Do you know that only 20% of garments in a majority of closets actually get worn? That is a crazy statistic, but according to chief design officer for California Closets interviewed in The Wall Street Journal, 20% is a very real percentage. Think about it for a second. Really visualize the pants, blouses, jackets and scarves that your eyes barely focus on as you brush past them each morning, thinking “not today” as you narrow in on your ol’ faithful pieces. It’s not done on purpose, you fully intend to wear each and every item you buy, given there is a specific purpose for it, or you lose 5 pounds or emerald green suddenly becomes your most flattering colour…… Sure, clothing and the very idea of fashion are important to you (that’s why you’re reading this article), but sometimes, ‘for the love of fashion’ can lead to an over abundance and a crowded closet, making getting dressed even more difficult, despite the number of items available. Pair the need to have multiple styles for different occasions with the pressure of keeping up with new trends and the result can be catastrophic – a big investment into pieces that are never actually worn. Read on to find out how you can manage your closet, put money back in your wallet (cha ching!) and ensure you only purchase items that work for you while having a quality closet that consists of nothing you would ignore. Let’s stand together and declare to never say those dreaded words again, “I Have Nothing To Wear!”
Step One : Turn it Around
The very first step to editing your closet like a pro and discovering what you actually wear is simple. Each time you wear something, when returning garments to the closet, turn the hanger to face the opposite way as your other hangers. This will give a clear visual reference of what was worn instead of jogging your memory for a recall on each and every outfit. Continue to do this for 6 weeks, which should be enough time to have gone through most occasions that you would wear an item, and after, you will clearly see what gets worn and what doesn’t.
Step Two : Be a Detective, Find Clues & Take Notes
The next step? Take a close look at what doesn’t get worn. Lay it out so you can visually see it. Eye up the unworn items with a detectives eye, look for clues as to why you don’t wear the items and notice patterns. Are there recurring colours that you’re purchasing but not wearing? I know for me, I love the idea of wearing a sexy form fitting red dress (which by the way is a man’s favourite colour on a woman but we will talk about that later) however, the colour just doesn’t do it for me and despite the fact that it fits snug in all the right places, I don’t like what I see in the mirror so I won’t end up wearing it. The fantasy of wearing it overtakes the reality that I continue to buy red dresses that I don’t wear.
Now go beyond the colours and patterns and focus on repeat styles. Are there multiple items with the same design detail? Maybe you have a pile of high waist jeans or scoop neck tops. You like the design, but never feel one hundred percent comfortable wearing it. Be truthful with yourself on why you don’t wear something and accept the possibility that the styles you like most may not work for your body.
Next, notice if items are too worn or outdated and if you are merely keeping them for memories sake. Sure you used to love that sweater, but is it really serving you any longer or just taking up precious closet space. Holding onto items that are overlooked because they are too worn or stained is like keeping a car that doesn’t drive – it’s not getting you anywhere. If it cannot be mended, get rid of it or frame it if it really means that much to you.
Take note of what you have discovered. Like actually take notes; quickly jot down the recurring reasons you see as to why you don’t wear something so you can avoid these same mistakes when shopping. Include specific colours, design details, something you already have enough of and don’t need more (ahem, scarves) or specific skirt lengths you don’t wear. It can be as easy as a note in your phone titled “When Shopping” with a ‘Don’t’ list and a ‘Do’ list that you can quickly glance at to remind yourself and stay on track. Knowing your buying habits will ensure that you are not making the same mistakes over and over again and will enable you to target the wardrobe you need and want.
Step Three : Divide & Conquer
Now that you have made visual closet notes, it is time to try on the garments and divide your unworn items into separate piles.
Pile #1 – Discard – These are the items that you didn’t wear, possibly never wear and (if you’re being honest with yourself) do not foresee yourself wearing. They may be outdated, stained and worn out beyond mending, or simply not your taste any more. Give them away, donate them, have a garage sale but do not put these items back in your closet. It will only lead to more indecision and clutter.
Pile #2 – Consignment – What items in your discard pile are worth a few bucks? If you have designer threads that aren’t serving you any longer, somebody else may be interested and willing to spend a few bucks to get them. Consignment shops will take gently used garments of high fashion designer brands and some will even take lesser designer brands such as labels from Urban Outfitters, American Eagle and J.Crew as well as vintage finds, given they are not overly worn and have been well taken care of (no missing buttons or broken closures, no rips or stains). What won’t they take? Overly worn or damaged items and disposable fashion such as Forever 21, H&M and Zara. Yet another reason to invest in fewer quality pieces rather than large amounts of fast fashion finds. Go on-line and do some quick research and find which consignment boutiques are available in your city and what their standard practices are. Then bring in your things and let the shop take care of the rest. The consignment shop that I frequent takes 40% of the item price once sold and reserves the right to decide and alter the price of garments for sales or clearance. A few weeks after I drop off my items, I return and am paid cash for what has sold. I also have the option of taking my unsold items items back or having them donated on my behalf. Make sure that you know the specific consignment process before to ensure that you know how you will be paid.
Pile #3 – Alterations – While trying on items you haven’t worn or are discarding, it is important to remember the power of tailoring. When purchasing off the rack garments which are made to a universal measurements rather than your specific body measurements, slight alterations (even for brand new clothing) can be made to ensure a proper fit. If you don’t wear those pants because they’re too long, get them hemmed. Jacket that you love but the shoulders just aren’t right or are overpowering? Take out the shoulder pads or have the tailor take up the shoulders. Little tweaks to a garment cost much less than buying an entirely new piece and can transform garments from something you almost like into something you love.
Pile #4 – Keep – There are going to be things you didn’t wear that you will wear or at least will try to wear again. And that is ok; the idea isn’t to get rid of everything and buy an entirely new wardrobe, but rather to remove the items that are not serving you and make room for items that do. For everything that you keep, try to visualize a real life scenario that you will wear it to ensure that it actually gets worn. If there are things you didn’t wear because a key piece is missing, like a dress that needs a slip – add the needed piece to a shopping list to reference when in the thick of things while shopping.
Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice Shame on Me
Often times, we get into buying ruts, shopping for fun instead of with a purpose and not paying attention to our buying habits, making the same repeated mistakes that create a closet full of clothes with tags still on. It is time to make peace with the fact that at times, what we want and what looks good are two separate ideas. Deal with this reality and move on to something fantastic. Also, try not to purchase items on sale just because they are and make an attempt to limit over shopping of cheap, fast fashion and disposable clothing. An abundance of inexpensive fast fashion will only feed into the cycle of buy, don’t wear and give away or buy, wear once and throw out. Can you sneak a few items in, sure, but avoid making it a bulk of your purchase. Like a cookie here and there while dieting, sporadic shopping slips aren’t going to add unnecessary weight to your closet, but, don’t make a habit of bad binge shopping or you will see the effects. Stay focused and take the stress out of getting dressed by following these steps to simplify your closet and you will be left with a strong wardrobe that you can rely on for every occasion, that although may consist of less than before, has more to offer.