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Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

Posted by frankie_in_zone_7 (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 27, 11 at 13:36

I am about to embark on a major wardrobe streamlining adventure. Maybe everyone does this, but I have never done what I am contemplating. Sure, I weed out, toss this and that several times a year, finally let go of a blazer or slacks or frumpy dress here and there.

Instead, this year--hopefully much of it over the next couple of weeks--I am going to do a what for me will be a much more rigorous wardrobe makeover and make choices to go in new directions regarding what I wear & what I buy. So, I need encouragement to go forth!

When my DD got out on her own and cleared out her BR and closet I thought, I'll just move my dress-up and off season things there. But instead of being happy with how I spread out, it just helped me see how much junk I have.

I don't think I'll be able to do the extremely minimalist capsule wardrobe (like 12 items of clothing total!!) , but I've decided to try to do much more streamlining of my clothing and not just "organize" it better. I am trying to bring to bear all my wardrobe, fashion, and psychological/middle-aged epiphanies of the past few years, including some contemplations over the past month, and really take a new approach.

Some of these ideas are as simple as being ready to go back to much fewer basics and wear them more frequently--I can honestly say no one at my work, church or home will care and I'm pretty sure I don't care. I'm not talking "careless" but more like wearing the same or nearly the same outfits, if they look good. I have always been a "mix and match" person, because that seems so flexible and thrifty, but then I realized I tend to accumulate so many possibilities that I can't use them all in a year, and that instead of being helpful, it interferes with identifying a few good outfits. Others are that I have tended to buy and keep way too many of certain types of clothing and haven't changed to fit newer activities or realize what I need more of. I also make the classic mistakes of not having the one or 2 items I really need to fit a certain need, because usually they are the ones that are hard to find, so instead I buy more of.... whatever.

I do not want to do a mindless throwing out just to "start fresh" and then find I buy the same things later. So I have not set it up as a one-day, now-or-never marathon, though I plan to do a lot this weekend. The goal is to get more streamlined and have more usable outfits from fewer total items, not to have it all done in one weekend, if I get stalled on some decisions. I am using my DD's room and closet to help me because it can be a "staging" area for some "maybe's" and for laying out some items. Before, I might get started but then would be tripping over stuff during a busy work week and would get frustrated and derailed.

I still think I will store dressy and off-season items out of my main closet; if I had a very large closet I would not do so, because I think it's good to know everything you have, but if I both streamline and store a few things elsewhere, then I will have a lot of "breathing space".
I would like to have a year-round wardrobe, but the climate is just hot and cold enough for me that I can't quite do it. One of my epiphanies, however, involves some streamlining in the weather-adaptation area.

Of course I will need a few NEW things to implement my vision!

The other "of course" is that I want to spend more time exercising and less time shopping and wondering what to wear, because if I keep in some semblance of shape, for whatever decade I 'm in, I feel much better and everything looks better.

So, likely will be some bumps and failed willpower along the way, but here we go.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

Good for you! I need to do that too. My problem is that I hate shopping so end up keeping clothes forever. This fall I realized that my work wardrobe is very weird. Lol I don't strive to be hip or chic but I need to get rid of some things that are making me look totally out of date. And, shudder, buy some new stuff.

Keep us posted on how you're doing.

What the heck?

Just noticed that this thread says there are six follow up posts. The only one I see is mine though. What's up with that?

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

The missing posts are weird. I am going through my closets because I need to get rid of stuff. I've decided that since I do have a job, and so many people don't, I really need to donate the stuff that I don't wear any more. I find myself wearing the same suits all the time anyway. Tried to find new suits this week, but none fit. I'm broad shouldered, so I need jackets a bigger size than the pants. Have decided to just stick with what I have that makes me look good and take the rest to the thrift store.

Good luck!

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

Frankie, I think it's great that you're making needed changes.

About two years ago I finally realized that I didn't need thick sweaters anymore because I don't have to walk half a mile across campus to class--I finished college in the early 90's! Making the move to thin sweaters has been great in terms of being wearable more year-round and also saves a lot of closet space.

This summer was the second year that I found myself more comfortable in skirts than shorts, so I got rid of almost all my shorts--there was another whole dresser drawer freed up!

It's good that you're thinking about what you really need and want.

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

i need to go through my closet and figure out the clothes I've ended up with stray pieces and no real outfits. Or, outfits that I've forgotten about.

It's not horrible, but it could really use some actual direction.

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

Update for 2012: So here's how it's going.

