It's taken me a while to realise it, but I've finally come to accept that I'm in the middle of a style rut. I wanted to write about it not just because it might resonate with any of you, but also because you might have some help or advice for me and I'd love to start some conversation. I feel like I'm finally getting through the halfway point and I'm starting to take control and make my way to where I want to be. I know there are far, far greater problems to have in life, but for me and for many people, getting dressed every day is a form of self expression and being in a rut is just like any other creative outlet, so it's pretty shit when when you feel like you've lost your mojo.
The first time I really started experimenting with my style was back at uni when I emerged from my lengthy emo stage and discovered blogs like WishWishWish & theCherryBlossomGirl, among many others around 2008. My style has evolved a lot since those early days but throughout that time I always felt inspired about putting outfits together and was excited to get dressed in the morning and try new things. I bought a lot of clothes second hand from op-shops and used to love scouring eBay and Etsy back then too. I definitely bought my fair share of things I only wore once or twice (or not at all), but I think for the sake of experimentation it can be worth the few dollars an item from an op-shop costs, even if it's just to find out it's not for you. After a while I found my groove and figured out what worked for me and for the most part I stopped buying the things that didn't. I felt really happy with my wardrobe and still loved trying new things and experimenting with my style.
But the major thing that really pushed me off course was a change in my job at the end of 2014. Back when I worked in the music industry I could wear anything I wanted 7 days a week, but when I left and started a job where I earned a liveable wage, it also meant I had to start wearing "office attire" or slightly more dressy clothes 5 days a week. Of course there are many greater injustices in life, but I can't pretend it didn't get to me. In spite of this, I also really didn't want to commit to a "work" wardrobe because I didn't feel at all like me in those kinds of clothes, so I hated the idea of spending money on things I didn't get any joy from wearing. But what can you do when your wardrobe and your lifestyle don't match up anymore?
I felt, and still feel, like I have nothing to wear to work and only about a third of my wardrobe is work-appropriate even though 5 out of 7 days are spent there. So I just had to wear the same things over and over. Eventually I physically split my wardrobe into workday and weekend clothes so I could see all my options and try and make myself wear different things. But another side to this is because my last two jobs have been in very small offices, the fact that I hardly saw anyone 5 days a week meant if I didn't put any effort into my outfit, no one was going to care. It's not that I dress for other people, but of course when you've got a special occasion or are going out with friends, that's when you wear your favourite clothes so you feel your best. So when you're not doing anything special or seeing anyone who notices what you wear, why bother dressing up?
At the same time, I was also saving for my apartment, which I bought in 2016, but that meant that my disposable income was pretty limited so even if I had wanted to buy work clothes (which I didn't), it wasn't especially realistic for me. This is so not meant to be a "woe is me" story because I know this is such a privileged problem to have and I acknowledge that 100%. I would choose my apartment over new clothes any day of the week and I had wanted it for so long, so please don't think I'm complaining. I am so fortunate to be in the position I'm in, but I wouldn't be telling the whole story if I didn't mention that aspect of it, because it's definitely contributed to my rut in a big way.
It's been difficult because I really enjoyed the wardrobe I was able to wear back when my job was more casual. Of course I can still wear those clothes on weekends and I do and I still love them and feel great when I can wear what I want, but what's the point of having a wardrobe full of clothes that only get worn a couple of times a year? No matter how much I like them, if I want them all in rotation, my lifestyle just doesn't allow for me to wear them more often.
Because I haven't been buying many new clothes, a lot of what I've been holding onto for years is getting to the point where it's worn out, so even if I love it and rely on it, there are definitely a lot of things that I need to let go of. I did a major declutter when I moved into my apartment, and got rid of several more garbage bags of clothes when I moved back home again, despite hardly buying anything in that time. And now that I'm moving overseas, I'm doing a major downsize this time around, so I'm left with an appropriate amount of weekend clothes that I love, and not a whole bunch of things that I like but never get to see the light of day.
Because of the move, not only am I limited by my luggage allowance, but we're also moving to a completely different climate. During a Sydney winter I can more or less wear my summer clothes with tights and a coat, but Toronto winters are pretty serious. In fact the weather is one of the biggest things that worries me about moving because I really don't like the cold, but of course the experience is going to be worth it. Although Toronto gets a pretty warm summer, most of my clothes aren't going to cut it over there in the colder months, and the last thing I want to do is drag a bunch of crap I'm not sure I like halfway around the world and not even wear it.
I think because of the climate I'm going to have to throw a lot of what I think I know out the window and start again from the ground up. For example, I probably wear pants/jeans less than 10 times a year but that's not really going to cut it when it's snowing outside, so I'm mentally preparing myself to step out of my comfort zone for the sake of necessity, and I'm choosing to see the whole thing as an opportunity for a fresh start. I don't know anyone in Toronto so in a way it's quite freeing because no one will have any expectations of me to look a certain way. Although I'm definitely still into vintage and love the thrill of finding something completely unique, I know my style is going to have to adapt to the weather and I feel like this forced change should hopefully give me the push I need to work my way out of this rut. I don't know what I'm going to be doing for work over there, but assuming I end up with a semi-formal dress code I'm going to have to suck it up and find a way to make that work for me too.
I don't have the lifestyle of a typical minimalist, but more and more lately a lot of the ideas behind minimalism are starting to appeal to me. That doesn't include having a capsule wardrobe with only X number of items, because that just isn't for me and I don't think I can narrow down my tastes to exclusively one style, but I'm sick of holding on to things (clothes and everything else) without even thinking about why they're still there, especially now that I have such a good reason to get rid of things. I'm a sentimental person so even if something doesn't have a function other than being ornamental, I might want to keep it and I don't automatically see it as being clutter. But if something doesn't bring me joy or isn't practical, then I don't want to hang on to it anymore, and I think this move is really going to help me with that.
If you've got any tips for helping get out of a style rut, or if you've found yourself in one before I'd love to hear about your experiences. :)