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Whip Your Wardrobe Into Shape

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When you look in your closet, you probably see a crush of clothes: some things that are old, some that are new, some you wear constantly and, some, almost never. I routinely cull and organize my wardrobe--it gives me a sense of control and accomplishment, albeit briefly--and when I do, I am struck by the items that I have worn happily and often for many years.

Some of them were big-ticket items:

  • a brocade evening coat with 3/4 sleeves (feminine and timeless)
  • a ruffled white blouse
  • a classic tuxedo pantsuit (you can wear the jacket and pants separately)
  • a perfectly tailored blazer
  • an ivory wool/cashmere bathrobe coat (love the drama of a white coat over black underpinnings)
  • a classic leather satchel (with minimal hardware, so it goes with everything)
  • a strappy black pump with a princess heel (that can be worn for day or evening)
  • a fur vest (I wear it instead of a jacket in the Fall months, and as a layering piece under various coats in the winter)

Many of these items were bought on sale, but they often stretched my budget, nevertheless.

Others were more affordable basics:

  • a wide-leg black trouser (the side-zipper creates the slimmest silhouette)
  • a cigarette pant in heavy silk taffeta (to wear for day with flats, for evening with a heel)
  • a leather pencil skirt
  • a silk shirtdress (my out-the-door in five minutes uniform)
  • a blue chambray work shirt
  • a chunky wool turtleneck
  • a mid-heel leopard pump (a touch of leopard always adds interest)
  • suede knee-high boots.

As for the pieces I almost never wear? I use a system of "triage." If I never wear it because it doesn't look good on me, then out it goes--to a consignment shop if I spent serious money on it or to the Vietnam Veterans, if I didn't. (They will come and pick up your cast-offs and give you a donation form for your taxes.)

If it's something that is well-made but currently not in fashion, I put it away to reevaluate in the future. My own mother was a "clothes horse," who routinely disposed of outmoded styles, only to regret it later. I really wish I had more of her fabulous dresses from the '60s and '70s!

I occasionally put aside a few really special things that I doubt I will ever wear again (or that I know will never fit me again!), just in case they might appeal to my daughter in the future--such as a Valentino tulle strapless evening gown by the eponymous designer, a Gucci military coat from the Tom Ford era, an elegant black lace cocktail dress from Oscar de la Renta and a knife-pleated leather midi-skirt from Donna Karan. Even if my daughter never shows an interest in them, they may have future value.

So take an afternoon to analyze your own wardrobe. What are the pieces that have served you well, and which ones have failed you? Can you discern a pattern to your "closet all stars" that may guide you in future purchases? I have to confess, I never liked those stories headlined "10 Items Every Woman Should Own." Every woman's life is different, and only you know which ones were worth every penny.

Check out Cindy's most worth-it buys at Apprécier.