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I have recently awoken from a winter-long style hibernation. As I peer at myself in the mirror for what feels like the first time in a long time, I see I have some serious sprucing up to do this spring.

What started as a minimalist revolution for my wardrobe has ended as an uninspiring—and unflattering—spiral into frumpiness. At first I was proud that I had not shopped for clothing all season. “See,” I told myself. “I can get by with my trusty pair of jeans and leather jacket. But I had lost that spark that made getting dressed in the morning feel like it mattered.

My descent into this rut took a toll on the actual state of my wardrobe, too. While at first I was inspired by the idea of a minimal wardrobe full of only things you love, the wear and tear of everyday use can make those cherished items look shabby. Take, for example, my favorite high-waisted jeans. Turns out they couldn’t handle being hiking wear, being casual wear, and being thrown in the dryer on a regular basis. Now my cherished (and only) pair of jeans has holes, the dark indigo now a faded summer blue.

In order to really recover from my style rut, I need to face the things that got me into this situation in the first place.

01. Minimalism Gone Wrong

I love minimalism, and as I recover from my style rut, I still intend to strive for a simple approach to dressing. That being said, this time I’m going to do it right.

I learned the hard way that if you are going to have less clothes, you need to have good-quality clothes that you take good care of (i.e., don’t put jeans in the dryer). No more cheap going-out tops from discount stores. The items that I have need to be well-made in order to hold up to frequent wear. I’ve realized that I need to add in a few more similar pieces to my wardrobe, too. Instead of only having one pair of high-waisted jeans, I should add in two more similar styles to wear throughout the week so that they all last longer.

02. Dreaming of a Different Body Type

I know a lot of woman have their “skinny jeans.” You know, that pair of jeans you keep in the back of your closet for the day you consider yourself “skinny”? In many cases, we are dreaming of styling a body that is not ours (often set to impossible standards). We put so much energy into dreaming up the perfect outfit for that fantasy body that we forget about dressing for the one we do have.

My fantasy body was a bit unconventional. Instead of dreaming about “skinny jeans,” I was fantasizing about pregnancy jeans. My husband and I were trying to get pregnant, so what’s the point of getting new clothes now? When I was pregnant I would shop again. I wanted a different body—a pregnant body—and I put shopping on hold until I finally looked the way I desired.

I’m not saying that setting the goal of a perfectly fitted pair of jeans is a bad idea for those of us who are trying to reach a healthy weight. But I do think it’s important to be careful not to punish yourself for not looking like your fantasy. Depriving yourself of a wardrobe that makes you feel confident and beautiful is unhealthy and can land you in a style depression.

03. Budgeting for Coffee

This might sound funny, but who isn’t guilty of spending $5 here and there off budget? It seems like a small amount at the time, but when tallied up at the end of the month, those careless dollars can add up to a lot. Budgeting badly is a catalyst to style depression. If you are trying to build and sustain a wardrobe that inspires you, let’s face it, it takes some monetary upkeep. Every little coffee, every quick bite adds up, and when you exceed the amount budgeted for, it means the luxury of needed wardrobe essentials must be forgotten for the month. In order to get out of my style rut, I know I’m going to need to take my monthly budget seriously and prioritize replacing that pair of jeans over coffee on a whim.

They say that admitting the problem is the first step to recovery, and after recognizing the areas in which I need to improve, I’m ready for the next phase of my style evolution. I never realized just how much personal style can affect how you feel about yourself, but the connection between the external and internal became very real when I found myself without inspiration and feeling drab. I truly feel the difference when my outfit is on point, representing the best version of who I am. What’s more stylish than that?

Photo Credit: Jennifer Trahan