How many things do you have saved in the back of your closet for the one day that you “might” wear them? Have you ever noticed that you NEVER pick out those clothes to wear?
Last fall we did a deep clean of most of the rooms in our house. Our house is small and it feels so good to go through it and get rid of anything that isn’t meaningful, we don’t like, doesn’t serve a purpose, and doesn’t have a place. The one place that I didn’t take the time to thoroughly go through however, was my closet. It wasn’t a mess of epic proportions, but it was crowded with too many things that I didn’t wear, didn’t like, didn’t fit correctly, or never had a reason to wear.
I’ve been inspired lately to take a more minimal approach and really try to make sure my closet is only filled with pieces I love, want to wear, and ones that bring me confidence and joy. Sort-of my own take on the capsule wardrobe phenomenon. So that means clearing out clothing that I’ve outgrown, both in size and style, clothes that are worn out and have seen better days, and pieces that are leftover from my high school and college days that are too casual to wear to work (and I don’t find myself wearing on the weekends either).
Something that I’m really enjoying about myself as I get older, is my ability to better understand the things I really like. One of my greatest discoveries are the clothes that I’m comfortable in.
Here are some of the clothing guidelines I’ve discovered about myself:
- No v-necks or anything else with a low neckline. I’m just too busty and I feel uncomfortable in shirts with low necklines, even if I wear a tank top underneath.
- I look better in boatneck or scoopneck tops. Going along with the point above, I feel better and worry less about my appearance when I’m comfortable in a top with a higher neckline. I also think they look better on me in general because they take the focus away from my bust. I also just love the classic look of a boatneck top.
- I can’t wear strapless tops or dresses. As I’ve said, I’m a busty woman who needs some major support up top. Strapless bras just don’t provide enough support for me and I’m constantly pulling up at the top of my dress and re-adjusting. For years I had this super uncomfortable backless, strapless bra (that looked more like a corset, complete with boning in the sides) that I used under my prom dresses. I have no desire to ever wear that again. I just wish I’d realized this one before my wedding (I’m so embarrassed at the top of my dress when I look back at my wedding pictures!).
- I like clothes that are fitted, but not so tight they look too small. Again with the busty thing, if I wear clothes that are too loose, I just look fat, but I don’t like wearing clothes so tight that they look too small or are uncomfortable.
- I like pieces that are versatile – business-casual enough for work, but casual enough for weekend wear. I can’t afford to have two closets, one for work and one for weekends, so I like to have pieces that I can dress up or dress down. Luckily I work somewhere where this works well for me.
- Over the years I’ve realized there are certain colors I’m drawn to and that look better on me: black, white, grey, cream, taupe, pinks, teal/mint, plum/lavender, and gold, and ones that I should stay away from in clothing (for the most part): red, orange, yellow, and green.
- I like simple tops and basic tees in neutral colors (solids or small scale patterns) that I can pair with a cardigan or sweater, colored/patterned scarves, plain jeans or colored skinny jeans, leather boots or flats, and simple gold jewelry. (that is pretty much my daily wardrobe).
- Nothing too flashy, scratchy, uncomfortable, no falling off the shoulders or anything else that is annoying and distracting from whatever else I’m doing.
- No high heels. I just don’t wear them and when I think I might want to, I put them on only to realize again how uncomfortable they are. Only flats or low wedge heels for me!
- I really like tops with ¾ length sleeves. I get cold so easily that I feel most comfortable in those. I always bunch up the sleeves on long sleeve shirts past my wrist (because the sleeves at my hands get annoying) and I never wear short sleeve tops without a cardigan (because I get cold, and I don’t feel like it looks very professional for work).
- I very rarely (like never) wear dresses or skirts. In the last year, I wore a dress to my grandpa’s funeral and when we went out to eat at a nice restaurant for Drew’s birthday. My legs get too cold, or they look too pale, or I feel like I need to be wearing uncomfortable high-heels to complete the look. It is fine if I have a couple dresses for special occasions, but I know when I go shopping, that spending money on them isn’t a good return on my investment.
