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No. I Don’t Need A New Cardigan…. Or Do I?

I hope I won’t be the first to admit that my closet gets regularly cleaned and re-bought every two years. In fact, looking at my closet right now, the oldest piece of clothing is fifteen years old (but has been in my closet for a year, because it’s my dad’s old jacket…) The newest piece of clothing I own is maybe two weeks old, and I thrifted it from an online thrift store (@/simplyfoundthings on Instagram). The majority of my closet is less than two years old and I think it’s embarrassing.

Okay. Maybe embarrassing is far from the right term, more so, shameful. I am ashamed that I am that girl. That privileged girl that cycles through endless amounts of clothes that apparently I don’t even like, since I’m constantly buying and getting rid of new clothes.

It’s not even like I’m buying new clothes out of necessity; it’s not as though my clothes are falling apart, or my body weight is fluctuating in a way that forces me to constantly purchase for my changing body. I’ve been the same size in clothing since I was sixteen years old, I should have clothes that date back more than two years!

This cycle ends this year, though. I’m making it a point to not only reduce how often I make clothing purchases, but work through my closet to find the pieces that I love and wear often, in order to figure out what my true, personal style is. Doing this process will not only help me contribute less to the overconsumption of clothing capitalism entails, but it will also force me to face how much waste I have created by mindlessly buying clothes. 

The first step in this painstaking process was going through my closet and making the difficult decision of choosing what clothes I want to keep. Currently I’m at school, so only half of my closet is here (Autumn + Fall), and I’ve kept a few summer pieces here as well, for the days where Santa Cruz decides to be ridiculously hot. The justification I had for keeping items was: I have worn it in the past 2 months, it can make a lot of different outfits, or it carries sentimental value for me. If any piece of clothing did not meet this criteria, it ended up in an old Trader Joe’s bag, where it would eventually be donated. 

In doing this process, I’ve rediscovered a lot of clothing that I had forgotten I owned, like my old pair of white jeans <3, and a dress my sister-in-law had given to me. Furthermore, looking through my closet forced me to think about how I could style and wear all of the different pieces in my closet. For example, I have a pair of white jeans I haven’t worn in nearly four months (and I refuse to part from) that could go really well with a vast majority of tops I own. 

So more than getting rid of clothes, doing this deep dive into my closet gave me the opportunity to truly see my closet and the collection of clothing that I have built for myself. Before doing this, I felt as though I was wearing the same four outfits every week and so I constantly found myself shopping in order to feel like I actually had clothes to wear.  But, I don’t need a new cardigan to elevate my next outfit, nor do I need that really cute corset to match with my old khaki pants. 

I already own several cute cardigans and a really cute corset, and there is really no need for me to keep purchasing clothes other than the fact that I want to keep buying new clothes!

The second step in my process to redefine my wardrobe and style was to look at the pieces I loved, and clothes I thought I looked good in. This meant trying on all my clothes and seeing if I liked them because they were trendy, or because they suited my proportions. I discovered that I really enjoy how I look in bootcut and wide leg jeans, less so in mom and skinny jeans. I found out that since I’m so short, cropped and fitted shirts are my fav, though I’m not particularly fond of how I look in sleeveless shirts. 

Since I made this choice, it also helped to drive my future purchases. Instead of buying things that were trendy, I’d take into consideration how they would look on my body. If they were trendy and I still didn’t think it’d look good, I’d go back into my closet and evaluate how I could make that piece work for me, which would force me to think critically about the clothing I bought.

The third and final step in my closet journey was taking several hours to create outfits with the clothing I loved. After each outfit, I took a picture and noted what accessories and shoes I’d wear with each. This way, the next time I felt as though I didn’t have any clothing, I could go to this album on my phone and flip through the seemingly endless amount of outfits I created for myself. 

So, the short answer is no, I don’t need a new cardigan. I have enough clothing, and I have enough creativity to work my closet to its fullest potential.

My name is Ashti (she/her), I am currently an undergraduate History of Asia and the Pacific major with an Education minor at UCSC.
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