Sunday, 5 August 2012

Weekend Wishlist: Cleaning Out my Closet Edition

I recently started a new chapter in my life. I started my first adult job and am no longer student for the first time in 18 years. This change marks my ascent further into what I like to call 'being a real grownup.' (Yes, I realize the word 'grownup' is juvenile, but I nearly always feel like I'm faking adulthood anyway so it's appropriate :)

Although I could talk about the myriad little--and large--ways my life has changed in the last 3 months, instead, I want to talk...about my wardrobe. (Like I said....faking adulthood).

My actual closet. I lead a glamorous life. Yes, I realize it looks ghetto--plans in the works to put on doors etc. Money doesn't grow on trees people...

Once I started working every day, I realized that my wardrobe isn't necessarily set up to do so. Even though I tried to dress stylishly for school, let's be honest--lots of times that meant leggings with boots and a cute top. As evidenced by these photos of me:

(Gotcha, fools! I'm not even brunette! These aren't even the same people! And if I looked this hot, I wouldn't be writing about the woes of my closet now would I? Silly gullible.)

Regardless of how awesome these hotties look, that's just not gonna cut it as a medical professional. It got me thinking about how to make my closet work for me, and I went on a long nerdy binge of reading fashion blogs and what they have to say about the topic.

My favorite posts are these:

    • This series includes some great ideas about individualizing your closet--how to make sure what you're wearing is really you
    • I loooove the series of questions that goodlifeforless posed.  Favorites? "Does that piece fit your lifestyle? Is this piece a part of your future or your past? Would you re-buy this piece today?"
    • This DIY-savvy chic put together a great collage of essentials that I've been referencing

So, in the immortal words of Eminem, tonight I'm cleaning out my closet. And here is how I'm going to do it, while revamping my wardrobe to work for Present Day Meghan rather than Past Meghan:

Step 1: Take Stock. Go through each item in your closet and ask yourself:
  • Would I buy this again if I saw it in a store today? I think this is the most important question, because if you wouldn't buy it again today you probably don't or shouldn't wear it now.
  • Does this item fit? Dress for your body, people! If it's too small, donate it! If it's too large, can it be tailored? Is it worth the extra money to do so? If not...donate!
  • If it does fit, does it represent where I am in life? I could do with getting rid of my millionth tshirt and replacing it with work-appropriate tops that can transition to play.
  • Does the item transmit the message I want to send about who I am? Whether you realize it or not, the way you present yourself does send a message to people. Do you want that message to say that you are sloppy or lazy (keep wearing those stained sweatpants to the grocery store!), or do you want to nonverbally tell people that you are proud of yourself (by wearing clothes that truly present you, fit you, and work for you rather than the other way around)?
  • Did I buy this or do I wear it to fit someone else's ideal? Whether that ideal be that of the store you bought it from, the people you wore it to impress, or the guy on the subway you're trying to catch the eye of, the only ideal you should strive to fit is your own. Dress for you, not for others.
  • Do I wear this because it makes me feel pretty, sexy, healthy, or any other positive emotion? If not--donate! There are so many things life that can bring you down, and your clothes are not nearly important enough to rank on that list.
  • Am I holding on to this piece for sentimental reasons or because I actually love to wear it? I'm way guilty of this. If it's sentimental and not practical, maybe you could frame that pretty scarf that's bad for your coloring, or put a picture of it in your closet, then put the actual item in a box in the attic. Retail space in your closet is at a premium people!
  • Have I worn this item during its season? If not (and the reason you didn't wear it isn't because it's a beautiful floor-length gown and you didn't make it to the Grammys this year), ask yourself if that piece needs to take up space in your closet, or if another piece would be more functional.
Step 2: Remove or Reconstruct. 
After answering the Step 1 questions for everything in your closet, you should be able to easily separate items into Keep, Rework, or Donate piles. 
  • Keep: This pile should consist of all the items that passed the test of the Step 1 questions. You love them, wear them, fit well in them, feel good in them, and wear them to please yourself and to present the true you to the world. 
  • Rework: I think this pile is one that gets overlooked by many people. Sometimes all an ill-fitting maxi dress needs is a shorter hem, or jeans that fit well everywhere but the waist can get nipped in to your actual size. A quick trip to a tailor can fix those types of problems and create a wardrobe specific to you.
  • Donate: there are tonnnnnns of places that would be happy to accept clothing that no longer works for you. Another tip might be to bring them to a consignment shop, where often shop owners pay you either cash or credit to their store, so you can replace all the nonfunctional items with ones that work for you!
If you're having a hard time giving up certain items, I suggest you do one of two things: 1) Put those items in a box and store the box in a place outside of where you get dressed. If after a set amount of time you don't go to the effort of locating that box and taking out an item, those items can be donated because you're clearly not really missing them. 2) Put all of your clothes on hangers, but put the hangers backwards. As you wear an item, switch the hanger to the normal way. After a set amount of time, anything you haven't worn (the ones with the hanger still facing the wrong way) gets donated.  

