I have always been a fashion girl. Ever since I was a toddler, shopping and styling outfits were my favorite pastimes. By the time I was in middle school, I had a huge collection of clothes from all different brands and time periods. As soon as we got a computer, I started avidly reading fashion blogs and publications. Shopping was one of my favorite bonding activities with my Mom and my friends.
But when I first moved out on my own, I had to keep my clothes in a laundry basket since I didn’t have a closet or a dresser. I expected it to be very limiting and boring, but my tiny wardrobe actually made getting dressed a whole lot quicker and easier. I didn’t get sick of my clothes as I expected. As consumers, we are lead to believe that more options means greater satisfaction. At least for me, having too many options gets overwhelming and kills my creativity. I was totally satisfied with my minimalist laundry basket wardrobe, and loved remixing all my favorite pieces into creative outfits.
Over the last few years my wardrobe has grown again to epic proportions. Before this weekend, my gigantic messy closet was overflowing, and I also had 3 huge storage containers stashed in the attic. Wading through my closet each morning took so much time and energy. Thinking back fondly to my laundry basket wardrobe, I resolved to get rid of at least half my stuff.
I have realized that fashion doesn’t serve me anymore. Even though I don’t identify as a fashion girl anymore, looking good is still important to me. I just can’t stand to spend as much time on my image as I used to. As I’ve grown up and gone out on my own, I have become way more focused on my actions and goals. Shopping has become a burden. With fast fashion, trends move at lightning speed and pieces I buy at those stores often fall apart even sooner. Instead of perfecting every detail of my outfit and poring over upcoming trends, I want to spend the minimum amount of time on my wardrobe. Anything to sleep in a little longer each morning.
If you’re feeling similarly, I distilled my experience into some key points:
- Evaluate what your needs are in your wardrobe. Think of it as your own collection or vignette. It’s easy to be led astray and start shopping for someone you want to be rather than who you are; I used to have a lot of nightlife pieces, but I’m practically allergic to dressing up and prefer to be in bed by 11:00. I kept 2 fancy tops and donated the rest. If you want to look more into planning your wardrobe to work for your lifestyle, Caroline of Un-Fancy has some amazing resources.
- You also may want to evaluate your personal uniform. What do you do everyday and what is the dress code there? Also a lot of women do have a silhouette they find flattering and keep coming back to. For me, it’s skinny bottoms with a slightly roomier top. Though I did keep a select few favorite pieces that didn’t fit this specification, I probably won’t wear them quite as often, and may go back and remove them if I want to further simplify. (Link above is an article from Merrick’s Art, who always nails outfit proportions)
- Pull your wardrobe out of your closet in sections. I pulled everything out from my entire closet, dresser and attic and piled it all on my bed, but it was way too hard to navigate. I ended up putting everything into categories and then continuing with the next steps. I would start with the sections you know have a lot of excess – for me this was tops and sweaters.
- First, put back what you love and wear very frequently, making sure it fits into your lifestyle and personal uniform.
- Get rid of any items that are obviously damaged or ill fitting. That stuff is weighing you down and taking up precious real estate. Definitely consider donating anything that is still wearable. There are even some online consignment shops you can work with to sell unwanted pieces that are still in good condition. I’ve used ThredUp, and loved it so much that I wrote a quick post about it.
- Now all that’s left are the maybes. Clothes that I was unsure about made up a huge chunk of my wardrobe. Its time to ask the hard questions… Does it flatter you and fit comfortably? Would you buy it if out shopping? Does it make sense in your everyday life? Does it coordinate well with the rest of your wardrobe?
- If the answer to all the questions is yes, then slowly start putting pieces back into your wardrobe. I would definitely suggest trying everything on to be sure it fits well and has no subtle defects.
- To avoid overcrowding my closet but still ensuring I had enough variety, I employed the Rule of Three, courtesy of Caroline of Un-Fancy. When building her capsule wardrobes, she suggests choosing 3 of each item- a plain option, a statement option and one in between option. The rule of three worked very well for most of my and my husbands’ closets. For categories that we wear everyday, we decided to keep two sets of three pieces. That way I won’t have to do laundry as often.
- In the past when I have been cleaning out my wardrobe, I have been so worried about throwing out things I may need later. If you’re unsure about getting rid of some things, store them out of sight for a month to see if you miss them. If at the end of the month, you haven’t thought about them, you won’t miss them long term.
After working on my closet almost the entire weekend, I’ve gotten rid of 6 trash bags full of stuff so far. Some things I am selling (I used ThredUp), some I am donating, and some I am giving to my friends/family. Overall I have exceeded my resolution to get rid of half my wardrobe. It feels like a breath of fresh air. Getting dressed has been so much was quicker and easier! Its so much better to be able to see all my favorite pieces without all the clutter, and I love how clean my bedroom is now. Does anyone have other tips for a successful wardrobe clean-out, capsule wardrobe, or online consignment shop recommendations?