Free closet help (really!)

16 Apr

I discovered a really cool closet trick that I’ve been meaning to post about, but I have had writers block from seeking an interesting way to introduce it. So, in order to get the idea up quickly, allow me to skip the intro and get right to the meat of the discovery. Maybe you will appreciate it on the day before income taxes are due – who couldn’t use a little closet help without spending more money.

The idea came from something I read online someplace (if I remember where, I will update this post with the credit) and it goes something like this:

It’s pretty clear that a closet cleared of clutter serves the owner much better than a closet full of unappealing or ill-fitting stuff. Yet, the problem is finding the time to get it organized.  Well, now you don’t have to set aside special time to do it, if you follow this handy little trick.

Image

After you wear something, hang it back up in your closet with the hanger backwards. Try to wear everything at least once, before wearing the items again with the hanger turned around already. After a few weeks, you will have identified the stuff that you’re not wearing, which you now need to take a closer look at.

The clothes that are left unworn will probably fit into these categories –

1) Don’t like anymore -> Get rid of it. Give away to charity, offer it to a friend, sell it, or go to a clothing exchange. (I always have a plastic bag in my closet that I am filling up with stuff to give away.)

2) Doesn’t fit -> If it can be fixed by tailoring, create a pile for “take to tailor”. Otherwise, let it go into the “get rid of” pile. (Caveat: If you are within one year of having given birth, cut yourself some slack, but put away what you’re not wearing and pull it out again in a few months. The point is to only leave stuff in your closet that you are actually wearing *now*).

3) Out of season -> Box up and put into the garage/ attic/ storage space until the weather changes.

4) Need something to wear with it -> Start a “wish list” of what item you are missing to go with it, whether it’s a matching top, bottom, shoes, belt or bra.  Keep the list somewhere in your closet with a pen nearby, so that you can add to it easily, as inspiration strikes. When filling in the gaps, shop your closet first, and encourage yourself to re-imagine wearing something with it that you already own. (Pick up a good fashion mag like InStyle or Elle for some inspiration about unexpected combinations that work, like below. I’m not saying you need to wear avant-garde runway looks to the playground, but don’t be afraid to go a little outside your comfort zone.)  And next time you go shopping, take your “wish list” with you.

Elle magazine spring collection

Check out a fashion mag like Elle magazine for inspiration; sometimes combining two patterns and textures can look fresh and inspired.

By sticking to this system for about three weeks, I freed up about half of my closet by putting away the stuff that was not being worn. After filling a large box with stuff for warmer weather, and another bag for give-away, I was looking at a closet full of stuff I could actually wear. Now, looking at my closet doesn’t start a panic attack – getting dressed is faster, feels better, and I can get creative with new combinations.

Street style photographed by Elle magazine

Orange and burgundy? Consider re-imagining color combinations in your wardrobe, in any way that feels right for you.

I haven’t applied the weeding out to the folded part of my closet, but I think the same technique should work, if I start with an empty drawer and only put the stuff I’ve worn in there, leaving the questionables behind to be sorted out.

Why I love this approach:

1) it points honestly to the “deadwood” in your closet – either it’s been worn or it hasn’t

2) it has inspired me to find ways to wear the stuff I was passing over before

3) it has caused me to feel grateful for the stuff I already own

4) I did this at my own pace and felt no time pressure to complete the task – you can take as much time as you need to get to the end result.

Because I stopped wearing the same three pairs of jeans every week, I got myself out of a fashion rut. I even got myself to wear a skirt, and realized with tights and boots on colder days, I really enjoyed it. When I found something missing a top or bottom to go with it, I reconsidered which colors and patterns could go together. You might be thinking “uh oh”, but it doesn’t mean you have to look like a kid dressing themselves for the first time.  Most moms I know (myself included) could stand a little kick of color in their wardrobe – and certain bright colors are very “now”. (Even neon and printed pants are making a comeback, with 1980’s flair, though I don’t think I am ready to go there just yet.)

Printed pants are making a comeback from the 80's

With all the 80's trends being revived lately, it was just a matter of time before pants with patterns made their comeback. I'm going to stay on the sidelines for that trend, at least for now. (Fashion week in Paris, 2012)

I am especially loving yellow, coral and turquoise, as a promise of the warmer, sunnier weather soon to come. And for the stuff I wasn’t wearing because I didn’t have the right shoes, I took the time to pull out all the shoes I had, and, looky here – I had forgotten about several pairs which actually filled the gap.

Next month, when Uncle Sam isn’t knocking on my door, looking to get paid, I may take my  own “wish list” and hit the stores. But then again, I am liking the challenge of trying to shop my own closet for everything I am missing – because I am convinced, as I let go of my own rules, I am bound to make even more new discoveries of what to wear inside my own closet. You might even say where creativity leads, inspiration follows. Or something like that.

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8 Responses to “Free closet help (really!)”

  1. cnaska April 16, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    great advice! I have a whole trunk full of old stuff that I need to sort through as well..

    • Sally April 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

      Thanks! I’d suggest using the “hanger trick” to pare down your closet to the “working” items that you actually wear, and then shop your trunk of old stuff with an eye for items that may still work for you. That said, don’t be afraid to ditch whatever doesn’t speak to you anymore – you will feel lighter and breathe easier after it’s gone. I always tell myself if there’s someone out there who would appreciate some old thing more than I do, it’s better off in their hands…it makes it easier to part with. (I wrote a post about that in the early days of this blog, if you want to read it, it’s called “What should I do with my skinny jeans?” from 2010.) Good luck, come back in a few weeks and tell me how it worked for you!

  2. Stylion April 17, 2012 at 3:24 am #

    Neat! I am a horder too, so this is a big help. Thank you!

    • Sally April 17, 2012 at 9:22 am #

      You’re welcome! Please come back after you’ve tried it and let us know what happened. 🙂

  3. mrs3strada April 20, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Love the hanger idea! My husband could really use that trick. His side of the closet is like five times more stuffed than mine. Thanks for the tip!

    BTW, I’m totally NOT a fashionista, Maxxinista or any other type of -ista. (Maybe a barista…I make a mad cup of joe.) So, how about some S/S finds that a mom can score for around $40…something that’ll last a decade (at least). Thanks!

    • Sally May 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

      Hi mrs3strada, cool, thanks for the feedback. 🙂 As for your question about cheap finds under $40, that’s a great question. My quick take is that good tops, skirts and accessories can be found for under $40, but pants will be harder. In my experience, more expensive pants (or shorts, capris, etc) will come with more durable and comfortable fabric and a better fit, and will end up being the ones you wear every week – while the cheap pants fade away after a season or worse yet, stay in your closet and never see the light of day. Given the choice, I would wait, and buy just one more expensive pair of pants instead of two mediocre ones. Shoes are tricky; great flip flops and canvas shoes can be found under $40, but if made of imitation leather, they will probably be less comfortable, won’t breathe as well, and won’t last as long. Whew, I can see I have a lot to say about this topic – I think I better start planning a post on the question of money! Thanks for raising this point. 🙂

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. My Closet, Reimagined « What to Wear After Kids - April 19, 2012

    […] my last post, I discovered that sometimes the stuff in my closet is not so old and boring after all, when […]

  2. Go, Go, Pants « What to Wear After Kids - May 1, 2012

    […] few weeks ago, I wrote about an easy method for finding the items of “deadwood” in your closet. In the process, I uncovered a black pair of black skinny capris from Target, which hung in my […]

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