Closet Control, Personal

Wardrobe Architect 2015 : Weeks 3 & 4 – Shapes, Proportions and Silhouettes

If you’ve been following along on my WA Challenge 2015 journey (here and here), you’d have heard me rant on about loving styles that don’t fit my body shape or proportions. Growing up, I had a lot of problems figuring out what looked good on my body and what kind of shapes I ought to be looking out for. I’m kind of short (162cm, which is 5′ 4″ for those of you who count in imperial units), which is inconvenient, but I also happen to be a pear-shape, and my legs (to me at least) seem disproportionately stumpy. I also love heels, but hate wearing them. The end result of this is that I often feel short and squat because the styles I love tend to work better on leggy, straight-figured people. You can imagine I was really excited to find out that today’s worksheets address my problem exactly by helping me determine what I feel the most comfortable in and what sort of proportions or silhouettes work best on my body! If you’ve ever had this problem, then keep on reading to find out more.

Week 3: Exploring Shapes 

This weeks’ worksheet was a short and relatively painless affair that had me rank different shapes according to what I feel the most comfortable in. Though I thought I already had a good idea or what I liked and disliked, this exercise really helped me pin down the kind of shapes I ought to be looking for in clothing (particularly helpful in online shopping!) Here is what I discovered I love:

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Knee-Length, Somewhat Full Skirts that start from the High or Natural Waist

Knee-Length, Somewhat Fitted Dresses with Full Skirts that begin from the Natural Waist

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Somewhat Fitted, Mid-Thigh Length, Natural-Waisted Shorts
(apparently I don’t like pants very much at all… which is true)

Somewhat Fitted or Somewhat Loose Tops that hit above the hip 

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Boatneck Necklines and Major love for Sleeveless tops and All Types of Sleeves (except Capped ones) 

ALL types of cardigans (except very fitted ones) 

All pictures were taken from ASOS which to me, is basically pinterest, without the pinning.

Week 4: Proportions and Silhouettes 

This next exercise takes what we discussed one step further – from identifying the shapes we feel comfortable wearing, to matching the silhouette they produce with the types of outfits we can put together. Like Sarai, I’ve opted to use Polyvore to create these sample looks to show you a little of the silhouettes I love (or what they would look like if I had access to the unlimited clothing on Polyvore).

Fitted Top and Loose Skirts (the classic Fit and Flare)

I suspect this has more to do with my pear shape than anything else. I love that this silhouette can be made formal for the office, dressed down for date night, or shortened to create a fun casual day outfit.

(Fun fact: That work outfit above is almost exactly what I wore to work today! Plus the Ann Taylor Signature Tote pictured above? Totally worth it. It fits my laptop with no problem and always looks professional, I love it! )

Sleeveless, Loose Tops and High-Waisted Pencil Skirts 

To balance out all the coverage (till my knees!), I prefer to keep my top simple, loose and sleeveless. This is more of an office-look and one that I would avoid if I knew I’d be having a big lunch that day! Of course, this look necessitates heels, so it helps that I’d be spending most of the day sitting behind a desk.

Structured top and high-waisted shorts 

I always feel like tailored shorts need a structured top to even it out. This is a style that I’ve been dying to try but haven’t yet figured out – it’s on my list this year!

Shift or Swing Dresses

I love shift dresses. They strike the perfect balance between fitted and loose and usually manage to camouflage my pear-ness. Since shift and swing dresses are relatively shapeless, I prefer to wear ones of a shorter length with flats or sandals. As a general rule, I like to pair shorter length clothing with flat shoes and longer lengths (ie. below knee-length) with heels. I’ve seen quite a lot of girls about who are able to pull off midi skirts with flats, but I suspect that has something to do with their taller height and longer legs – woe are the short-legged!

Loose top and Skinny Jeans or Jeggings 

This is a look that I wear to the office quite often on casual Fridays. Though I love pairing this outfit with heels (so classy!) I usually keep it comfortable and casual with flats.

When I was prepping this post I suddenly realised that I tend to apply these 3 golden rules in choosing my outfit silhouettes:

1. Fitted on top, flared at the bottom (to hide dat booty!)

2. When hemlines are short, the heels get shorter.

3. Balance out tight bottoms with loose tops (after all, when you compare China with Russia it doesn’t seem that big anymore doesn’t it?)

