Years ago, I went through a cleansing of sorts. I looked in my closet and, as usual, found nothing to wear. This wasn’t because I was being picky. I had gained weight to the point that none of my pants fit me. I didn’t even want to try on any of the tops that were more suited to my former, smaller self.
You need to go shopping, I thought to myself. But then I got frustrated. With a closet full of clothes, buying new ones seemed ridiculous. I had to clean everything out and start anew. So I put everything that didn’t fit — which was everything but my pajamas — into bags and donated it.
I had clothes from when I was a kid that I hated, and it was almost therapeutic to put them in a trash bag. Maybe some kid out there would hate them as much as I did, or maybe those articles of clothing would finally be loved by a new owner. In any case, they were finally gone, and my closet was empty.
Minimalist Fashion Inspiration From YouTube
Later, I followed my usual chill-out routine of eating a snack while I watched YouTube videos. Makeup tutorials and beauty gurus consumed most of my YouTube-watching life. The beauty gurus on YouTube are often heard explaining, “I bought this years ago.”
As much as I appreciated makeup and the artistry of it, I couldn’t imagine having a drawer filled with lipsticks, like many of the YouTube stars I watched. Sure, the makeup-collecting bug had bit me — I had maybe 10 lipsticks, various fragrances, different blushes, and many mascaras.
My small face-painting collection was nice to look at, but I also couldn't help wondering how many shades of mauve I really needed.
And then it hit me: I just didn’t use any of those things that often. At that moment I thought, Are you really going to throw out everything in your room? Before I second-guessed myself, I grabbed another garbage bag and went to the extreme.
I couldn’t even remember when I had purchased each lipstick — or any of my other makeup products, for that matter. The thought of what kind of bacteria lives in, say, 5-year-old eye shadow grossed me out. So I trashed everything. If you treasure lipstick that you bought 10 years ago, then by all means, keep it. None of the products I owned meant that much to me.
How to Shop Smarter
Having achieved a clean slate, I planned to buy things more intentionally. Everyone in my circle shops impulsively. If they see a top or dress they like, they buy it. And as much fun as I think it is to get something you like at the moment it appeals to, the practice presents problems.
My friends always have a few things in their closet that they’ve never worn. Or more commonly, when it’s time for them to pick an outfit to wear, they don’t know what to choose despite having a substantial wardrobe.
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Instead of buying pieces impulsively as I shopped, I planned outfits. I decided that buying a complete look that I loved enough to wear again and again — rather than buying a top on a whim — was a smarter way to spend my money.
The Math Behind Smart Shopping
Math also helped me on my journey. If I bought seven outfits for the fall, at the end of the three-month season I would have worn each outfit only eight times. I think that’s using each piece of clothing incredibly well compared to having a closet full of whim purchases that I barely wear.
Putting such dedication and creativity toward each outfit truly made a difference. Before I adopted intentional buying into my routine, shopping for clothing was a disappointing experience for me. I didn’t believe I had the money to dress the way I wanted. But I realized that committing to bigger ideas and a smaller purchase had a greater outcome.
This minimalist fashion approach is working for me in the makeup department, too. I now have one each of foundation, mascara, blush, and highlighter. Instead of buying different shades of red or pink lipstick, I own one red that truly suits me.
I've followed suit with the rest of my colors, too. My entire makeup collection can fit in my clutch handbag, and no one close to me has been able to tell the difference in my appearance. Honestly, if you’re wearing red lipstick or blush, that’s all people will notice. They won’t pick up on different shades of red from one day to the next.
Shopping for seasonal looks became even more wallet-friendly when I realized that the quote from The Devil Wears Prada was true: Fashion “filters down through the department stores,” as Miranda Priestly said.
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In the aisles of Kmart, you can find looks that mimic the top designers and current Instagram fashion trends. I found a jumpsuit for $39.99 at Kmart that was almost identical to a much pricier look-alike.
A Final Thought
It’s really fun to accompany my friends while they shop or have them show me the latest things that they bought. But since I now shop for things I truly love for the rest of fall or summer, I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Usually when I tell my friends about how I shop, they smile and nod. And they almost always go back to wrestling with their closet.