In my article How to Buy Clothes You will Wear, I mentioned that many women only wear 20% of their closet 80% of the time. Part of the problem is that many women aren’t buying the correct clothes in the first place. So new purchases end up hanging unworn at the back of the closet, and the selection of ‘wearable’ clothes never really gets any wider.
My previous article goes into detail about why this might be and shares 12 measures you can put in place to stop yourself from buying such items in the future. But what about all those past purchases hanging unworn in your closet? Well I’m here to tell you that it’s not too late for them! I’ve helped countless women sort through their closets, identify what works for them (and what doesn’t) and have uncovered a whole host of outfits that they didn’t even know they had. So don’t loose hope.
If you’re fed up of opening your closet and reaching for the same few pieces, wearing them in the same way, day after day, then this article is for you. It takes a long time to conduct a full closet audit so I’ve cherry picked the simplest parts of the closet consultation and have condensed them into a 3 stage process which you’ll find below. It’s only a small part of the process but it’s tried and tested and it yields results! If you’re ready to unlock the potential that’s hiding inside your closet then scroll down!
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
I have a comprehensive toolkit which I’ve built up over the years and this comes with me to every closet consultation, but for today these are the main things I recommend you gather together before you start:
- Full length mirror (this is crucial if you’re to build complete outfits that work!)
- A hanging rail
- A notebook and pen (or my FREE workbook which you can download here)
- Dress maker pins and a tape measure
- A selection of accessories – gather a selection of necklaces (long and short), belts, scarves and footwear together so you can easily accessorize any outfits you create.
- An open mind 😊
STEP ONE – IDENTIFY THE CLOTHES YOU ARE NOT WEARING
The first part of the process is to identify and remove from your wardrobe all the items you’re not wearing. Don’t panic if it’s a lot of items, it often is! You’re probably feeling rather overwhelmed at this point and that’s OK, In fact it’s perfectly natural! We’re about to try and change habits that have built up over years so you’re undoubtedly going to feel resistance. It’s also an indicator that this is something you need to work through so take a deep breath, (and a sip of wine if it helps!) and take it one step at a time. I promise that it will get easier as you work through it.
Once you’ve removed all the unworn items from your wardrobe you’ll need to go through them and group them into four categories:
1. No good – This is where you’re going to put the items that don’t fit and can’t be altered, are beyond repair or that you just don’t like. Be honest with yourself as to why you’re not wearing these pieces. Put aside any feelings of guilt and try and let go of the hang-ups associated with certain items. Give yourself permission to get rid of them (whether that’s selling, donating, swapping or binning) and move on. Trust me; it might be hard but it’s incredibly cathartic. If an item holds sentimental value and you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of it, then consider removing it from your closet and storing it elsewhere.
2. Alter/repair – If something can be altered to fit you better or needs a simple repair pop it in this pile. With that said, there are a few ways to bypass alterations and fake the perfect fit. I wrote a post all about this over here so I highly recommend you check it out before you cut and sew!
3. fits but doesn’t flatter – You might find that some items fit you but they don’t flatter you. This can be down to a number of reasons, but the two biggies are that the color doesn’t suit you or the item is the wrong shape for your body type. Don’t get rid of these items just yet as there are quite a few things you can do to turn these into flattering pieces. I’ll cover this in separate post as I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information at once, so hold on to these items and we’ll come back to this later.
4. wear – If an item doesn’t fit into any of the other four categories this is where it should go, even if you’re not sure how to wear it. As if it fits you, flatters you, doesn’t need repairing, and you like it, you should be able to wear it
STEP TWO – ASSESS THE ‘WEAR’ PILE
Now that you’ve uncovered the pieces you should be wearing we can start to think about building outfits around them. The process is simple – We’re going to go through each item in the ‘Wear’ pile, one by one, and identify the pieces in your closet that you ARE wearing, that compliment them. There are lots of things to take into consideration when matching clothes, such as shape, colour, texture and print, but to simplify things we’re going to focus on just one of them – color.
Have a close look at the colors in each piece and pull out clothes from your closet that complement the hue and tone. If it’s a block color a neutral will be the easiest color to pair it with. And in turn, if it’s a neutral you pretty much have free reign as most colors will work. Prints can be a little trickier, especially when they have a lot of colors in them. Pick out a few of the colors in the print and focus on those. For example, if I want to build a selection of outfits with this floral top…
I would focus on the greens and blues and pull the following items from my closet:
For this to be successful you’re going to have to forget about occasion. I don’t want you to leave an item in the closet because you think it’s too dressy, or too casual. Remove the occasion labels you’ve given each item and pull anything that you think matches.
STEP THREE – BUILD OUTFITS WITH THOSE UNWORN ITEMS!
Once you’ve pulled everything you think might work you can start to build outfits. I urge you to keep an open mind at this point and to not rule anything out. Try as many combinations as possible and when you find one that works (and you will!) make a note of it so you don’t forget it! I’ve included some of my favorite combinations in my workbook, below, in case you need a little help kick starting the mixing-an-a-matching.
There will be some instances when you can’t find anything to pair with an item, or where you need to purchase something in order to make it work (such a camisole to layer under a sheer item). When this happens just make a note of the missing item and look for it when you next go shopping.
As you work through the rail, hang the pieces that are a keeper in your closet. Eventually, when you’ve finished working through the rail you’ll have a closet containing only the clothes that fit you, that you like, and that make complete outfits, and you’ll be well on your way to wearing everything in your closet rather than the same few
Need some help working through this? Download my free workbook!
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