Alright! Now that you're feeling confident enough to wear anything that you want without worrying about what other people will think of you, we're ready to jump into that wardrobe and start making sense of it. If you missed last week's post on building up your confidence, it's right HERE.
Before You Start:
- You'll need a few hours to get through this so block off time before you begin.
- This guide is for your personal wardrobe. If you have a job that requires dressing very differently from your own personal expression, put those clothes aside into a Work Wardrobe and ask yourself why you're working where you are ;)
- This guide will not tell you to get rid of everything and start again; the focus is on really getting to know your wardrobe not annihilating it.
- At the end of the guide you'll find a downloadable cheat sheet to make sure you cover all of the bases without having to keep checking this post.
You have to assess your complete wardrobe. I know it's a big undertaking, but it's SO worth it. Especially if you're a bit of a clothes hoarder (I definitely still have some pieces I wore in high school, just not as many as I used to!). When I was learning how to manage my wardrobe, all of the articles I read said "purge, purge, purge!" but that's such a negative way to look at your beloved wardrobe. So I flipped it. We won't focus on purging. You'll look at your entire wardrobe like a boutique and go shopping. Way more fun!
*Consider your seasonal preferences so you know what types of items you may want more of less of. For example, in the summer do you prefer skirts rather than shorts? In the winter do you like sweaters or would you rather wear layers?
Ready? HERE WE GO! (in a rush but want the goods? click "read more" for pdf checklist at end of post)
- Create your Genesis pile by grouping all of your clothes into categories somewhere like your bed so that you can refill your closet with your new wardrobe. Clothing Category ideas: shorts, pants, skirts, tights, dresses, t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, other shirts, sweaters and hoodies, layering options like cardigans and vests, etc.
- Create your Power Up! pile by grouping all of your clothing accessories like scarves, cowls, hats, belts, wristwarmers/legwarmers, shoes, etc into a separate area.
- Take a quick inventory of both the Genesis and Power Up! piles and do a mini purge. If there is anything in there that you know doesn't fit you or that you try to wear but never feel good when you do, put it aside into a third pile called Creative Options, even if you love it.
- Shop from your Genesis pile, choosing your favourite things first- items that you can't live without or that do a particularly good job of expressing who you are. Put these in the closet so you can see 'em! **TIP: Be realistic! Do you really need 15 pairs of jeans? Even if you ONLY wear jeans, 7 pairs is still a lot and that's one for every day of the week. See how your wardrobe looks if you attempt to minimize it. The fewer items you have the more often you get to show them off AND it's easier to be inspired about how you can wear items if your closet isn't jam-packed to bursting.
- Make a list of your favourite elements and personal trends. Are you choosing certain colours again and again? Do you see any themes? Are you partial to tops that have a little sparkle, or cool graphic designs? Do you have a lot of skirts and only a few pairs of shorts? Do you prefer tights to jeans or dress pants?
- Check the Genesis pile now to see if there are any items that co-ordinate well with the favourites you've chosen, or that can move a favourite from a one-season item to a multi-season item (I call those Extra Life pieces). Maybe there's an item in there that you never wear because you didn't think it would go with anything. This is the time to find out whether or not it should have a home in your wardrobe.* I have a tank-top style Iron Man dress which, on its own, I would only wear in the summer, but with a black pair of tights and a black cardigan I can rock it any time of year!
- One last look at the Genesis pile. Anything y ou missed? Any basics like tank-tops or camisoles? If you have anything remaining in your Genesis pile that you think is cool but probably wouldn't wear (fun t-shirt that's too big, pants you love that fit your waist but the leg is too long or short...) shift it to your Creative Options pile. What remains of your Genesis pile after this process can now be considered your Discard pile.
- How does your closet look now? Are there any gaping holes that you need to fill? Did you just discover that although you've chosen 5 pairs of pants, they are all comfortable lounging pants and none of your other pants like jeans fit properly? Make a list of items that you might be missing based on the selections you've made so far. You may have to make a few purchases so that you can fill the gap with pieces that you can wear with confidence. Start a wardrobe shopping list.
