How 30 pieces changed my life

A letter from one of our readers...

As early as I can remember, I've always loved clothes. One day when I was three years old, I told my mom that the pants she laid out for me weren't stylish enough, and that was that. I had caught the fashion bug and there was no turning back.

Fast forward twenty years later. I was a fashion maniac. With my limited budget I bought clothes from thrift stores, fast fashion boutiques, and consignment shops; in every pattern, color, and shape. I'd put the pieces together in the wildest and trendiest ways possible, changing looks every day without thinking much about the image I was communicating. I was fashionable. But I had no style.

The lightbulb finally went off as I was packing yet again for my third move across the country. I was a single and independent woman, chasing my career and building my dreams, but somehow I had become weighed down by two closets full of clothes and rolls upon rolls of packing tape. Moving so much taught me that material things can either accumulate like stagnant water and not serve you, or become a living, breathing support system that enables you to achieve great things. I wanted my wardrobe to be alive and serve me fully.

Achieving freedom

I started taking an interest in minimalism, learning everything I could find under the sun. I read every internet article, watched every youtube video, and Marie Kondo'd the sh*t out of my closet. I dragged a big bag of clothes to the donation center almost every month.

Looking back, my gung ho attitude was probably what I needed at the time to make the necessary changes to my life, but it was just as extreme and unhealthy as I had been when I was accumulating a lot of stuff. I lacked balance. I was confused about myself and what I was all about. Some of the things I donated are items that I deeply regret to this day, like gifts from people I loved, vintage pieces I bought during my time abroad, or stuffed animals from my childhood.

I finally found my balance when I stumbled upon some home economics dressing manuals from the 1950's and 1960's. This was before capsule dressing became a popular movement, and I felt like I had found a hidden treasure trove. I realized that there was once a time when style took precedence over fashion, when normal women cultivated a love letter to the world every day in the form of dress. She would own few pieces but every one would fully serve who she was and how she lived. Her wardrobe would fit not in two closets, or even one, but in a single freestanding wardrobe. She knew what would look good on her body, and refused trends which didn't flatter. She had style.

Today I'm perfectly happy with 60 pieces in my closet. I organize it into two capsules based on the seasons in New York City, where I live with my husband and dog. I learned that my body is best flattered by a classic style with clean but relaxed lines and a dash of boho. And I've stopped worrying about what to wear.

XOXO, Tina