Someone asked me about fashion and More Than Enough- how can we feel like we have More Than Enough when something new and beautiful and desirable is coming out every season?
How can we not allow ourselves to get caught in the fashion cycle?
But this is a mashup of the two.
You can tell you may be experiencing Not Enough when it comes to fashion if you:
- Have clothes in your closet you never wear
- Wear clothing that is too tight and uncomfortable
- Wear clothing that is baggy and way too big
- Agonize over your clothing decisions
- Constantly want what's new and trendy
- Avoid making decisions about clothes
As you can see, Not Enough pops up in decidedly different ways depending on your approach to fashion.
You could be an Andy (Anne Hathaway's character in The Devil Wears Prada) who doesn't give a fig about fashion all the way to a Miranda Priestly (that would be Meryl Streep playing a version of Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour) whose entire existence revolves around Fashion.
Both are extreme and opposite examples of feeling Not Enough when it comes to fashion.
Andy's anti-fashion approach has her simultaneously feeling superior (clothes are soooo not important so therefore I don't care about them) and inferior (I know nothing about clothing but I suspect I might not look so hot).
Miranda's perspective is rather reversed. Her superiority comes from her knowledge and taste level but also fuels a perpetual desire for more.
Regardless of whether you identify with Andy or Miranda (or a bit of both) the reality is that if you feel like Not Enough when it comes to clothing, I have some thoughts that might help you.
Further, this is a great and layered question because we get to address how an industry's behavior influences ours as consumers as well as examine our true desires around how we see ourselves and the world (which is the real crux of fashion).
In the first part I am going to talk about fashion as a business and our role as consumers. And even if you say you don't care about fashion and only shop at thrift stores or Target, please consider reading the first part. Of course if you just want the solutions to the Not Enough, just skip down to the bottom!
Fashion is my first love. I was obsessed with clothing and wardrobing from elementary school on.
At age 8 or 9 I'd hand sew new outfits for my dolls and stuffed animals because I couldn't bear to have them wear the same thing twice.
In middle school I chronicled my outfits so that I went at least a hundred days before wearing the same combination again. (I so wish I still had those journals!)
For over a decade I collected, read and reread every issue of Vogue magazine. For me, fashion or, more accurately, wardrobing, is a crucial part of my creative life.
Never mind that for the past two years I've been wearing leggings and baggy tops. My maternity and post-baby body days are numbered...
But back to this excellent question: how can we feel like More Than Enough and not get caught up in the fashion cycle?
To begin to answer this question, let's have a look at the never ending sales cycle that the fashion world has created.
The fashion conglomerates (all the way from the LVMHs down to the H and Ms) have designed the fashion cycle to be incredibly magnetic- and disposable. In their minds, with the seasonal shifts in color palette and silhouette, they've created a fashion consumable and a terribly smart business model. Even if the quality is high, the execs are banking on the style shifts to prompt consumers to retire your "old" clothes and acquire the new styles.
The relentless pacing of collections and deliveries makes the business side of things incessant (and exhausting). I remember when collections came out twice, maybe three times a year: spring and fall and maybe holiday/resort.
No more. Most designers create between six and nine collections a year! And stores like Zara have a completely different approach to production (which is, albeit, quite efficient and elegant in its own right).
This constant churning of new product with new colors and new silhouettes barrages the consumer with the constant message that she needs to buy a new wardrobe each time a new collection debuts. Which is now roughly every six to eight weeks. Or more frequently, if you're Zara.
No wonder it's common to feel not good enough when it comes to our clothing!
In order to conquer the Not Enoughness in our wardrobes, we have to look at both the industry and ourselves.
In my neighborhood in New York City, where fancy photo shoots are a daily occurrence and off duty models (or girls who just look the part) swan around, it's easy for me to document the rapidly changing pace of fashion and to feel Not Good Enough around the very people who create trends.
This industry relies on ever more rapid trend cycles to drive sales. Their actual products are created to produce the feeling of Not Enoughness in the consumer and their advertising campaigns want to reiterate the point for us.
We are Not Good Enough unless we have the latest designer denim, fancy watch, status handbag.
And even if you say you don't care about fashion...you too are influenced by these ubiquitous messages. Your decision to opt out means you do care.
So a big part of feeling More Than Enough regarding the clothes on our backs is to understand the nature of the industry. It's a business built to make us feel less than.
What, then, can we do about it? How can we have a fun, playful approach to our clothing? How can we enjoy the selecting, combining and care of our wardrobes? How can we use clothes a vehicle for More Than Enough?
