Recently when I asked what your most burning question around your wardrobe is, the most common answer I received revolved around how to edit your closet.
Editing closets, including my own has become second nature to me, but before I actually started my image consulting career and training, it never occurred to me to go through my closet. I had a lot of clothes, many things I loved, but getting dressed was hard!
And I didn’t mix and match as much as I could have if my closet were well edited and my wardrobe made sense.
So today we go to task! Here is an updated guide for how to edit your closet! (If you’re the kind of gal who likes to research and learn as much as you can before you start a project, you can learn a lot more about closet editing and organizing in this post.)
To have a wardrobe that really serves you, your goal is to be able to open your closet and have it be neat, clean, and organized. And you want to be able to wear anything in it any time you want.
It potentially means getting rid of things a.k.a. editing. But don’t worry! You’re getting rid of things you don’t love and that don’t love you!
Here are the steps for a Successful Closet Edit
- Before you step foot into your closet to start your project, it’s really important for you to be super clear on your personal style.
Confession…Along with the concept of closet edits being foreign to me before I started my image consulting training and career, I really didn’t understand the concept of personal style. I had great clothes and outfits, but I was insecure about truly defining my personal style.
This was way before “google” was a verb, y’all! I only had Cosmo quizzes to rely on back then!
If you feel this way then you can breathe a sigh of relief. Personal style is simply just your likes, dislikes, lifestyle and the way you want to look and feel in your clothes. And there are no right or wrong answers!
And your personal style can change! Which is why you may need a closet edit!
I urge you not to skip this part, as the conclusions you come up with about your style serve as a blueprint for your edit and any future shopping you may do.
- Once you feel really solid about your personal style, look at your calendar, and set a date for your edit.
(You’ll also need a full-length mirror if you don’t have one.) I recommend carving out an entire morning or afternoon. If your closet is really large or you’ve NEVER done the exercise, you may need an entire day.
You really only want to work on one season at a time, spring/summer or fall/winter. When it’s 90 degrees out, you’re definitely not going to be inspired to look at wool sweaters. And if it’s cold and snowing, you won’t want to try your light and airy sundresses! (You can put your off season clothes in a different closet or in the back of your closet like I did.)
Even if editing your closet is the last thing you want to spend your Saturday doing, I encourage you to plan the time and relax into it. I promise your efforts will pay you back tremendously when you’re done!
- On the day of your edit be sure to do your hair and make-up as you always do, so you get a good picture of how you really look in your clothes.
Then dress in clothes that are super easy to change in and out of.
Fill your favorite water bottle. Put on your favorite tunes. It’s go time!
- Before you start trying clothes on, do a pass through to find things you know should go. It doesn’t make much sense to try on clothes you know don’t fit.
Nor do you need to try on clothes that don’t come close to working for your lifestyle. For example, the chance of ever wearing an old bridesmaid dress is pretty slim.
It’s a similar scenario with that suit you wore 25 years ago for your first job. Trust me on this! Styles have changed! (Chances are even if your suit is Chanel or Armani, it’s outdated even if it fits. Not sure? See below.)
- Try on every garment to decide if it stays or goes! How else will you know if it’s worthy of its home in your closet?
Actually, I’m going to give you another pass on trying on EVERYTHING. If you have multiples of a garment and it doesn’t fit or isn’t in style, it doesn’t make sense to put it on.
For example, if you have 6 pairs of boot cut pants from The Limited from the early ‘90’s, and they’re all the exact same style and size that doesn’t fit any longer…they need to go!
And this brings us to what you’ve been waiting for…
Here are the wardrobe items to purge immediately:
Anything with a stain you’re not committed to getting out. (If this is something you haven’t worn for years, chances are fairly good that stain isn’t coming out.)
Things that are worn out, i.e. lots of pills, faded, missing buttons, etc. If you love the item and have the buttons or want to replace all of them, it’s a keeper. The same goes with seams and hems. If you’re motivated to fix them, please keep…but be honest with yourself.
Things that don’t fit. This is a big one! If you have things in your closet that are way too big or small, they’re simply not doing their job! Remember, you want to be able to wear anything in your closet at any given moment!
Anything clearly out of date. Outdated clothes give off the non-verbal message that you’re not in touch with modern times and I’m sure you don’t want a date stamp on your forehead!
Yes, there are classics, but every so often silhouettes and details will change. If you have some things you’re questioning, set them aside and ask a style savvy friend to come over and take a look.
Anything you continually put on and take off…but never wear. More than likely it just isn’t your personal style.
I once had a Kate Spade cinnamon colored cardigan that was embellished with large, tortoise shell, geometric shapes around the neckline. Every time I tried it on and tried to style it with a skirt or pants, I ended up taking it off. It just wasn’t my personal style (and it was kinda itchy.) Difficult as it was, (um, it was expensive,) I eventually passed it on.
Anything really uncomfortable. You know, the clothes you rarely reach for. When you wear them, you can’t wait to take them off at the end of the day. Life is too short for uncomfortable clothes!
Anything too high maintenance. You know, these are the clothes that spend way more time in the dry cleaning or special wash pile than they do hanging in your closet.
If you love the items, commit to finding a way to care for them more easily. For example, many dry cleaning services pick up and deliver to your door. And I actually dry clean most of my sweaters. They last longer, look better and I actually get to wear them more.
Anything you question being age appropriate that you don’t feel amazing in. I don’t have hard fast rules on “what not to wear past a certain age,” especially if it’s something you love. Here are some guidelines on finding clothes that are “age appropriate.” If you love “rules,” you can find some ideas of things that might not be age appropriate in this post.
Your top priority is that you should feel confident in your clothes, not questioning them!
Anything that just doesn’t work for your current lifestyle and you can’t imagine a scenario in your life where you’d ever need it.
For example, I love drooling over the black-tie formals and cocktail dresses I see on my way to the ladies room at Neiman Marcus (best restrooms at the Cherry Creek mall, lol!) But I haven’t worn a floor length dress, outside of being a bridesmaid for my bestie, since 2002!
And as much as I love the idea of dressing up as such, I have absolutely nothing that formal on my calendar. Should I need a gown for a cruise or white tie event, I’ll shop for it at that time.
Anything you don’t love!
There’s a lot of buzz going on about Marie Kondo’s method of deciding if items spark joy and only keeping those that do. Personally, I find “sparking joy” a bit hokey BUT seriously it’s really important that you love everything in your closet.
This is where your personal style exploration is going to come in handy! I’d still try on the things you don’t think are your personal style any longer, as there are always alterations and changes you can make to a garment. Worst-case scenario, it only strengthens your sense of personal style, your dislikes, per se!
Now then, if “love” seems a little strong for you, try this on for size…you should LOVE the way you feel in your clothes!
What about the things you’re not sure about, you’re not 100% sure if you love them? Not a problem! This even happens to me from time to time.
Again, if you’re just not sure whether something is flattering or not, but you are pretty sure you love it, ask a style savvy friend (who’s tactful, but honest) to give her opinion.
Otherwise, hang onto those “love it maybe clothes.” If you have the room, put them in another closet, basement or box under the bed. If the next time the season to wear them comes around and you haven’t dug them out, you can reevaluate them…probably time to let it go!
Whew! You’re done!
Pat yourself on the back! You’ve completed your successful closet edit! I hope you are hopelessly in love with your closet!
As always, I love your questions, comments and shares!
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