Shopping my shipping: Shop your closet challenge, Part 3

Reduce clothing consumption by rediscovering what you already own

I’ve been really enjoying taking a look back through my clothing ‘archives’ and finding pieces I’ve been missing out on, or that I needed to say goodbye to a long time ago! Shopping your closet is the concept of treating your existing wardrobe like a department store: picking out new outfits and items from what you already own, rather than going out and buying new things. It’s a useful piece in the jigsaw puzzle of reducing the carbon footprint of your clothing, as well as helping you refresh your looks at no extra cost. If you buy clothes less frequently, you’re also likely to have a bit more to spend when you do, so you can invest in more ethical brands. So all in all it’s a great exercise to try! Check out Part 1 and Part 2 for more reflections on creating an eco-friendly wardrobe, and of course more outfits!

Zara zig-zag print skirt

Full length photo of Helen wearing a zig-zag print pencil skirt, with a black vest top and black sandals.

Here’s, you guessed it, another Zara item to kick us off. It’s another classic that I used to wear all the time. I only stopped wearing it when I got my road bike and it became a little bit impractical for everyday wear. I love the pattern, and it was one of my go-to summer work pieces. Paired with a blue Oxford shirt or a black T-shirt, it has enough visual interest to not need much else. It is very stretchy, so can cope with big lunches without getting uncomfortable, despite it’s form fitting shape, which is always a bonus! I think this one will be working its way back into my regular rotation.

River Island two-tone jumper

Full length photo of Helen wearing a chunky knit jumper over blue jeans.  The jumper has navy sleeves and a navy strip around the boat neckline, the rest being a plummy purple colour.

This is probably one of the oldest items of clothing I own – I may even have bought it in Sixth Form! Nowadays I’m not quite sure what drew me to this colour combination, but I like the open neckline, long sleeves, and chunky knit. Another comfy one for lazy days at home. In the UK at least, you can never have too many jumpers, so this one’s definitely a keeper.

Mango green stripe dress

Full length photo of Helen wearing a light mossy-green dress with thin vertical white stripes, wide elbow-length sleeves, and an A-line, over the knee skirt part.

I think I bought this dress when I was trying to resist all those gingham ones. It’s quite a casual fit, and a very light fabric, so it only really works as a summer dress. But it’s good for those (possibly imaginary) days when you want to potter around outside reading a book and go for strolls in the countryside. It’ll be a few more months before I can regularly wear this again, but I’m sure when the time comes it’ll be a favourite.

New Look daisy print top

Helen wearing a long-sleeved, square neck top with ruched hemline, in a black fabric with small yellow, ditsy daisy print.

When I look at this photo I have to remind myself of what it feels like to wear this top. Because however much I like the look of it, it’s not one that is ever going to fit me very well. I don’t know what bra I could wear which wouldn’t peek out slightly (and it’s way to loose fitting to go without!), and the little cap sleeves were constantly on the verge of falling down my arms. Someone with smaller arms (among other things) will have to make a better attempt of this than me. I’ll be sorry to see it go, but this is a classic case of my head needing to overrule my heart.

Boden shell top

Helen wearing a rich blue sleeveless shell top with a folded wide collar.

I really still haven’t decided what to do with this one. I love the neckline, the collar detail, and the rich blue colour, but find the length a little awkward. It’s not long enough to tuck into things, and it’s a bit too long to sit over most of my trousers. I don’t think I could pull it off with my skirts either. However I think it has enough merits that I’ll keep it around for a bit, and see how much I get to wear it. It’s such good quality that it would be sad to say goodbye to it! What do you think I should do with it?

One major thing I’m taking away from this experience is that it is the trend-led pieces that I am saying goodbye to most often. Wanting to get in on a trend (however subconsciously) leads me to compromise on the quality and fit of items, and I ultimately end up choosing clothes I don’t really love that much, and for which the love is very short-lived. Shopping my closet is definitely helping me to re-evaluate my approach to buying clothes. I’m still some way from a capsule wardrobe, but I think my priorities are definitely moving further towards quality over quantity. Towards classic pieces that will stand the test of time, work in lots of different ways, and that I’ll still love years down the line. Who knew such a simple challenge would get me totally rethinking how I buy clothes?

Have you tried shopping your closet? What motivates you to go out and buy new pieces – do you want to follow a trend or fill a hole in your wardrobe? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

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