The Minimalist Wardrobe: How to Invest

After downsizing your wardrobe and living with what you have for a while, you will realize buying a new piece for your wardrobe just became a lot more difficult.

Ideally, you now appreciate what you have, know what suits you and what matches with the clothes you already have. Ideally, you know exactly what you like and aren’t influenced by current trends or brands. Ideally, you (for example) decide to buy a bag, know exactly what style and colour you need and have an unlimited budget to spend on exactly that one piece.

Ideally. Of course, the reality looks different for most of us.

Needs and Wants – First and far most you will only be able to maintain a small wardrobe if you can differentiate between what you actually need and what you want. You think you need a 3rd blazer because your colleague is wearing new blazers every week and you like the light blue with stripes version? This is clearly a want. Of course you can still decide to buy a new blazer, but going after your wants will eventually expand your wardrobe and will have you selling things again.

Worth investing in – Is really every item worth investing in or can I still buy my white shirts at Primark? Of course, this is completely up to you. Personally, I like investing mainly in key pieces like bags, shoes and coats. These are items I can see myself spending most time and money on. Over the years I’ve also come to appreciate high quality blouses, knits, shirts and dresses. On the other hand, I’m not a friend of branded jeans as I feel that you can get a nice pair for under 50 bucks with a little care. I still buy socks and tights at your average retailer. The whole investing process is highly dependent on two things: money and preference. If you have the means and wants to only buy from fair-fashion-high-quality brands, do it. If you’re on a budget, you’ll have to compromise.

What’s investing? – Investing doesn’t only mean spending a substantial amount of money on an item. It also means spending time on choosing the right item – skipping options you wouldn’t be 100% happy with to look for more alternatives – or to save more money for the item you really want. This can be tricky in the beginning. You may know you want a new pair of jeans in black, but you may not be sure what cut to go for, or what brand suits you and delivers the right quality at the same time as being within your budget. This means you will have to spend some time doing your research. Luckily, for most items you can do the biggest part online. Stroll around some online shops to see what you like, read through a few forums to find out about the quality and price. After that you’ll be ready to hit the stores with a clear target. Try on some models, feel the fabric and get a clearer picture of what you want.

Buy now or cry later – That seems to be the motto of most people when buying new clothes. I’m a firm believer in “sleeping over it”. Meaning that even if I feel like I found exactly the thing I want and it’s in my budget, I will not buy it right away. I like bargains, so I usually go home and google the model and size I want to see if I can get a better deal somewhere else or maybe even find the item second-hand (you’ll be surprised how many second-hand items I buy, that have barely been worn and save me humongous amounts of money). Sorry retail, but this means that I very rarely end up buying in a physical store. The “sleeping”-strategy however also saves you from impulse buys. The next morning those jeans might not be that appealing anymore and you’ll end up buying another pair instead – saving yourself an annoying store return or re-sale.

Second-hand – This is clearly my favourite category. You’d be surprised how much of my wardrobe is actually thrifted or bought on ebay and other online resellers. I have a few designer bags that have a price tag over 1000 bucks but I haven’t spent half of that on them. Of course, you should only buy used designer goods if you have enough knowledge on spotting an authentic item to protect yourself from fraud – I recommend using certified resellers like Vestiaire Collective, Trendsales, Hardly Ever Worn It or Vide Dressing and reading up on e.g. The PurseForum. Second hand is a really good way to get a great deal on a high quality item that can last you ages – and not having to splurge. And trust me – few things feel better than finding the thing you have wanted for weeks at a really nice price.

Input/Output – Eventually you will of course expand your wardrobe somehow by adding items that match your style better or that are suitable for your daily needs (job, kids, travel) so sooner or later you will have to get rid of some things again. I try to go through my clothes twice a year to make sure I don’t end up keeping stuff I don’t need. See my post on downsizing for help in this matter.

 

I hope this little guide helps you on your way to the perfect key wardrobe. Let me know, if you want me to right an extra guide on second-hand shopping and thrifting.

