My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

In my last post, I debriefed how I did with my 2022 word of the year, “lightness.” Although I didn’t experience as much growth as I’d hoped in terms of lightening my physical and emotional load last year, I did have important wins to celebrate. It’s all too common for many of us to look at what we didn’t do well, so I’m glad I took some time to break down the progress I made during 2022.

As is the case with all my yearly themes, I’ll continue to hold an awareness of “lightness” as I move through 2023. But now it’s time to share the word that I have selected as my theme for this year. In today’s essay, I share my 2023 word, why I chose it, and a few ways I see it impacting my life in the coming months.

My Word Became Abundantly Clear to Me

On New Year’s Day, my husband and I went to a “burning bowl and white stone ceremony” at the church we’ve been attending for much of the past year. At this service, we were guided through several meditations to help us release negative thoughts and emotional burdens from 2022 in order to create a blank canvas for 2023. We were instructed to write down all the things we wanted to let go of, after which we tossed the piece of paper containing that information into a fire.

The next step was to write down all the good feelings, experiences, and goals we wanted to welcome into our lives in the coming year. The final step was to meditate on what one word or theme most resonated for us, and we were given a white stone on which to write that word and carry it with us into 2023. Although I wrote a lot of empowering words and phrases during the exercise, the word that rose to the top for me was:

my theme for 2023, "clarity"

Why I Chose “Clarity” as my Word for 2023

There were several other words that I strongly considered, including “purpose” and “compassion,” but “clarity” won out because that’s what I believe I most need in my life at present. I’ve been feeling very confused and foggy about many areas of my life for years now, and I don’t have a compelling vision for my future. I’m not sure what I want or how to get there, and even going to therapy for the past six months didn’t help me to break through that fog (although therapy did help me in myriad other ways, including increasing self-compassion and reducing perfectionism and  codependence).

I would like to gain increased clarity in many facets of my life, including how I spend my time and with whom. I also want to recapture my passion for writing and other creative pursuits, as well as potentially start – or restart – some hobbies. I’d like to feel more like I’m making a positive difference in the world, but I’m not sure how I’d like to do that, so clarity will come into play there, too.

I’m sure I’ll share more as the year progresses, but below are a few areas of my life in which I’d like to gain more clarity…

Clarity About My Wardrobe

Since this blog predominantly focuses on wardrobe-related topics, let’s start with how I see my clarity theme affecting that area of my life. As I mentioned in my last post, I still have too many clothes, and I made more wardrobe-related purchases last year than were actually necessary. I haven’t been good about maintaining a clearly-defined shopping priorities list, which has resulted in my being a “shopping magpie” at times. Far too often, I’ve purchased what caught my eye rather than what would make the most difference in my closet.

I would like to turn that situation around this year. I want to make fewer purchases and buy items that will help me to dress better for the various occasions in my life. Some of those pieces might be harder for me to find, but I know I’ll be much happier if I keep up the search rather than grabbing whatever’s easiest to shop for in the moment.

I also want to get clearer on the styles and silhouettes that work best for me, and I want to revisit the concept of having twenty-five good outfits for each season. I don’t need endless “mix and match” possibilities, as that only serves to overwhelm me. If I can put together twenty-five – or even just ten – outfits that I feel fabulous wearing and are appropriate for my lifestyle, that’s all I truly need. Doing this will help me to feel less of a sense of scarcity with my wardrobe, which in turn will hopefully help me to buy less and purge the pieces in my closet that don’t “spark joy.”

About the Blog and Other Creative Projects…

I have now been blogging about wardrobe-related topics for over ten years (and I’ve been blogging in general for over thirteen years)! Sure, I’ve taken a few detours from time to time into other subjects, but the bulk of my writing for the past decade has centered on wardrobe management, smart shopping, and personal style. I still have a lot of passion for these topics, but I struggle with how to approach them in blog format sometimes. I find myself wondering if perhaps I might want to either shift what I’m writing about or the medium that I’m using. But since clarity has not been forthcoming, I’ve continued to carry on with this blog, albeit on a less frequent basis than has been my intention.

I’ve considered both podcasting and starting a YouTube channel, but writing has always been my preferred mode of self-expression. However, it used to flow much more easily for me than it has recently, which has me pondering how I want to move forward. At this point, I’m not sure what I want to do in terms of creative pursuits, so I’m hoping “clarity” will come to me in the approaching months. I’m open to all sorts of possibilities at the moment, including changing nothing, changing everything, or doing a sort of “hybrid” approach.

