Over the last two weeks I’ve gotten rid of 30% of my wardrobe. 5 or 6 trashbags of clothes and shoes have been gleefully tossed in the back of the car and dropped in donation bins. Not because I lost a pant size (or gained one) but because I finally just reached a point of exhaustion when I opened my closet everyday. I finally realized that embracing a kind of wardrobe minimalism would make things a lot easier for me in the mornings and help me embrace a simple classic style that I admire so much in others. Now, I’m not talking about the kind of crazy minimalism that some bloggers advocate for (no, I will not successfully have a 33 piece wardrobe.) I am talking about a versatile, classic, quality wardrobe that suits my lifestyle.
That’s a mostly casual lifestyle folks. I’m a SAHM. I go for walks with the dog, stroll to the park, meet with other moms for playdates, and if I’m lucky a couple of date nights with my husband. The stacks of Banana Republic wool slacks and sweater dresses leftover from my retail days just are not necessary. The same goes for the piles of ill fitting tee shirts and long sleeves from the clearance racks at Gap and Old Navy; I feel like I’m a bit too old to dress like a teenager. I love neutral interiors and even though it took me a while to figure out, I love a neutral wardrobe too. Here’s the criteria I used to rid my self of an excess of clothes.
1. Does it fit?
I’m not talking about basic fit – if you can’t button or zip it, it should go. That’s obvious. I’m talking about fit and flatter. For example, I had a pile of dolman sleeved slightly too short tees from Zara and Old Navy. They fit, and are relatively new, but I realized that dolman sleeves and a boxy shorter fit are just not flattering for my figure. In the pile they went. I kept all the shirts that weren’t faded and tried to only keep neutrals like white, black, and gray. Likewise, too short shorts (I’m 30, not 13) and frumpy khakis that I bought for one event and haven’t worn since. Gone.
2. Is it a classic?
I had a lot of items in my wardrobe that were looking pretty dated, like tons of cotton long sleeves with weird decorative details like ruching and floral appliques. They may have looked pretty new, but now they scream ” I was 8 dollars at Old Navy in 2004!” If it doesn’t stand the test of time, it gets tossed.
3. Is it useful or, will you actually wear it?
I bagged up things that still had tags on them that I’ve never worn – mostly ill fitting dresses that I bought last minute before an event and ended up not wearing. I’ve been just as guilty as the next person of holding on to clothes that I will most likely never wear either because I was trying to embrace a trend (hippie-chic) that doesn’t really reflect my personal style (classic and elegant, I hope.) I don’t need to have a ton of dresses, just enough to attend a few social events for Pks work every year and the occasional summer wedding. I also think I should no longer wear cheap dresses for important social events – a well cut quality dress that can be worn more than once makes a better impression than a trendy but poorly constructed rag from Forever 21.
4. Why am I keeping it?
I’ve held onto a lot of clothes over the years because they were gifts or because of their perceived value (i’m looking at you giant bell sleeved Jcrew cashmere sweater from 1998!) Mostly I just turned off the emotional voice in my head that said “oh don’t, so and so bought that for you!” If I don’t wear it regularly, it got tossed. If I wore it regularly but was damaged or worn out it got tossed too. Goodbye to pilly, faded favorite sweaters – time to replace them with more quality versions.
What’s left? A pretty decent, versatile wardrobe that reflects my lifestyle and age. Lots of chambray and denim, striped shirts, wool and cashmere sweaters, a couple of solid blazers and a smattering of more formal wear. I still have a few foundation pieces to get – like a pair of dressy black flats, but I really don’t want to just buy a cheap pair. I’d rather save up for a sturdy classic that will last quite a few years. My favorite places to shop right now are J.Crew, Madewell, ASOS, and of course Gap (for basics I don’t feel guilty about sticky toddler hands ruining). I’ve also been trying to pin outfits that reflect my style and perusing blogs that embrace a kind of understated luxurious fashion. I thought that this list was good guide for the basics that a classic wardrobe should have (obviously, take or leave what doesn’t work for you.)
I still have tons of shoes – but after thorough editing I have tons of shoes that I actually love. Also, side note, when you are trying to minimize your closet you probably shouldn’t do an Etsy search for “vintage Coach.” Let’s just say my purse collection got a little bigger.
What are your strategies for maintaing a streamlined closet? I found that the pictures I posted on this blog helped me figure out what does and doesn’t work for me. I love Shannon’s posts about that too. It was super empowering to get rid of a bunch of clutter! I feel like I could still edit it down a little more! Now, if I can just resist those 40% off coupons from the Gap…