Well don’t you feel fabulously productive?! If you undertook our step-by-step guide to closet organization recently, your new year, new you is off to a great start. You’ve sorted and cleaned and positioned yourself perfectly for your next move: wardrobe evaluation.
Today we’re going to help you go through each item in your closet and decide — to paraphrase The Clash — should it stay or should it go? This can be an agonizing process for people who a) feel permanently attached to everything they’ve ever owned, b) feel deep guilt over giving up on something they haven’t worn to pieces or c) have affixed sentiment — good or bad — to many items. Wardrobe wellness is a real thing, and achieving it isn’t always easy.
Never fear: We’re not going to make you toss it all. We’re going to help you use it or find it a good home. You’ll be able to cast off the guilt, create mental and physical space for things that suit you best, and reframe your perspective on future purchases.
Are you ready for this? Of course you are. But to make wardrobe evaluation a little more fun:
- Carve out a chunk of time. It’s SO much easier to complete this process in one fell swoop.
- Put on that happy playlist. (Personally, we’re right now rocking “Crave You” featuring Giselle by Flight Facilities, because it makes us feel all dance-y.)
- Keep some snacks and beverages handy. No need to be parched and hangry while making decisions.
- Maybe invite a friend! You can return the favor by helping out in his or her closet next weekend.
- Round up some bins, boxes or bags, a marker and some sticky notes. You’ll see why in a minute.
Pull out anything that doesn’t fit *super well.* Maybe it’s grown a little snug around the bum, or maybe it has always pulled across your shoulders. Whatever the case, if it’s in good shape, put it in a DOESN’T FIT pile. (This is where those sticky notes and bins/boxes/bags come in handy.)
One of us really needs to perform this step in wardrobe evaluation far more frequently: Pull out anything that is torn, faded or stained. One of us is guilty of wearing stained sweatshirts around the house, or zip-ups with broken zippers. Sure, they’re fine for cleaning the bathroom, but are they necessary when one of us has five other non-stained, non-broken tops in her closet?
Sort these items into FIXABLE and BEYOND REPAIR. This goes for shoes, too. Look at the heels in particular; these are easily repaired, but often overlooked.
Pull out anything that you don’t wear but want to keep for sentimental reasons. Your wardrobe should be a collection of useful things. Fold that misshapen T-shirt from your college days into a bin and store it in the attic, the basement or under the bed. Or consider a creative use: There are lots of ideas on Pinterest for pillows, quilts, tote bags, stuffed animals and the like made from keepsake clothing.
Have some iffy items in there? Maybe you’ve never worn it, you’re not sure about the color, you don’t know what to wear it with, or you’ve just never felt confident in it. The next step in your wardrobe evaluation uses the RIDME app. Put on these pieces of clothing and upload images to get feedback from one of our stylists asking whether you should keep it or get rid of it.
Step Four was really fun, right? It’s always nice to have a second opinion. Especially when the only motivation is to help you look good, feel good and gain confidence. We here at RIDME are big advocates of the idea that putting on something you love can make rough mornings a little better and inspire courage during tough days.
Now let’s get to those piles you just made. For the items in the DOESN’T FIT pile:
Consider whether they might fit someone you know. Pass them along, if possible.
Choose from an array of resale outlets that might even give you cash for your castoffs. These include:
- online retailers such as ThredUp and Poshmark
- vintage and resale boutiques
- charitable organizations such as the Dress For Success and St. Vincent de Paul Society Clothing Closet
For the items in the FIXABLE pile, sort by whether they need to go to a tailor, a dry cleaner or a shoe repair shop (or, if you’re handy, into a pile you can clean or sew yourself).
For the items in the BEYOND REPAIR pile, consider a sustainable reuse. Some suggestions:
- use them as cleaning rags around the house
- see whether an animal shelter near you can use them as bedding for dogs or cats
- consider one of the textile recyclers mentioned in this list from Trash is for Tossers
As you’re going through these piles, keep a list of any wardrobe essentials that need to be replaced; for example, a basic black cardigan that you’ve worn so often it’s a dusty shade of gray.
Whew. Was that cathartic? How do you feel? Are you surprised by what you have left? As you complete your wardrobe evaluation, do you see any gaps in your closet (maybe you only have two business jackets left)? Do you see any overages–maybe you can lay off the leggings for a year or so? This awareness can help you become a more conscious consumer going forward, meaning you won’t have to complete this process as often, and it won’t be as huge next time!
Create two to three outfits out of each piece you keep. Again, closets should contain only useful items. You want to walk in there, mix and match and go, whatever the occasion. If something works with nothing, you’ll never wear it.
This might be a good time to again try that pro tip we mentioned previously: Turn all your hangers backward; only turn the hanger the other way when you’ve worn the item on it. You could do the same with your lineup of shoes, and you could experiment with folding the things in your dresser vertically (Marie Kondo style) until you’ve worn something. If items languish for more than a month in season, you might put them in a bin for those organizations listed under DOESN’T FIT above. You can pull an item back out if you need it; but if not, bid it a fond farewell and send it to its next home.
How often should you conduct a wardrobe evaluation? A good goal is every six months, or with a change in the seasons. Schedule one at least annually. And speaking of scheduling, set up a date and time when you’ll take care of the clothes in all those piles. Look up the addresses of the local outlets where you’ll donate, resell or repair and plan a *specific time* to get ‘er done. DO NOT push them back into your closet. Useful things, remember?
Questions? Reach out to us. We’re always here for you. Now, get your gear and get at it. Your closet is going to be a secret source of power soon!