How A Capsule Wardrobe & An App Helped My Anxiety Big Time


IN THIS ARTICLE:
I, a pathological clothes collector, got rid of 90% of
my wardrobe and it was the best anti-anxiety decision ever;
the ah-mazing wardrobe organizer app that helped me;
I admit that it’s not for everyone


I love clothes. Let me repeat that for emphasis. I lu-hu-hu-HUUUUUV clothes.

Not sure how to say that in a way that sufficiently conveys my deep, emotional connection to those glorious pieces of fabric joined together to protect our bodies from the elements.

Still, the affection I had for my garments (many of them I constructed myself) did not stop me — approximately 8 months ago — from donating 14 large moving boxes full of them to the Goodwill. Percentage-wise, that was about 90% of my wardrobe, and I’m still not finished paring down. If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be doing such a thing, I’d have scoffed.

I really wish I’d taken photos of my previous wardrobe, in all its vintage, bohemian, hand-sewn, print-heavy glory, so you could have an actual “before” photo. I wasn’t blogging at the time, so I had no reason to snap photos of my closet. Instead, I’m going to use this photo I found on Pinterest because it comes pretty close to the type (and volume) of clothes my closet contained.

Something like my old wardrobe - eclectic (mostly bohemian), print-heavy, every color in the rainbow. (Image credit: apartmenttherapy.com)

Something like my old wardrobe – vintage, bohemian, and print-heavy AF (Image credit: Apartment Therapy via Pinterest)

And why did I give away my meticulously curated and hand-sewn wardrobe? Because it finally dawned on me that having all of those clothes was contributing to my anxiety in multiple ways.

Here are the top two:

  • Too much choice in general paralyzes me. (Seriously. Don’t take me to a restaurant with more than 10 items on the menu.) This stresses me out when searching my closet for an outfit as well as when shopping for outfits.
  • The constant pressure I put myself under to put together  “effortless,” (shyeah right) eclectic outfits to wear to work because I’d somehow developed a reputation for wearing effortless, eclectic outfits…and then my whole identity and (fragile) sense of self worth got mixed up in it. (Pathetic. I know.)

Everything, even the act of putting together outfits from a wardrobe of clothing that I genuinely loved became freakish and daunting through the distorted lens of anxiety. Daunting? Cute outfits? Kind of ashamed to admit it but, yep. Cute outfits.

THE PROBLEM, SUMMARIZED

At its worst, my social anxiety causes me to assume that people will not only judge me, but will inevitably judge me poorly. Therefore, I tend to obsess over making the best impression (superhumanly) possible. But as a socially awkward dork (j/k…sort of) who either clams up entirely or is a jibber-jabbering, walking faux pas, I rely heavily on clothing to make a better impression than my social skills can — especially because it seems (I think?) to have worked pretty well in the past. So putting together outfits to take on that hefty job stresses me the f**k out — and once I’m out of the house, 9 times out of ten I feel like I’ve made the wrong choice.

So, as difficult as it was, I chopped my wardrobe down to a few basic essentials. Not only did I severely limit the amount of clothes, accessories, and shoes I owned, I also limited my colors and patterns. I picked colors that I KNEW looked great on me, classic cuts that flattered me (and that I felt great wearing), and pieces that were all mixable and matchable. Thank goodness that KonMari and the whole capsule wardrobe thing has been spreading across blogs and Pinterest boards like wildfire in recent years, so there were plenty of resources at my fingertips to help me prepare for the big dump.

When I was commuting 3+ hours a day to the office (and was so busy there that I didn’t take lunch breaks for months at a time) and spent weekends doing un-fun household chores and cooking for the entire week because of my many diet restrictions, this new limited choice wardrobe made my life SO. MUCH. SIMPLER.

And now that I work from home (and hardly ever leave it), I’ve still happily kept it up. Who knows if I’ll do it forever, but as of yet, I’ve had no desire to go back to my pre-capsule days. At the moment, it saves me time, it saves me money, and it saves me from undue stress and anxiety. Why would I quit?

