Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hello Closet!

As we welcome a new season, there is an obvious question to be asked: Do I buy new items, or try to make better use of what I have?

Perhaps you've heard of "shopping your closet"- so here's a few tips:
  • You cannot shop effectively in stores if you're not familiar with your own closet. You need to spend some time sorting through your closet, opening boxes, pulling out the storage bins...wherever you keep the goods...and take stock of what you have.
  • I like to make three piles: KEEP, GIVE AWAY, THROW AWAY. (yes, it is that simple) I realize being this decisive about your clothes can be challenging. Believe me, I've witnessed many friends struggle with my recommendation to throw away, especially when they have developed a certain emotional attachment to an item. Do your best to keep emotion out of it. That sweater your ex loved isn't worth keeping if you don't wear it!
  • To help the decision making process, I ask myself three questions:
  1. Have I worn the item once in the last year? If not, it probably should be given away or thrown out depending on its condition. Do give away gently used items- but pit stains or holes really should be trashed! For specialty items, sometimes this heuristic cannot apply: perhaps a great event hasn't presented itself. Hold onto that dress or suit (as long as it fits well) for when the occasion strikes.
  2. Does this still look good on me? Translation: Evaluate color, style, fit, proportion on your body...all of these impact the overall look of an item on you. So spend some time thinking about if you can say YES to these factors.
  3. Do I enjoy wearing it, or am I only keeping it for "just in case?" I love the "just in case" rationale...believe me, if you strongly believe you will wear it again, you wouldn't have to keep it for "just in case," you would be wearing it NOW! And you really should feel like a million bucks in it- even a basic t-shirt and jeans can do this!
  • Once you isolate the "keepers," you can then start to think about what needs to be replaced from the throw away pile, and/or what's missing to make your wardrobe more comprehensive.
The key to this process is being BRUTALLY honest with yourself about what you actually wear, what fits you well, and what makes you feel really good. If you need a friend to help you judge an item, call your local shopping blogger :)

And I like to hold out hope that you can discover something fabulous that you forgot you's like finding $20 in your winter coat pocket when you pull it back out to wear again!


  1. Maria, I totally remember living with you and going through our closets a few times a year and having you be like "Um, no. Give it away." It was hard but also, in the end, good b/c I only kept what looked good (ok, you know this, I did go back into the "give away" pile and retrieve a cozy sweater and when you saw me wearing it you made me promise I'd never wear it out of the house. I wore it to bed in our freezing apartment).

    Because of these experiences with you, I rarely keep things that just look "OK" or "just in case." Sure, I have a few, but not nearly as many as I used to. AND i really do believe that how we are w/ our clothes has a lot to do w/ our own psychological crap (ex. "What if I suddenly lose my job and we have no money for me to buy new shoes?"). I see it w/ my clients. When you clear up the pscyhological crap you can feel freer to keep only what looks FAB on you.

    Thanks for this great reminder!

    And I'm with you on this one -- keep emotions out of it (ok, ok, except for a few pieces if you must).

    Good to have an honest friend w/ you when you do your sorting! I'm glad we all have each other!

    love, lisa

  2. So can I recruit my local shopping blogger as we talked about at Pat's b-day? I get my first paycheck this week ;)
    - Crista

  3. Can we expect upcoming tips on fitness/athletic shopping in anticipation of the 13.1 miles about to be run on Sunday?

  4. Maria, this post totally inspired me. Yesterday I dropped off two garbage bags of clothes for charity. Included in the donated items were far too many items purchased while in high school (I know, you hate me) and also my bikinis, which I can no longer keep "just in case" after having two children. I also almost bought a pair of ruby flats at Marshall's, but they didn't have my size. I thought you'd be so proud!!