Clothes in your closet making you feel like this, lately?
Well, I hear the cold and snowy Friday of a three-day weekend makes for a good time to clean out your closet. So here we are! Disclaimer: this is not a "here's how to organize your closet" post, but more like a "here is how you know what clothes to toss, to keep, and to give." So grab a notepad and pen and head to your closet with me...
Actually, if you can, bring one more thing with you- a friend. The honest kind. This isn't a job for the faint-hearted people-pleaser. Let it be the friend who can tell you the hard truth, because they're going to need to love you enough to tell you that your favorite linen jumper needs to go back to the late 90s where it came from. It's also much harder to keep an unflattering piece of clothing for sentimental reasons when someone is sitting there shaking their head "no" in the kindest way possible. [Okay, is anyone else automatically picturing the scene from the first Sex and the City Movie where the girls all get together to go through Carrie's closet?? SO FUN. I think they were onto something...so in addition to your girlfriend or two, grab a bottle of something celebratory and crank the tunes! Let's make what could be a challenging or frustrating game into something fun and memorable!]
As you go through your closet, you are making four piles; to keep, to give, to toss, to fix. The notepad is for the pieces of clothing that aren't really flattering but you've kept because you need a white dress shirt in your closet in the meantime. Enter, the notepad. This nifty invention is giving you a BRIEF interim to fix that and replace the ill-fitting item with a well-fitted one. Limit yourself to a timeline reasonable for your budget, but I recommend giving yourself a time limit to replace those pieces with flattering versions. One month is ideal. Try to keep it shorter than 3 months. Remember, in the meantime you continue to wear an ill-fitting piece of clothing! So set a goal for when you will replace it. Then we can put it in the "to give" pile where it belongs.
To toss. Yes, this means you are taking this pile straight to the trash when you've gone through your entire closet. I know, it feels strange. But anything that is stained, torn, etc needs to go to THIS pile. Donating to a thrift store is nice, but we can be honest here- no one wants your used, damaged clothing. That's gross, homeslice.
To Give. These are the items you have tried on and realize they either fit horribly, or are no longer in style. One of my own personal rules is "If you haven't worn it in the last 6-12 months, IT GOES HERE." I don't budge on this one. [this doesn't apply to special-occasion clothing. If you have one sequined dress that you often grab during the winter holidays, keep it! Just rotate it out of your closet, if you can, so you can optimize your space and give your eyes a break from seeing it every day.
To Keep. These are ONLY the items that are current and well-fitted. Kapeesh? Kapeesh.
*Remember: you can slip items into this pile that don't fit well but are necessary to your daily life IF they get written on the notepad to be repurchased in a better version in one to three months. Pleeeeeeeease don't use this as an excuse to hold on to ill-fitting clothing. In addition to making you look less-than-your-best, it just brings you down and makes you feel bad. We want to give you a closet that makes you feel like you have options and look beautiful at the end of this series. This is the first practical step toward making that happen.
To Fix. This piles goes to the seamstress tomorrow morning. It's the pants that are too long, the blazer that needs taken in, the seam that needed mended, or the button that needs put back on.
**there may be pieces of clothing that have sentimental value to you, but are either torn/stained or don't fit well. I recommend that you take the VERY special things and find something great to do with them- frame a swatch of the fabric and hang it, make it into a pillow cover, or some other Pinterest-y solution.. How cool would it be to take that "first date with your now-hubby" dress, frame a square of it, and hang it in your bedroom?? That's cute, free, meaningful wall art, guys! [That is also a great thing to do with special pieces of baby clothing.] If you are like me and may not have the time or means to whip up a pillow cover, take it to the seamstress to make into a pillow cover for $20. It's still a cheap pillow. The key is to know yourself. If you'll just add it to the "needs to be done someday when I magically have time" pile, just put it on the passenger seat of your car and take it straight to the seamstress. The goal here is to get things done and finish the task of purging your closet. It's not finished if you have five shirts now sitting on the top of your dresser, waiting for your free time.
**For other pieces that you don't necessarily want to display but have memories attached [such as: this is the dress I wore on my first date with my husband. It doesn't fit me anymore, but how can I just take that to the thrift store?!] I have found it successful to try the "separation technique." Put it in a tub or bag with next season's clothes so that you'll see it again in about 6-12 months- but remove it from your closet. Then, when you open the box/bag months from now, you'll have realized that 1)I have thought about this item several times and I'm still attached to it. Can grandma make me a quilt with this or something? or 2)I haven't given this item any thought and life went on just fine without me seeing it every day. If it's #1, you keep it and do something special with it. And if it's #2, you can put it in your thrift pile and have answered the question of "will I miss this?" I have found this to be equally successful when I need to separate myself from a fashion trend. Not sure? Just set it aside and look at it with fresh eyes in 6-12 months. If you've missed it, it can stay. If not, it is now free to go.
Options for valuable items no longer in style:
1-If you have the space, I recommend keeping quality items that fit you in storage, even if they are out of style for now. Trends come and go, and a Michael Kors handbag is worth saving for round two. Let's face it, it would be a shame to toss anything made of real leather, animal fur, is a designer name, etc. It's also fun to hand them down to your kids when the trends come 'round again. But if it's a $20 sweater from Forever21, it's safe to let go. You can re-buy it anew in a few decades when the trend revisits us.
2- Sell it to a consignment store, Ebay.com or Shopify.com. If you need cash more than you need a bag of old purses lying around, or if you feel it's more rewarding to turn your old items into new ones, just sell them! *This option also gives you a realistic ruler to use when determining if an item really IS a quality one, or if you just THINK it is.
If you live in an area with changing seasons, I strongly recommend you switch out your closet items twice a year: spring/summer and fall/winter. It frees up space in your closet so you can better see what you have and makes choosing outfits easier, since your brain doesn't have to take the time to skip over things you can't wear right now. There is also something to be said for seeing an item with fresh eyes in 6 months. You'll either feel like you just got a new wardrobe OR think "Ew, what was I thinking?!" Both are advantageous to your future closet.
Something fun before you take the "to give" bag to the thrift store is have a get-together with your girlfriends, first! If you can get a few of your girlfriends to go through their closets at the same time, you can use this to motivate each other to purge well, AND you get new clothes when you trade your old pieces for their old pieces. [Just make sure you are only taking home pieces that you would buy in a store. They have to fit you well AND be current.] Plus, sometimes it's easier to let a beloved piece of clothing that doesn't fit go to a friend instead of a stranger. At the end of the girls' night, just take the pieces that weren't flattering on anyone and someone drops it off at the thrift store on their way home.