Friday, September 9, 2011

How to Clean Out Your Closet

As  a feng shui consultant, I rarely enter a home where I don’t give the following tip:
Clear Your Clutter.

Alas, as a naturally disorganized person myself, I find this feat challenging at best.  Lucky for my clients, I have complete empathy.  Yet after all my years of studying feng shui and putting it to practice for myself and others, clutter-clearing is hands-down the number one thing a person can do create miracles in his or her life.  I’m talking miracles.

{Stay tuned for the Why? on Clutter Clearing...}  

This past week, we had a few rainy days here in Birmingham, and with the change in weather (it’s finally cooling down a bit), I decided to tackle my clothes.   

Because, lately, every time I go to my closet – and I’m talking just to go over to the grocery store – I struggle with what to throw on.  This is a problem, as my closet is packed full of clothes.   

Funny, because I felt like I had just cleaned it all out.  After all, it wasn't long ago that I was wearing all maternity clothes, and I've moved in the past year, so yes, I've tossed some stuff along the way.  Goes to show, however, that clearing clutter is a process.  After all, we are always accumulating things, so it's really about maintenance, isn't it?

So what was all this stuff in my closet???  This stuff that I didn't even want to wear???  

If you are like me, you have a few favorites from fifteen years ago.  And, if you are like me, you have not worn them but four times in the past ten of those years. 

For example:

Betsy Johnson LBD.  Very cute.  I have had some fun times in this little number.  So how to know whether to keep or give?  After all, it’s an LBD.  They always are in style, right?  And it’s designer.  And I’ve had it for soooo loooong.

And how about this fun tunic that I bought in Urban Outfitters in Austin in 1998?  Hot pink is a favorite of mine to wear.  I seem to get a fair amount of positive attention in this one.  But every time I go to put it on (which is probably twice a year), I say “Naaahhh.” 

And then there's the BCBG wrap dress in brown:

When I bought it, it said "feminine class."  When I put it on, it says, "Blah."  

So what gives?  How do you know what to keep (things really do come back in style) and what to say ba-bye too? 

I’ll tell you!

What I was inspired to do – and I’m telling you, I had to get brutal – was to write down every piece of clothing I owned, try that piece on, then rate it.

Yes, I rated my clothes.

I know what you may be thinking.  I have too much time on my hands.  Or that I'm excessively anal retentive.  Both of those could not be farther from the truth.  But, being a single mom, juggling freelance jobs among a zillion other things, I’ve become pretty good at the time management thing.  I have found that when you take the time to make a big pot of soup at the beginning of the week, it saves you time during the week.  Same goes with streamlining your closet – put in the time now, it will save you those evenings of trying on four outfits and then just settling with one that you don’t like that much anyway.  Trust me.  I’m not patient with this sort of stuff.  For me to be doing it should be telling you something. 

Here’s how it went:

I started with the dresses.  I tried them all on, making sure I had shoes to match.  The system went like this:

4 stars – I felt 100% in it!  It fit great, it was my color, and it’s in style. 
3 stars – Cute but not killer.  Not a knock-out, but definitely a keeper.
2 stars – Didn’t fit, not a great color on me, reminded me of an ex-boyfriend or a not-fun time in my life, looked cheap or out of style and not cute enough to save for another season.
1 star – Just bad.

Occasionally, I was between and 2 and a 3, so I invented 2.5 stars.  It’s a little bit of a cheat, so try not to do it if you try this at home.  Basically, those items are still in a smallish pile.  I need a second opinion on those.  (On the opinion thing: be sure you get someone who knows your style and who loves you and wants you to look beautiful.  Hate to say it, but girls can be catty, and you never know when someone’s telling you it looks awful because she wants it!)

The 4 stars went back in the closet.

The 3 stars went back in the closet.

The 1 Stars went in a pile on the floor along with the 2 stars.  These items (I don’t care how long I’ve had it, or how badly I wanted it to fit) were outta there. 

Oh, and during this process if there was something I needed to buy – shoes, belt, certain jewelry – to take it to the next level, I’d write that down next to the item.  This is VERY important as we move onto….

Pants and tops.  I tend to buy in pieces rather than entire outfits (despite my mother’s instructions), and this had gotten me in trouble.  The beauty of having pieces is that you can find sudden inspiration in pairing a top with an unexpected bottom, the day of, and to me, this is part of the fun of getting dressed.  It’s not just putting on clothes – it becomes creative expression in those moments.  But my closet had gotten to the point where I couldn’t even see what I had so that nothing inspired me because it was hidden behind a bunch of 2 stars. 

For example, I bought this precious pink jacket by Theory (one of my favs) a few months ago.

 I'm proud to say that I found it second-hand at Crossroads in Santa Monica, and I just had to have it.  (The $15 price tag may have helped!)  However, I haven’t worn it because I didn’t have a shirt to go underneath – so I thought! 

Can you believe that I actually have a lacy little tank in the exact same pink!

How did I miss this?!

I'll tell you how.  Buried.  Under 2 starses.  

I had a BIG pile of giveaways.  It feels GREAT.  Putting my clothes back in my closet – the keepers – was a reward in itself. 

The next step:  Finding the gaps in the wardrobe.  Like I said, I have tons of pieces, so in order for me to be able to keep some of these cute items that I never wear, I have to find something to go with them to make them a complete outfit.  One thing I have discovered:  shoes make the season.  You can wear something from 1940 or 2001 in year 2011 but only if you have the shoes of the day to bring it up to today’s fashion.  Accessories count for a lot too. 

Here’s my personal must–haves for Fall 2011.
1.  A gold chain-link belt  (to drape on my hips for some of the A-line looks that are passé)
2.  Tight short skirt  (to wear with some of my looser tops)
2.  Thick tights in several colors (to wear with the short skirts and to give a boring outfit some umph) Note:  NOT leggings – unfortunately, leggings are on the out, unless they look like tights
3.  Clunky shoes (to modernize anything)
These are 7 For All Mankind:

4.  Short black wedge boots (because I’m obsessed with boots)
These are Donna Karan: 

Final step:
Before I shop, I search.  A favorite place to visit is the Lucky Magazine website.  I click on Street Style for wearable things first.  I take note of what looks I like.  Of course, I’ll browse the designer sections.  I found myself loving the shorts look with fun shoes, and I realized I definitely need more red in my closet just because, for me, red is an instant burst of fun. 

My final inspiration in my “home shopping,” was this photo.

When I saw it, I thought, THIS IS IT.   Isabel Marant's design.  This is the kind of look I adore.  Although I don’t see myself wearing this exact thing in Birmingham, it's what it evokes that I love.  Basically, it's got attitude.  It's bold, modern, fun, playful, yet sexy.  

Which reminds me -- one more must-have:
5.  Amazing fringe boots.

1 comment:

LJRogers said...

Funny that I mentioned needing to sort contents of my closet to find out you had recently written the blog to tell me how! Your blog is perfect timing for me! Thanks, Katie. I think I can now tackle my closet without too much dread!