Tips To Edit and Simplify Your Wardrobe

closet storage

Do you switch out your wardrobe each spring and fall? I’ve found this to be one of the best ways to edit and simplify my wardrobe. Of course the real reason I do this change of cooler clothes for warmer is because I don’t have enough room in my closet or dresser for both seasons, but I’ve come to appreciate the excuse to examine my clothes and weed out the pieces I no longer wear, like, or need.

For example, I just donated six tank tops after realizing I had twenty of them. In Oregon. Um, yeah…they really don’t get worn much unless they’re under sweaters or jackets. I also got rid of some pants that were too big (wha-hoo!) and a couple of t-shirts that I hadn’t worn and didn’t really like anymore.

Under bed storage

I use two under-bed containers to store clothes for the season I’m not using and twice a year, usually in April and October, I really look at all my clothes, deciding what to purge and what to keep. The classic wardrobe organizing rule of thumb is: “If you haven’t worn it in a year it’s time to say goodbye.”

This one-year rule works well for shirts, sweaters, and pants, but there are a few items that don’t really fit this classic saying. Specifically, I’ll keep these items even if I haven’t worn them a awhile:

  • shoes and boots
  • coats and jackets
  • classic, dressy pieces (like a velvet dress or black slacks)

It’s good to keep basics like black pumps, wool coats, and velvet skirts for a couple of reasons. First, these are “special event” items that simply would never be worn everyday, but when you need them, you’ll be glad to have them instead of running out to buy something. The second reason is that they are usually expensive items – especially in the case of outerwear. It’s good to invest in classic, timeless pieces just so you can hang on to them for a long time.

But– and this is an important caveat- there really are only a few items that should be kept – we don’t need every black shoe we’ve ever bought, just the few that could be worn to weddings, special dinners and such. The goal is still to edit and simplify– but also to keep a few classic pieces.

So now when I’m switching and editing my wardrobe each spring and fall I have additional questions I ask myself to decide what to keep and what to throw out:

  1.  Is it a classic style?
  2. Are there occasions where I could see myself wearing this (weddings, reunions, dinners, etc)?
  3. Do I really like it?
  4. Does it look fabulous on me?

This last question is usually the kicker for me- if I put it on and it’s just ho-hum, I know there’s no occasion I would want to wear it, so out it goes. Why did I buy it in the first place? Who knows- I try not to get hung up with that- what’s done is done. *smile*

Here are some of the things that have “made the cut” in my wardrobe and they stay year after year- even if they collect dust one year:

  • Classic black pumps. I’ve had these for more than ten years. They are a 1-1/2-inch heeled, slightly rounded toe pump in suede that have stood the test of time. I do usually wear these at least once a year, though I don’t think I did last year.
  • Strappy sandals in brown and black. I didn’t wear these sandals last summer (flip-flops are my go-to summer shoe), but I’ve had them both for years and there are summer occasions where I could see myself wearing them, so they stay. Wishing for a warm-weather cruise, maybe?
  • Black velvet skirt and dress. I love wearing these for the holidays, and though I don’t wear them every year, I know they are classic enough that I want them in my wardrobe.
  • Dressy wool blazer. There was a time I wore this much more, but this is the kind of piece that can be worn in a number of situations, so as long as I still like it and it looks good on me, I keep it.
  • Cardigan/Twin Set. A classic- enough said.
  • Black dressy slacks. Again, if they aren’t trendy and they look great, these are a perfect thing to keep.

Do you see a theme here? Most of these things are for a much more formal, dressy style than I wear now. When I lived in the city, I found myself wearing these things much more often. I wore them more when I worked at different jobs, as well. There’s not much need for pumps and velvet when teaching preschoolers.

But I don’t want to burn my bridges, so to speak, and think that I will never have a cause to wear a classic black pump again. And I don’t want to waste money buying something to wear one or two times that I already bought. It’s much better to hold onto a few classic pieces so that I am prepared when the special occasion comes up.

Hoarding? No. Frugal? Oh, yes. Invest in classic pieces and hold on to them. But still take the time once or twice a year to purge your closet and dresser of shirts, pants, and sweaters you haven’t worn in a year or two. You won’t be sorry when you look at your edited closet – or when you don’t need to run to the store to buy shoes your friend’s anniversary party.



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