I have some blog post ideas I’d like to delve into soon, but they’ve been waiting on my publishing this post, which I procrastinated in doing for some reason (the non-wardrobe topics always seem to be harder for me). Part of why I want to try to do shorter posts is so it will hopefully be easier for me to both start and finish writing each individual essay.

When I’m setting out to write something that could almost be a short e-book (I have lots of posts that are 3000 to 4000 words long – or more!), it can feel like summiting a mountain at times. In the spirit of carrying “lightness” forward into 2023, why not make my life easier by aiming for around 1000 words instead? And perhaps it will be easier for readers to consume my content that way, too (so win-win).

I’m not going anywhere at this point, and even if I pivot this blog or take on a new writing project, I promise to keep you all apprised. But in the interest of honesty and transparency, I wanted to share a bit about what I’ve been going through in terms of blogging and “writer’s block.” Perhaps being open about it and calling it for what it is will open a pathway for more clarity…

Conclusion – and Your Thoughts?

I know I’ll have a lot more to say about clarity in future posts, but I feel that selecting this theme has already helped me during the early weeks of 2023. I keep my white stone on which the word is written right in front of me on my desk so I can keep my theme for the year “top of mind.” I hope that by the time 2023 is over, I’ll feel an increased sense of direction and purpose in many areas of my life.

I’ll be back soon with some wardrobe-related content, but now I’d like to hear from you. A few of you shared your 2023 words in response to my last post, but I’d love for more readers to weigh in regarding their themes and goals for the year (and of course, you can also comment on what I shared today).

If you’ve selected a word for the year and would like to share it, please feel free to do so, but I also welcome your thoughts on what you’d like to accomplish this year – in all areas of your lives. What would you like to be, do, and have in 2023, and how would you like to feel? I look forward to reading your comments and being inspired by you.

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19 thoughts on “My 2023 Word of the Year Is…

  1. NATALIE K says:

    My word this year is”Appreciation”. I wat to pa more attention to all the Lord Jesus provides for me in the everyday!! Since the New Year I have bought no clothing items. This is huge for me!! I have bought make-up so don’t think I bought nothing! But I’m doing much better in clothing ad buying other items I need!!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      That’s a great word of the year, Natalie! My husband’s word for this year is “grateful,” which is similar. Good for you for not buying any clothing items so far this year! That would be huge for me, too. Seems like 2023 is off to a good start for you. 🙂

  2. Terra Trevor says:

    Lovely post Debbie.

    Your other recent post “The Best of My Wardrobe, Myself 2022” was also beautifully written. I most enjoy how you are giving us a personal glimpse into your clothes-wearing-life, instead of just talking about your wardrobe. But as an essayist and memoirist, I fully understand the push-pull it often takes to write personal essays. I’ve been holding back on updating my “moderately minimal themed wardrobe posts” because I’m still in the process of editing my clothes and getting clear with myself on where I want to go with my wardrobe in 2023. I’m pretty sure I have a solid plan, and I’m in the process of writing a rough draft post now. More on that later.

    Meanwhile, however, you have inspired me, and I did (finally) let go of many of the clothes I was wearing in my former life, way back in 2019. Turns out some of those things were five, six and seven years old, and just don’t fit my current style preferences and new lifestyle. Still, they were old favorites and it was a bit hard to say good-bye. But I sent them off to new homes, and I feel good about doing it. I feel so much lighter! The majority of what I let go of were toppers. I no longer want the fuss of needing certain tops to go with them. These days I want whatever top I’m wearing to be a stand alone piece, and not require anything other than a sweater or jacket, or a scarf, if I’m in the mood for a scarf. For me, it often feels too fussy wearing a jacket or coat with a t-shirt and topper. So without them I feel free. Big smile.

    Word Theme for 2023. My word is Faith.
    To let go of struggling when things are not working out at all according to my plans, and to trust and have faith that if I get real quiet, slow down and listen, positive answers and solutions will come to me in time.

    My comment here is mighty long, so I will close now.
    Thank you again for writing and sharing your lovely essays.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I like that you left a long comment, Terra, and it’s always great to hear from you. I’m glad you liked this post and my 2022 “best of” post. Good point about writing about my “clothes-wearing-life” vs. just sharing about my wardrobe. You’re right that the personal essays can be the most challenging to write, so I like to have a balance. I struggled to write THIS post, so I have to have some give and take with what I write about.

      That’s so great that you let go of many of the clothes you wore in your former life and are feeling much lighter as a result. You seem to be very clear on what does and doesn’t work for you, which is the state I’m hoping to reach this year (about my wardrobe and many other aspects of my life). I would like more of my tops to be “standalone” pieces, too, as that not only makes dressing for warmer weather easier, but it also just streamlines the entire getting dressed process. I love how you wrote “big smile” at the end of your letting go paragraph. I can envision your smile – and your freedom.

