A Small Stand Against My Own Vanity

I wore high heels in high school.

When you read that, do not think of movies like Mean Girls where that implies I was popular or an “it girl” in any way. I was a complete and total nerd in high school; I was an IB Diploma student and the only time I called out sick from school was if I wanted to study extra. Some smart kids were cool, to be fair. But I was so uncool that when people asked me in college if I partied in high school, I told them there weren’t parties at all at my 2,000 person public school. I was, in fact, such a nerd that not only was I not invited to parties, I literally didn’t know they existed.

Back to the high heels. I wasn’t cool, but I loved fashion. I loved watching YouTube videos for new ways to style my hair and researching runway trends online to attempt mimicking from Urban Outfitters or Nordstrom in my Colorado town. This stemmed from self-expression and desperately wanting to escape my granola hometown, but I think it was also a form of self-defense. If I always looked put together and beautiful on the outside, it would protect me from revealing my deep insecurity and exempt me from judgement.

Ten years later, I can now say confidently that no matter what you wear, people will judge you. There is absolutely no way to escape being judged one way or another. I don’t show up to things absurdly overdressed anymore and rid my closet of six inch heels a long time ago. But years of consciously making decisions through the lens of others’ perceptions still takes a toll on my subconscious motivations today.

That underlying concern about how other people will think of me based on appearance is why I avoid repeating outfits more than twice a month, go on a shopping spree if I have a big event coming up and internally tally which items get compliments and which go unnoticed. I wish that vanity wasn’t a part of my internal makeup, but I also have grace for myself. Punishing ourselves for our insecurities and how we cope with them simply doesn’t help.

There are a million different aspects of my personality, experiences growing up, the media and society at large that I could dive into as to why it’s something I am so cognoscente of. But instead of lamenting over why I am how I am or beating myself up over it, I’m just trying to be aware. I aim to notice those behaviors so I can look at what’s lying underneath. My goal is to gently remind myself of what is true, free myself from needing to play defense and instead walk in confidence and kindness. I admit those are lofty goals, but it works better than berating myself every time.

Building a capsule closet feels like taking a small stand against insecurity and vanity. Instead of building up my defense with piles of clothes, I’m working towards honesty and vulnerability. I took my first step towards a minimal wardrobe, less decision fatigue and letting go of my go-to defense by taking an inventory of my closet as it currently stands.

I will note, I was shocked at how much stuff I have. I knew I had a decent amount of clothes, but compared to a lot of capsule closets that land around 40 pieces in total, I have a long way to go.


  • 13 casual dresses (4 summer, 9 fall/winter)
  • 20 tops
  • 6 jackets/vests
  • 7 skirts/dress pants
  • 16 occasion dresses (I was in a sorority, ok!)
  • 5 jeans
  • 5 shorts
  • 4 short skirts
  • 6 sweaters
  • 5 sweatshirts


  • 13 leggings
  • 2 athletic shorts
  • 21 athletic tops
  • 33 casual tops
  • 8 pajama bottoms
  • 10 pajama tops (some closets don’t count pajamas, but I have too many so I’m including)


  • 2 stiletto’s
  • 2 wedge/espadrille
  • 2 heeled booties
  • 3 sandals/flats
  • 1 flip flops
  • 3 casual sneakers
  • 1 athletic sneakers
  • 1 winter boots

GRAND TOTAL: 174 items of clothing, 15 pairs of shoes

Note: I’m not including outerwear, intimates, socks or swimsuits. I probably should clean out my swimsuit collection, but I miss the beach so that’s for a later time.

I have not yet decided what my goal is for number of items… but safe to say it’s significantly less than my current count.

What are ways you try to be kind to yourself?

Published by Leah Cioth

Lover of coffee, writing and uncontainable joy

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