So there you have it! The 5 main silhouettes I apply to my dressing; I hope you guys (especially fellow pears) have found it helpful! What cardinal rules do you have for styling? I would love to hear them!

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Closet Control, Personal

Wardrobe Architect 2015 : Week 2 – Defining a Core Style

I know I know, I said I would post ages and I didn’t… to make up for it, you guys get 4 posts in quick succession – hurray! (Or sorry, depending on whether you like hearing me babble on or not.) Just an update in case you guys are worrying that my sewing mojo (sew-jo?) has gone – I’ve recently gone back to work after a break to study for the Bar Exams last year, so I’m still getting used to juggling a full time job, family time and a rather time-consuming hobby (as you can tell, it isn’t going well). This means I haven’t sewed anything at all this year (cue horrified emoji), but I have been doing a lot of planning and thinking about my next makes in between churning out affidavits and writing letters…

…which bodes well for this post because today’s task is to define my core style! The premise of this week’s activity is that everyone has a certain preference for an aesthetic or a quality in clothing that reflects their own personality, taste or lifestyle. This quality can be interpreted in various ways depending on the season or current trends – this is known as one’s core style. Once we are able to define our core styles, we will be able to adapt the trend of day to create a look that is uniquely us. To help us along, Sarai has prepared a worksheet to help us gather our thoughts – keep reading to see my answers below!

When you are wearing your favorite clothing, how do you feel (e.g. confident, sexy, poised, powerful, etc)?

My favourite clothing are almost always comfortable and convenient. This means they fit well, the skirts don’t ride up, the necklines don’t sag down and the straps stay where they ought to – on my shoulders. Mostly they make me feel confident, well put-together, poised, polished and generally allow me to pretend that nobody will notice if I say anything bimbotic or trip over a rock because I look so legit – ie. like I know exactly what I want and how to get there. #girlpower

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When you’re wearing something that is not quite right, how do you feel? What are the feelings you want to avoid about the clothes you wear?

Some clothing make me feel like I look really good, you know, the ones where you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and give yourself a mental high-five. At the same time, these types of clothing come with the constant insecurity that I’m flashing someone, or that my love handles are showing, or that my behind looks like the size of Texas, which doesn’t make for a pleasant experience at all. These clothing are basically the garment equivalent of 6-inch heels that you can stand around in… but would have you turning back for flats not more than 5 steps out your front door.

There are also clothing that don’t fit right – they’re too big around the waist, you’re constantly checking to see if your bra is showing or you feel like it makes you look like a walking lemon. This category of clothing just makes me feel really inadequate, downright dowdy and you tend to imagine that everyone who looks your way is sizing you up and judging your attire. You want people to be impressed by how polished you are, not how unflattering your clothes look on you!

Who do you consider to be your style icons? What is it about them that appeals to you?

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When I first read this question I thought of the usual ‘classy’ icons, like Audrey Hepburn, Alexa Chung, Emma Watson and (my favourite) Taylor Swift. But though I think they look amazing and I love their style profiles, I don’t necessarily think the clothes they wear would work on me. So I flipped through my pinterest and realised that I’ve pinned an awful lot of style inspiration from Kate Middleton – I always knew I was royal material! Kate’s style is on point, timeless, elegant and appropriately modest.

What are some words that describe styles that you like in theory, but are not quite you?

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Elegant, tailored, leggy – Think cigarette pants, blazers and high waisted shorts a la Taylor Swift

Heels – I have so many but get such bad blisters from wearing them

50’s – I basically love everything that Brittany Snow / Amber wears in the Hairspray movie

Colourful, quirky – think Stylenanda (a Korean fashion brand if you aren’t familiar with them) or Roisin’s Home Sewing is Easy Flora dress (or anything that Roisin has made, really) , I love kooky styles but don’t have the guts to go too bold or whimsical

Cute – Peter Pan collars – I love them, just not on me

Look over your answers from last week on history, philosophy, culture, community, activities, location, and body. List at least 15 words that you associate with your answers. Think about descriptive words, moods, and feelings you associate with these things:

Basics, Comfortable, Practical, Neutral, Modest, Classic, Fit, Understated, Timeless, Simple, Cool (temperature-wise), Safe, Elegant, Lady-like, Matching

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Look over the answers to all of the questions above. If you had to narrow your list to only 3-5 words to describe you, which words would you choose?

