Friends, we’ve been fooled.

We’ve been fooled to believe that there is such a thing as a fashion rule. We’ve been told over and over again that there are certain indispensable “essentials” that must be a part of every wardrobe. We’ve been told that we’re not capable of dressing ourselves– that we need experts in the fashion industry to help us out.

But here’s the truth: our closets are our closets. They can be however large or small we choose. Our staples are our staples. They have to fit our lifestyle, climate, and needs.

For years, I was fooled by the fashion industry into believing that my image was made up of the clothes that I wore. I thought I needed to dress well in order to be seen and appreciated by others. I spent countless hours in front of the mirror– in dressing rooms, no less– trying to find my true self somewhere in a pile of textiles and price tags.

7 fashion myths to stop believing-- become the creator of your own wardrobe

What changed my mind: refocusing on better things

I wrote about why I shrank my closet back in July of last year. I have realized that, in so doing, I truly have become more aware of the need around me. I’ve become less wary of how my friends and family make me look. I’ve become more generous without a lot of items in my shopping bag waiting to be purchased.

Ultimately, I’ve found joy in building my own small wardrobe. I still wear clothes that I love, and have even built a fair-trade accessories arsenal to increase the mileage of my current closet. But I would have never done this without the initial realization that I had bought in to complete myths designed by the fashion industry to keep me coming back for more. Here are a few of them.

7 fashion myths to stop believing

7 Fashion Myths to Stop Believing

1) Everyone needs a good pair of jeans.

No. There are a number of so-called fashion “staples” that the experts insist we must have. Jeans are an interesting example: they’re everywhere here in the US, but they’re not very versatile. I’ve found jeans to be hot in the summer and not warm in the winter. If finding the right pair of jeans is impossible for you, then you probably don’t need them.

2) Your physical appearance dictates (limits) what you can wear.

False. The fashion industry loves to tell us what our bodies can or can’t “pull off.” There may be some aesthetic truth in their claims, but it’s nothing we can’t see for ourselves in the mirror. When it comes to building your wardrobe, try it all on in the fitting room; you may be surprised.

3) Some colors are in; others are out.

This is not true. If we eliminated every color that “used to be trendy” from our wardrobes, we would have nothing left to wear. Color trends go in cycles– and every color known to humans has trended at some point. So wear the colors you love. It’s all been done before.

4) Newer always means better.

No, better means better. I’m no fan of pilling fabrics, but that’s why I opt for long-lasting quality pieces I can wear year after year. Just because a new collection has arrived does not mean it contains pieces that are better than what I currently have. Shop for fit, not for trend.

5) Your wardrobe has to fit within a style theme.

Not necessarily. It is perfectly okay to pull from various style genres, as long as you love each piece and can mix and match them. I spent years trying to curate a certain look, and never really figured it out. I liked many styles equally, and have learned to be happy with my eclectic wardrobe.

6) Clothing is the first thing someone notices about you.

No, it isn’t. Most people notice your face, posture, and affect, to name a few– things that clothing can enhance but certainly not change. Furthermore, your reputation often enters the room before you do. There is so much more I want people to see and know about me than simply my personal style. I’m committed to working on those things instead.

7)  You need more fashion advice.

Nope, you don’t. You don’t need to see another commentary on what your favorite celebrity wore, or shop from some magazine’s carefully curated content. You can certainly use these resources for inspiration, but you certainly have the ability to develop your own taste. It may take time, but you can do it!

The bottom line: Reclaim your wardrobe.

We need to get the fashion industry out of our wardrobes, and make our closets a space that performs its function well. Clothes were made for the body, and not the body for clothes. The more intentionally we shop, the more carefully we spend, and the smaller our wardrobes are, the more time and energy we will have to focus on the things that really matter to us.

7 fashion myths to stop believing - outfit

fair trade accessories: scarf | necklace | hoops | blue leather bracelet | beaded white cuff

Coming soon: more capsule wardrobe resources!

When I started my capsule wardrobe more than a year ago, I had no idea how much it would change my life. It has helped me refocus on my first loves– faith, community and social justice– and also to appreciate my wardrobe so much more. I’m currently working on some capsule wardrobe resources and I can’t wait to share them with you.

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