Once upon a time, I signed up for a 7 Experiment Bible study and was never the same. If you haven’t heard of 7, you should a) continue reading b) go look up Jen Hatmaker immediately c) purchase the book and/or Bible study d) brace yourself for life change. Such good, good life change…
The 7 Experiment is a book/Bible study by Jen Hatmaker, a Christian author and speaker with a sparkling personality. She calls the 7 Experiment her “mutiny against excess.” The book chronicles her journey through seven monthly fasts from seven different things that can quickly take up too much space our hearts and minds: food, clothing, media, possessions, waste, spending, and stress. The study invites us to do the same fasts, but in seven weeks instead of months. I would highly recommend checking this out, if only for the first two weeks. They completely changed how I think and feel about food and clothing.
…Which, eight months later, has led me to begin to build a capsule wardrobe.
First, let me share with you about my relationship with clothes, so you understand where I’m coming from. For one thing, I watched my “style” become popular before my eyes when hipsters started happening, and Macklemore’s song “Thrift Shop” is satirically my life. All through middle school and high school, I never felt like my clothes were “cool” or that they ever elevated my social status in any way. The compliment I most often receive even today is that I can “pull off anything.” That’s because I literally had to, because my clothes came from the thrift store, were someone’s grandad’s clothes, or were scraps from the clearance section (anything less than 50% off isn’t clearance – it’s reduced).
I’m not upset about my childhood or about the clothes I wore. Honestly. And it’s not like I never had anything new, but mall shopping was foreign to me until I became an adult. If my clothes were new from a store, they were clearance, or from outlet malls… you get the idea. I was never on top of trends because my family couldn’t afford it. There are so many more good things about that than bad. I liked that I got to be creative and resourceful with my clothes. I knew my appearance wasn’t a huge factor in the fact that I had friends. And if this kind of upbringing and shopping this way led to some bad habits, at least those habits weren’t credit card debt.
Here are some bad habits I pick up regarding clothing:
- I find it hard to let things go. I will milk a trend for all its worth. I will make one skirt go with everything. There is no such thing as seasonal clothes (yes there is).
- I find it hard to spend money on simple items of clothing, because I think that if I’m going to drop more than $20 on something, it better make a statement. So I’m left with a closet full of jumbled styles of statement pieces.
- I feel less guilty spending money online, thinking I can take back whatever I don’t want, than buying something in a store. It’s less stressful to buy online. But the thing is, even if you don’t love something, you might wear it one time. So I’d buy something online, wear it and take the tags off, and three months later it’s stuck in my closet, even though I hardly wear it. You can always make something work one time, but to buy it you need to love it. And if you don’t love it in a dressing room, you never will. As opposed to loving it on a model’s body on a website.
- Most importantly, I never developed my own personal style, because I had my eye out for deals more than anything else.
The result of all this was a closet stuffed with stuff I wasn’t very enthusiastic about wearing. Which, in turn, led to moments of “I have nothing to wear.” This would usually happen on a Sunday morning, making us late for church, but more importantly, my attitude was not ready for church. My heart was at the mall, getting to buy a whole new wardrobe full of things I loved and looked great in (I was also 15 pounds skinnier in this fantasy). I was 95.5% discontent with my wardrobe, though I didn’t want to admit it outwardly because I could clearly see how much I had. Then I would feel guilty and ashamed for wanting more. Then feelings of guilt and shame would make me feel bad about myself. Which means I felt bad in my clothes. Which means I didn’t like my clothes. And on and on. If you’re a woman, I hope you’re feelin’ me right now. If you’re a man, well… you can only imagine.
Everything I just said was realized as a result of doing the clothing fast of the 7 Experiment. For the fast, I chose 7 items of clothing to wear for a week (not counting underwear. I know you were wondering). It took some thinking and planning (which, let’s be honest, I LIVE for), but it turned out to be the easiest and most enjoyable of the seven fasts. I was amazed by how much room was left in my brain to think of things other than what I was going to wear. Plus, I chose clothes that would all go together, and chose some of my favorite things to wear because I knew I wouldn’t get tired of them. Not only was so much time saved, so much stress relieved, and so much space opened up in my brain, but I felt good in everything I was wearing. I enjoyed my outfit every day of the week. I was amazed that it was exponentially more freeing than I imagined it could be. When the week was over, going back to my stuffed-full closet felt daunting.
Jen Hatmaker pairs her fasts with action steps. The clothing fast wasn’t just about limiting your clothing options, it was also about getting rid of stuff for good. Only wearing seven items opened up space in my brain, and donating clothing opened up space in my closet. I got rid of probably 25% of my clothes, and I can’t even remember most of the items I’ve sold, given away, and donated. I haven’t thought twice about them. If you have any ideas of good places to donate or ways to get rid of clothing that are beneficial in some way, hit me up! A good 50% of my wardrobe is in bags and boxes and shoved behind my bedroom door.
My goal is eventually to have a capsule wardrobe of 30-40 pieces (tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, outerwear) for every season (things will overlap). I can’t wait to tell you more about it in future posts! If you have any questions about the 7 Experiment, capsule wardrobes, or more about what this process has been like for me, drop me a line in the comments section. There’s so much more I could say because I’m so excited. This is going to be so good.