Timeless, Modest, Practical and Understated

I realise this may well translate into “boring” but my style is what it is I suppose! What do you guys think – boring or classic? If any of you are following along the WA Challenge as well I would love to hear about it!

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Closet Control, Personal

Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge : Week 1

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Last week I spoke a little about wanting to define my personal style and to collate a capsule wardrobe this year – a project on”closet control” if you will. The problem was that I had no idea where to start or how I would implement it. So imagine my excitement when I saw this post by Kristen issuing an open invitation to work through the Wardrobe Architect series with her this year – lucky me!

Kristen has undertaken the very brave challenge of not buying any RTW clothing this year – I don’t quite feel that I have the necessary skills (or time) to rely wholly on me-made clothing as yet so I’m just hoping to be able to keep up with this series and to use what I’ve learnt to focus on making clothes I will actually wear, as opposed to clothes that are simply fun to make!

My plan is to post every Monday about my progress on this series, starting today. Since there are only 3 weeks of January left, I’ll be covering week 1 today, and week 2 on Thursday.  If you guys are interested in joining in, please do! I would love to hear all of your input – often my sister is my only fashion critic, so any other feedback on how I could further define my style, or what would work on my body type would be amazing. Now, are you ready? Here we go!

Week 1 – Making Style More Personal

I found this week’s activity rather difficult – we were asked to reflect on how each of these 7 factors (your personal history, philosophy, culture, community, activities, location and body) affect your fashion choices. I had some problems tackling some categories of the worksheet, but was really surprised by how a few of these factors have really shaped my personal style and what I choose to wear on a daily basis!

For one, I had always thought that my activities for the day and the need to dress comfortably played a major role in determining what I was to wear that day. As it turns out, a more significant factor is how I perceive my body and whether I feel that a certain outfit looks and feels good on me. Fit and my body image are probably the main reason why the styles I like on others (and most of the things I pin) are not looks I actually wear in real life.

(Source: Song of Style/A Little Dash Of Darling)

For example, I’ve been loving the midi skirt trend over the last year or so and have actually amassed a number of midi pieces of my own. In my mind it was the perfect piece for a pear shaped person – slim on the top, cinching the waist and flaring at the bottom to hide our child-bearing hips. In reality, I’ve worn a midi skirt maybe twice in the whole of last year, mostly because I thought it looked strange on me. My waist isn’t as small as a model’s and my legs aren’t long enough to even out the longer skirt length without the added height of heels – the end result is that I feel stumpy in them so it never makes it out past my bedroom.

This picture is here because… THAT YELLOW DRESS. Am I the only one who wants to steal the entirety of Taylor’s wardrobe?!

Another interesting discovery is how my culture and religion have impacted my preference for clothing. I’m ethnically Chinese and a Christian from birth – this means that both my culture and religion value modesty and purity. This doesn’t mean I dress like a nun (my bow-back Sabrina crop top is evidence of that), but it does mean that I’ve grown up being lectured by my mom about my “too-short skirts” and “too-low tops”. I’m guessing the nagging actually worked, because some time in University I decided that (1) I didn’t like figure-hugging clothing, (2) I didn’t like short skirts and (3) tube tops and plunging necklines fit me badly and made me feel uncomfortable due to my distinct lack of bewbage.

Like this modern rendition of the cheongsam by Lark & Peony which I wish I could afford

Being Chinese also means that I grew up admiring the classic silhouette of the cheongsam (or qi pao, as some call it), and still do! I think this has influenced my love for clean lines and classic, elegant styles that are both sexy but modest at the same time. I’m talking illusion backs, sheer mesh panels, and sheath dresses that skim your curves instead of hugging them. As Emma Watson once said “The less you reveal, the more people can wonder” – dang, girl!