I have gone through about 98% of my clothes and have put aside over 100 items to discard. Sounds either awful ( too many clothes to begin with) or great (finally making decisions). I say put aside because I could either give to my church rummage sale or take to Goodwill, and since is several months until sale, I think the safest thing is to take them away this week.
I say 98 % because I realized I had not gone through a few pieces of formal wear because I just assumed it was still classic and good, but one thing I learned is, try it on, try it on, so back I go to look at them. Also the coat closet with hats & gloves.

It has taken me longer than I planned--worked on it for a good part of 4 days, but I also was sick and slowed down some for that. If you don't have that kind of time, it's true you can do "bits and pieces," but I never would have made this kind of sweep if I hadn't done it in one stretch. I find it really helped to be comparing items and kind of assessing the whole situation rather than just doing one bit per week.

Here are some things I discovered and items gleaned from advice gurus ( I have enjoyed the You Look Fab website--it's not the "style" per se there but lots of "why" things do or don't look so good; many I already kind of knew but still gives some good "doh!" moments and helps you focus, plus gave some pick-me-ups). These are in no particular order:

I found I had a lot of trouble discarding things made in good fabrics. Is it just me, or do they just not make stuff like they used to? I mean I had things in raw silk, wools, and from not super-designers, either, which is the point--just department store brands--and I can't find that as much anymore. So I had to really do the psychology of, having this nice thing that you don't wear anymore is neither helping you nor helping you find a replacement.

One thing that slowed me down, and may not be recommended for the typical "purge" is that I did some outfit-creating, and that takes time. A certain amount of this seemed necessary to me to focus on my goals for fit and style and go, keep or toss? and was helpful to identify what I call "duplicate" items where you keep one and toss the others. But if you are really pressed for time, it's important not to do too much of this. So I did try to take some notes on things to try to put together later so as not to bog down, and because one point of this effort is to do more "shopping in your closet" rather than adding something new.

Another thing is that I have kept a fair amount of "not perfect" but acceptable items, so it's not the as dramatic a wardrobe sweep as some people might do, but was pretty major for me. Also, I made a list of what I'd like to have instead of item x or y that I'm keeping for now.
And since I did work on it over several days, I found myself going back and tossing an item here or there that I had kept, but as I worked through more stuff some greater clarity developed. So I think that will carry on for the next few weeks or months as I see, hmm, still not wearing this--out!

I am aiming to store almost everything in my closet or dressers and have much less "off season" storage. One thing that helped me get into the over-stuffed situation was doing too much seasonal storage. This led to having larger numbers of items per "season"--particularly too many casual knit tops-- rather than a more interchangeable approach with fewer items, which is a goal. Also it really interferes with "outfit creation" and closet-shopping if you don't have most of your stuff where you can see it. I still plan to use a DD closet for more limited seasonal storage and switch-out of most wool sweaters, swim stuff, snow day stuff and formal wear. I will see how this works.

I did make a "maybe" pile in another place in the house, but I think it should have been bigger, meaning, I have kept some of what probably should be in the maybe pile in my current closet. So not perfect! I may try the "turn your hangers around" idea.

Another possible no-no is that I did some closet organizing along with purging (translation: I went to the Container Store). Some experts recommend doing only the culling and not even thinking about hooks, baskets, where things will go etc but this helped me make some decisions when I realized, whoa, where is this going to go? It is a time pitfall though so beware. I also made a trip to store for some items to repair/update items, since I had the time off and wanted to be able to work on some of that in upcoming evenings.

I found only about 3-4 items that could be tailored to make work. Do remember very simple things--I have a skirt that (I think ) is still a really good mixing item, and I have trouble finding skirts I like so this was a good find, and it fits but is a little too big in waist so it sags. It doesn't really show, but it doesn't "feel" good. So I'm fixing that.

The interesting thing is that though I'm kinda pooped on cleaning out closets it still helps me think about other "stuff" I can let go of so I think will carry over to some other home areas (linens, decor, etc).

Long post, but maybe it will give someone else some encouragement for the new year.

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

100 items, good for you! Outfit creation is a good idea. I like the website Already Pretty for the same reason. Not my style but she combines things I wouldn't have thought of and pays attention to what works well for *her* shape and tastes, and that's inspiring when it comes to outfit creation.

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

Thought I would give another update. It has been great to do a major wardrobe "sweep". However I think I've also been reminded that the basic organizing principles still apply! That is, it's a process, not a one-time thing, and also, don't get so much stuff.

But as several people have noted in posts on other organizing topics, for some reason certain events or timing or whatever help one have an "aha" moment, and this year, or this "sweep", really seemed to be a good epiphany moment for me in the wardrobe arena; even though I may have been successful in some other areas of de-cluttering and organizing, it hadn't carried over to my clothes and closet until I sort of sat down and analyzed what I was doing and why and what would work better.

