Escaping the “Work from Home Mom Style Rut”

10 Steps for Squeezing Out of My Yoga Pants and Into My Ideal Wardrobe

I first knew I was in a rut when I showed up at my once-a-week-for-sanity co-working space wearing my yoga pants. Before that day, co-working day was the one day I was guaranteed to throw on a pair of jeans and maybe even a necklace, “dressing up” for work. Still casual, but no one would question whether or not I had changed out of my pajamas. Then one day, I showed up at the space wearing my yoga pants… “Who’s going to notice?” “Honestly, I’m only going to be there for a few hours.” “I just need to be comfortable so I can get a bunch of stuff done.” “Why bother, it’s not a fashion show.” And so on…

Create Ideal Minimal Wardrobe

Before I go on, here’s my caveat - I’m a firm believer in the “you do you” philosophy. I get to write about what works for me, but that’s not always going to be what works for you and it certainly doesn’t mean there’s any judgement about your choices. Hell, if you love rocking yoga pants every day, do that! They’re the best. I just need a little something else to really feel like ME. (All those things I wrote above are TRUE. If you don’t have client meetings or any reason to want to project a certain image, anything goes!)

With that caveat out of the way, I realized I had fallen too far. I had abandoned a promise to myself, made before the birth of my first son. That promise sticks with me, and I often share it with other moms-to-be as a tiny little bit of advice to remain connected with your actual SELF while possibly being a human milk machine, unimaginably tired from sleepless nights and adjusting to a whole new life that includes another human being that, for the moment, requires you for survival 24/7. My advice? Get yourself “ready” every day. Whatever that means for you. For me it was fitting in a shower, dressing in clothes that couldn’t be mistaken for pajamas and throwing on a little (a lot of) concealer, blush and mascara. It would take me about 15 minutes total to do this and it was worth every second. While I wore maternity clothes for about a year after birth (sometimes by choice, sometimes not), and I didn’t have the easiest first year with my son, I do think that this daily effort - and it was an effort many days - helped with my mental health.

When I showed up at the co-working space in yoga pants that day, I felt like I’d lost my way. I needed a fashion reboot. I needed to feel inspired. I wanted to feel like dressing to feel my best was easy. I wanted clothes that fit me well and look good. I wanted to reserve loungewear for... lounging.

I have only begun on this journey to make these things true and I've encountered a few barriers so far:

  • I have A LOT of clothes in my closet. Too many. Just way too much stuff.
  • I have a lot of clothes in my closet that DON’T FIT ME.
  • I have clothes that don’t fit my LIFESTYLE.
  • I have clothes that are (gasp) FROM THE 90s, amongst other seriously bad decisions.
  • I have clothes that I don’t wear but were “EXPENSIVE” and "still have value."
  • I have clothes that I LOVE but don’t WEAR. (Gah, this is the hardest category.)

So I’ve done my research. (Because I’m the person who reads health and fitness magazines and counts it as exercise.) I’ve read the books, I’ve talked to professionals, I’ve read blog post after blog post, and I’ve pinned like crazy. I’ve even read Marie Kondo’s book about magic & tidying up. I know about Capsule Wardrobes and Uniform wardrobes (which I’m oddly REALLY drawn to, a thought to keep in mind). There are entire blogs devoted simply to the subject of creating your ideal minimalist wardrobe, and I devour their content. My current bedtime reading is The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees.

I’m no expert, but I know what I need to do. These steps can be taken over a weekend or within a 2-3 week timeframe depending on how much I can do each day. I don't think I'll ever have the full block of time required, so it needs to be flexible. I want it DONE by the end of May.

  1. SPENDING FREEZE. No more buying things. I have what I need, I’m sure of it.

  2. EMPTY. Clear out my closet. Like completely empty it out. Even the drawers.

  3. TRANSITION CAPSULE. Put only my favorite items that I wear regularly back in my closet, including shoes. This is going to be my “transition capsule.” These are the clothes I’ll wear this spring while I complete the following steps.

  4. SAY GOODBYE. Get rid of anything that doesn’t fit. (Donate, consign, whatever, it’s gone.)

  5. SAY GOODBYE AGAIN. Get rid of anything that I haven’t worn in a year. These things were available through every season and didn’t get picked once, sad, but they’re out.

  6. STORE SEASONAL. Put everything that’s not seasonally appropriate in a labeled bin and relegate to storage. I’ll have two bins - Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter.

  7. STORE WHAT-IFs (OOOOOH, CONTROVERSIAL!) Everything else goes in a labeled bin(s) and gets put into storage until the next season. (I’ve found that if something is a wardrobe essential, I’ll remember it and can grab it and put it into rotation. If it’s not, away it goes.) This is going to be the controversial step, but one that I think is really important. Feeling like I’m getting rid of everything in my closet will inevitably make me hang on to more than I should. This little “in between” step will give me the courage to keep my closet SMALL and truly embrace a minimal wardrobe. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has a hard time permanently letting go of things, so hopefully adding in this “in between” stage helps.

  8. CREATE SUMMER CAPSULE/UNIFORM. Using my Transition pieces as a starting point, fill in some more summery pieces. In the end, I only want to have pieces in my closet that I actually love wearing, that fit me perfectly and have immense versatility. (My lifestyle is mostly casual, but I like to take it up a notch for date nights and need at least one perfect, versatile dress for the occasional event.)

  9. SHOP. After a little while of wearing my transition wardrobe, I’m sure I’ll come across holes in the wardrobe. It might just be that the gray tee I’ve been wearing shrunk in the wash or I crave a pair of jeans that is fitted without feeling tight. I will consciously start to replace items that aren’t working or fill in gaps with items that are high quality, made ethically and fit me PERFECTLY. (That last one is going to be the clincher.)

  10. REPEAT. At the end of the season - summer in this case - I will repeat this entire process, emptying my closet, pulling out everything from storage, editing ruthlessly and keeping ONLY my absolute favorites available to wear.

Hopefully after a round or two of this process, I’ll have eliminated pretty much everything from my “in between” storage. Because we live in a place that has temperature extremes from -20○F and 100+○F, I’ll always have seasonal storage, but if I can ruthlessly purge after each season, I won’t be storing as much.

Wish me luck, folks! Does anyone want to join me on this journey of escaping my wardrobe rut?? Please comment below if you're IN and share your journey by tagging me (@sennandsons) on Instagram & Facebook!