Where do I start?
Growing up as a little girl, my mom was a good seamstress (not as good now. She still makes clothes for my little one). She would but tailor books and make me dresses and clothes. I had a full wardrobe of custom made clothes as a kid in China. I didn’t quite need to buy in shops and was not used to talking to sales assistants. I was just shy.
Fast foreword to the late 90s and 00s, Alta skinny is the ideal figure. I was slightly above that ultra skinny figure and I felt Fat (5’3, 48kg, I was actually underweight). That was the norm in Hong Kong. I felt insecure when shopping in the stores as I didn’t look very skinny when I tried things on and I hated window shopping 🛍 and didn’t enjoy talking to the sales associate. The sales associates are trained to up sell and link sell. I almost always persuaded to buy more than I originally need (higher IPC) and left the store feeling stressed. I hated shopping and not that I had bc a lot of money to buy as well with my very small income from my part time job. My wardrobe consisted of just school uniforms and the ‘new clothes’ we bought for Chinese New Year or during big sale time in the summer. I could even share one with my mom – very small wardrobe.
Another jump in time to late 00s, I discovered Taobao and ASOS. Omg!! The craziness started. I could buy beautiful clothes they my size (8 UK) for a fraction of the cost in physical stores. Even though without their very smart AI merchandising tool, the “things you may also like” sparked my desire to own (I had that desire before the Chinese internet term plant gross and harvest grass were even invented). And the expensive shipping free did help increase my ATV. I had a thing for one piece dress and definitely a phrase for knockoff Karen Millen. After a few bumps on the road, I found my store and my size. I just kept buying.
It reached to a point that I needed two wardrobe and a full additional clothes rack (the rack kept falling due to the weight). I was trying to figure out a new fashion app (no longer available in App Store) so I started a project “a dress a day” – guess what, I actually went through 100 days without repeating a dress. One hundred days and one hundred dresses 👗
Even my colleagues back then noticed my project. Well it didn’t make it big on the fashion app. Honestly it’s poor quality photos with shaky background
Downsizing Episode 1
Then on day, my friend said she started a new book and that book really changed her life. Of course, it’s Marie Kondo’s life changing magic of tidying up. She removed so much stuff. She was an early adopter of the book. Somehow the book landed in my hand (a lot of recommendation after). Another friend kept saying “spark joy” and some might never start unfriending the connection which doesn’t “spark joy” on Facebook.
I read and got sure inspired and motivated. According to the book, start with wardrobe and it was how I started –
The memory of 10 pairs of jeans that I just put on an upper part of the wardrobe fell on me, is still very vivid now after over 5 years. So I catagorsed and started with jeans, socks, panty hose (seriously why did I have so many pair? I only worn once or twice a year when it was too cold to wear dresses without), and accessories (you don’t know how much you end up with when you have staff sale and staff discount 🤪)
Want to see some numbers?
- – Over 200 dresses (yes, I bought more after the 100 dresses project) – also, mostly I already passed the age of friends getting married. No cocktail dresses needed to attend yet another wedding (my record in 2009 was 13 weddings in a year)
- – over 30 pairs of jeans (among which, i only wore 2-3 pairs in a regular base – as in every two months
- – over 70 watches (this is definitely the aftermath of staff sale)
- – over 50 bags/wallets/backpack (also staff sale)
- – necklaces, bracelets, rings – I lost count
- – 2 full size shoes cabinet (not empty of course, who are we fooling? 😎)
- So after one while tiring and agonising day:
- 1 whole racks of dresses to resell
- 3 huge suitcases of various clothes to giveaway
- 50 watches to giveaway
- And 3 bags of clothes to recycle ♻️
- 20+ shoes left leaving the shoe only a half shoe shoe cabinet
I felt so much better. I could fit all my clothes in my tiny wardrobe and my 3 drawers and folded according to the Marie Kondo way too.
I managed to be quite disciplined I would say. But like my friend (who was the first one in my circle that started the tidying up), I over tidied up and I actually need to buy some practical items again even they don’t necessarily spark joy (they keep me warm ❄️). Yet my wardrobe was not overflowing. I only bought two pairs of maternity pants and 2 maternal dresses throughout my pregnancy 🤰🏾 pretty impressive, right? (I’m impressed myself too)
Yo-Yo 🪀 – opps, I did it again 🎵
Well, I managed to downsize and maintain “slim” for a few years. What went wrong? – breastfeeding happened!! (I love every minute of breastfeeding even including the mastitis part- best bonding time ever 💕
I need to buy breastfeeding clothes. At first, I went for my go-to – the infamous 😈Taobao 😈
However, I soon discovered the breastfeeding clothes on there don’t make much sense, poor quality (like break easily, not that I am fat), and just simply not easy or comfortable. You can’t imagine juggling a hungry infant, taking up cover and undressing for feeding. And nursing bra too. Only available h&m site but the site was always unavailable (how ironic). I did manage to get a couple but they didn’t last. So I bought a few nursing clothes from Taobao and none of them were good to wear for one month. I was in a clothe drought… then I found Boob Design and Bravados nursing bras. Both sustainably sources and with good quality. I went through a small bump of a Singaporean based nursing clothes shop – better than Taobao but not as nice as Boob Design (yes, I bought about 10 dresses in total 🙈)
The worse came when I started a new job – breastfeeding friendly business attire required. The ones I have are way too casual and not as easy to clip on the pump.
So I figured I need a lot of two pieces. As a working parent of a baby/toddler, you want to spend all your time soaking up in the cuteness and love from your little one. I didn’t have time to mix and match so I ended up always buy sets of clothes (not too suit like) and wear them according to the match. There are times where I couldn’t find the match (especially during colder time, like today, I just wear two piece that don’t really work together). I bought for summer and winter (well in Hong Kong, it’s 9 month long summer and 9 month long winter in your office too. So I bought double (my excuse anyway)
I would say Taobao’s AI merchasing is working very well showing the items that I might also like. And on 618 and 11.11, I did the inevitable – I bought loads
My wardrobe is overflowing again, even though I already bought a dresser with drawers. They are all full… (I even started putting winter stuff, like my super down jacket 🧥 in the states where it’s actually cold cold 🥶)
So my wardrobe is back in the oversize status. So happened, I ran into the show minimalist on Netflix. The idea is very close to Marie Kondo (she has her own Netflix show too. In fact, many people dressed up as her on Halloween – that’s definitely a popularity indicator 😝). Over consumerism is bring threat to our planet earth – from the waste that fast fashion produces to the working condition of the the workers in the factories. No need to go into details of how much we are wasting. There’s another element to the show is that wanting less brings more happiness. You are not constantly buying or owning things to fill the void in your heart. You spend time appreciate things you have and more time on the things that matter more to you.
Ok, I just received the shipment of yet another online purchase. (Well, I did that before the realisation).
Resolution for 2020
- buy less
- buy quality and from sustainable source – so that I can wear/use for longer – durable – a quality my parents generation always looked for in clothes or any household products
- live more and spend more time on things that matters 👨👩👧
Happy year of the smart Rat!