fashion · nothing new project · sustainability

NOTHING NEW PROJECT JOURNAL #5: SECONDHAND CLOSET REVAMP

If you read my thoughts on letting go of who we used to be, you’ll know that in my minimalist journey I’ve confronted feelings that have come up about the person I was but no longer am. While I feel I am now heading in the direction I really want to be going, it’s still difficult to say goodbye to previous versions of ourselves. It’s hard to realise that the person we worked so hard to be wasn’t the person we wanted to be after all.

I recently looked back on 2017 and feel that I have a fairly clear vision of where I want 2018 to take me. I’m putting the wheels in motion to change the course of my career, I know the areas I need to focus on emotionally to improve my self-perception, and I’m clear about my intention to continue exploring minimalism and sustainability. A lot of this is focussed on my life direction and values but, interestingly and unexpectedly, one thing that has come up since publishing that post was that I began wondering what kind of physical image I would like to project into the world in 2018 and beyond.

I mostly wear colourful A-line dresses to work, and while I love their flattering cut and the vibrant, cheerful look they create, I also feel to a degree that my current style may be projecting an image of myself to the world that I no longer align with. Let me explain. I’ve always had a bit of a complex surrounding youthfulness and (im)maturity. At school I always resented being told off by teachers and hated having to put my hand up and ask to go to the toilet (which I found somehow humiliating). As I grew up in a single-parent household with less financial resources than my peers, I took on responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and budgeting long before anyone else I knew. I worked at the local bakery on the weekends and after school, using the money to buy clothes and to save up for my first car. I somehow felt I was an adult in a child’s body, and I resented everyone for treating me as if I had no knowledge of the world around me.

Fast forward to now and I’m still struggling with this issue. I still get mistaken for a high school student or as “work experience”. I loathe the phrase “Good girl!” but hear it much more often than I can tolerate. And I’ve been told in a number of different contexts, either directly or indirectly, that I’m young, foolish and don’t have any responsibilities like “real” adults do. As someone who is mature, independent and has been continuously employed since the age of 13, this is not cool. Do I look young? Do I sound young? Do I act young? I keep asking myself these questions and can never really come up with a definitive answer to any of them.

Alright, I’ll come back from my (rather long) tangent now and back to the topic at hand: my recent secondhand closet revamp. Back to my flowery and feminine dresses. While I love wearing dresses, I feel that going forward I would like to steer away from being “cute” or “adorable” – especially at work – because I just don’t feel that describes who I want to be. I have mixed emotions about this. One the one hand, I like to think I’m not easily swayed by others’ perceptions of me, but isn’t that exactly what this is? On the other, though, I feel genuinely excited about refreshing my look and I know that if it wasn’t right, I would have an instinctively bad feeling about doing a closet makeover – which I don’t. So I feel positive about moving forward with a bit of a twist on my wardrobe, keeping some of my favourite dresses while incorporating some pants and more sleek, modern-looking pieces with fresh but not overly “girly” colours.

This desire for change, combined with my Nothing New Project (ie. buying nothing new from February 2017 to February 2018), meant that I hit my local op shops this week to do some bargain hunting. In keeping with my policy of maintaining a minimal wardrobe, I also decided to donate an equivalent number of items to charity from my existing collection of clothing. This was difficult because, again, letting go can be hard, but I feel refreshed now that I have followed through with the process and know that I won’t miss those items.

I came home with five tops, three pairs of pants, one pair of shoes, one pair of earrings and one brooch. Whilst shopping, I was mindful to make sure all the colours and cuts of the tops matched all the pants for optimum interchangeability. When I got home and tried on all the 15 different tops/pants combinations, I was pleased to discover that everything did indeed work well together.

So let’s have a look at my closet revamp!

First, the tops. From the left:

  • Cream-coloured lace cropped shirt (to be worn over a plain singlet I already own) $2.50
  • White patterned sleeveless top with overlap below the waistline $7.00
  • Light chambray trumpet sleeve top $4.00
  • Blue and white striped button-down cotton shirt $2.50
  • White with navy spots button-down cotton shirt $4.00

IMG_8206

Next, pants:

  • Blue cropped chino pants $8.00
  • Red cropped pants $5.00
  • Beige high-waisted and flared wool pants $2.00

IMG_8207

Shoes and accessories:

  • Brown T-bar loafers $5.00
  • Rose gold look round earrings $2.00
  • Pearl brooch $5.00

IMG_8212

The total cost for all these items came in at a mere $47. I’m so impressed with this, considering I got three weeks’ worth of new head-to-toe work outfits for under $50. I don’t think I could do much better than that! Secondhand shopping is well and truly a win-win when it comes to both sustainability and personal finances.

