From time to time, I find myself staring in my closet in the morning, feeling like I have absolutely nothing to wear. During those dark times, it might seem like the only logical course of action is to go shopping to inject a little newness into my tired, old wardrobe. But to be honest, shopping is the last thing that makes sense. Walking into a store with that kind of logic, guarantees I will walk out with a bunch of crap I neither need nor really want. After wearing the new pieces once or twice, the same story will inevitably begin again…
In case you've found yourself in a similar situation, I'd like to tell you my ultimate steps to cleaning up your wardrobe. I try to do this inventory once a year and the time before Christmas and New Year’s Eve is perfect to get some structure in your wardrobe (and life!). So here is the truth: I do not need more, I need less clothes.
I invited two of my best friends, as well as my best male friend – he tends to be brutally honest when it comes to questions like “does this or that look good on me” and he just has a different way of looking at clothes as my girlfriends have. The good thing is that diving deep in your closet will give you a good overview of what you already have and what is missing. It is mystical: I find things I’ve never seen before. After that, you can buy the pieces you've always wanted to have and are missing from your wardrobe. But how should you tidy up your wardrobe without being sad about tossing some things out?
Follow these steps.
First step: The three-box-system
To start, I got some drinks and snacks for me and my friends. Although you can do this alone, it’s sometimes nice to have different opinions on some of the pieces you pull out of that monster of a wardrobe. It also makes tidying up more fun, because I tend to duck out of this big action. Following the Sex and the City method of Carrie Bradshaw, you can equip your friends with cards saying “keep” or “toss”.
First of all, I place three boxes in front of my wardrobe: one for “yes” or “love”, one for “maybe/don’t know” and one for “no”.
Empty the whole thing. Yep, the whole wardrobe, including bags, shoes, accessories and jewelry. By placing everything on my bed, ensures I will want to be finished before bedtime. Take the opportunity to clean your wardrobe.
Second step: The selection!
Try and check every piece. Does it still fit? Is it in good condition? Do you still like the color or was it a frustration-bought piece you actually never wore? My friends are there to vote keep or toss, but it is also important to be true to yourself. If you don’t like an item and don’t feel comfortable in it, place it in the box for no. Otherwise the “maybe” box will become quickly overcrowded.
Check your clone clothing! If you notice that you've got six very similar floral dresses, it's a red flag, especially if you tend to favor one or two heavily above the others. Lay them all out and pick your favorites from each group and hang them back in your closet. For me, the comfort clothes zone is super important with all those worn out sweatshirts, oversized t-shirts, saggy-bottomed yoga pants. Now, I know what you're thinking, "Who gives a shit what I wear when I'm just hanging out at home?"
But as comfy as those shorts may be, can you really say that wearing them makes you feel good or do they just reinforce the notion that the day you wear them is the day you will see no one and do nothing? Still, it's alright, but no one needs five schlubby-day t-shirts or five “hanging at home” sweatshirts. Those just steal space from your closet that could be filled with some cool pieces.
Third step: Check the maybe-box!
After putting the “yes” things back into your wardrobe (good opportunity to check them for stains or to reorganize) tackle for the maybe-box. Ask yourself why certain pieces are in the maybe box. Is it due to their condition, the color or the fact that you don’t know how to style them? Balance the pros and cons of replacing them and keeping them and think of the costs. My friends always have styling ideas, if I don’t know how to wear a certain item. Ask yourself, if you have worn it in the last 6 or 12 months. If no, try to find out why or think of new ways of combining. The best questions I ask myself are “If I was shopping right now, would I buy this?” and “Do I feel confident when I wear this?”
Fourth step: Sort out the “no” box.
At the end of my cleaning action, I separate the no box into two new boxes: the donate/sell box and the trash box. If clothes are still in good condition you may sell them online or in a second-hand shop or donate. If they aren't in such great condition anymore, you still may donate them; for example at Caritas or toss. The result of this action? Well, say hello to stress-free dressing in the morning, because your wardrobe has more space and structure. After having a complete overview of your clothes, you may have some great new ideas instead of wearing your 5 favorite looks over and over again. I guarantee you will find new combinations and have great outfits to wear for several months.
As a reward, I allow myself to shop for one or two new pieces with the money I earned selling things from the “no” box. Happy shopping!