BeforeYourNext Birthday-DeniseFisher’s Blog

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Organizing Your Wardrobe – Get Naked and Get Real

Posted by denisefisher on March 20, 2009

Young woman taking off a stylish dress To do a proper purge of your closet and dressers, you need to strip down to your skivvies; and if your purge includes swimwear and intimate apparel, you’re going to need to get naked.

The Plan

Over the next several posts, I’m going to talk about things to think about when assessing your wardrobe. At the end of the series, I’ll write out a step-by-step sequence for putting a plan together that you can execute. For now, just absorb and consider the mental preparations that will make this project successful for you. As I like to say, thinking about it is part of the process.

Getting the Big Picture

Before starting a massive wardrobe overhaul, it’s a good idea to survey the territory and get an overview of what you’re going to be dealing with. Take a look at all the garments, footwear, coats, and accessories you have stored throughout your home. Open closet doors, scan the racks, rods, hooks, shelves, baskets, boxes, and floor space that’s occupied by your wardrobe. Pull out the drawers of dressers, nightstands, armoires, and other storage units where your clothing is stored. Don’t forget under the bed (if you have storage there). What about clothing stored in other closets, coat racks, and seasonal storage containers? These might be in guest rooms, hallways, entryways, mudrooms, lockers, garages, basements, attics, or under stairways. If you’re going to do a total wardrobe makeover, you might as well organize all your clothing, wherever it’s stored. When you’ve finished, I doubt that you’ll say, “I wish I’d only organized the closet.”

Thumbs Down on the Rule of Thumb

I’ve read countless closet-clearing techniques over the years, and they usually mention some rule of thumb instruction stating that if you haven’t worn something within a year, get rid of it. I don’t buy it. I don’t think that’s the best determining factor. If I have a ski outfit which I spent a lot of money on, and hours of shopping to find, I’m not going to toss it because I didn’t wear it last year. Likewise for a sparkly gown that wasn’t worn to the ballet last season.

There are probably a few items in everyone’s closet that haven’t been worn in who-knows-how-long, but that shouldn’t be the deciding factor. If you want to get real about assessing the garments in your wardrobe, you have to try them on!

Your Own Private Fitting Room

You may have pleasant memories about a great looking sweater in your dresser. You may be thinking you’re waiting for the right occasion to wear it. But if, when you try it on, you’re reminded how it itches or how it exposes your midsection if you raise up your arms, that’ll be your reality check that it’s time to pass it on.

You might have a pair of pants in your closet that fits great and looks good on you, but until you try them on, you won’t remember that they have a broken zipper that makes them unwearable.

Conversely, you may rediscover a shirt that was misplaced in your closet, or try on a jacket that you’d forgotten that you liked. You’ll be surprised by what you find amidst the clothing that you see everyday.

Your Own Private Fashion Show

The best way to begin your wardrobe purge is with a bath or shower (you’re going to be naked anyway). Also, shave, brush your teeth, do your hair, trim your nails, moisturize your skin, add fragrance, make-up, and whatever grooming rituals you would do if you were going out. This will assure that you look your best and that you will only keep those clothing items which enhance your image of you at your best. That’s how you see yourself in your mind anyway – looking good (or at least better than the average person your age) – so let’s reaffirm that image in reality, with your wardrobe.

For Your Consideration

As you sort through the contents of your closet or other storage spaces, and try on each article of clothing, consider these factors:

1. Fit
2. Wearability
3. Style
4. Practicality
5. Maintenance
6. Versatility
7. Quantity

The fit should be body enhancing. Check the waistline, sleeve, skirt, short, or pant length, shoulder seams, and collar or neck opening. Undergarments, swimwear, and snug-fitting items should be supporting and smoothing, with stretch and stability appropriate to the fabric. Garments should not gap at the buttons, nor should they pucker or bind. There should be no irritating straps, fasteners, seams, trim, edges, or bulkiness. Footwear should not be too tight, nor should it rub against the foot, which could cause blisters or other discomforts.

You can have a garment that fits well, but is not particularly wearable. Think beyond the posing. The example that quickly comes to mind is a bikini. It might fit well enough to wear for posing, but could you actually swim in it? Women’s clothing is notorious for being non-functional. It’s part of my personal mission in life to eliminate the propagation of overpriced, poor-quality, dysfunctional women’s clothing that is marketed as trendy fashion and ends up cluttering closets as textile art.

