[quote]Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.[/quote]
---Leonardo da Vinci
Starting at 6 weeks pregnant, my body changed pretty quickly, from the shape of it to the state of my health (Morning sickness is for sissies. Try all day sickness for 5 months straight. It’s awesome). These changes greatly dictated what I could and couldn’t stand to wear. Bending over made me sick, so all shoes had to be slip on (and roomy). Anything pressing on my abdomen also made me sick, so all waistbands that landed where normal waistbands land were out. This basically ruled out all regular clothing that I already owned except for two pieces (one wrap dress and one stretchy, cowl neck tank), which meant that I had to get an entire wardrobe to accommodate the new demands of my body for the next 8 months, and a limited budget in which to do it. Enter the great Limited Wardrobe Experiment.
I needed a uniform that could get me through most social situations -- from weekends to work to the occasional party -- if this finite wardrobe thing was going to work. After some serious online research, I went with these basic combinations: a) Skirt, shirt, blazer, sandals b) dress, blazer, sandals c) maternity leggings, bum-covering tunic top, blazer, sandals. I accomplished this look by buying 25 pieces and incorporating the dress and shirt that I already owned. Perhaps this is not as streamlined as the super chic French 10-Item Limited Wardrobe, but for a preggers gal with a growing gut, I’d say that’s pretty good. I bought 5 maternity shirts and 5 tunic tops, 3 pairs of maternity leggings, 3 skirts, 6 dresses, 2 blazers, and one pair of edema-accommodating, sole-supporting, metallic Birkenstocks. All in all, I was out about five Benjamins by the end of my shopping spree, but I haven’t spent a red cent since.
The cons of a limited wardrobe are there. I miss my 21 other pairs of shoes that I rotated regularly (I’m a shoe ho, guys), and my unfortunate, swollen feet are constantly on display for the world to see. I sometimes stare longingly into my closet at the stack of neglected jeans (I really miss my jeans). I get bored with the same outfits over and over again. However, I spend a whole lot less time fretting over what to wear in the mornings because I only have so many choices, and, frankly, I have to do more important things with my time right now (like take classes on how to get this baby out of me). I know that whatever combination I pick will look immediately pulled together which, when you’re waddling around at 36 weeks pregnant feeling like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, is a small blessing. I wear everything I bought regularly, so I’m certainly getting my money’s worth, and now I have a classic wardrobe all set up for the next time I’m in the family way (the next time?? Let’s get through birth #1 first, lady). I also feel like the uniform look is a good tool to have when I’m in the throes of early parenthood and my brain is too addlepated to spend any time thinking about anything other than diapers and how to get my kid to sleep. The limited wardrobe definitely has its benefits, too.
The verdict: While I’m not in any rush to decimate my shoe collection or pare my wardrobe down to a paltry 10 items like some crazy Francophile, I do have the urge to purge. I’ve come to appreciate the ease of a smaller wardrobe and plan on employing the uniform approach, a la Emmanuelle Alt, in moderation, when my body returns to a more consistent shape and size. I like the self-discipline of employing more rigorous standards before I’m allowed to add something to my wardrobe, and, maybe in this world of consumerism and over-complication, we could all use a little more self-discipline and simplicity.
Here are some tips on learning to do more with less:
Do: Pare it down, people! Here are 10 easy steps for whittling down your wardrobe.
Wear: Think quality, not quantity. Once you’ve purged, here are 10 timeless pieces to invest in.
Read: Explore the concept of less is more in other areas of your life with this fascinating read by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus.