Wardrobe 101

Wardrobe Clean Up

Wardrobe Audit, Edit, Purge, etc., etc., etc.!

Happy day, dear reader!

How’s your closet? Do you have a wardrobe? Or a floordrobe? Do your clothes live on a chair in the corner or the room? Or hang on the treadmill? (That’s a common one!) Why? Is it a matter of space or time? Recently, I posted three reasons I prefer a smaller wardrobe, but explaining how to get there is another post, completely. So here you go!

If you’ve been pondering a smaller wardrobe, or just need a closet clean out, you may need to do a Wardrobe Audit. You might call it a purge, an edit, an overhaul, closet therapy, or one of a hundred other names. What you call it doesn’t really matter. Getting around to doing one does!

With “Get Organized” being one of the most common New Year’s resolutions, and a long weekend coming up (here in the U.S.), it seemed a good time to repost (with some tweaking) this article to help anyone looking for direction on the wardrobe part. A freshly cleaned closet is a great project for the first month of 2019, and a long weekend is the perfect time to take it on!

Prep Work (The Hardest Part)

Grab a warm cup of something to drink, a pen, and some paper. Sit down somewhere comfy and get ready for some thinking and personal honesty. Take time for some self-reflection. Think on your personality and lifestyle. Who am I? How do I (really) spend my time? Spend time thinking about your values. What’s important to me? I do analyses of these three with every client before we even think about diving into the closet; the answers to these inventories inform the choices we make in their wardrobes.

What’s Important to Me?

Think of this personality, lifestyle, and values work as a GPS leading you to your ideal closet. If you skip it and go right to the clean-out, you’ll be driving in circles later! Who am I? How do I want to look? Is comfort key for me? If so, maybe those pointy-toed patent stilettos might need rethinking. Does my social life consist of Netflix with my kids on the sofa, and the last time I went to a black tie gala was in 2005? If so, why are there three pre-offspring ballgowns taking up valuable closet real estate? Am I a committed vegan, with a beautiful suede purse Grandma gave me hidden on the top shelf? Gifts are a common closet roadblock: Grandma gave it to you, and getting rid of it would be wrong, right? Nope! You are welcome to. Ditching the gift is not ditching the gifter!

What Makes My Heart Sing?

Lets dig a little deeper! Pull out 5 items from your closet that you L.O.V.E. and that make you feel great. (They don’t have to fit. They don’t have to be clothes. They can be accessories, shoes, whatever! Just as long as you can say LOVE.) That’s right. Five. Admire each! Take the time to look at each piece, touch it, and think about why you love it. Is it the color? How it makes you feel? How it feels on your skin? How it makes everything else play well together? List adjectives (grammar flashback!) that describe the pieces and how you feel when you wear them. When you finish the five, look back at your list. Are there duplicates, or words that are very similar or encompass some of the same qualities, like comfortable and cozy? Or chic and sophisticated? Determine the adjectives you used most frequently; list 3-5 of them. Look carefully at these few. Is this how you want others to see you? If so great! If not, spend some time thinking about how you want to be perceived… Add two or three of those how-I-want-to-be-perceived adjectives to your list. This short list will be a draft of your Style Cocktail. Highlight these words and keep them front and center when you get into your closet!

These are my fave five right now! They might be different tomorrow. That’s okay! I have edited my closet enough times that pretty much everything in there is a favorite now…

Gather Your Supplies

You may want to break your Wardrobe Audit into two sessions, prep work one day, and closet work another. If so, make sure you have all your supplies before you start the closet portion. You will want a vacuum cleaner and a duster on hand. You may as well clean your closet while it’s empty! Yes, it will be empty. You will also need water, a full length mirror, and good lighting. Make sure you have two good sized boxes or bags for Give Away, and Throw Away pieces. I also suggest a storage box for out of season items. Last, but not least, make sure you are caught up on your laundry before you head into your closet!

Empty Your Closet

Take everything (Yes, everything!) out of your closet (and drawers), and lay it on your bed. If you can’t fit it all on your bed, lay a clean sheet on the floor and put the overflow there. Pile shoes in one place, and handbags in another. Take anything that is not part of your wardrobe (old tennis rackets, lost hidden Christmas gifts, trip souvenirs, empty shoe boxes, old dry cleaning bags) and get those out of your bedroom, and out of your way. Grab your vacuum cleaner and a duster; take five minutes and clean your closet, the shelves, the hanging rod, the floor. It’s surprising how much dust and dirt finds its way in there.

Don’t worry if your piles are a mess. They’re piles. If I pulled out my closet AND my out of season box, it wouldn’t look nearly this tidy!

Assess What You Have

Now that you have cleaned out Your Personal Boutique(!), it’s ready for your clothes. But not just any clothes! Every piece you add to your boutique must pass rigorous testing. (It’s an exclusive boutique.) You are going to assess each piece, one at a time. Pick up each piece, try it on, and ask yourself these questions: (You may need to modify the first one if you are pregnant, or in a post-partum phase… If baby is three, that’s not really post-partum any more!)

  1. Does it fit me? (If you know it doesn’t fit, don’t worry about trying it on. Save your time, and skip to number 7.)
  2. Does it make me happy?
  3. Does it flatter?
  4. Does it align with my lifestyle needs?
  5. Would I buy this again if I saw it in a store today?
  6. Does this suit the woman my Style Cocktail draft describes?
  7. If the answer to any of these is no, then it hasn’t earned the right to be in your boutique! If no, put it into one of your boxes or bags. If you consign, is the piece in good enough shape to do so? If a charity shop can sell it, wonderful! Note: If you wouldn’t buy it from a charity shop its present condition, be brave and put it into the throw away box.
  8. Pick up the next item and repeat the process. And again. Until you have everything in its appropriate pile, box, or bag.

Note: I did not ask if you have worn it in six months or a year. These arbitrary time rules make me crazy, and don’t work well for special occasion wear or seasonal items. Maybe you have a beautiful fitting cocktail dress that you love for weddings and the rare occasion, but you just haven’t had one to attend recently. Keep it! We have relatives who live in cold climes. Winter where I live may not require a serious parka, but I don’t want to buy a new coat if we go to visit family in the winter! Store out of season items (wool sweaters in summer, and the above-mentioned parka) in a storage box elsewhere; these don’t need to clutter up your working closet. If you have gym wear, or other clothing for gardening or hobbies, keep each type in its own special zone. Don’t mix them in with your everyday clothes!

Sort and Organize

Everything that passes the test (Gets a YES! on questions 1-6.) has earned a place in your wardrobe, and can be put back into your closet. As you stock your boutique with in season items, group them by category: all tops together, all bottoms together (you can subgroup as well–by skirts and trousers if you like), dresses together, etc. Within each category, order the pieces by color from light to dark. This is a huge timesaver! When looking for your favorite pink blouse in the morning, you won’t have to hunt through a rod full of clothes. If it is not there with the pink/red tops, it must be in the laundry. Sorted!

Whew! You’ve completed the assessment, sorting, and stocking; take five minutes right now to pop those out of season pieces into a storage bin and get them out of your way. Put the Donate Box or bag into your car trunk. Do the same with the Consignment Box. Put the Throw Away Bag into the bin outdoors. Treat yourself to a nice cup of something hot, cold, bubbly… Whatever your preference!

Play! Step back and look at your new custom-curated boutique… Satisfying, isn’t it? Enjoy your accomplishment, and spend some time playing with what’s there!

I find lost treasure every time I do a wardrobe reboot. What did you find that you didn’t know was in there? Please share in the comments below! I do so love to hear from you…

Stylishly yours,

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