The other day I looked into my closet and saw an amalgamation of lime green organza, purple floral print, and yellow tie-dye. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these things on their own, but upon closer inspection, I realized that what I had was a closet made up of hyper-specific pieces. As in, a top that only goes with that one skirt and so forth. You can imagine that it makes putting outfits together infinitely harder.
I say “cripplingly indecisive” because I find myself getting stuck in these tiny, seemingly insignificant decisions. Do I choose the white top or the pink floral top? Wide leg or cropped? Like I said, these aren’t earth-shattering decisions. But what they amount to is either forgoing any decision at all (i.e., passing up on that cute top) or making a quick panic-informed decision and have to live with the consequences later (i.e., ordering a bright floral maxi dress only to find out that it doesn’t go with anything I own). I haven’t gone totally crazy—hear me out. It turns out that there may be a sweet spot for the number of choices we have to make in a day. Studies show that sometimes the fewer choices we have, the more likely we are to be happy.
It’s the same psychology that supports building a capsule wardrobe as a seriously effective way to streamline your closet (and hone in on your personal style). Below I'm sharing what I learned to help me start shopping smarter and how I was finally able to build an effective wardrobe that went together and finally felt like me.
Take a mindful approach to shopping for trends
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the trend cycle and emerge wearing an outfit that doesn’t even feel like you. This is arguably where my indecision stems from: excitedly hopping on the next trend before first thinking about how to incorporate it into my own wardrobe. Shopping for summer trends like puffy sleeves and tie-front tops meant choosing solid colors and neutrals like black and white that are guaranteed to go with everything else I own.
Get behind a style "type"
While I don’t think that everyone needs to define their style in terms of an archetype like “classic” or “minimalist,” here’s why it helped me transform my closet. Once I fully got behind my edgy style, shopping was so much easier. Simple as it sounds, I found I had more confidence (and less buyer’s remorse) after opting for sleeker shapes over more frilly pieces.
Available in sizes XXS to XL.
Available in sizes XS to L.
Go with your gut
Not exactly sure what your style “type” is? My rule of thumb is that when you know, you just know. I had a sort of visceral reaction when I saw these pinstripe jeans with a built-in chain belt. I thought Wow, these are so “me.” When you shop with your gut, it usually won’t lead you wrong.
Available in sizes 23 to 30.
Available in sizes DK34 to 42.
Available in sizes 0 to 6.
Reference your favorite style muses
You know when you see bloggers and influencers post certain outfits and you somehow can’t hit “like” and “save” fast enough? That’s a surefire way to tell when something resonates with you. Take note of the brands they’re wearing and keep a heavy rotation of their outfits on hand for inspiration, especially when shopping. If you’re on the fence about a purchase, consider whether or not your style “muses” would wear it.
Available in sizes 35 to 41.
Available in sizes 35 to 41.
Available in sizes IT35 to 41.
Keep an ongoing wish list of splurge-worthy purchases
To cut through all the trend noise, I keep a note in my phone of the investment pieces I’m saving up for. This way, I won’t freak out and order five tops from a fast-fashion retailer and instead spend that same amount on purchases I know are well thought-out.