Saturday, January 3, 2015


I remember a time - not so long ago - when shopping for clothes meant going downtown or to the mall with any excuse of "needing" some clothing item, or having no excuse at all. It involved hours of endeavor - all morning or afternoon - going in and out of stores, trying on clothes. And often as not leaving the stores with several items, even though I’d gone there looking for something in particular.
Ah, and those were also the days when our credit cards had room for a few more purchases – not minding the ever-growing balance of debt that accumulated. Shopping was supposed to be sheer pleasure. On that basis, we bought a lot of stuff. Our closets overflowed.

Today, things have changed for many of us. Shopping for clothes isn’t at all what it was.  We’ve rejected crass consumerism. We'd feel embarrassed to flaunt our exit from the stores carrying so many bags. We also know that we should carry a personal, reusable shopping bag, or at the very least, leave the stores with as few disposable bags - paper over plastic - as possible. 
Also, of late we’ve embraced the concept of minimalism – for the home and for the closet. We no longer like to see our closets spilling over with outfits. We’ve found that some well chosen clothes – maybe just 20 or 30 items often work very well. And we allow ourselves something new only when we’re willing to give away a corresponding item. 
My winter wardrobe of 25 ítems
Closet minimalism is a good way to go. I recommend it. And why worry about limited closet space when what you really need takes up just a small space? If you like the idea, start editing your closet right away. It’s easier than you might think.
Start editing
Take all your clothes out of the closet and inventory them. You'll see that you have more clothes than you thought. There are probably several items that you used to love, but have gotten shoved to the back of the clothes rack. Some clothes no longer fit, others show wear, and some need zippers or buttons.

To begin your inventory, make five piles of clothes on the bed or floor.

The first pile is for “keepers” - those that fit and that you absolutely love and wear at least once a month.  

The second pile is for those things that fit but require dry cleaning or some minor repair. If you plan to keep them, take care of these needs right away.

The third pile is separated out for donation, selling or giving away. It includes clothes that no longer fit, are out-dated, or those you just don’t like anymore.

Pile four is made up of torn or stained clothes that nobody is likely to want. (I never recommend throwing out clothes. You can wear them around the house or to bed, or cut them into rags (for cleaning or craft projects.)

Pile five is for seasonal clothes or exceptionally good special occasion outfits. Store them in a box or clothing bag elsewhere in the house. You’ll get them out when you need them.

 All the shoes in my winter closet. (Boots are in boxes.)
Hang the "keeper" clothes back in your closet by groups of items -- such as coats, outer wear, dresses, skirts, blouses, dress pants, exercise wear -- or in some other order that makes sense to you. You may also need to sort through and edit the rest of your clothes - underwear, shoes, and accessories - before returning them to their places. 

Then, if you think that you still have too many "keeper" clothes, here are some further editing options.

Extreme wardrobe reductionism.  
You can further reduce your need for closet space and stop wasting time wondering what to wear. Do this by simplifying your clothing needs to 6, 8, or 10 well-coordinated outfits. Keep clothes that are simple in design and of the same color scheme, so you can mix and match.  Since you are going to have fewer items, you want to choose totally comfortable items.  Get rid of the rest. You never again have to dig deep in your closet to see if there’s stuff in there that you want to wear.

You won’t need many items at all, if you adopt a personal uniform style – everything is usable, by definition. Your uniform should be one of your choosing – a look that represents your inner self or, at least, that part of yourself you want to share with the outside world. Eliminate absolutely everything else. For example, there are women who always wear a suit to work. They have 4 or 5 suits that are simple in style and neutral in color. The individual pieces of the suits can be mixed and matched to create their entire professional wardrobe. Another sort of uniform, for women who are homemakers or casual-dress workers, would be 3 pairs of khaki pants (or nice jeans) and 5 blouses or shirts in similar style but varying colors. This kind of uniform can be worn year-round. 

Don't accumulate useless stuff again
Regardless of your editing criteria, once you've reduced your wardrobe, don’t allow yourself to accumulate a lot of stuff again. Remember, your best wardrobe is one that is full of clothes that you love and wear often.

When you decide that you really need to shop, don't buy several items, when you only need one. Also, think about alternatives to going downtown or to the mall. You don’t have to buy new clothes. Nice, gently used clothes are easily found. Visit yard sales. Go to thrift shops or vintage stores. You’ll probably find something that you like at a great price.
Check your closets and drawers every few weeks to see if they are still in the best possible order. You’ll find that your edited and organized closet will be a long-term source of personal satisfaction and confidence.

Due to "popular request" and to my compulsive need to document most everything, here is a list of the 25 clothing items and shoes in my winter wardrobe. Gym/yoga clothes and at home grunges are not included.

2 black skirts/different textures
1 blue jean skirt
1 dress pants/black
2 blue jeans
1 "dressy" dress - LBD
2 cardigans/black & grey
2 pullovers/grey & black
3 jackets/black zip-up, black snap-up & blue jean
1 blazer (still need to buy)
1 parka/black
1 trench coat/medium blue
1 hooded sweat shirt/dark grey
4 short sleeve shirts/assorted colors
3-3/4 sleeve shirts/assorted colors

2 tennis/walking and running
2 heels/ closed with tie and closed with strap
2 boots/hiking and snow
flats with straps
chunky pull-on flats (still need to buy)

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