Are any of you guys joining in #WAChallenge2015? If so, link me down below, I would love to see how you guys are getting on! For anyone else, what do you think of this week’s challenge? How has your background or location (or any of the other factors) impacted your fashion style?

If you would like to follow along with my Wardrobe Architect Challenge journey, here’s a list of all my posts so far:

January

Week 1

Week 2: Defining a Core Style

Weeks 3 & 4: Shapes, Proportions and Silhouettes

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DIY, Sewing

Coco Banana // Tilly & the Buttons Coco Top Review

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When I was about 8, I had a friend who had a “Copabanana” phase. This means she sang that one line from Barry Manilow’s Copacabana – “At the Copa, Copacabana” over and over again, but as “Copabanana” instead of “Copacabana”. Clearly it was annoying enough to scar me for life, because I still accidentally sing the wrong lyrics today. So when I sewed up a yellow Coco Top last December, the natural choice of name was “Cocobanana”. #sorrynotsorry

I’ve briefly mentioned in an earlier post how fast and easy the Coco pattern is to sew up, but I never in a million years dreamed that I would be able to sew it from cutting to pressing in 4 hours and still find that I had done a decent job on finishing the hems. As some of you would have seen on my instagram, I rushed out this baby in a single afternoon between sitting for an exam paper and hightailing it to the airport to catch a flight to Hong Kong.

 

 

But let’s start from the very beginning shall we? I first saw the Coco when I became interested in sewing early last year and discovered the existence of sewing patterns (you’d be surprised how many people think all homemade garments are drafted by the sewists themselves!). Being very much a pear-shaped lady I didn’t think the A-line shape of the top would work for me as I felt it would accentuate my already ginormous hips, much in the way peplum tops do. Even after sewing it up in my size and trying it on (with the jeggings above), I wasn’t convinced it wasn’t a good match for my body shape. It was only after getting a second (and third!) opinion that I decided to leave it as it was and test it out on my Hong Kong trip.

And how I loved it on that trip. I loved how fitted the top is – the armholes are a good fit and the sleeves are slim and makes my very un-toned arms look thinner than they actually are. Even the bust area needed no SBA! The only thing that I might change is to take a wedge out of the neckline as it tends to gape a bit (would that be a narrow shoulder adjustment? I’m not sure of the terminology).

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In terms of outfit combinations, I knew it was a keeper when I tucked it into a pleated skirt I had and it looked like a great basic fitted/ structured tee that wasn’t too boxy for my liking. While I do still have misgivings about pairing my Cocobanana with jeans, after reviewing the photos above I feel it just about passes the shorts-matching test. I’m pretty sure this pattern is going be one of those that keeps on giving – and I haven’t even made up the dress version yet!

On to construction – like I mentioned above, the top came together in no time at all. The instructions were clear, helped along with Tilly’s sew-along on her blog, and I loved that the sleeves were sewed in flat, it’s SO much easier for beginners. Since the recommended fabrics are low-stretch knit fabrics, like ponte knit, that means it sews up more or less like woven fabric – none of the pesky problems that come with lighter weight jerseys, hurray!

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As for alterations, I sewed a size 2, grading out to size 3 at the waist and hips. It was the first time I tried any sort of alteration on paper before sewing up my muslin and I found this pattern really easy to grade and to blend between sizes. In addition, I referred to Tilly’s tutorial to create this summery short sleeved version of the top.

Like I said before, I would most definitely recommend this pattern to anyone, even a complete beginner! I really don’t think it matters that this pattern is for knit fabrics, the instructions are so clear that it shouldn’t be a problem at all.

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Closet Control, Personal, Sewing

15 Very Practical, Absolutely Achievable Goals for 2015

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First up, if you’ve found my tiny corner of the internet through my guest post on By Hand London, hello and welcome! I hope you like what you read and you decide to stick around (: Feel free to comment as much as you like, about anything and everything, I would love to get to know some of you guys!

So I’m slightly tardy with this post, but it’s just about that time of year when bloggers all around the world are done with reflecting on the past year and the blogosphere is buzzing with inspirational resolutions for 2015 and suggestions on how to keep them.

