Then, a few weeks ago, I was browsing through the fashion and style section of my local bookstore when I came upon the book Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Lessons I Learned While Living In Paris, by Jennifer L. Scott.
In this delightful little book, the author recalls her year spent as a foreign exchange student in Paris, and how this experience exposed her to different attitudes about what "living the good life" meant.
Much of what the author describes (the French preference for quality over quantity, well-balanced view of food and exercise, and so on) has been discussed by other authors, and frankly, this was not the first time I had read about French living. But, for whatever reason, this time something clicked inside me and I really felt like I wanted to reexamine my life and make sure that I was choosing a life that focused on quality.
The easiest place to start was with my wardrobe.
Let me start by saying that, for as long as I can remember I have loved fashion. So, over the years, I have enjoyed amassing quite an assortment of designer goodies.
You'll notice I use the word assortment, and that's because that is exactly what my closet contained--a wide variety of articles in different colors, shapes and sizes. For although I have periodically gone through my closet to clean it out, I have invariably never really examined it to make sure that what was there was right for me as I am now.
When you've worked so hard to collect pieces from designers that you've previously only dreamed about (Dolce & Gabbana! Prada! Chanel, even!) it's very hard to let them go, even when you know deep down inside that those items just don't suit you anymore.
But, as I said, this time, something definitely clicked inside me and I was finally ready to tackle my closet. So one day, I went through every single item in my closet and I asked myself some key questions:
- Does this fit me?
- Does this flatter me?
- Do I love it? (for some basic pieces, like t-shirts or jeans, the question was more like "Do I get a lot of use out of this, or enjoy wearing it?")
- Is this item right for a ____ -year old woman?
This last question was especially critical, because even if an article of clothing fit me and even if I loved it, I had to ask myself if it was right for a woman of my age. Not if this was right for me, but right for a woman of my age. The subtle difference (at least in my mind) is that, I might feel, "I can still pull this off!" But in reality, we often deceive ourselves because in our mind's eye, we can't really see ourselves objectively. To minimize any potential deception, I found it more effective to ask the more generic question, "Should a woman of _____ years wear this?" If the answer was no, or even a hesitant maybe, I ruthlessly discarded the item.
When I was done, I found that I had drastically reduced the size of my wardrobe and that I felt so much lighter and happier.
I still love fashion and I still expect that I will go shopping, only now I will have a better idea of the types of items that I really enjoy wearing and what I need to fill in any wardrobe gaps. More importantly, I have a renewed interest in investing only in those quality items that make my heart sing.
As we enter a new year, I hope to extend this critical "quality over quantity" eye to other aspects of my life, so that I focus on what's important. Let's see how that goes!
Happy New Year!!