“Clothes do not exist to humiliate their owners.”
The Rule: FASHION IS FLEETING AND SHOULD BE LARGELY IGNORED. STYLE ENDURES. Define yours. It’s nothing more than confidence, clarity, and consistency, tempered with authenticity.
Having a wardrobe that works isn’t as hard as we make it. Thinking about the why of wardrobe before you dive into the what of wardrobe matters greatly. Here are a few thoughts to help you keep your emotions in check as you get your sartorial splendor on!
First, you’re not alone. Most women have a jam-packed closet but say they have little to wear. The old 80/20 rule applies to clothes. Most (80%) of the time, we wear a small (20%) portion of what we own. Rid your closet of items that don’t make you happy and confident. Just because you paid a lot of money for it, or it was a gift from your mother-in-law, doesn’t mean you have to keep it. Every time you see the item you are passing over, it’s a fresh dose of guilt. Let it go.
Style and fashion are not the same. Fashion is fleeting. Style endures. Style isn't what works on someone else, but what works on you. Identify yours so that you’re not a slave to fashion whims. Get help if you need it. A chic and candid friend can be a good bet, provided she doesn't secretly harbor schadenfreude over your wardrobe gaffes! Otherwise, a stylist or wardrobe consultant can make short order of the disorder in your closet. Their reputation is at stake. They want you to look good and be confident in your appearance. No mistakes on their watch!
But past mistakes are just that- past. Learn from them. Don’t beat yourself up over regrettable purchases, just don’t make that mistake again. Buy clothes that fit the real you- not the fantasy you. Keep track of what you own. Who really needs ten black sweaters? Identify the holes in your wardrobe (both actual and metaphorical). The actual holes should be repaired or the garment discarded. The metaphorical holes should be filled so you have a wardrobe that is programmed for success.
The clothing uniform is the gateway to the lifestyle uniform. When you embrace a streamlined, simplified wardrobe, you might be encouraged to streamline and standardize other aspects of your life. Streamlining doesn't mean boring or drab. It means making lots of low-stakes decisions automatic so you have the time, energy and emotional bandwidth to deal with weightier decisions in the best possible way.
So how do you rid yourself of the mistakes- the stuff in your closet that seldom or never is invited out of the closet?
The Closet Rehab Primer
Everything comes out of the closet and is sorted into one of four categories:
1. The Soul-Stirring Pile: These are the clothes you adore. They fit. They make you look good. They make you feel good.
2. The Repair Pile: These are the soul-stirrers that need a little attention- hems, buttons, and creases. Give yourself 5 days to either make the repairs or put them in the hands of a professional. Honestly, if you can’t find time to do it in 5 days, maybe the garment isn’t as soul-stirring as you thought.
3. The Give Away Pile: These are your culls that can bring happiness to someone other than you.
4. The Throw Away Pile: Your culls that won’t bring happiness to anyone.
Piles 3 and 4 are comprised of misfits, mistakes (no matter their cost or their provenance), and mysteries (items that for unknown reasons you simply never wear). Clothes that might be fashionable again, but that's a risk you can afford to take, should go in Pile 3.
As with all the Rules, exceptions are permitted, even encouraged. The pieces for posterity (Granny's rabbit fur capelet or kidskin opera gloves) certainly qualify. Treat them kindly when they are being stored and do your best to find an occasion to let them shine. And be certain the next generation knows why you love them so they can too.
Identity what makes you love the soul- stirrers. Fill the holes, mindful of your “look”. Buy fewer but better things. Favor timelessness over trendiness. Don’t save the things you love just for special occasions. Put them into your regular rotation and wear them with confidence and style. “I have no idea what to wear.” “What was I thinking?” Perish the thoughts!
Final truth. “Fashion is designed to become unfashionable.” Coco Chanel