The Underappreciated Beauty Of An Outrageously Messy Wardrobe
The Debrief: Just because you don’t have an Instagram-Perfect wardrobe, doesn’t mean you can’t look awesome
Sometimes it feels like every part of modern life needs to be hyper-organised, edited and developed like it’s undergoing some militant, never-ending, self-improvement program. A better diet, a new dress, a new way to enjoy winter that basically is just enjoying winter but with a new name no one can pronounce, a new app that helps you track that new diet better, a new way of organising your home. And with the additional, relentless buzz of notifications, Whats’app groups and unanswered emails, it’s really the easiest thing in the world to feel like you haven’t got your shit together, at all.
Tim Harford is a columnist for The Financial Times - not perhaps the first place you’d look for advice on being untidy, but hear me out. Harford’s latest book is called Messy: Thriving in a Tidy-Minded World explores the wonders of mess and our modern preoccupation with being ridiculously organised. One of the things he looks at is how actually desks, if left ‘untidied’ have a way of organising themselves. Maybe the pieces of paper or things you need most regularly will be to hand, while the books you check every now and again are in a pile at the back. Maybe desks organise themselves, and we don’t need to be embarrassed about having a messy one.
Inspired by this anarchic idea, and the suggestion that a clinically tidy, Instagram-perfect desk was perhaps not the secret to success, I wondered what happened when you applied the same thinking to your wardrobe. Maybe the clothes you wear all the time are hanging over your bannister in a haphazard way because they’re the ones you wear (and like) the most. Maybe the top you bought but have never figured out how to wear is still tucked away at the back, because secretly you know that it’s not very ‘you’ and you probably won’t ever find a way to wear it. Maybe a tidy wardrobe doesn’t equal a tidy mind and actually maybe getting dressed is more fun when it’s impulsive and based on what you can see around you.
Holly Chapman is a 22-year old student at London College of Fashion and a part-time stylist, who likes to keep her clothes where she can see them: ‘It’s case of what I can see on my floor’ she says. ‘My room is actually in the lounge. So it’s split in half with one half having the sofa and TV and then we use my wardrobe slash rails as a room divider. I’ve got drawers as well - which are probably the messiest drawers you’ve ever seen in your life.’
If you work in fashion having a lot of clothes is part of the job. Another woman who struggles revels in the mess of her wardrobe is Lauren Smeets; an Asos Insider. ‘Every day you think you’re in a fashion show’ says the 27-year old. ‘Everyday you think about your outfit. Then if doesn’t go right you end up throwing clothes everywhere! That’s my problem, it’s in my room, and I come home every day, put things away and then it happens again!’
When your wardrobe is a hot mess and you never know what you’re going to find under a pile in the corner of your room, getting dressed has a unique set of challenges. Aimee Jakes, a 22-year old Audience Development Executive, says ‘I tend to go for really smart clothes, I wear lots of shirts. Kind of like geek chic. I dress something smart but then I love something weird.’ The trick that she’s mastered is buying clothes that go with everything. ‘I love wearing dresses because you look more done, and people think you’ve made an effort’ she explains. ‘I always buy stuff that goes together. The trick is to find things that all go together because that’s so much easier.’
Aimee likes to let her wardrobe get a bit wild, so every few months she can have a proper sort out. ‘I do a big tidy up. And I always find things at the back of the wardrobe that I’d forgotten about’ she says. ‘I’m so against ordering things because if you do that you tend to stick with the same things every day. Whereas if your wardrobe is messy you see everything you have. I used to be more organised, but then if I had my clothes in a going out draw I’d never wear them during the day - I think it really limits you.’
As well as reducing the chances of finding something random, or suddenly seeing clothes in a new light because they’re lying next to something you never would have thought of pairing them with, sometimes having a messy wardrobe is just reflective of your personality - and how you like to do things. And whose place is it to judge that? ‘Do you know, I think ideally I would like to be a little more organised’ says Lauren. ‘But I think my whole life anyway thrives on stress and chaos, and being really really busy.’
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