The beginner takes on: A mixy matchy wardrobe

When I looked through “how to have a small but extremely useful wardrobe” blogs (see Resources), I took notes. I took pictures of all my clothes. And then I got very depressed.

Because when people made lists of “must-have” items, I didn’t have many of them.

I had jeans. And….another pair of jeans. With holes in them.

But stuff like a white t-shirt? No. Black t-shirt? No. Pants that are not jeans? Ahem. Also no.

Of what I had, it either matched only one other thing. Or, it was the wrong size/stained/worn through.

I decided buying a white t-shirt was probably a good idea (and a manageable start). So I grabbed one at the thrift store. But I knew I couldn’t buy my way out of this mess. I don’t want to spend all my money buying clothes when I own plenty.

And then one day, I decided to do something very, very risky.

I decided to try on things that I was pretty sure wouldn’t go together. Just to see. (Why this seemed risky, I don’t know. But it did).

I started with one of my favorite dresses (thanks to my husband, who got it for me for Christmas a few years ago). After looking at all my dresses, I decided it was one of the main contenders to take to Argentina with me. It’s comfortable, I feel great in it, it dresses up or down, and it is a color that goes with a lot of stuff without being black.

So I put it on, and started experimenting. Here it is plain.

Then I put the white shirt under the dress:

I put a sweater over the dress. I was sure the necklines would clash, but it looked fine.

I put a different top over the dress. It was a burgundy color, like the dress, but I just knew it would clash.

Not so much:

While I was at it, I tried putting it under the dress:

I have two other jackets and a cardigan that go with the dress too, at least one over the other layers, or separately.

The cardigan is new, from the thrift store, and I was sure it wouldn’t go with the dress either. Wrong.

I can wear the dress with any of the above layers with leggings and boots in the winter, or by itself or with a t-shirt and sandals in the summer.

It even has pockets.

Except for the t-shirt and cardigan, which cost me less then ten dollars total, all of the clothes in these pictures were already in my closet.

Let’s say that again. I already owned more than ten outfits where I thought I had one, and all I had to do was take a risk to see them.

After that success, I got out my one skinny belt and started trying it with everything. Just to see. And I–who am very afraid of belts–did not die. Instead, I realized it looked fine with a lot of stuff, even if it wasn’t always my style.

Is anyone sensing a theme here? In the past, I have said no to things before I try them. I assume something won’t work without even a basic test to see if it’s true.

But when I question my assumptions even a tiny bet, I’m knocked back by the blessing.

What I’m learning? I rarely have anything to lose. And the fear that stands in the way of trying is a mirage.

I know these are just clothes, but that’s kind of a heady feeling.

Are there areas in your life where you’re afraid to experiment? Cooking? Creativity? Hair? What kind of blessing might come from mixing things up? And is anyone else out there scared of belts?


Tiny Twig Goes Out on a Limb’s No-Brainer wardrobe series.

Putting Me Together. Another beginner’s in-depth journey to peace with accessories.

Building a Minimal Wardrobe with Thrifted Clothing at SortaCrunchy

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  • Barbara Jones

    “What Not To Wear” 101 – try it, you might like it!!

    • Heather

      Oh–I love that show. Ill have to check it out :)