- Standard fashion advises certain staples that "every woman should have" but I disagree! I don't need a "classic white shirt" or a trenchcoat or a men's watch or diamonds or a multi-fabric jacket... Whatever kind of person does is certainly nothing like me. Your staples depend on YOUR lifestyle! Sure, a white tuxedo jacket would be cool but I'm not hitting up any red-carpet events. Make sure the pieces you've selected so far work for your life; you may love lolita skirts, but what will you wear to bring your nieces to the zoo or when you to your weekly game nights and book club meetings? Add any personal staple items that you're missing to your shopping list.
- If you're on a budget like me you can save up and go on item-specific shopping trips or hit up the local previously-loved clothing stores to see what kind of fiinds you can discover, but remember to try things on! Leave it behind if it doesn't fit well, and launder it before you add it to your wardrobe.
- If budgeting isn't something you need to worry about too much, go out and complete your shopping list at your leisure :)
- Your accessories are a great way to punch up an outfit and really show your personality. Use them to add a splash of colour to a neutral outfit or to act as your personality sounding board when you're wearing an outfit that is less expressive. They can pull an outfit together to create a complete package of Awesome.
- Create at least 2 model outfits from your new wardrobe, one for casual whateva-wear and one for a special occasion when you might dress up a little. Use these outfits to help decide whether or not certain accessories belong in your new wardrobe.
- Look at your Power Up! pile of clothing accessories and pull out your favourites, checking against your model outfits to make sure you'd actually wear them (I loved my rainbow umbrella hat, but I had to face it- there would never be a scenario in which that hat would be featured, even on a rainy day!)
- Choose at least one pair of shoes that you could wear with each type of outfit. If you have a ton of shoes, at the very least purge the ones that are really worn out or ratty-looking, the ones that are very impractical or hurt your feet after wearing only for a short time, or any pairs that you simply never wear or don't like anymore. Into the Discard pile they go!
- Discard any belts that are worn out or don't fit. Keep only the ones that you like and that fit properly.
- If you have any dominant accessory categories like a million scarves, pare down by selecting your favourites and ones that co-ordinate well with the colours you have in your new wardrobe.
- Have a feature accessories? Things like suspenders, knee-high socks or legwarmers, a really cool fedora or hair fascinator? If you love it, keep it, but if you don't think it will see the light of day very often then add it to the Discard pile (or the Creative Options pile if you think you could alter it to enjoy it more)
- Don't forget about things that might not be in your closet like hair accessories, jewelry, purses, makeup and nail-polish. We won't cover sorting these today for those of you that have a lot of goodies in these areas, but I don't want you to forget about them.
- Choose a SIGNATURE! This is completely unnecessary but totally fun. Youc ould have a signature necklace that you wear practically every day, or if you're a huge fan of skulls or butterflies maybe you always have one in your outfit somewhere. My signatures are rainbows and candy.
- If you fear craftiness or just don't want to deal with anything like that then your Creative Options get added to the Discard pile (*unless it's something you might bring to a tailor, like having a pair of pants converted to shorts)
- If you're not afraid to get crafty, then you might be able to revamp some of the things in the Creative Options pile. You certainly won't revamp everything, but there might be some diamonds in the rough in there.
- Shirts: loose t-shirts or shirts that are too big can be easily modified into off-the-shoulder shirts or repurposed into things like purses, scarves or reusable market bags. A shirt that is too small but features a graphic you love can be turned into a pillow! Some of the shirts might even have a future life as a skirt...
- Pants: too short? Cut them to 3/4 length pants or shorts. Too long? If they fit your waist you can have a tailor bring up the hem. Too tight or too loose? Cut em up and use the back pocket portion to cover a journal. You could cut the side of the leg right through from bottom to top and add a racing stripe to a pair that is too tight.
- These are just a few ideas. Can you think of creative ways to alter or repurpose any of those pieces?
Deciding to hang on to something a bit longer vs discarding it:
- Do I like a feature of this item enough to alter or repurpose it?
- Will I wear it or use it if it is altered or repurposed?
- CAN I alter or repurpose it or am I willing to pay someone else to change it?
There you have it nerdettes! I've been enjoying my wardrobe so much more since I did this, and I hope you will too. Below you'll find the checklist that you can print when you're ready to get started, just click on the link for download or printing capabilities.