Wardrobe – friend or foe?

Does your wardrobe live in the past, or the present?

A great friend of mine got inspired one Sunday afternoon and went through her knickers – of the 63 pairs she had in her drawers, she threw out 27! These dated back from her teenage years in some cases. I don’t know what tickled me more, the number she had in the first place, or the number she threw out. Another good friend holds onto every item of clothing she has ever bought, for the following reasons:

  • She might lose weight and fit it again – one day
  • It might come back into fashion
  • It cost too much to throw away
  • It reminds her of some event she wore them to
  • She’s not a throwing away kind of person…etc, etc.

Sound familiar? I’ve been guilty of all of the above, many times over. So, let’s look at what’s going on. The wardrobe is a place to store things, right? Well, yes, but what if it were also a memory bank. Every time we look into it, what we think of is the weight we haven’t lost, the things that we love that are out of date, the impulse buys we made and then regretted, the party we went to and met that nice man who was a great kisser…And what comes next? How about, ‘I’m a failure for not losing weight, my taste is old hat and fashion is my enemy, I’m no good with money, he turned out to be such a creep…’

Maybe I’m exaggerating for effect here, but if you stand and look into your wardrobe, listen to what comes up for you.

Maybe, just maybe, your wardrobe has something more powerful to offer you than that. What if you viewed it as a partner in life, unconditionally working to support you in your self-expression? Every time you opened it, the messages you got from it were about who you are today, what you are interested in, how great you are just the way you are. Wouldn’t that be the best!

If you’re with me on this one, you’ll see that there is some work to be done in transforming the wardrobe you have into the wardrobe you love.

Here are some guidelines to transforming your wardrobe:

  • Pull everything out of your wardrobe and drawers – including shoes, accessories etc. As you do, make three piles – one of things you wear all the time, one of things you know you’ll never wear again, and one of things you are not sure about.
  • If you’ve grown out of it, get rid of it. I don’t care how broke you are, or how sure you’ll fit it again in 6 months. Chances are it will be out of style for you and in the meantime it’s just getting on your nerves. If you really can’t make the break, keep it somewhere else, not in your wardrobe, or cover with an opaque garment bag in the corner.
  • If you bought it on impulse and you don’t really like it, get rid of it. It’s just going to keep making you feel guilty. We all make mistakes. Once your wardrobe is working for you, you won’t make bad impulse buys any more, trust me.
  • Put all of the things you will never wear again in two piles – those that can go to the op shop or to friends, and those that may have some commercial value at a recycled clothing boutique. Then bag them up and put them aside for now.
  • The not sure clothes, are they out of season? Put out of season clothes in another wardrobe or in a storage bag under the bed, or at one end of the wardrobe if you have no other space. Review the rest and add any to the op shop bags that you’ve changed your mind about.
  • Now look at your ‘all the time wearers’ and your ‘not sures’. This is the time to deal with any buttons that need replacing, hems put up, shoes cleaned etc.
  • Lay everything out, or hang it up, so you can see it all properly. What goes with what? Have a play, see if you can find new combinations for your separates. What is missing? It’s amazing how often you suddenly see how a red scarf or a black skirt would drastically increase the options for putting outfits together. Write this down.
  • Try everything on. If it doesn’t fit you, or doesn’t sit well on you, add it to one of the other piles. This group of clothes is for wearing now, not some day.
  • By now you should have a collection of clothes that are wearable, fit you, and are ready to wear not in a state of ill repair.
  • Deal with the other piles within a week. Don’t leave them sitting there, or they will whisper words of guilt to you! You may make some money out of the exercise, which you can use to reinvest in something that you love. And don’t take it personally if the boutique won’t take something of yours, it’s no longer a part of your memory bank!
  • If you have identified any gaps in your wardrobe, use that information the next time you go shopping to guide your choices. It is shopping without a clear purpose that causes us to make impulsive buys we regret later. And you will find that you’ll be able to make more constructive impulse buys that work, and be more fatalistic about any you make that turn out to not work. We don’t always have to get it right!

I recommend that every woman go through this process at least once a year, preferably twice at the change of season. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and over time, it can save you money. I spend less money on clothes now than I did 6 years ago, and yet now I mostly buy boutique brands. I have found that I am also more immune to fashion trends as I am more content with what I already have.

Anyone who takes on the wardrobe challenge, let us know how it goes!

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