Developing Personal Style – What’s Your Closet Personality…Wearer or Collector?

All Saints coat, Tony Bianco boots, Kara Bike Wallet

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Coat – All Saints // size 0 // (this season’s)
Tee – Estevan Oriol // size M (oversized) // (in black)
Jeans – Mother // size 24 // (without studs) (similar wash)
Shoes – Tony Bianco // size 5 // (shorter heel)
Handbag – Kara “Bike Wallet”
Sunglasses – Ahlem
Jewelry – Vintage

Helena of Brooklyn Blonde posted to her Instagram Stories a friend noted she was a “wearer, not a collector”. She has no problems moving items out of her wardrobe if they’re not getting wear, even if they’re rare, designer, or otherwise stunning.

This perfectly said sentiment made me think…”oh damn, I’m a collector for sure”

I’ve been giving this idea some thought and think it’s a pretty enlightening subject when it comes to how we handle our closets.

Are You A Wearer?

A wearer has no patience for things collecting dust. Move it or lose it, buddy. You probably have an active giveaway pile going all the time, and/or a decent rotation going on your Poshmark. Maybe you’re short on closet space so items have to earn their place, or maybe you’re a “one in, one out” type of person. Maybe you hate waste, and seeing things hang there unused as a missed opportunity. I’m betting you’re practical, hard-working, and ask the same of your wardrobe.

Or, Are You A Collector?

A collector has probably already collected something else in their lifetime, so this one is probably easier to identify. You enjoy pieces for reasons beyond their cost per wear. It’s so well made! Look at these natural fibers! Can you believe I scored this designer at that price?! I bought it on our honeymoon! Something can hang in your closet and still bring you joy even if you haven’t worn it in years. If you’re like me, you easily attach sentiment to objects and are prone to deep-diving, all-consuming bouts of interest.

As A Collector…

I’ll add pieces to my wardrobe because I love them…not necessarily because they’re practical. If something sparks joy, in it goes. And my interest in wearing them can be cyclical. They can sit unworn, sometimes for years, before coming back into rotation.

Case in point, the coat in the photo above. I fell in love with it & promptly made it mine. The fit was superb. The stand collar is calfhair which I thought was absolutely exquisite. But for that point in my life, it felt too formal. I wore it to holiday parties and black tie weddings, but one day I stored her away and didn’t touch her again for years. For some reason, she hit the front of my mind this year and I pulled her out. My style has become a little bolder since I bought her so she feels less formal and more like exactly what I want to be wearing.

If I were a “wearer”, she would have been ousted from my closet long ago.

Pros and Cons:

The pros of being a collector: from personal experience, I can get a sense of joy simply by sifting through my collection. I appreciate the fabrics, quirky details, or designer heritage, and feel the pieces in my wardrobe tend to be less basic and a little more quirky, since I’m less focused on practicality and more on details that make it special. And even if I haven’t worn something in a while, a new trend, addition to the wardrobe, or bout of inspiration can reinvigorate my interest and breathe new life in an older piece.

The cons: my wardrobe can get bloated and unwieldy without me realizing it. I’ve found collections within a collection…like, why did I collect ten pinstriped cotton shirts? I know each one is slightly different, and I truly appreciate them for that,  but I only wear two of them. I also find it very hard to let things go (I can’t sell that! It’s silk!). Or, because I can come back around to wearing something after literal years of collecting dust, the fear of “what if I need that later!?” is crippling. So…hardly anything leaves, but every season produces so many amazing pieces I want to add!

Going Forward:

Now that I’ve fully come to terms with my collector closet personality, I’m actively trying to avoid adding to my “mini-collections” and thinking more thoughtfully about if I’ll actually wear an item before purchasing. I’m also working up the courage to *gasp* actually sell some stuff.

Wearers…What Do You Think?

I’m not a wearer, so I don’t want to pretend I know your pro or cons, so let me know what you think they are. But from an outsider looking in, some thoughts I had were:

Pros: keeping a smaller, well-utilized wardrobe must feel like an accomplishment. Less of an urge to spend based on novelty.

Cons: regrets about purging something during a time it would have come in handy. Missing pieces for special occasions because they were never deemed practical enough to keep around.

Let me know if I’m close.

So, are you a wearer, or a collector? How has that been good or bad for you? With this in mind, do you think it will better inform your shopping habits going forward?

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. says: Susan McMackin

    I’m a little bit of both! I have a few items in my closet that I consider too special to part with…just unique and gloriously beautiful and I don’t care about whether or not anyone else considers them fashionable. I do feel a need to purge a pretty substantial amount of my wardrobe on the regular, so my goal is to be more intentional about how I spend my hard earned money going forward

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