A new year has begun and with it, everyone gets a fresh start. Whether it’s something life altering as a new job, a new career, a new outlook on life, a new perspective–or the smaller, but no less important, things–a new hair style, a new promise, a new look.
If you want to overhaul your wardrobe for the year, or continue a gradual wardrobe upgrade from the previous year (like I began last year), here’s a few tips to get you started.
1) Get your head in the game.
Clear out your mind and focus. To clear out my closet, I got in a headspace where I told myself I had to remove items in order for me to get items that I actually like, that are actually my style, that fit me properly, instead of the items currently in there. Which leads me to:
As the middle child of a struggling middle-class family, I grew up practical and reasonable with money: if anything is still good and usable, there’s no reason to throw it out. Of course, this meant I was the automatic recipient of a ton of hand-me-downs, wore clothes that didn’t fit that well, and so on, just because it was a waste to not to. It’s also hard to let go of clothes that came from certain people–a Baby-G watch from a now-deceased uncle, a tank top bought by a now-deceased aunt during a shopping trip together, for example, even though I haven’t worn tank tops in close to four years. Yet my tanks sit there, a tall tower of colors, leftover from my university days.
I’m still learning to wean myself off this way of thought in regards to clothes. It might seem trivial or shallow, but wearing clothes you actually like and fit well does wonders for your confidence. Not to mention the elation of buying something classic, or apt to your new style, lasts more than just the initial buy and first wear. To keep myself on track, this was a good mantra to follow: these are clothes, not memories. I have photos and real people to talk with about loved ones that passed away. Letting go of that tank top and that watch does not mean I’m forgetting my loved ones, or the tangible proof of their love for me.
I asked myself a set of essential questions for every item that wasn’t a quick ‘dispose’ (it turned out that that was almost everything).
3) Do I LOVE it? If the answer is no, put it immadietely in the ‘Donate/Dispose’ pile. If it’s a ‘I LIKE it’ or a ‘yes’, move on to the next question.
4) Is it uncomfortable? If it’s a yes, toss it to the ‘Donate/Dispose’ pile. If it’s a ‘No’ or ‘but I really love it’, move on to the next question. Keep in mind that keeping items that aren’t comfortable will only hurt you in the long run–ill-fitting bottoms that show your undies (not classy at all), shoes (I am so, so guilty of this BUT PRETTY SHOES! This usually means I can’t wear anything but flats for days after I wear an uncomfortable pair, so), that top you have to keep re-adjusting to avoid flashing everyone–so instead of having a good time, one part of you is always occupied by concerns that shouldn’t even be there.
5) Does it flatter my body shape AND does it fit me? These two questions go hand-in-hand, as it is very much possible to have one without the other. I’ve got curves and a lot of items that hug me in the right places also hug other places tightly and could cause minor discomfort throughout the day (i.e. a top that hugs my boobs nicely also hugs my belly, which I get conscious of after a big meal, since I’ve gained weight over the past year). Obviously, RTW items aren’t custom-fit, so it’s best to pick items that you’re comfortable in. ‘No’ answers to this question get tossed, ‘Yes’ can be kept.
Personal style evolves all the time. If your answer to this is a ‘no’, you shouldn’t keep it in your closet.
7) Now if you’ve been answering steady ‘maybe’s and ‘I like it enough to ignore the discomfort’, the last question is the cincher. Toss it if you haven’t worn it in the last 6 months (1 year for tropical countries or countries without changing seasons). The temptation to keep items “just in case” is strong, especially for savers like me, but in the end, you’ll feel much better getting rid of items you’re realistically never going to wear. And when that “just in case” event comes up, you’ll be able to buy something that fits you better and is more your style.
8) The last question is the guide I like the most. While all of these are meant to be asked together to make a well-thought out decision, it’s this question that essentially shapes the future of my wardrobe:
I’m 25 and working. I don’t want to dress the same way I did in university and I want to look close to my age without having to apply make-up. I no longer have to depend on my parents for clothing, so I can spend how much or how little I want on it. And I have seen, experienced, and proven, time and again, that people are visual judging creatures. A person who looks and dresses well will be treated better than those who aren’t, even in small subtle ways.
– & –
After going through my closet, I managed to get rid of two large (garbage) bags full of wearable clothes for donation and one bag of shoes. I feel awesome. I can actually see all of my clothes now, making it easier to pick. The downside is a lot of the items left are seasonal–sweaters, knits, cardigans, and beach-wear. I kept a few white and black tees, and some soft tees that I probably wouldn’t wear outside anymore.
The next step? Working on my wardrobe. To avoid the previous trap, asking these same set of questions are a good thing to keep in mind when shopping or deciding if you should keep gifts or hand-me-down ‘vintage’ pieces.