1. Wear clothes that fit. You might have already guessed that Not Good Enough creeps up a LOT when it comes to our bodies and how we look. And we can't talk about bodies without talking about clothing.
One of the saddest acts we can perpetrate against our own miraculous bodies is to wear clothing that doesn't fit.
I remember when I had a bout of eating disorder stuff crop up again years after recovery. I felt pretty uncomfortable physically all the time. Then I realized that all the garments I wore were constricting. No wonder my tummy felt ill at ease and then I shamed my body!
Right then I decided to stop wearing the too-tight clothing. Within a few months my behavior normalized and I effortlessly dropped weight.
Clothes that are too tight especially but also too loose don't honor our bodies. So give your body something comfy and delightful to wear and see how that feels so much better.
2. Put away or give away all clothes that don't fit you right now.
One of the ways that we torture ourselves is to see constantly aspirational clothing- you know the jeans you wore in high school that you keep telling yourself you'll fit into one of these days.
If you absolutely must keep them, then put them out of sight!
Keeping clothing around that doesn't fit isn't kind to your psyche, it clutters your space and keeps you from having a joyful experience with your wardrobe.
3. Treat your current wardrobe with great care.
Fold it (or roll it!) nicely. Hang it on proper hangers. Mend tears and hand wash delicates.
When we care thoughtfully for those items we already have, we are sending a message to our psyche that we are good stewards of resources. We build trust with ourselves and let the universe know that it's ok to give us more (or different) resources.
From a practical standpoint, this prolongs the life of quality pieces in your wardrobe too.
4. Allow yourself to shop in your head/online/in stores.
This is what pinterest is for, people. Sometimes we just want to exercise our creativity by looking at, touching, pinning, or pondering new wardrobe items. If you get a kick out of window shopping, then put items on your board that you love and add them to shopping carts.
You don't have to buy them to enjoy them. What's more, you now have a record of what interested you and can go back and look for patterns like, "Hmmm I didn't realize that I really like the color blue."
Now you can thoughtfully look for a blue top in just the right shade to add to your wardrobe instead of settling for what's in store right this moment.
Allowing yourself to go a little nuts in a let's pretend kind of way gives your mind/emotions around clothes free range to play, indulge and see what comes up.
I do this frequently on the J. Crew website and then when I go look at my cart I realize that I already have similar items in my closet or that I really don't like that print after all.
But if I were to shut myself down and not allow myself to look and play and online window shop then Not Enough wins and leaves me feeling trapped and frustrated.
5. Try it on for size.
New trends and colors come out constantly in clothing, accessories, and makeup. So go try it out! Hit the stores and put things on. Go to Sephora to see if that new lipstick suits you.
When we leave ideas as ideas alone and don't test them in the real world we certainly can't be disappointed but we also can't eliminate them from our choices if we discover that bright red lips really aren't our style.
If the new (hahaha not new at all) high waisted, wide leg denim is intriguing to you, then go try it in person. You might find that you're completely content with all the jeggings you've already got!
6. Instead of comparing, take notes.
So let's say hypothetically that you see stylish women all. the time. And then you shame yourself for wearing stretch pants 24-7. Well that's just reinforcing the Not Enoughness.
Why not take note of what said stylish women are wearing and how they're putting together their outfits that intrigues you. You can even pin similar things.
I noticed this was going on with me and a particular group of well-heeled moms at my local coffee shop. I was all, "Seriously? Louboutins for the school run and gab fest?"
My Not Enoughness came out judging hard and shaming myself for not being more put together. So guess what I did! I decided to take better care of my nails, wash my hair (and even brush it!), and put on something other than yoga pants to go on my walks.
It did wonders for my self-esteem and didn't even require the purchase of a Chanel hand bag.
7. When all else fails, sign up for Rent The Runway Unlimited.
Ya'll, this subscription has been my savior during this period of post-baby body. I signed up in the spring (it's $100 a month) because I knew I had some parties and weddings coming up and literally not a darn thing in my closet was appropriate and fit me.
Enter RTR Unlimited. I get three items at a time and can keep them however long I want. I've had slinky cocktail numbers and now I'm onto breezy summer day dresses (that accommodate breastfeeding).
It feels good to have something new. I know I'm not committed to buying clothes in a size that I'd prefer not to be, and yet I can clothe my nakedness in a flattering, fun way without shopping or breaking the bank.
It is amazing.
That's my take on how to cultivate Enoughness when it comes to your wardrobe and fashion.
Let me know how it suits you!