Step 3: Reassess your Closet.
Now that you've removed the unnecessary items, it's often much easier to see where your closet is lacking. 
  • Assess what needs replacing. For example, once I got rid of the ill-fitting dress pants I held onto since high school, I could see that I need to replace them with dress pants that actually fit my body and work with the existing colors in my wardrobe. 
  • Assess what color palette you commonly wear. After getting rid of all the 'fluff' I saw that my wardrobe is mostly black, white, and cream with pops of color via tops and scarves.
  • Assess what types of clothing you commonly wear. I wear skirts and dresses four out of five business days, so although I do still need a nice pair or two of dress pants, I shouldn't go overboard there because I'm less likely to get a lot of use out of pants as opposed to a nice skirt.
  • Assess if your closet fulfills its necessary roles. My current closet is set up to accommodate a student. I have am now a healthcare professional, and my current closet just isn't cutting it!
  • Assess if your closet represents you. Although my closet is black and white now, I'm soooooo not a black and white personality--I'm bubbly and energetic and friendly and much more outgoing than a mostly neutral wardrobe may portray. 
  • Assess what you can afford. I am fortunate to finally have a little disposable income for the first time in years, so why am I still shopping Forever 21 like a kid who just received her weekly $10 allowance? I love F21 but I need to start investing in myself and thus my wardrobe. As Kendi brilliantly pointed out, if I'm not spending $100 on 5-6 F21 items that fall apart after one use, I can afford the $100 boots that I love and will wear a million times over and reheel and wear another million times. Quality over quantity, people. On the flip side, as stated before, your clothing shouldn't be getting you down, so if you can't afford new clothes--reimagine the clothes you've got! No need to add stress to your life because your clothes aren't exactly what you want--just be creative and challenge yourself to work with what you have. 
Step 4: Create a Shopping List
After all this funnnnnnn assessment, we get to the good stuff: Shopping! I can't really write any tips on what to buy, since everyone's list should be drastically different, because you are drastically different from me! But to give you an idea, here's how I've created my list.
  • Decide what's needed to make your wardrobe functional for you today and to represent who you are. My wardrobe is student-oriented and neutral, and I'm now a professional and decidedly not a 'neutral' personality! If your wardrobe isn't doing its job of clothing you or representing you to the world, decide what you need to make it do so.
  • Place necessary items at the top of your list. My favorite black short-sleeve, super-versatile dress has seen better days, so I need to replace it ASAP! Even though it's black and I am trying to get more color in my wardrobe, this is a necessary purchase for me because I wore its predecessor so often that it would be missed if not replaced. 
  • Figure out items that maximize the rest of your wardrobe. Since you're now familiar all the contents of your wardrobe, it should be easy to see where a piece can fill in the gaps.  For example, this lovely Mikkat Market peach-colored dress can be a heavy hitter in my wardrobe because it brings in lots of lovely color (including a hue I don't even own!) while mixing nicely with all my black, grey, white, and cream pieces. It can also be dressed up or down and be nice and light in the summer or layer prettily in the winter. Lists such as this one can help you figure out if you have your basics covered, but remember that my 'basics' (black dress, brown leather boots) may be really different from your 'basics' (leopard print leggings? Bad-ass rocker jacket? ok!).
  • Place fun, trendier items near the bottom of your list. I loooooove these fun orange boots and these funky pink tribal earrings because each of them is unique and brings lots of fun color to my neutral wardrobe. However, they're lower on the priority list because the boots can't really be worn at work (so are restricted to play time) and the earrings are trendier than the other items I've selected. Remember that trendy items help keep your wardrobe current, but will likely not have as long of a shelf-life as classic pieces. Therefore I go to Forever 21 for trends and Nordstrom or Shopbop for well-made, quality classics.
  • Make sure your 'needs' are fulfilled, but get your 'wants' as you're able! I can't stress enough that clothing should be fun, not stressful, so if you're wearing your budget thin to get the latest hot item, stop it! Wait until you can really afford it. BUT on the other hand, if you can  easily afford it, don't be a baby! Go buy those hot faux leather leggings you've been eyeing for weeks! Have fun with your closet!

And because I've been really wordy for a girl with zero claim to fashion fame, here are some pretty things on my Weekend Wishlist:

Nice and Neutral:

         Nearly Neutral:


As always, all my sources can be found on my Pinterest. Most from this post are on the boards Style Inspiration, Dream Closet, or Shopping Spree.


  1. Loved this post. I'm going to use your tips to help clean out my closet tonight!

  2. Glad you liked it! Good luck :)