Fabric should be of sufficient weight and density for the garment. Clothing items should have sturdy and practical fasteners (buttons, zippers, hooks, ties, etc.). Straps should be wide enough to support whatever they’re connecting, without risk of slipping off or breaking during movement. Wearability of clothing means that you can walk, step-up, reach, bend over, and even run in a garment without being tripped up, restricted, or improperly exposed. Shoes are not exempt from the wearability factor. Pointy-toed spike high heels are in the top ten of my list of dysfunctional clothing items, so don’t get me started on that topic. But those aren’t the only footwear items with limited wearability. Comedian, Dmitri Martin jokes that when you put on a pair of flip-flops, you’re saying to the world, “I hope I don’t get chased today.”

Style is a very subjective topic, and it changes with time. But the objective of a suitable style remains constant – it should be flattering and confidence-building to the wearer. It should be appropriate for one’s age and body type, and should reflect a fashionable, if not classic, appearance. Colors and prints of fabrics should be viewed with a discerning eye when considering style. In the age-appropriateness category, garments should not be too low-cut, too short, or even too long. There should be sufficient coverage, appropriate to the clothing item and its purpose, and it should not be inappropriately sheer or transparent where covering body parts that are discretely reserved for private, intimate settings. For some reason, this seems to apply mostly to young women. Young men are rarely counseled or privately admonished for wearing inappropriate clothing. For that matter, I don’t know that such questionable styles are even manufactured for men. But I digress.

This factor is presented as a reminder that your clothing items should be suitable for your lifestyle, activities, and occasions for which they will be worn. This might be determined by your line of work, the climate in which you live, or how you spend your days, evenings, and weekends. Practical is a relative term, and there are occasions for which you may need a wide range of clothing types. Just keep in mind that the percentages of your clothing items should correspond proportionally to your activities and your practical clothing needs. Garments with pockets are usually practical. And clothing that is easy to pack for travel is extremely practical for its purpose.

This factor is closely related to practicality, but it extends beyond the type of garment and the occasions for which its worn. Maintenance is especially focused on cleaning, repairs, and keeping the clothing item looking good. When evaluating your current garments (and when considering future purchases) keep in mind the laundering, drying, pressing, and special cleaning requirements. Be aware of the fragility of delicate fabrics that need special care or that have shorter life spans. Be aware of detailing, trim, ornamentation, and fancy fasteners. These can be difficult to repair or replace, and laundered garments with such trim rarely look as good as when the garment was new. Also keep in mind fabrics that show dirt or stains, wrinkle easily, cause lint or pet hair to cling, or are subject to wrinkling or pilling (those fuzz balls that appear on sweaters). If the hassle or expense of a garment’s maintenance is too much, you might be better off without it.

The factor of versatility is not a critical item of consideration, but it will add to the value of a garment when compared with a specialty, stand-alone item in your closet. When deciding whether to keep a particular article of clothing (and when considering future purchases), it would be worth thinking about its versatility. If an item is suitable for multiple seasons, occasions, and can be mixed and matched with other garments and accessories, you will get more wear from it. A classic white silk shirt with roll-up cuffs is substantially more versatile than a gold sequined tube top with spaghetti straps.

This isn’t a factor to be considered when evaluating individual items of clothing, but it is an important over-arching factor to keep in mind for the big picture, especially when storage space is concerned (and storage space is always a concern). This topic will be addressed in greater detail in a separate post.


3 Responses to “Organizing Your Wardrobe – Get Naked and Get Real”

  1. xoxo said

    Very insightful….Now i understand about the importance of mental prep needed for this…pheww…Look forward to your next post…Thanks!

  2. Xoxo, glad you found this post helpful. I hope the related posts that follow will also provide insight for you. A major factor in accomplishing any large project is in the planning and mental preparation. When you decide to take on one of these kinds of tasks, you have to get psyched up!

  3. […] (one manageable unit at a time), trying on what you have and assessing the value of each item (a la Get Naked and Get Real) is better than nothing. After separating the keepers from the tossers, the crucial remaining step […]

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