In April 2019 I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl Naomi. She was everything that I hoped for, wished for. I loved the idea of being a mom and after she was born I fell in love with her even more. During my high-risk pregnancy I embraced all of the things that changed. I loved my stretch marks and even called them my Baby Ink. I took the engorged breasts in stride and the swelling feet was an uncomfortable thing I knew I could handle. My fluctuating weight – and fears of not gaining enough – didn’t hold me back from feeling optimistic. Any time someone mentioned a downside about their body, in regards to pregnancy, I took in the positives and thanked Naomi for remaining healthy.
It wasn’t until I was five months postpartum, that I felt in loving her, and all that a new babe brought to my life, I had somehow fallen out of love with my body. I still embraced the things that had changed but I just didn’t feel beautiful anymore. I didn’t feel happy with the way I saw myself in the mirror. Then, I noticed it wasn’t my body. It was my clothes.
I hated my wardrobe. Most of the clothes that I wore during pregnancy would no longer fly. During those 9 months, I donned tons of cute crop tops, high-rise leggings and jeans. I wore tight dresses because they looked beautiful over my ever-growing belly. I didn’t realize that, after birth, I would no longer feel happy in these. My stomach was flabby. I often still looked pregnant due to swelling or bloating. My breast milk filled boobs wouldn’t fit into the tighter tops I’d worn just weeks before. Instead, I wanted to wear flowy things. I wanted to twirl in boho dresses that flowed around my thighs. I wanted to wear jeans again. I wanted to wear leggings beneath peplum tops and billowing blouses, at least until I lost the baby weight. Then after I wanted the carefree feeling and aesthetic that style would give me.
I had none of those things.
So I turned to my closet. The drawers were overflowing. There were clothes strewn about the floor because I didn’t have enough space to pack them in the already packed closet (that’s also filled with non-clothes items as well). I instantly recoiled and for a week I tried to put the daunting task of decluttering and figuring out my new personal style out of my mind.
One section of decluttering is Clothing and I followed all of the rules. In using Marie Kondo’s method of decluttering, I was able to go through my closet and get rid of all the things that no longer sparked joy. I threw out things I knew I would never wear. Donated clothes that I couldn’t fit. I even found shirts that still had tags. I then embraced the folding and stood my shirts and jeans up in the drawers for easy removal. I flipped my hangers to see what I wore often and what never left the closet and donated those pieces as well. I even pared down my gym clothes and the enormous collection of jeans that could use a dusting. You know, because I hadn’t gone to the gym in almost a year and hadn’t been able to fit into jeans in at least six months.
After I did all the STUFF, I felt happy. My bedroom no longer had clothes strewn about, my clothes only took up one small corner of the closet, and my drawers could close all the way. I thought that the only things I kept were items that “sparked joy”. However, after three weeks, I still couldn’t find anything to wear. I would return to the closet over and over asking myself ‘do I really want to wear this’? I would look in the mirror and feel sadness that my clothes didn’t suit me. I still didn’t feel pretty.
One of the things that they don’t tell you after having a baby is that you will never be the same. You are a completely different person. You’re a Mom now. You do Mom things. You have a Mom body. You have to look at yourself in a different light.
Those things I wanted to wear weren’t in my closet. My wardrobe didn’t make me feel together or like a mom. A part of minimalism is owning things with purpose and loving the things that inhabit your space. I still held on to things that were from the ‘old me’. I had nothing that showed I had grown as a person.
Remember, this was before I fully embraced the idea of becoming a minimalist. All I knew was that something had to change. I pared my wardrobe down even further. My new question wasn’t ‘Does this spark joy?’ My new question was (is) “Does this reflect the new me?” and if the answer was no, I threw it out. Mostly. I knew I had to keep enough things so that I would be clothed because, you know, they don’t let us run around naked, but the majority of the items went right into a box.
My next step was to hit the thrift store. Say what you will, be who you are, but I love thrifting. I love it. Finding great pieces at great prices has been something I’ve enjoyed my entire life. I would go to thrift stores and garage sales with my mom on the weekends and I always came home with something I enjoyed. Yes, this is definitely what contributed to my issues with shopping and hoarding but we’ll talk about that in another post.
On my trip to my safe place, I found ten items that I loved. I pulled them off the rack with an excited flick of a hand. Then I stopped. I looked down at Naomi, who was happily chattering away in her car seat, and shook my head. I was about to do the exact opposite of what I came to do. Find things that reflect me. I took another look and aloud I said “Naomi, does this look like the new me?” She smiled when she heard my voice but was otherwise no help.
Taking a second, even third, look at my selections told me that no, they didn’t reflect me. They looked like the same items I’d just tossed away. I decided to take them to the dressing room anyway, to see if I was just being dramatic (which…I usually am). After trying them on, I realized that only four out of the three pieces made me feel pretty. They made me feel like an adult woman who knew who she was and had her own style. A mother who is taking back the reins of her body. One that is redefining what it meant to be stylish, in her own eyes. They are items that would also look good after I’ve lost the 25lbs (that I am pledging to lose in 2020 – also another converse for another time).
When I got home, I excitedly tried on every piece and did a fashion show for my guy in which I employed my best catwalk. He laughed and told me I looked happy, light. I did. I do. With every piece that I’m buying that reflects me I no longer feel that my closet is fighting against me and my happiness. I can’t say “I have nothing to wear”. It’s a journey, as I’m no expert at this, but every time I put on clothing that fits and makes me feel sexy, pretty, positive, and light I know I’m on the right track.
I hope that I’ve inspired you to not only ask ‘Does this spark joy?’ but ‘Does this reflect the new me?’
* From a newbie to other newbies! *