The Jimmy Look
Last month I had my very own bucks party (or stag doo in the old money) in preparation for my wedding. As is tradition, two of my grooms-people (both Female) threw me a party to prepare me for married life with a dirty hangover. When I arrived at the first stop of the day, Sydney's premiere axe-throwing facility Maniax, I was greeted by a swarm of my best mates, all dressed up in a nominated theme.
what was The theme you ask? dress like jimmy!
My friends mostly chose my current trademark outfit. Black t-Shirt, black jeans, my sturdy Red Wing leather boots and my Akubra-style hand-me-down hat I got from my Grandfather, Fred. Occasionally I mix it up with a white or burgundy t-shirt (pictured above) and I own a suit for special occasions, but most days my entire textile repertoire is as pictured.
Why always dress the same way? Because I have decided on a 'look' that makes clothes shopping take about 5 minutes, twice yearly, online. It also makes the half-asleep morning ritual of getting dressed absolutely painless. I've tried the minimal wardrobe thing out and tested it for a few years now and I can confidently say:
If you slow down your wardrobe you'll have more free time and you will save money.
I have many, many things I don't need, like the snowboard that's never been to the snow and my collection of vintage bicycle frames. I have been making some effort to cull the clutter, but I still have a way to go. The one thing I have managed to minimise is my wardrobe. It's such a good feeling owning less and making quicker outfit decisions. I get a feeling of self-confidence from allowing my personality to represent me, rather than a loud, flashy or sub-culture-friendly outfit. I'm just Jimmy, and apparently all my mates know that I have a look to go with it, not a Jimmy to go with each look I put on.
the answer: A capsule wardrobe
Capsule wardrobe is a term used to describe a wardrobe comprised of essential items that are not effected by most seasonal and cultural fashion trends. The genius who came up with the idea, Susie Faux, was the owner of a London boutique called "Wardrobe" in the 1970s. After coining the term Faux's minimal mastery remained largely localised, until American designer Donna Karan released an infamous collection called 'capsule' in 1985, consisting of just 7 interchangeable work-wear pieces. The concept was most recently revived by fashion guru Gok Wan who featured the idea in an episode of his show Gok's fashion fix in 2010.
So how do you get started?
I used a cull and rebuild approach. I piled all of my clothes up and split them in garbage bags marked 'keep' and 'clear'. I sold what I could on eBay and donated the rest to charity. There were some sentimental and seasonal items I couldn't bring myself to part with, so I put them all in storage. The saying 'Out of sight, out of mind' mostly rang true. I gave myself until the end of the upcoming winter to see if I needed any of it. Admittedly, I took a few warm things out but donated most of it to charity shops after winter.
This bit is important... Don't go crazy buying ALL of the new fashion things. You have to buy to complement as many existing items as possible with each new garment and focus your eye on quality over quantity. For example, instead of cheap basics from a retail chain seek out good quality, non-synthetic and ideally organic clothing. You should also try and buy from companies that have an open and honest ethical labor and environmental policy. You can suss the manufacturers out using the Good On You app.
What is in a capsule wardrobe?
Having a more minimalwardrobe doesn't mean you need to look like a dork. I've been in the capsule club (not a real club) for a number of years now and maintain that I have felt 'cooler' and more myself with a consistent look than ever before in my life. I admit I also have a number of non-capsule items like a wetsuit, yoga tights, thongs, motorcycle jacket and rain jacket. There will always be climate/occupational/recreational/dress-up-party items slipping in there. We have to be realistic and balance being a hyper-minimal bohemian with living a busy life and not wanting to do washing all the time or smelling like you've just rolled out of a 3 night music festival where you volunteered as the herring sandwich maker. There is a happy medium for everyone, that's an individual pursuit.
So clear out the clutter and capsule your closet.
You will have a far easier decision making process when you are getting dressed. You will also keep your clothing budget down (after initial outlay) because your clothing budget doesn't need a top up 4 or more times a year. You may even find yourself feeling a bit more 'you' as your new look starts to get noticed because you always look like you have a well planned outfit that your personality shines through, instead of being enhanced by that a loud new blouse.