What I Learned After Styling My Clothes Without a Mirror for 9 Months

  • I got dressed without a mirror for nine months.
  • It took time to get used to the routine, but I learned a lot about myself and my personal style.
  • I ultimately learned how to trust my instincts and save time while getting dressed.

Months after I moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the fall of 2021, I was still settling into my new home.

A few boxes remained unopened and some of my artwork was still propped up against the dresser. The main thing I was missing in my room was a mirror.

I picked one up at a local thrift store soon after I arrived in Michigan, intent on painting the edges to bring some color into my room. Months later, I realized I forgot to give the mirror a proper place — it was still collecting dust in a corner of my home.

And thus, what started as disregard for a simple task evolved into a nine-month-long style experiment without what I previously considered to be an essential part of my daily routine.

Although I’ve since returned to relying on a mirror — and I moved again, back to Philadelphia — I took away several lessons that helped me dress more confidently during my time without one.

I learned it’s OK to choose comfort over style

Gabi Stevenson in a green hoodie and black leather jacket standing in front of a mural of flowers


I feel the most confident when I’m in clothes that don’t squeeze or tug my body.

Gabi Stevenson/Insider


When the world began opening up after the height of the coronavirus pandemic, I noticed that “maximalist” fashion was in again. Jewels, feathers, bright colors, and bold silhouettes took over my social-media feeds, but I knew I wasn’t ready to give up my cozy clothes just yet.

Dressing without a mirror helped me focus on my feelings instead of aesthetics. I’ve always been drawn to items that don’t pinch my stomach or squeeze my rib cage, so I was able to stay true to my style instead of letting the trend cycle dictate my wardrobe.

Now, I’m not afraid to mix loose, baggy clothing with more structured pieces as my style continues to evolve.

I discovered I don’t have to wear what ‘flatters’ me

Gabi Stevenson in a colorful, vintage dress


I loved this vintage dress, even if traditional rules say short people shouldn’t wear large patterns.

Gabi Stevenson/Insider


In the past, my ensembles revolved around pieces that “flattered” me: what made my waist look thin, my legs look long, or my bust appear lifted. I discovered that styles that traditionally look good on my body type often didn’t mesh with my personal style.

I now treat my clothes as a form of personal expression. Even though I’m short and have some curves, I love wearing oversized silhouettes, long dresses, and busy patterns. My mirrorless months served as a reminder that modern fashion isn’t always about following the rules.

I figured out how to trust my gut when it comes to fashion

Gabi Stevenson stands in front of an art project made of yarn. She's wearing jeans, a leather jacket, a striped shirt, and brown loafers


I was able to save time while getting dressed by pairing classic pieces together for a chic, pulled-together look.

Gabi Stevenson/Insider


Before I ditched my mirror, I would often visualize how outfits would look on me prior to trying them on. Doubt always crept in when I put clothes on in real life and talked myself out of trying new things.

I was still stumped the first time I dressed for a night out without a mirror. I wanted to come off as cool and effortless, but I didn’t know how to achieve that without looking at myself. The only thing I could do was tap into my intuition.

As time went on, it became easier to let go of my uncertainty. I trusted that I could make the best choice and, in turn, became a more self-assured dresser.

I found I can save time getting dressed without a mirror

Gabi Stevenson holds onto a street lamp pole in Washington DC


I also feel more confident rewearing items from my wardrobe over and over again — my dad’s old denim jacket is a staple piece.

Gabi Stevenson/Insider


Instead of going back and forth about what shoes or purse looked best, I was forced to make a choice and stick with it. Although it was stressful at first, I enjoyed having more time to focus on other things, whether it was doing my makeup or relaxing on the couch.

On days when I had to get ready quickly, I knew getting dressed was one less thing I’d have to worry about.

I was reminded that clothes aren’t like tattoos — they come off at the end of the day

Gabi Stevenson wears a camouflage jumpsuit with white sneakers and again with brown boots


I wore this jumpsuit for the first time with sneakers, but I later discovered that I liked it better with brown boots.

Gabi Stevenson/Insider


Although dressing without a mirror made me feel more secure in my styling abilities, I knew all my outfits wouldn’t be winners. On the days I felt like nothing looked right on me, I carried the image of myself in the mirror in my head, which made me more self-conscious.

Without a full-length mirror, I only caught glimpses of myself in bathroom mirrors or reflected in windows. If I didn’t like how I looked, I had no choice but to rock it until the end of the day. Once I got home, I would change into something that made me feel warm and safe, ready to try again the next day. It didn’t always feel good, but it was a necessary adjustment that allowed me to remain present in my life.

As I continue to develop my personal style, I’m thankful that I never put that mirror up. I realized that when it comes to fashion, all I have is myself and a wardrobe of possibilities — and that’s never been more exciting.

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