It's enabled me to come up with some unifying principles of wardrobe-ness that are different from my previous habits, and I'm using those to try to keep simplifying and to stay on track.

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

I have done a major shift with my wardrobe this year. I have dropped many sizes over the last few years, and although my old clothes have all been long gone, finally let go of the more recent clothing that is ugly, doesn't fit or flatter. A big help enabling me to make the transition was to have my adult daughter spend an afternoon where she gave the critical eye to everything, last fall. Only a few things made the cut and only one item from then is still left in my regular closet for my work clothes. All the rest were donated except for some relegated to afterwork/yardwork status. Everything else replaced. For the first time in my entire adult life, everything I own looks good and makes me feel special!!! For decades, all I've owned was a motley collection of junk, and waaaaaay too much of it!! So much crappy clothing - it was hard to manage it all. It was overwhelming! Also I had boxes and boxes of smaller sizes of clothing stored. Although it helped me get started with having 'something' to put on but I shudder to think how I looked, as most were ages old. All of it is now long gone, my space has been reclaimed, and I will never again wear anything that is not stylish or doesn't flatter-nor will I hang onto it and store it anymore!. All those years of surrounding myself with ill-fitting and or ugly, outdated etc. clothing - looking in a closet and not finding anything I liked or that fit!!! Also, I have a ridiculously small closet; tops and sweaters and dresses must fit in the just over 2 foot space! Skirts on a one foot rod, and sweaters and other items on one foot shelves and baskets on some of those narrow shelves. I have some storage pieces in the bedroom for other items. But thats it! It feels like a breath of fresh air that I've let it all go!! And now I sort of enjoy taking care of it right, because it's all so attractive!! Penny

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

Do you mind a frequent lurker piping in?

I'm a fairly organized person, but there's always room for improvement. I've been off work since the end of November, so I've had more time on my hands than I usually do. I've been going through the house purging, organizing and improving things. One of the things I did right off the bat was go through my clothes closet and I got rid of quite a few things. Right around Christmas I got rid of a few more things, and then I decided to try something else. I decided to wear every single piece of casual clothing once, toss it in the laundry, and not wear it again until I had worn everything in the (casual section of the) closet.

Turned out I had several items of clothing that I had some strange attachment to, but wouldn't be caught dead in any more. I tried each on on once or twice more, and I knew they wouldn't be worn again. OUT they went! I realized that when I was originally purging, in the back of my head I thought those items would be useful until the reality of actually wearing them hit me.

Maybe I'm just weird (very, I'm so glad I did this because my closet feels so much lighter!

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

So many inspiring success tories! Frankie, I always love hearing your thoughtful posts. It reminds me that this *can* be an intellectual and spiritual journey of discovery and growth.

It's not just a boring chore that proves over and over again how inadequate I am. No, it can be something that proves how smart I am, and how much I can grow.

I'm a little afraid I've brought home clutter--my mom died very recently, and the day of the funeral (two weeks ago--oh, my!), all the aunts & cousins went through her closet and took clothes that would fit them. (My dad's insistence.)
I'm significantly shorter than her, so really nothing fit me. But I brought home a wool skirt; I think I may need to get it tailored, but it's a nice enough quality that it would be worth it. And I snagged a shirt that she used to wear when I was a teen. I wore it as a jacket, but the sleeves were long enough to be annoying. But I figure, even if I never wear it again, I want it in my closet.

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

Talley Sue - I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I've read so many of your threads and responses over the years that I feel like I know you...please accept my condolences. I can understand the importance of having something from your mom close by.

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

Talley Sue -- seems I have followed your posts forever. I am sorry to hear you've lost your mother. Even when it's expected the permanence of losing a parent hits hard.

This thread prompted me to have a serious look through my closet. Thanks to my weight-loss project I embarked on last summer, I've lost ~30#. Last week I ceremoniously said good bye to 7 pairs of "fat pants". This was surprisingly exhilarating and commemorated two things in my life: 1) I did lose a great amount of weight that made these pants way too loose to wear and 2) it cemented my commitment to keep the weight off by removing the safety net of larger pants. I'll check in when I've lost my next and final 30#!

One thing I came across was my father's Pendleton Black Stewart wool shirt. Those shirts wear like iron/last forever. Dad died in 1991 and I still love to wear it over a turtleneck in the wintertime. I'll always remember him raking leaves in that shirt. Talley Sue, do have your Mom's skirt tailored and wear it with a smile on your face. You will be so glad you kept it!

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

Talley, I too am sorrow that your mother is gone. Praying for you today.

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

Thanks so much, cup!
And everyone else.

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

First, a chuckle of recognition with the thick wool sweaters story: when my kids were about 13 and 16, I realized I could wear dresses again, which I hadn't done since I was pregnant, because I wasn't a nursing mom any more. They nursed till they were toddlers, but still...

