Shopping my shipping: Shop your closet challenge, Part 1

Reduce clothing consumption by rediscovering what you already own

The idea of ‘shopping your closet’ is one I’ve been meaning to try out for a while. A lot of us, me included, find ourselves cycling through the same routine outfits, with a high percentage of our wardrobe falling off the radar. So rather than heading to the shops when we feel the need for something new, shopping our closets encourages us to delve into the back of our drawers and find some new outfits amongst what we already own. I think this can be a really great way of tackling fast fashion, and the ridiculously large amount of clothing that gets thrown away every year. Any small steps we can take as individuals to reduce our consumption must be embraced!

Shopping my shipping has been a great opportunity to reassess and get a bit more realistic about what I actually need

I was handed an unusually effective opportunity for some closet shopping when I moved from Oxford to Melbourne earlier this year. I packed most of my clothes into shipping boxes in early January. Months later, in the middle of May, we were finally reunited! It was like Christmas, unpacking all the boxes, with some favourite things like my gorgeous coffee pot and my road bike emerging from their packaging, alongside an almost embarrassingly large amount of clothing. Due to the timing for packing, a lot of these are autumn-winter items I didn’t expect to need on first arrival, but there is a good selection of lesser-worn items too. Going through them has been a great opportunity to reassess and get a bit more realistic about what I actually need. It’s a shame it took carting them to the other side of the world to learn this, but it turns out that there are actually a lot of things I just don’t need. There are probably enough clothes to choose from that I could break these posts down by category (dresses, tops, skirts, etc, etc), but for the sake of variety I thought I’d keep them mixed. So, without further ado, here are some clothes I’ve rediscovered by shopping my shipping! (With apologies in advance for really not having nailed a neutral facial expression yet!)

Zara floral sheath skirt

Full length photo of Helen wearing a high waisted botanical print skirt with a black vest top.

Anyone who saw me at a vaguely fancy event in the last years of university will definitely have seen me wearing this. These sort of botanical prints were everywhere, and I loved them. I think this one has stood the test of time. It’s a really comfortable skirt, which unlike many actually sits at my natural waist. It’s super easy to dress up with simple black tops and accessories, and when I’m feeling brave I’ll try dressing it down with a chunky jumper and some white sneakers. That would hopefully help with the issue of it being just a bit too sleek for ‘normal’ wear. But it’s one I love way too much to ever part with, even if I don’t wear it all that much. Certainly one I’m happy to rediscover.

Boden green wrap dress

Full length photo of Helen wearing a green a-line wrap dress with a white trellis pattern.

I love the shape of this dress – it has a really classic silhouette. I will always be drawn to green, which I think brings out the red in my hair, and I love the slightly unusual trellis pattern. Most importantly (!) it has pockets! The tie is a little awkward (as usual it doesn’t quite sit on my waist), and it shows a little more cleavage than I’m usually comfortable with, but with a little cami underneath I’ve been happy to wear this to work. I actually like this dress so much that I bought it in navy too. Boden is certainly at the higher end of my budget, but if you keep an eye on their outlet section you can usually find some great bargains. It may be a little cold for this dress now (the fabric tends to cling a little to tights), but come spring I’m sure it will be making regular appearances.

Red A-Line paperbag waist skirt

Full length photo of Helen wearing a bright red A-line skirt mini-skirt with a black vest top.

This is one I really thought I’d be getting rid of when I pulled it out of the box. The material is a bit flimsy for a skirt (even though it is lined), it creases really easily, and it’s a little on the short side. But after a bit of an iron, I think this one has redeemed itself. It’s just long enough, and I like the waist, pocket and button details. With a black top or a white shirt I think it can be surprisingly versatile, and as I don’t have many A-line skirts, I think it will earn its keep. One to see how often I wear, and maybe rethink a few months down the line.

New Look gingham peplum top

Full length photo of Helen wearing a yellow and white gingham top with floaty short sleeves and a peplum waist with tie, and black jeans.

A hangover from my gingham obsession (more evidence here), I really like the light, floatiness of this top. Arguably it’s just a bit too big for me, as it sort of sits on top of me rather than actually fitting. But it adds a nice note of femininity, and answers my frequent craving for gingham without looking too much like a reworked picnic blanket. I’m more comfortable wearing it with a cami underneath for work, but for casual, warm days it’s just as good without.

Zara long knit dress

Full length photo of Helen wearing a dark grey knitted dress, with long sleeves and an uneven hem.

Incredibly I was considering parting with this on a permanent basis when I was packing. It is admittedly awkwardly warm, and a little bit itchy. But it is otherwise very comfortable, and sort of all-embracing. I adore the extra-long sleeves, the slightly wider neckline, and the thickness of the knit. Especially with the uneven hemline, I think it is just that little bit unusual – it feels slightly ‘fashion’, without looking try-hard. I have worn this to black tie dinners, with some high pointy heels and a statement necklace, but I’ve also popped a white shirt under it for work. The collar and cuffs gave it a sleek, albeit quite ’90s, look. For casual days, it’s easy to pair with some sneakers for an instant outfit. Hopefully Melbourne’s cool but not too cold winter will give me some chances to wear this out again.

I hope this has been an interesting look at the joys of shopping your closet. There were some things I was delighted to rediscover, but others I can’t believe I bothered transporting from the other side of the world! Stay tuned for Part 2 for more discoveries!

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