Obviously we all want closets that are only full of our favorite, most flattering pieces. But I don’t know anyone who can claim to have a closet like that, let alone spell out the guidelines for creating one.
My closet isn’t perfect—oh, far, far from it–but here are five rules that have worked for me in reducing the items in my closet:
1) I save the large-scale culling of my closet for when I’m at an ideal weight
If you know something doesn’t work for you, by all means, get rid of it. But it’s easy to justify hanging onto that skirt or this dress because “it’ll fit perfectly once I lose that five pounds!” I’ve been totally guilty of this (I’m looking at you, Simian Tableau Skirt!)
2) I forget what I paid. This is hard. I budget carefully for clothes, and I remember my splurges and my bargains alike. But once the clothing is in my closet, the money I paid for it no longer matters: that money is gone.
3) I ask myself if I would I buy this today. When I pare down my wardrobe, I try everything on and imagine that I’m in a fitting room. If I would buy the clothing again at that moment, I keep it. If I wouldn’t, or if I’m not sure, I get rid of it.
But this also doesn’t help me build a great wardrobe. If the clothes don’t quite speak to me, it’s time to get rid of them.
This isn’t about versatility. I think it’s actually okay to keep that-one-sweater-that-only-matches-that-one-skirt if it means you’ve got a great outfit in rotation. Nothing wrong with that.
4) I only keep the clothing that fits my lifestyle. It’s easy to look at the catalog shots and want the clothing. That’s just good advertising. But if I can’t think of someplace I would want to wear it, I don’t buy it, no matter how beautiful it looks on me. An exception here or there for the truly stunning, totally impractical, once-in-a-lifetime piece is one thing, but just because sweater skirts do wonderful things for my curves, it doesn’t mean I should have a closet full of them when I live in Florida.
Dressing to your lifestyle doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, of course. My husband’s job requires him to attend several very dressy events throughout the year, so I have a closet full of very dressy dresses that would be totally impractical for most people. Conversely, jeans are the norm at MY job, so I’ve had to stop buying (and start selling) the elegant workplace pencil skirts I adore so much. It doesn’t matter how much I like them when I don’t get any opportunities to wear them.
5) I let go of the clothes that never make good outfits. When I get something new, I immediately go home and start using it to create outfits. If I can’t create a few solid outfits, I know I probably shouldn’t keep it.
Everyone’s preferences here will be different, but I don’t mind owning a top that only looks good with jeans, since I have, and wear, a ton of jeans. However, I hate having a skirt that I can only match to a plain white top.
If I’m really attached to something unusual, I take it shopping. I had to have the Giraffe Scene Skirt, which I bought despite the fact that it matches exactly nothing in my closet. So I brought it along when I went shopping, and just walked around holding up the skirt to the clothing racks, hoping a color combination would catch my eye. When I found tops that seemed promising, it really helped being able to try them on with the skirt instead of trying to guess, and it revealed color matches that I would have never considered on my own.
That’s it! Those are five of the guidelines that help me the most. What do you do to cull your closet?