I’m not one for resolutions (as I end up breaking all of them by the end of January anyway), but I do see the value in setting achievable goals and working towards them throughout the course of the year, so here are my 15 very practical, absolutely achievable goals for 2015! (*also inspired by Posh, Broke & Bored’s 15 things for 2015)

15 Very Practical, Absolutely Achievable Goals for 2015

1. Control the size of my closet 

My main goal this year is to keep my closet under control (especially with the number of makes I hope to be churning out!) I’ve already taken the first step towards TOTAL CLOSET CONTROL by purging my closet on New Year’s Day and getting rid of a whopping 75% of my clothing collection (read all about it here), but will be continually reviewing my purchases and assessing my makes to ensure I end up with a small but extremely wearable capsule wardrobe at the end of this year.

If you’d like to embark on this journey with me, you can keep track of my posts using the tag “Closet Control“.

2. Keep my room organised

I talked a bit about how much better I feel with my room uncluttered and I hope to keep it that way. I’m still figuring out what’s best for me in terms of room arrangement and storage systems – I’ll be sure to keep you guys updated if I find out anything revolutionary!

3. Keep my life organised 

You know those people who splurge on a really cute organiser thinking that it will induce them to use it and then forget it exists about a month later? Yeah that’s me. Hopefully my new Kikki K. planner will change my habits this year:

4. Read the papers

Now that I’m working full time and am finally going to get qualified, I figured it’s time to grow up and to start reading the news like an adult. (The entertainment section counts right?)

5. Minimise outstanding debts 

I’m one of those persons who is really bad at budgeting and can never remember to pay (or to claim for that matter) outstanding debts. Just last week a friend of mine reminded me that I haven’t paid him for tickets he bought on my behalf a good 3 months ago! (oops.)

To counter this problem, I downloaded a new iPhone app from my bank called “Pay Lah!” that allows me to authorise payment to anyone using their mobile no. and lets them key in their account details themselves. Hopefully not needing a computer and the hassle of going through the security process of transferring funds will help me be a lot less tardy with my debt repayment.

I’m sure most other major banks are churning out similar apps, so if you’re a serial debt-ower, you could consider this!

6. Drink at least 6 cups of water a day 

Growing up I hated the taste of water, in fact I only ever drank flavoured drinks until last year when I got used to the taste of plain water and unsweetened tea. This year I’ve bought myself a ginormous 1.2 litre thermos flask – hopefully this will help me keep track of how much I’ve drunk in a day.

(Also my boyfriend got me this really cute tumbler from Ireland which helps:)

*I actually wrote “tumbler” as “tumblr” and then wondered why it was highlighted as a spelling error. Time to re-evaluate the amount of time I spend on social media methinks…

Oh and yes, my sheets must be like a decade old. They’re cute though, right?

7. Get my 2 + 2 a day 

In addition to not drinking water, I used to hate the taste of vegetables. I think there must have been times when I went almost a week without any greens in my diet (shock and horror!). They say what you put in your body is half the challenge, and since I hate exercising more than I hate veggies… I suppose 2 servings of fruits and vegetables a day it is then!

8.  Blog at least once a week 

I’ve got big plans for this space but have been tampering my goals with the knowledge that I start a really hectic working schedule this year (I get called to the Bar this year – hurrah!) The rough plan is to blog on sewing and crafty stuff every Thursday and to blog about anything else (Closet Control posts, personal posts, etc.) on a Monday if possible. Let’s hope I can keep it up.

9. Produce on average 2 makes a month 

With the aforementioned working schedule, I really hope I’ll be able to keep this up! I have an enormous list of things I want to sew and a whole stash of fabric but never enough time to do it all.

10. Quality > Quantity 

This year I want to sew things of quality. That means taking the time to finish the inside of my garments, learning to fit my makes to my body (and actually doing proper SBAs!), and remembering to press my seams! Maybe you guys will finally get to see the inside of some of my makes x)

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It doesn’t look it, but the inside of this is a mess.

11. Take part in Me Made May 2015

This is going to be a real challenge, especially as I’ll be spending a solid 3 weeks of May inside a Courtroom… which means black and white every day! I might start documenting in late April to compensate for the lack of variation I’ll get during May itself, but that means I probably have to start beefing up my me-made work wardrobe like… now.

