For a long time it was exactly the opposite: a big wardrobe was the hallmark of the haves and the have nots. Those with wardrobes bulging at the seams were those who lived a life of luxury. They were also often the rich. So for lots of people the desire for a wardrobe that contained every potential shoe and shirt combination became their desire, became a point of envy.
But society has moved on.
Over the past decade we experienced a change in the way we could consume fashion, one with an impact not seen since the days of the industrial revolution. It became quicker and easier to produce fashionable clothes and accessories than ever before. In fact, the fashion industry at all ends of the spectrum allowed it to happen. With fanfare the world’s big fashion houses showed their next collections six months in advance and the high street stores, imbued with new technology and able to understand every detail and trend that had been presented before the catwalk was even cold, were able to release it in mere weeks. The fact that so many shoppers readily bought what the high street offered up was not our fault. The industry model was and is broken. Broken to a point where it encouraged us – after all, why wait 6 months to invest in a look that you’re excited about now? There was a novelty to it all too. Fast fashion. Good looking fashion. Affordable fashion. Had we ever had it so good?
But that novelty has worn off. The ability to access fast fashion has grown at a rate faster than Zara have been able to open their 1,700 stores. Comprehend that figure and add to it the an imaginary figure of just how many stores there are for other fast, fashion-foward brands such as H&M and you realise that fast fashion, and the dream of the massive wardrobe that it enabled with an affordable price tag, is now commonplace. It’s not just available to everyone, it is everyone.
“There was a novelty to it all. Fast fashion. Good looking fashion. Affordable fashion. Had we ever had it so good? That novelty has worn off.”
And a fashioniser, the world’s fashion forwards who make stylish socialising their hallmark and understand that fashion is a projection of where they’re going in life, never wants to be everyone. So the definition of luxury changes. Because luxury is always the opposite of commonality, in every facet of society. The working class poor could scarecly afford food, so the rich Edwardians were luxuriously fat. Processed and average quality food is now so accessible that organic and ‘pure’ foods, the polar opposite of what you find in the freezer isle and at takeaways, are now considered the luxury. Cheap food is now so accessible that waist lines have bulged and obesity has become an epidemic, thus it’s perceived by many to be a luxury to be slim. Across society luxury is defined by the polar opposites of what is most common and what those without a particular attribute, an attribute that is sometimes wealth but just as likely to be skill or knowledge, can have. So where does that leave fashion in an era where everyone can have a big wardrobe, where everyone can own too much, and they can do it cheaply?
The new luxury is a small wardrobe. Not necessarily an expensive one nor one filled solely with goods from only the world’s leading fashion houses. These are defintions of luxury fashion past. The new luxury is now to be able to live and thrive with a small, pleasurable wardrobe.
“Curation is refinement. Refinement is a skill… we must cull from our wardrobe removing from it all that looks average. We must become our own curators.”
But a small wardrobe needn’t mean doing without. Anything but. It is in fact the hallmark of the modern fashioniser with their finger on the pulse. You see, to have a small wardrobe and still look stylish requires one to actually have style. Moreso, it requires one to really understand fashion. Each and everyone single one of us has to take a leaf out of the books of the world’s best art galleries. Have you ever noticed how galleries have access to so much art but display so little of it? That’s because they’re curated. Curation is refinement. Refinement is a skill. And we are much the same: we have access to so much but day to day we display so little of it. Thus, with the death of average in mind, we must cull from our wardrobe removing from it all that looks average. We must become our own curators.
Becoming a curator, however, not only takes effort it takes practice. If you’re anything like so many of my friends then your wardrobe is overflowing with goods. For them, cutting it back, curating it to include only the exceptional, is not only a daunting task, it’s a paralysing one. The irony is, of course, that they’re paralysed every morning or before every event as they attempt to piece together an outfit. They simply have too many clothes and accessories hanging before them to make a proper decision about what to wear. They try on outfit after outfit. One comes off and promptly makes it to the ground; “not working” or “not good enough” they say. Their wardrobes are cluttered, and it’s been generations since anyone thought clutter was fashionable. A curated wardrobe doesn’t suffer from this problem. Whether the pieces are high quality or low cost, they all work, often together. It’s easier to dress. Looking stylish becomes near-on effortless. It takes effort to create the curated wardrobe but you know you need to when you open your wardrobe (or wardrobes if you’ve really been one to indulge in the past-luxury of owning too much) and are greeted by hangers full of stuff, much of it average, yet can say still “I don’t know what to wear.”
So if you’re at that stage or if you’re ready to indulge in the new luxury of a refined and curated wardrobe (you might be only recently into fashion and building your wardrobe for the first time) where do you begin?
With the foundation pieces for a perfect wardrobe.