      Faith is a wonderful word for you for this year and where you seem to be headed in life! I think I need to follow your lead in getting quiet and slowing down and listening, as that will likely bring more of the clarity that I’m seeking. Best wishes to you in 2023, my friend.

  3. Sally says:

    Hi Debbie,

    I like the introspection of your last post and this one, on the inner journey you are going through.

    I went through a very dark period in my life, which was triggered after some major events happened, which knocked down the very foundations of my life.

    This led to my search for meaning and purpose in my life, and I turned to spirituality to try to find answers and guidance.

    My whole life, priorities and direction have now changed; I want to create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.

    Below is a link to one of the articles I had published on Tiny Buddha, on the journey I have been going through, some of which may resonate with you.

    I wish you well on your soul searching journey to find clarity in your life.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      It’s good to see you commenting here, Sally. Thank you for your insights and the link to the Tiny Buddha article. It seems like we’re on a similar journey, as I am also finding my priorities and direction in life changing as a result of some things that have happened, as well as my getting older. I’m glad you’re finding peace and guidance. I hope you will continue to find more of the same.

  4. Anne says:

    I have not picked a word or theme for 2023–or any other year, perhaps it is a practice I should consider.

    What would you like to be, do, and have in 2023, and how would you like to feel? I’d like to be more socially connected with friends (I am fortunate to have plenty of family nearby I see often but not so much on friends), more generous with time and money to those less fortunate, and more organized. But–I am pregnant with my second child, due in June, and I understand very well from the first time around that babies don’t leave any surpluses of time or energy (or often, money). And that this time, I will also have the needs of my firstborn to consider, who is not quite three years old yet so still quite dependent.

    As I have never wanted my identity to be “so and so’s mom”, I struggle some with this portrayal of my life. I am also an attorney, which is not central to my identity either but, if I am being honest, the intellectual accomplishment that that represents is easier to feel proud of when I’m still in the very early stages of the important work that is raising children who will be good people.

    Debbie, I’ve read your blog for years and never commented before, but felt driven to by this post. You’re a gifted writer and I feel that I have learned much from your perspective.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Anne, after many years of being a reader. I appreciate your kind words about my blog. I don’t think everyone needs to select a word of the year, but it might be something for you to try to see if it resonates for you. It sounds like you have some good and admirable goals that you want to pursue, but I think it’s great that you’re realizing the limits you will have with two young children at home.

      In this culture of “you can do it all,” a lot of women feel tremendous pressure to “succeed” in all areas of life, but we all have “seasons” in our lives that result in different priorities and areas of focus. In a lot of cases, we need to adjust our expectations for what we’ll be able to do, which means that sometimes we’ll either have to do LESS in some areas or even place certain things on hold for a while.

      I wish you the very best with the rest of your pregnancy. You are so right that raising children who will be good people is important work. I wish more parents would emphasize goodness over “success” and other more superficial things that won’t necessarily make us happier and make a better world in the long run.

  5. Maggie says:

    Hi Debbie, Very thought provoking post. I don’t know if i can pick a word of the year at the moment. i am leaning toward the word “focus.” (FYI – I am currently rereading ‘Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” which i discovered a year ago after reading a different book by the same author “Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most.”)

    I am back in school. I have 3 classes to take to finish my degree. The activities that gave me pleasure when i lived in Colorado are not available here so i have to find new activities.
    I always wanted to learn how to play the bass (I played guitar in high school) so I am going to talk to music stores about lessons this week. I am still going to ramp back up on support groups meetings once my schedule settles a bit. The other thing I plan to do is digitize our photos. Consumer Reports has a recent article on this subject.

    As to my wardrobe, I currently have the most boring wardrobe ever but I have lost weight and i needed clothes to fit the climate here in New England so I have upgraded and supplemented my warm clothing. I am trying to be very thoughtful about my purchases and buy what I need (a very short list) instead of what I want (everything else). My latest purchase was a black pair of Ecco short zip Chelsea boot with Goretex and i have to say that they have exceeded my expectations.


    1. Maggie says:

      I forgot to add that I also finished reading, “Joy Seeker” and am wondering what I would wear if I didn’t care what other people thought. Parachute pants are catching my eye…

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      The books that you mentioned sound interesting, Maggie. I’d really like to get back to reading more books, as most of my reading lately has been articles and forums. Focus sounds like it could be a good word for you, but maybe something else will rise to the forefront in the coming weeks. You’ve had a lot of change in your life recently, but it sounds like you’re navigating it quite well. That’s so great that you’re going to pursue your goal of learning to play the bass. Digitizing photos is a goal that I have, too, but it can feel quite overwhelming, can’t it?

