There are a few reasons people choose to update their wardrobes every year (or every season), but the process can be a long and grueling one. Odds are, you have more clothing than you realize, and the process of sorting it and reorganizing it can be exhausting. Because I deeply understand the efforts that go into the process of refreshing your wardrobe, I’ve compiled a comprehensive game plan for when the time comes (hint, it’s now!).
First of all, ask yourself why your wardrobe needs to be updated (and it probably does):
If you were to take all of the clothing out of your drawers, dresser, closet, and shelves and lay it out on the floor, would it look like a monstrous mountain of fabric that would be impossible to sort through? If so, you probably have more pieces than you know what to do with, and need to get rid of some. If you have a hard time finding items in the morning when you’re getting dressed, it’s another sign that it’s time to purge your closet.
When you get dressed in the morning, do you find yourself having plenty of options that you want to wear? Or is it a daily scavenge to find something acceptable, throwing on something just because it matches? If you spend half your morning wishing that you had x, y, and z to make an outfit work, it’s a great time to get rid of the clothing you don’t like, and replace it with items that truly suit you (while being financially responsible).
Sometimes it can be a combination of these factors – if you’re moving to a new place, you might need to downsize your wardrobe, or purchase clothing suited for a different climate. If you scored a job in a new field, you may need less casual clothing and more business-appropriate attire. Whatever your reasons, the process is generally the same. Here are some guidelines to make the process as painless as possible – and stay tuned for Part 2 to see a broken-down list of where to put the clothes you get rid of, and how to get the new ones that you really want.
Step 1: Assess your inventory, and break it down into parts
Don’t overwhelm yourself! Think about the process as a multi-step system rather than a huge undertaking. If you don’t know where to start, close your eyes and point – it doesn’t matter if you start with a drawer or the top shelf of your closet. But make sure you do one section at a time, or else it will feel like a never-ending process. Take ALL of the clothing from one portion of your wardrobe (even the pieces you know you want to keep), and lay them out in front of you.
Step 2: Organize
The obvious piles would be things you want to keep, and things you don’t want to keep. Save yourself a future headache, though, and break down the “don’t want” pile into three categories: give away (to charity or recycling programs), give to friends or family (I personally always find about a dozen things that don’t belong to me), and sell. Always have these three bags and hangers for the pile you decide to keep – more on that below.
Step 3: Categorize
If you approach your purging step with a lazy attitude, or, conversely, with a decision-making process that takes 40 minutes, you will end up keeping everything in your closet – trust me. And reorganizing your closet only means one thing: you’ll come back to it later. If you do not get rid of things, you will have to at some point in the future. So adopt a methodical, practical mindset for the afternoon and answer the following questions about every piece:
1. Does it fit?*
*Note: If it fit a year ago, but doesn’t anymore, get rid of it. If you think it’ll fit in a couple months but doesn’t right now, get rid of it. If you’ve been meaning to get it hemmed for 3 years and keep forgetting, get rid of it. Does it fit RIGHT NOW the way it needs to, or not?
2. Does it require too much upkeep, or is it damaged? (AKA have you had it in the hand-washing pile for so long that you forgot it exists?)
3. Have I worn it in the past year?*
*Or the past season; if you have a sweater you can’t recall wearing last winter, get rid of it. This includes clothing you keep around JUST IN CASE. If the case hasn’t come, don’t keep it (save for complicated bras for underneath formal dresses).
4. Would I purchase it if I saw it in the store today? Nostalgia is a huge motivating factor, but the person that bought a wide-belted paisley babydoll dress six years ago is not the same person today. Do yourself a favor and keep memories in the past, and get rid of clothing that doesn’t fit your style, or lifestyle, right now.
And that’s it – don’t dwell any longer than you need to. Something that you used to love, but haven’t worn in two years, has no place in your closet. Neither does a dress with a broken strap that you forgot about, or a pair of shoes that always gives you blisters…you get the idea.
Once you’ve neatly sorted your clothing into four categories, hang up the clothes you’re keeping, and wait for part 2 to help you figure out where to donate, where to sell, and how to end up with the wardrobe you really want.