Organizing my wardrobe is something that I have been struggling with for what feels like all my life. I have finally decided it is more like gardening than like any other household task because there are so many moving targets. You can get the perfect wardrobe, but then your lifestyle changes, your body changes, styles change, and also, the clothes you count on wear out. Then there is the seasonal aspect. So there is a constant task of renewal built in to wardrobe organizing... and turnover.

There is also a predictive/anticipative element. I love to shop and I tend to think ahead a lot, so I often buy things for needs I anticipate. If they don't materialize, or don't materialize as or when I expect, then my choices turn out to be wrong... for that purpose, but then there might be others. Who buys a dress for a funeral? I didn't, but I was sure glad I had one in the closet that I had bought for a different need that didn't emerge. Of course that can play out the opposite way too. Suits I bought in the 1990s "so I would have them if I needed one" are not precisely useful now, unless I plan to play football or frighten small children.

I also love textiles, and keep some clothes for the love of the fabrics. I have also forgiven myself for keeping some clothes for sentimental reasons or for interesting design ideas. My motto is that I forgive myself first for keeping it or for wanting to. And then the pressure is off - even if it sometimes takes a few years - and I can come to a parting of the ways so much more easily.

Frankie, thank you for sharing the process. It helps a lot.

Karin L

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

Susan - I had the same thought of wearing everything that I have, not washing till I ran out. That would help me decide what I really wanted and would wear, rather than what I just keep hanging on to.
I havent' done it yet, but it's on my large "to do list".
I'm a huge clothes (all kinds) shoes, purse, jewelry shopper. I do work full time, so I do dress up daily. But, I know that I have tons of clothes that I am never going to wear.
This winter I noticed that I have many,many sweaters that I passed up every morning for my "favorites" or what currently looks best on me. Those ones that I passed over need to go!
You guys are giving me the inspiration to go thru all my things.
I live alone so I don't have to share closet or drawer space, my new homes has a lot of large closets that I alone have filled to capacity.

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

Try it, Jeannie. You can just work on one type of clothing at at time if you want- casual, dress etc. I found it very freeing- it felt great getting rid of those clothing items once I had proven to myself that I wouldn't wear them again.

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

Peegee--your post was downright inspiring. I could stand to lose a few pounds and I clipped your post to re-read and help me stay away from the junk and get out and do a little more walking.

I lurk here occasionally but was glad I ran across your post.

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

This is a very inspirational thread, I moved (again) and I'm still working on my closets.
(talleysue, please accept my condoleances.)

Trying on is so crucial in decision making; which is why I like to attack the closets after I've showered and put on my daily makeup, it makes it more pleasant , lol.......

I'm aiming to purge out some more today, you all gave me the push needed !

RE: Major wardrobe overhaul--the real deal

talley_sue_nyc, I'm sorry for your loss. My mother died about 6 years ago and I had the need to keep some of her clothing/accessory items as well as kitchen things. She sewed beautifully and also was "crafty". I didn't really keep any dresses she had made, but did keep some costume jewelry, "vintage" purses, including a so-50's white purse she made for Easter--it appears in some photos hanging daintily from her wrist. One of my DD's, though only 21, is very into vintage and family things and so I can and will share these with her whenever she would like--not waiting until I die! Now a few years later I don't necessarily have to have the items myself if I thought she would have fun with them--but I'm not up for giving them to Goodwill at this point. Even if she only uses them for a few years or occasions, she and I can share those memories for awhile, too. Better used and remembered that way than only keeping in a drawer or maybe inheriting them when she is middle-aged and not as intrigued. However my wardrobe overhaul has been enlightening. I'm not the packrat my Mom was and so even before this year's overhaul, I have not kept all my clothing and accessory backlog in the attic, so too bad if DD's see something for several years and then wonder where it went. They aren't really into MY fashions (wrong sizes and shapes)--I think thankfully I'm not vintage enough yet!

I am still making an occasional goof-buy of something that doesn't fit my needs or wardrobe plan but I'm doing way better at "intentional" shopping and de-cluttering.

I have enjoyed some fashion blogs and websites but since I tend to buy too much and too impulsively, the sites that have helped me the most are the ones focused on a more limited ("cureated") wardrobe. Not gonna live on 10-20 pieces of clothing, me, but still that direction is the most helpful.

I'm trying to keep expanding the process to my home , and I think there are articles on the "curated home," which of course is just more patter on simplifyng, beautifying- fewer things but ones you really enjoy. None of that is a news flash to the organizers here, but this attitude helps me a bit more than just a rush of de-cluttering.

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