- I only wear neutral-colored shoes. I really do. I only wear shoes that are leather, black, nude, grey/silver, or gold. I don’t know how many pairs of pink flats or sandals I’ve bought just to realize that I never wear them. If I want to make a statement with a color I don’t want it to be on my feet.
- Same with purses. I generally use the same purse for years (I am not the girl who wants to switch out purses to match each outfit), so I want it to go well with anything I put on, which means being a neutral color. I only buy high-quality (I want it to last!) and in a simple style that I really love. My current purse is a beautiful leather cross-body.
- I never change my earrings. As pretty and appealing as colorful, dangly earrings can be, I’ve learned over time that I never wear them. I have sensitive ears and cheap earrings hurt my ears. So I stick with my diamond studs. I seriously haven’t changed my earrings since my wedding day almost three years ago (when I did wear dangly pearl earrings).
It look me years of buying clothes and then never wearing them or feeling self-conscious about them before I got to these “rules.” Why wear something if it is constantly going to make you keep second guessing your appearance, make you feel self-conscious, or make you lack confidence? I don’t know about you, but I have better things to do with my time. I can’t spend my whole day focused on my feet hurting from the shoes that are cute but uncomfortable, or the sweater that is a pretty color but keeps falling off my shoulder showing my bra straps, or how cold my legs are because I’m wearing a dress. It is so nice to embrace who I am and what I’m comfortable in and ignore the “I could look good in this” or the “that looks great on her, maybe I should buy it too” mentality. Another great thing about knowing what I like and what looks good on me, is that when I spend money on something, I’m much more likely to buy something that I’m going to wear (and want to wear) rather than something that is going to get donated the next time I do a closet purge.
Things to consider when buying something: Are you buying this item because you really love it and want it to become a part of your everyday wear? Does it fill a need in your wardrobe? If you had to wear one outfit for the rest of your life would it be that one? Or are you just buying it because it was “okay” and on sale? Being on sale is one of the biggest culprits for me! But what is the point in spending any money (even if it wasn’t as much as it could have been) on something you don’t love? I love this quote, “Don’t buy anything on sale that you wouldn’t consider at full price.”
I also really love the way that Sherry from Young House Love thinks about her closet (from this classic post, oh how I miss YHL!). Her words, “Don’t water down your wardrobe. I like to look at it as an “overall closet average.” Say I have ten outfits I love love love in my closet. I’d call them all favorites and on a scale of 1-10 I’d score them all a ten. That makes my overall closet average a ten. Then say that I see a sweater I kind of like (let’s say I’d give it a seven). And it’s on sale, so it’s tempting. The way I completely resist grabbing that sweater – which I’m guaranteed to like less than everything else in my closet – is to think of my closet average. Right now my overall closet average is a ten. If I get that sweater and it’s a seven, it’ll bring my entire closet average down, and I can just picture myself choosing other things on my hanging bar over and over again since it wasn’t something that I love love loved from the start. That helps me hold out for things I really truly love and stops me from grabbing anything I probably won’t wear or appreciate as much.” (here is another great post from Sherry on closet clutter).
I want to feel comfortable and confident in all the clothes in my closet. So major purge happening now! Tell me, is this the way you look at your closet too? Have you figured out that list of what you love/don’t love on yourself? I have to say, knowing what I feel comfortable in is not only great for everyday, but when I go shopping I immediately know whether I’ll like something enough to even take the time to try it on or not. Knowing what I like saves me time and money in so many ways! This guide from The Everygirl is another great resource for closet cleaning (7 questions to ask yourself when cleaning out your closet).
P.S. There are many places where you can donate your clothes to make sure that they go to good use after you are done with them. Look for local homeless or women’s shelters in your area. Many churches have donation bins that go to those in need in your community.