Shop Your Closet – Part 1

No need to go clothes shopping when you can shop your closet!

No need to go clothes shopping when you can shop your closet! |

Confessions of a clothes hoarder

Today I was going to write about building a capsule wardrobe. But in all honesty, I couldn’t do it without spilling the beans first. That picture? That’s only one wall of closets. The wall behind where I was standing is also a wall of closets. I’ll admit it. I am a clothes hoarder. I have a capsule wardrobe alright. In about every base colour you can think of! (and then some)

It all started when I was a kid. I would get tons of awesome hand-me-downs from my two older cousins. We were all growing like weeds, and most of what they passed down to me was hardly worn. With all those options available to me, I became an elementary school fashionista.

When I was eleven years old, one of those cousins taught me how to sew and make my own clothes. (Thanks, Cuz!) Little did we know, she created a monster! By high school, I was making an outfit every night to wear to school the next day. These days I am not making clothes every night. Instead, I am teaching others how to make their own clothes! I’ve also been doing some of my own designs – which means I make one for myself to test out for wearability.

Another factor in my hoarding is the fact that I shop smart and don’t pay much for any item. (I’ll reveal my secrets in another post.) In fact, I only have one item in my closet that is what I call “expensive”. It’s a full length charcoal grey overcoat that I bought about 10 years ago. When I found it in the store and tried it on, it felt as if it was custom made for me! Get this – made in Italy and 100% cashmere. For $298. I Googled a similar coat before I went to the cash register, and that coat was selling for $1,400.

Now to keep my from getting to the Rachel Zoe stage of having to store clothes off-site, once a year I go through every item of clothing I own. I always end up finding things I sort of forgot about and/or new ways to pair up separates.

Even if you are not at the Rachel Zoe level, the next steps are a must-do.

And now that it’s winter, it’s a perfect time to

Try On, Weed & Organize Your Clothes

For today, we are just going to:

  • determine what you have
  • remove what doesn’t fit, needs repair, and stuff you hate
  • make piles

Shop your closet steps

I know it sounds silly, but the first thing to do is take a shower and style your hair.

(My cut is short and punky, so it needs to be styled or else I look like a 12 year old boy.) Having your hair done as you would normally wear it for work or going out is really going to make a difference in how you will judge your outfit.

Wear a good bra and underwear.

Just like you would if you are going out. This is going to affect the fit of the clothes. You will also need to have a pair of pantyhose and trouser socks ready. Those can be crappy pairs that you will want to toss out anyway.

Have a full length mirror available.

And good lighting.

Other items to gather: shopping bags, boxes and/or large trash bags.

Take a deep breath, because here it comes……

Take everything out of your closet(s) and drawers.

Every. Single. Thing.

Try every single item on.

Yep. Everything. Being the hoarder that I am, I have to spread this out over a few days. When trying on pants, dresses and skirts, it will help if you slip on the shoes that you normally wear with them. I usually put on a black tank top, then go through all the pants, then all the skirts. At this point, you just want to determine if the bottom item is a keeper or not.

As you try things on, don’t worry about what tops go with what bottoms just yet (that’s for the next post).

If you hate it and/or it doesn’t fit, put it in a pile to donate.

I keep a clipboard with notebook paper and a pen handy to write down items as I put them in the Donate bag. When you drop off your donation, be sure to get a receipt! You will need this at tax time, and the itemized list is always good to have as a backup.

The next pile is for items that you love, but they need a little repair – a button is missing, or there is a minor issue like a hem coming down.

Note I said minor. If it is a huge rip, needs a total alteration overhaul, or the zipper is broken, think about if you will really get the work done – and if it is worth the cost of the repair. Me? I hate doing alterations! I would rather take something apart and make a new item from the fabric before I would alter it. And putting in a new zipper isn’t worth the amount of time it takes me to rip out the old one and install a new one. Be realistic here.

The last pile is for clothes you absolutely love; the colour looks good on you; it fits, the cut is appropriate/in style/compliments your figure.

For items that are beyond all hope – throw them away! (except for T-shirts. I have a great project for you to do with those – even the stained, ripped ones.)

If you do a lot of gardening, yard work, painting, etc., you might want to keep a few items for chores.

Try on shoes too!

If they pinch or give you blisters, get rid of them! Put the ones that need minor repair in a pile to go to the shoemaker, and toss out the ones beyond hope.

While you are sorting through everything, you might as well try on belts too. If they are too small? You know what to do! What about handbags? Scarves?

Have you gone through everything?

Even socks, underwear and coats?

How about shoes?


Good! Now pour yourself a glass of wine and relax. You deserve it!

If you want a good read, I highly recommend Tim Gunn’s book, A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style.

Tomorrow we will deal with what you have curated as your “keepers” and go shopping – right in your very own closet!

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