 

 

Advertisements

How to master (extreme) Stress

Having moved house soon 15 times during 25 years of my life – 7 of the moves being across countries – I’ve become an expert at mastering stressful situations. The following things have helped me deal with situations of extreme stress – by no means am I a doctor; consider these tips that may or may not help you in similar situations.

What triggers stress? – Stress is triggered by hormones. Different situations and environments increase the amount of cortisol our body produces. This effect was carefully established by nature to make our bodies react better to dangerous situations. However, in today’s busy society stress isn’t only triggered by life-threats but also by situations that make us feel insecure, under pressure, lonely…the list of stress-triggering feelings is endless.

Uncertainty – Personally, my worst trigger for stress is uncertainty. It go through all kinds of possible (and impossible) scenarios in my head, ending up in a never-ending spiral of angst. Of course the easiest way to release stress in this case is to achieve certainty. An example is the fear of failing an exam. By studying harder and getting thoroughly prepared on time, you will not only increase the chances of passing but also actively increase the certainty of passing.

Unpredictable Situations – But what can you do when you don’t have the means to gain certainty on your own? Moving house (especially across borders) is a good example for this. A lot of paper work is involved, finding house in a foreign country, getting rid of housing where you are living now, leaving friends and family, switching jobs or studies, understanding the new country’s system and culture and – in many cases – not being able to speak its language fluently yet. On top of this the actual transport has to be organized, options have to be evaluated and the budget planned.

List it! – The first time I moved from Germany to Sweden, I planned little, freaked out a lot and in the end got more or less lucky with most things figuring themselves out. The second time I didn’t take those chances. After spending nights worrying about the unclear, I started listing things that I wanted to get done or gain certainty about. After working through most of the paperwork I could do in advance and making clear schedules for the paperwork to come, I felt much better. Being an expert in packing, I decided to not worry about that until a few weeks prior to the move. However, to budget transport we needed to know approximately how much stuff we would bring. In order to plan this better, I started making lists of what to keep and what to part with. Some of the things we decided to give away I put on ebay (check out my last post). We measured out the furniture we would bring – this is not only good for transport, but also to get a clear overview of how to arrange everything in the new home which we (welcome to the struggles of moving across countries!) wouldn’t see until the day we actually moved in.

Goodnight, sleep tight –I stress the most right before going to bed when I recap the past day and predict the coming day in my head. The closer to the scary situation, the harder it is to get a good night’s sleep. There’s not ultimate solution for this, but the following things have helped me: I go through the lists to remind myself that things are planned. I go for a short walk around the area to catch some air. I distract myself with a good book and put my computer and phone far away – that way I can’t be tempted to be caught up in a cycle of googling worries and scenarios for hours. Besides, staying away from technology before bedtime will generally help you to rest easier.

Positive Distraction – I’m by no means a fan of ignoring problems or avoiding stress completely, but I do believe that some types of distraction can benefit you in nerve-racking times. The most important form of distraction for me is exercise. Though a situation can be emotionally exhausting and you may feel tired constantly, it’s still imported to reach a point of physical exhaustion. Going for a run or doing strength workouts will not only distract you for an hour, but it will also help decrease your cortisol levels, help you concentrate and in general reach a better body/mind balance. I usually set specific goals for a stress-period like “I want to run 20km” or “I want to do 50 push-ups”. If it’s a reachable goal, it helps you stay confident when getting closer.

That being said, here are some more small changes you can make to improve your resistance towards stress:

  • Reduce caffeine intake (bye, tripple-espresso!)
  • Increase vitamin intake (more fruits, more sunshine)
  • Try out some basic yoga or meditation (breath!)
  • Plan clear breaks from your routine (short trips, meeting friends)
  • Talk . Tell you friends and family about your worries. You’ll be surprised how much another person’s perspective can put things into perspective.
  • Do something creative every now and then (painting, writing, singing)

Good luck with whatever stressy situation you’re going through right now – try out some of the things and you’ll manage just fine!