A Few Outfits From My Current Simplified Wardrobe

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My Limited Colors

  • Black, White, and Gray (all essentially the same color in varying shades, right?)
  • Shades of brown (earth tones)
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Yellow

My Limited Patterns

  • Stripes
  • Gingham
  • Plaid

Limited, but I’ve yet to exhaust my mixing and matching opportunities .

I Still (Very Much) Enjoy Colors & Prints

I just express that side of my personality in my decor, housewares, linens, and art. So I still get to see and enjoy them on a daily basis — I just don’t wear them. And I don’t really look at myself much anyway, so it totally works out.

colorful-plates

Nope. Not in short supply of colors, prints, and general whimsy in my household.

A Capsule Wardrobe Ain’t For Everyone

I’m certainly not universally advocating a limited, minimalist, or capsule wardrobe for everyone. If my closet full of eclectic clothing brought me joy and nothing but joy, I’d still have it. The fact is, it didn’t — not by a long shot. But if you foresee that reducing your wardrobe will bring you more pain than anything else, then don’t do it. I understand that most people enjoy expressing their inner selves through clothing — which is definitely the way it should be. For me, it wasn’t so simple.

Even so, I still think you should look into getting Stylebook because I really believe it can benefit anyone.

Check Out the Stylebook App!

Schedule outfits in a calendar planner.

All of the outfit images in this post were made using a pretty amazing app called Stylebook. I found this app indispensable when figuring out exactly what I owned (much more than I thought) and how many pieces of clothing I truly needed for a workable wardrobe (much less than I thought).

What you do is add photos of all your wardrobe items (you can either take actual pictures of your clothes, or find the product images online). But cataloging your clothes and putting together outfits is just a small fraction of the things you can do with this app. Seriously, check it out.

Capsule Wardrobe Resources

And because there are so many terrific resources out there for who want to downsize their wardrobe but don’t know where to start, I won’t write anything about that as there’s really nothing more I can add. Here are good places to start:

 

Social Media Gives Me Social Anxiety…So Why Can’t I Quit?

My thumb vs. Facebook. A daily battle.


IN THIS ARTICLE:
what some researchers say about social media
and anxiety, how Facebook totally screws with my head,
I ask for your experiences and input


It’s clear to me that the more time I spend on social media, the more anxious I get. Yet I keep subjecting myself to it — every single day, several times a day.

At least I know I’m not alone. Google  “social media and anxiety” and you’ll scroll through headline after headline reporting stuff like: Social Media Is Causing Anxiety, Study Finds;  Social Media, Loneliness, and Anxiety in Young People, etc.

Continue reading

The All New Incurable Homebody: DIY For the Socially Awkward


IN THIS ARTICLE:
dad’s words of wisdom, the rebirth of the blog,
how crafting helps my social anxiety and
maybe it can help yours


Saturday, August 26th, was my dad’s 73rd birthday. To honor the occasion, my younger sister Liesl and her husband Kenny threw a celebratory lunch at their apartment. Though I didn’t make it for the meal (I’ve got dietary restrictions up the wazoo), Continue reading

A Whole New Incurable Homebody Coming Soon!


IN THIS ARTICLE:
why I’ve decided to relaunch the blog,
accepting social anxiety as a fact of life


I’ve allowed this site to lay dormant for so long. Partly due to analysis paralysis. Mostly due to trusty ol’ self doubt. But you know what? I’m forging ahead — self-doubt notwithstanding. In fact, I’ve actually decided to make that a focus of the site, along with social anxiety and his sidekick social awkwardness. You can run, my pesky lifelong companions, but you can no longer hide.

Continue reading

Please don’t take it personally, but…

If you invite me out to any type of social gathering, I’ll most likely decline. It will (probably) have no bearing on how I feel about you, I’ve just always preferred staying at home and, ideally, being productive while I’m at it.

That said, I’ve very recently become obsessed with making things and talking about making things. So, instead of boring my coworkers to tears with talk of knitting needles and sewing notions, I’ll let loose here.

Thanks for stopping by.