Taking a holiday from my wardrobe was the best thing I did this summer
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Taking a holiday from my wardrobe was the best thing I did this summer

I didn't go away this summer. Heck, I even worked on most of the public holidays. But I did take a break of a different kind: I took a holiday from my wardrobe.

What if we took the rules of packing for travel into our everyday lives?

What if we took the rules of packing for travel into our everyday lives?Credit:Shutterstock

Let me explain. I was house-sitting for two weeks, at just enough distance from home to make it inconvenient to pop back for random things. So, before Boxing Day, I packed a capsule wardrobe of essentials into my suitcase, as if I was going on holidays (but really only journeying 10 kilometres up the road).

My "holiday" wardrobe consisted of basic essentials (underwear, bathers, activewear), my four favourite T-shirts (two white, one grey one petrol green), one pair of jeans and a pair of drawstring pants, a black slip dress, a denim skirt and a sweatshirt. Crucially, I packed only three pairs of shoes: runners, sandals and thongs (no heels).

At first I looked down at my half-empty suitcase and a mild panic descended over me. What if someone asks me on a date? What if I get invited to a formal event? What if the weather is hotter/colder/wetter than my app could forecast?

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These are the same questions I have asked my suitcase many times before trips, from an overnighter for work to six weeks in Europe. With the "what ifs" lingering in the air like eau de toilette, I shut the case. It would have to do. It would be a headstart on my 2019 mission to live a life of "less": less wasted energy, fewer things, less guilt, and fewer apologies.

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After a couple of days, I began to revel in the simplicity of having less than 10 per cent of my regular wardrobe at my disposal. Not once did I have an "I have nothing to wear" moment, and I still managed to look presentable at all my work and social engagements. Doing regular, small loads of washing helped, as did using an iron.

The only time I returned home for extra clothes was to select a "going out" outfit for New Year's Eve. But, in reality, I could have done without it. To be honest, being reunited with my wardrobe felt like a lot of work, and the realisation I have more stuff than I need, or have room for.

By the end of the first week of January, I had worn the same outfit to work more than once. And no one died.

As I packed my bag to return home, I had an idea. What if this wasn't the end of my capsule wardrobe experiment but just the beginning? What if, for the whole year, I live my life in two-week blocks, with a visible edit of my wardrobe that I can wear and re-style, before changing it up?

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I believe it will make me a better dresser. It will decrease choice and, by doing so, increase time. It would be adopting the mantra of the uniform wearer or the capsule wardrobe keeper without having to actually part with so many pieces that I love.

I will make my wardrobe work harder for me this year and, in doing so, potentially buy less, learn to dwell with the things I have, and "miss" them when they're out of rotation – as much as one can miss an orange, hip-hugging Rebecca Vallance skirt, anyway.

I may not have gone far from home this summer but, as someone who lives and breathes fashion 24/7, taking a holiday from my wardrobe was the most liberating thing I did.

As for all those "what ifs" I asked myself at the start of the experiment, they all happened. And yes, I survived, sartorially speaking.

Melissa Singer is National Fashion Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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