Hi, I’m Kristina, and my guest post is a follow-up to some of the great pieces Roxy has written on building the perfect wardrobe (check out her posts here and here).

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!)

But sometimes that’s just not true. There’s a huge variety of body types accounted for in just a few clothing sizes. Different clothes are cut for different shapes, and that piece I love so much might be cut for a figure that’s straighter or curvier or whatever, and losing weight doesn’t make it any more flattering.

Instead of holding onto it until I lose the five pounds, I try to lose the weight first and then try it on. That’s the only way I can tell whether or not it actually flatters me.

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.

I’ve sometimes held onto clothing just because I invested in it, but that’s totally counterproductive to the goal of having a working wardrobe.  I’ve wasted a lot of time in the morning trying to find an outfit in my crowded, overwhelming closet.

So instead I make my goal just to get rid of what doesn’t work for me. I recoup my costs wherever possible, but I’m also willing to take a loss in order to make room for something that DOES work for me.
Can this be expensive? Yup. But it’s also a good lesson about shelling out $$ for clothing that might not work. 

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.

This really helps clarify my decision. It’s easy to hold onto clothing that kind of works. I already own it, it’s already in my closet, and it’s not BAD on me, really. 

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.  

But if you have something—and I think we all do—that doesn’t quite fit, isn’t quite a good color, doesn’t quite fit your sense of style, it just doesn’t make sense to keep it.

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?

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