We've all done it before: Standing in front of the closet, trying to figure out what to wear. Trying on ten different items before something maybe comes together (or not), and all of this against the clock like an episode of Chopped. But, you really can have an easy, functional and effortless wardrobe -- without necessarily starting over or spending a lot of money. It all begins with the wardrobe edit, or in simple terms: Going through everything you've got to see what's working, what is not, and what you need or can do to make it work better for you.
1. Start by setting aside time to do the work. It can be done on a weekend afternoon, or if you need to spread it out a bit due to your schedule, over the course of a few weeks. Just make sure you don't let it hover between start and finish! A single day effort can be a better way to go to ensure you get it done and out of the way.
2. Assess what you've got. Create three piles of items: What you get use out of (keep), what you do not (toss), and what you're not sure (hold). Be careful with basic items while you do the assessment! Sometimes, you'll think you won't ever wear that simple gray turtleneck until one day you want to wear one. Be cognizant of items that do not fit you properly as well. If it's ill-fitting, it's not useful. Put it on the "toss" pile to donate, resell, or give away. You'll keep your "hold" items for six months to see if they start to perform for you. If not, it's better to move them out for what you will really wear.
When you're paring down, remember that even if an item comes back into style, it's usually with slight (or even dramatic) update. It can mean even though an item becomes on trend again, yours can look out of date.
3. Make a separate pile for items that need cleaning or repair. For simple things like repairing tears or other small tailoring, you can bring it to a cleaner service that also offers repairs. But, for larger tailoring work, go to a tailor specifically. Anything that is stained should be carefully assessed -- you can try to see if a professional cleaner can help, but generally, if it's been there a while and didn't come out, it may not ever.
4. Organize! Now is the time to do your wardrobe right to ensure it's easier to use. While you're doing the edit, think out storage solutions you might need, hangers, etc. Wire hangers usually aren't great for apparel -- they can damage the clothing, and usually aren't substantial enough to properly support items. Ditch them for anything but. For belts, considering using a tie rack or hanger. It makes access easy.
5. Purge. Do not keep that bag of unwanted items around! Take it to a local donation organization, cause, or give away. You can find places to resell items online or take to a resale shop, though bear in mind you will likely not get even remotely close to what you originally paid. Something is better than nothing, but if you're looking for a lot of cash back, be aware. Take repair and cleaning items to their respective resources right away! Otherwise you run the risk of having that bag of items hanging around, taking up space and the items going unworn/unused. Get it done instead.
6. Make a list of any items you may need. We're big fans of wardrobes being ideal, not necessarily big in number of items. But, there is a good chance you'll need some new items after a wardrobe edit and if it means you'll get more wear out of what you've got, it's worth it. Start a list and keep adding to it as you do your wardrobe edit work. You don't have to rush out to buy things right away, but keeping a sense of what you do need can prevent impulse purchases and help you spend your money wisely on what you need.
7. Put together outfits. Getting dressed is much easier with some pre-canned outfits you can grab and go with easily. You don't have to necessarily try everything on, or do a lot of work -- just think out how and what you can wear items with and make a mental note. Or you can get out your smart phone camera and start snapping pictures of your ideas, make notes in a notebook, whatever you prefer. But definitely consider doing it! While it'll take a little work to do, it'll help you have grab-and-go outfits for everything you need, which you can then also mix and match with other items. Voila! Expanded use and you'll get dressed faster and easier. We've got some outfit ideas for reinventing winter pieces in this month's edition of Condiment here.