12. Keep up my gratitude journal 

13. Practice patience, tolerance and forgiveness

This is something I could use real work on!

14. Make time for family

15. Put aside time for daily quiet time and prayer 

And those are my goals for 2015, that doesn’t sound too hard right? (Who am I kidding) I’m sorry if I bored some of you who are here for the sewing posts, but hopefully I gave some of you ideas on how to implement your own targets for 2015!

On that note, what would you guys like to see out of this blog in 2015? Room organisation tips, posts on my capsule wardrobe progress, or posts on sewing for us poor mortals with small boobage (it seems like there’s a ton of information on FBAs but none on SBAs)? Any suggestions would be very welcome!

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Closet Control, DIY

The Great Closet Detox (& a Mini Room Tour!)

My boyfriend will tell you that I’m a hoarder. He’s probably right. And that doesn’t just apply to mementoes or childhood clothes, I will hoard anything that has sentimental value to me – primary school uniforms, broken childhood toys, letters from friends I’ve lost contact with – you name it, I probably kept it.

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I also have a distinct aversion to throwing away things that are in perfectly good condition, especially impulse buys which have never been worn and will probably never be worn like, ever. The end result is a closet that is bursting at its seams, and nowhere to put the clothes that I do wear. Which in turn, affects the tidiness of my room as the clothes in current rotation end up on any available surface other than in the closet – my chair, my bed, and I hate to admit it but… the floor. It got so bad in December last year that I decided some drastic action was needed, so I called the most ruthless closet purger I knew… my boyfriend (AKA The Master Purger).

I don’t have many photos of my room before “Operation Closet Purge” began (truth be told I considered it but was way too embarrassed to even take any), but some of you may have seen the process in action over on my instagram.

Using Into Mind’s brilliant Closet Detox Cheat Sheet, we went through every item of clothing in my closet and ended up reducing the total garment count by a whopping 75% (estimated). This means that for every 4 items of clothing in my closet, I only kept 1! Are you guys as shocked as I was? I had no idea my wardrobe was harbouring that many pieces that did not fit my style / were not a good fit / or were in an unwearable condition.

The end result was 2 garbage bags full of trash, another 2 garbage bags worth of wearable (albeit slightly out of fashion) garments bound for The Salvation Army, and a large suitcase full of clothes (mostly new and unworn) to be sold on Carousell or at flea markets. The Master Purger also made me promise that any unsold clothes left at the end of the year would be bundled up and shipped off to the good people at The Salvation Army so if you guys are the shopping sort, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pop by my account on Carousell (@jessiehhm) and help me cover some of my shopping losses! Or if you’re not located locally, I’m open to shipping internationally so drop me a comment below and I’ll get back to you (I have yet to photograph and upload about 90% of the clothes to be sold, so do bear with me if my account looks a little bare at the moment.)

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I also took the chance to reorganise my room and introduce some new furniture – a bedside table and a bookshelf (I don’t know how I survived without them before!) Other new organisational features which I love are this hanging jewellery organiser and these cubes from Ikea which are perfectly sized to hold my hair styling tools and tech equipment. Before this, they were just sprawled out across my floor, wires in a tangle and so on.

Instead of splurging on an polaroid-sized album (those things are expensive!) for the random instax photos I have lying around, I parked them behind the frosted glass of my wardrobe drawers instead. There you go – an instant design feature that conveniently hides my unsightly underwear and showcases all the people I hold near and dear.

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Despite the emotional and psychological trauma of having my clothing collection drastically reduced in the space of 2 days, I must say that my room is a less claustrophobic, more relaxing place to be in now. It’s also helped to define my personal style which has made it a lot easier to choose my outfits and to see all my clothing at a glance. I would definitely recommend this closet detox process to anyone who feels that they have too many clothes, or to someone who constantly feels that they have nothing to wear despite having an extremely extensive clothing collection!

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I’m loving this new change so much that one of my plans for the next year is to learn more about starting a capsule wardrobe in order to create a streamlined closet of good quality pieces that I love that are in constant rotation!

Do you guys have recommendations for reading materials on capsule wardrobes and personal style? If so, leave a comment – I’d love to hear them!

 

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