I had an epiphany when I was in Paris last week. I was there for a quick four-day, work related stint and as such, I packed the smallest carry-on suitcase known to mankind. Marcel the Shell could have used it while transporting himself from point A to point B via Dorito if he wished.
In the suitcase, I had exactly one pair of high waist jeans (the medium wash Patrick Ervell ones I’ve been wearing so frequently) and one pair of leather leggings (Helmut Lang). I took two of the same cashmere sweaters from Uniqlo — one navy and one grey — and a black and white flannel mens shirt of the same brand. For shoes, I wore a pair of white Golden Goose sneakers (with black jeans, an ivory sweater and my navy blue ascot) to travel and packed Prada lug soles and a pair of white Ferragamo short heel ballet slippers.
And that’s it. That’s all I took — save for a toothbrush (no toothpaste) and under-eye concealer which I obviously didn’t use because I would never miss an opportunity to subject to myself to an Instagram commenter likening the state of my visage to that of a meth addict’s. Never!
The way I saw it, I was barely wearing anything else while at home in the comfort of my closet’s vastness so why not exercise my ability to edit? But when I got there, I felt suffocated. The cashmere was starting to pill, the flannel shirt smelled a little bit like onions (what? I never said that) and my leather leggings were stretching in all the wrong places (e.g. at the knees — where I’d have likely had room to stow the couture knee pads Karl Lagerfeld showed for Chanel yesterday). I longed for the variety of my trusty closet. The white jeans. And silk blouses. Double breasted jackets and cotton t-shirts.
And that’s when it occurred to me.
There is a way to overcome the inevitable feeling that comes with the wrath midwinter blues and that sense of interminable, insurmountable blah, the prosaic sound of the face of a full closet coupled with the sentiment that, “ugh, I have nothing to wear.”
In an ideal world, Paris would be the solution but in the real world, the answer is actually in the restriction I felt among the small edit of clothing I took with me on that trip and subsequently how fresh and new that sense of prohibition made the contents of the rest of my closet look.
So, here is my advice. Lay out 4-6 articles of clothing right now and tell yourself that you are not allowed to wear anything but the chosen spoils for five days. Don’t even look at your closet during the course of that work week. Then, when the week is over and you, too, smell like garlic and onions, take a shower and a deep breath before you open your closet and reintroduce your old friends to your new-old friends. The assumption is that everything will feel so unfamiliar in all the right ways that you won’t even know department stores exist outside the confines of the small one you’ve cultivated for yourself.
What will have happened to you in the previous week is that you’ll have gotten bored with the selection of clothing you vowed to wear by day 2, and as a result, will find yourself observing the style cues of the people around you, appropriating the details of their outfits and comparing them to things you own. Those khaki wide leg pants, the combat boots you almost sold, even the bubblegum pink sweater, equipped with armpit breathing holes, will make perfect sense again.
Then you will think to yourself: I never have to shop again! while you open your web browser to learn that Asos is now on double markdown. After this, you will say and maybe you will mean it.