How Do I Wear More Of What’s Already In My Closet?

Field Trip!

My dear friend Rose [name changed to protect the shameful] is gearing up for a big move: both apartment AND career-wise. She asked me to help her clean out her closet, as she had not in nearly a decade and found herself moving the same unworn clothes from apartment to apartment. The before and after pictures are not particularly impressive, but we were both pretty psyched with the results.

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Before and after. Not visually obvious, but a lot of progress was made, I swear!

The bulk of her spring/summer wardrobe is already stored away. I told her to keep that stuff in their boxes and deal with them after the move. Packing up SUCKS, why unpack what’s already good to go?

We started by removing EVERY SINGLE ITEM from the closet slowly. We made piles on her bed: Wear A Lot; Spring/Summer; Give Away; and Love But Not Sure How To Wear. (Give away was banished outside the room and separated into Give Away and Try To Sell.)



The start of the piles.

Rose had an extra suit bag, so we hid all the out of season clothes in there. It is my strong opinion that the more you look at something you can’t wear, the quicker you get sick of it.  I didn’t start putting seasonal clothes away until 4ish years ago, and MAN is it awesome! I end up forgetting most of what I have, so it’s like Christmas every time I unpack. I feel the same way for sizes you can’t wear. I told my pregnant sister to put her regular clothes away until she lost the baby weight (she didn’t listen to me, but I still stand by my suggestion!). This works on children and their toys too, btw.


The bag. We hung it in the back of her closet, and anything that didn’t fit inside was hidden behind the big bag. In addition to seasonal items, we also stored vintage things she loved but wasn’t going to wear anytime soon.  I understand and condone this.

Next, we hung the Keeps back in the closet according to item: Pants, Skirts and Dresses on the long side, and tops categorized as Overs and Unders. Then by color family.

Then, we tackled the Love But Not Sure How To Wears. One by one, I chose a Not Sure and made it into an outfit. If Rose could see herself wearing it, I’d snap a picture, and make it into at least one more wearable outfit. We made each piece earn it’s place back in the closet. If we couldn’t make at least 2 legit outfits, the item was tossed into the Give Away piles. I took the pictures and sent them to her as reminders for those mornings when she just can’t decide on her own.

The real beauty of this was that I pushed her out of her comfort zone and made matches she said she would NEVER have thought to pair. Even pieces she already got good use out of gained new life.

We made a ton of outfits, but here are a few examples of how we made multiple sets with the same piece:

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So what’s the universal takeaway here?

  1. Separate your clothes seasonally! Even if you have enough room for everything to be out, do yourself a favor and put the stuff you won’t wear away. Even if you are a serial mixer like me, at least put anything with inappropriate fabric away (lightweight dresses, sandals, and anything linen for summer; wool, corduroy, and heavy coats for winter). Also hide things that don’t fit but you can’t bear to get rid of yet. Revisit them later, you’ll have a fresh perspective.
  2. An undiscussed hot tip is: Turn all your hangers backward, so that the curve goes around the back of the rod. As you wear stuff, hang them back up and put the hanger back the right way. At the end of the year, any clothes on “wrong” hangers needs to go. (Or at least needs serious consideration!)
  3. Suit fabrics with gentle patterns (pinstripes, tweed, etc) should be treated as solids, NOT PATTERNS. I kept repeated to Rose, “These are just brown pants.”
  4. Nature-y colors do not have to go with other nature-y colors, and bright colors do not have to go with other bright colors. In fact, if you scroll through my pictures, I prefer to mix them together. Don’t let yourself get into a rut. I would pull out a piece to make an outfit, and Rose would say, “My instincts are to pair that with the black pants,” so I would purposely not use the black pants. I (almost) never wear the exact same outfit twice. You don’t have to be that extreme, but mix it up, girl!
  5. You don’t need a blogger or even a fashionista friend to help you make new outfits. Have ANY friend come over and make a few outfits out of your closet for you. Sometimes all you need is a fresh pair of eyes to give your existing wardrobe a new life.

How do you keep your wardrobe fresh?

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