What are your thoughts on the connection between style/appearance and the ways others perceive us? I would really love to hear of any thoughts you have to share on this topic or challenges you have faced.

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7 thoughts on “NOTHING NEW PROJECT JOURNAL #5: SECONDHAND CLOSET REVAMP

  1. I think big wardrobe overhauls are to be expected as we change junctions in life. They happen more often when we’re young as we grow faster, but it’s good to remember that they need to happen as we are older too! I still find things that don’t fit quit right, or don’t portray what I want to say to the world, and they get donated on the next donation round. Sounds like you’re well on your way to straightening out what you want to portray. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Steph! Thanks for your comment and encouraging words on my wardrobe overhaul. I really appreciate it! I have been reading your blog lately but haven’t come forward to comment as yet. Now I definitely will. It sounds like you are on a similar journey to simplifying things and I can’t wait to read more. Looking forward to connecting 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh my goodness, don’t even get me started on how much I hate being called ‘girl’. It used to happen a lot at my old jobs and I got in the habit of replying with ‘boy’ if it was coming from a man. That normally made people stop in their tracks and think about what they were saying haha

    I’m the same way as you, I hate to be perceived a young or girly or immature. But for me, the ‘girly’ kinds of clothes actually make me feel girly and immature so I choose not to wear them. They just make me feel uncomfortable.

    I do struggle with how I am perceived because I don’t want to care what other people think about me. But, if it reinforces a negative stereotype about myself that I also don’t like, then I want to do something about it. People could think I’m snobby or rude, but I don’t actually think I am so it doesn’t matter. On the other hand, I don’t want people to think I’m girly and irresponsible because I am afraid I do actually come off that way.

    I love that you included photos and prices for everything you bought! I just really like that layer of transparency. I did a mini revamp when I started my new job in November (also second hand) and I’m happy to report it’s been going pretty well. I have five outfits I basically just repeat every week and it’s been so nice!

    I don’t normally buy new new items, but you’ve inspired me to do my own buying nothing new challenge. I think a need a certain amount of accountability to keep myself in check!

    Thanks for an awesome post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it so frustrating?! I like your comeback, Britt – that must really do the trick 😉 Thanks for sharing your own experience with this. I really appreciate it! I thought of you when I was writing that part of the post because I remember you mentioning similar feelings at one point on your blog, so it’s great to read more on how you feel about this and know that I am not alone!

      Glad you liked that I included prices. I thought it would be a good idea; I think it adds a sense of reality to the whole thing, and also shows how affordable doing a wardrobe overhaul can actually be! That’s great that your own revamp has gone well. I think I need to get more into repeating outfits each week for work and that will now be more of a focus for me going forward. Up until now I have focussed too much time and energy on changing things up all the time, and I’m sick of it.

      Good luck with your own challenge Britt. That’s awesome!! As the minimalist and seasoned secondhand shopper that you are, I am sure you will be in your element, but it’s interesting how many observations nonetheless come to light when we actually cut ourselves off. It somehow feels different from just mostly buying secondhand. Blogging about it has definitely been such a great way for me to stay accountable throughout this process.

      Thank you for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t suppose you fall into the “petite” or “thin” categories, do you? I’m wondering because I’m 161cm and weight about 51kg, so while I’m not super petite or super slim, I am smaller than the average adult woman. I think its because of my size that I have always been treated like I’m a teenage girl, though clothing certainly does make a difference. Once thing I have found that helps is to wear fitted clothing in the proper size. If you are small, swimming in a loose fitted shirt/dress will make you look even smaller. Smaller always carries the connotations of weakness and helplessness, both of which are associated with childishness and foolishness. In the work place, this can be especially bad–who wants to be seen as weak and helpless when you are trying to get stuff done?

    I love the clothes you chose, and I hope it makes a difference in the work place. Maybe you’ll update later to let your readers know if it makes a difference?

    Like

    1. Hi Mickey! Thanks for your lovely and very helpful comment. That’s something I really hadn’t considered and I think you have a great point there. I would say my body type falls into the “tall and slim” category and it’s something I get a lot of comments on, like “You’re tiny! Eat more!”. It had never occurred to me that this has probably been contributing all along to my insecurities about being treated as immature. Great advice on wearing fitted rather than loose clothing; I can definitely see how that would help. Since all of my work dresses are A-line, they emphasise my small waist and draw attention away from my hips and legs – a very flattering cut to smooth curves, but perhaps not so useful here. Hopefully now that I’ve added some pants to my wardrobe, this will help a bit with adding a bit more curve. Thank you again for your comment and your support. I will make sure I include an update on this in a later post; thanks for your interest 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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