a switch will be necessary but until then, I’ll be here, happily dressed in all black and white.