      Good for you for prioritizing needs in terms of your wardrobe after your weight loss. Warm clothing is definitely a need in New England… I’ve had great luck with Ecco boots. In fact, when my favorite pair finally bit the dust after 7 years, I was able to find a replacement on eBay that I’m happily wearing now. It sounds like the parachute pants could be a fun addition to your closet, and they’re everywhere in stores right now.

      1. Maggie says:

        Hi Debbie. Thank you for your kind words. I have a trial lesson next week with a bass teacher at a music store so I will let you know how it goes. As to the digitizing photos, I got a Consumer Reports subscription for the month to read the article, “Best Photo Scanning and Video Digitizing Services.” Memories Renewed was their choice but at 75 cents per scan it is more expensive than others which range from 30-59 cents a scan. I plan to send off the school and sports team photos first before I get into the 3×5 prints and/or negatives.

        I will keep you posted.

        FYI – I remember reading an article years – late 80s maybe? ago about a fashion writer who consulted with 3 stylists/wardrobe consultants on her wardrobe and then wrote an article about it. If I find it, I will let you know.

        Warm Regards.

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for sharing what you learned about the photo scanning services, Maggie. I agree that 75 cents per scan sounds expensive. I look forward to learning how you fare with one of the less pricey options. I also look forward to seeing the wardrobe styling article that you referenced, if you’re able to find it. Best wishes with your bass trail lesson next week!

  6. Alice says:

    Completely agree on the ‘twenty-five good outfits’ idea, and will follow your progress with interest. The abundance of ‘capsules’ on the internet, while they are very attractive, do suggest that it’s imperative to be able to mix and match. I’m not sure that works for everybody. For a while I’ve been trying to identify my favourite outfits (10-15/season, for 4 seasons). It’s very reassuring to know they are ready and waiting when the season rolls around again. Any mixing, matching and swapping in is a plus, but the 10/15 are the core. So I’m with you on that goal!
    p.s. my word is ‘streamlining’.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I think capsule wardrobes work well for some people, but not everyone needs everything in their closets to be able to be mixed and matched many ways, Alice. I do like for my wardrobe items to have some versatility, but just a few possibilities is really enough for me most of the time. I love your idea of identifying your 10-15 favorite outfits for each season. Of course, you can wear other combinations, too, as desired, but there will be comfort in knowing that if you need to get dressed quickly, you have some tried-and-true looks ready to go. “Steamlined” is a great word! Good luck with it, and I hope you report back later on how it’s working for you.

  7. Jenn says:

    My word of the year is “freedom,” though I have to say I like yours better! It seems clarity is what I’m always seeking, I feel it’s closely tied to simplicity, which is something I strive for and sometimes self-sabotage with overshopping. I do feel I am taking more steps forward than backward, which I think is key–and gaining clarity in the process.

    Much has transpired here in the past couple of months, including the death of my dad. As life gets settled into a new “normal,” I’ll have more to time and energy to comment. I’m always happy to see your latest blog appear in my email, though. I hope you never stop writing.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Jenn, My deepest condolences to you on the loss of your dad. My heart goes out to you during this difficult time. No worries about not having the energy to comment here much. Just take care of yourself as best as you can. I remember you writing about your visits to your parents. One of my close friends lost her father very recently, too, and it’s just such a sad and tragic thing to endure. Virtual hugs to you, and prayers for peace and healing.

      I think freedom is a great word for the year, and I chose it myself a few years ago… Of course, if you prefer clarity for this year, you can always make a change. I like what you wrote about clarity being closely tied to simplicity (which was my word close to 10 years ago). I also strive for simplicity, but I struggle to find it in the areas of wardrobe and shopping, so I get it! I think that for many of us, shopping can be a coping mechanism, so it’s not surprising that shopping would increase during difficult times. I’m glad to hear that you’re taking more steps forward than backward. That’s what’s most important when we’re looking to make positive changes.

  8. Samantha says:

    I’ll be excited to read your thoughts and everyone’s comments on clarity, which is also my chosen word. I feel I need more clarity on my spendings (money and time), paperwork, thoughts, ideas and emotions/feelings. I have a special thought for Jenn. Take care XXX

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Great minds think alike, right, Samantha? I like that you and I both chose clarity as our word for the year. I hope you’ll share how it’s impacting your life in the coming months. I need more clarity in the areas you mentioned, too, and I also have a special thought for Jenn. I wish I could give her a big hug, but hopefully it will help her to know that we’re thinking of her and holding positive wishes for her and her family. Best wishes to you for your year of clarity.

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