How to Build Your Perfect Wardrobe
In this guide, I’m going to give you step-by-step instructions on how to thin out your closet, and keep it filled only with items that you actually want to wear. Last year, I went through my closet and donated nearly half of it, which ended up filling an entire car full of clothing I did’t love, wasn’t wearing, and wouldn’t reach for again, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Don’t Buy Things You Don’t Like or Won’t Actually Wear
Trendy clothing can be fun, but if crop tops are in and you hate the idea of introducing your belly button to the world, don’t buy one. The same goes for colors you don’t like, prints you don’t like, and cuts of clothing you won’t wear. You know yourself best, so be honest. If you prefer to wear head to toe black and eschew bright colors, don’t try to please anyone but yourself with your wardrobe and stick to things you love. Plus, if you don’t buy anything outlandish (unless of course, it speaks to you then do what you want!), you’ll be able to build on an all black or navy and white based wardrobe for years to come.
Personally, I hate wearing high heels or flip flops, I’ve never liked wearing shorts, and I’ve never liked wearing pants, except for my favorite pair of jeans, so I just don’t own any. I also don’t need any belts since I don’t wear pants, but because I spend so much time outdoors, I do own a nice pair of hiking boots and several pairs of Hunter Boots, so I can take photographs outside anytime of year. I also don’t own anything yellow, orange, or grey, because I don’t like those colors on myself. If you don’t love something, don’t own it!
Donate or Giveaway Anything in Your Closet That Doesn’t Fit, You Don’t Like, You Forgot You Had, or That You Simply No Longer Wear
Once you clear away the junk in your closet that you don’t even use anymore, you’ll be left with pieces you absolutely love. Consider how often you actually wear skirts, for example. If you wear skirts only once or twice a year, you likely don’t need ten of them. While of course it stinks to get rid of things you spent your hard earned money on, let this be a lesson to more carefully consider what you buy in the future so that you don’t end up wasting more money. Give yourself a fresh start and move on with a more discerning eye for your apparel. I realized I had more than a dozen belts, yet I hadn’t worn a belt in years, so I sent them all to Salvation Army, along with everything else that didn’t make the cut. Once I cleaned out my closet, I had so much more room to hang and display the pieces I did love.
If your clothing was expensive, check online resale shops like eBay to see if you can recoup some of your losses by reselling your clothing and giving it a new home.
Aside from making room for new clothing down the road you’ll actually wear, or simply tidying up your closet, you’ll be giving the pieces to a person who will actually enjoy them, and may even help someone in need. Doesn’t that feel nice?
Be True to Your Personal Style
Once you’re an adult and begin buying your own clothing, you can wear whatever you want. There really aren’t any rules. Well, indecent exposure is evidently a crime, so do keep that in mind. Other than that however, there aren’t any rules, so wear things you love, because life is way too short to dress like anyone but yourself.
Buy Clothing That Actually Fits
It can be temping to buy a size or several sizes smaller in something with the hopes that you’ll “eventually” fit into it, but don’t use clothing as an incentive to lose weight. In fact, if you’re dieting and exercising, wait until you actually need to buy new clothing before doing so to help ensure you don’t waste money on things you won’t fit into. This also goes for buying things that are too large. The occasional oversized item can be comfortable and even stylish, but if you’re swimming in your clothing, or have lost weight and need to size down, buying clothing in your size will make you look slimmer and more put together.
Remember, size is just a number, a secret only you will ever know (you can even cut out the size tags if you don’t like looking at them), but fit is readily apparent to everyone else, when it comes to your clothing, so buy the right size. Just because it zips, doesn’t mean it fits.
Don’t Buy Things You Already Own
How many button up blouses do we really need? When I was going through my closet last summer, I realized I had nearly a dozen almost identical white blouses. Whenever I saw one that was really cute, or on sale, I’d justify buying it because it was “different enough”. I’ve since donated all but my favorite one, and have stopped buying similar things I don’t need. Unless you’re buying for a work uniform, you only really need one or maybe two of the same style shirt. Mix it up!
Don’t Buy Something Just Because It’s on Sale
This can be hard to do, but I used to find myself justifying purchases of things I didn’t love just because they were on sale. In reality, had I not bought anything at all, I would have saved much more money and could have spent it on a plane ticket, or a bigger ticket purchase.
Think of at Least 5 Ways to Wear Something Before You Buy It
If a piece isn’t versatile enough to wear with at least 5 different outfits, or in 5 different locations, don’t bother with it. For instance I think of at least 5 different pants, skirts or shorts I can wear with each top I purchase, and if I can’t come up with something cute to wear with a potential new piece that I already own, I put it back. Buying clothing when you don’t have anything to go with it at home will only lead to buying more and more clothing until your closet is overflowing, yet somehow you still won’t have anything to wear.
Think of How Often You Can Wear Something & Consider the Climate Where You Live
If you’re like me and live in Michigan, chances are you don’t need dozens of pairs of shorts, or swimsuits, because it isn’t warm enough to make use of all of them. In Michigan, it’s warm roughly 2/5ths of the year, and cold the other 3/5ths, so my wardrobe reflects that. I have more warm tights, sweaters, and blazers than I have shorts and swimsuits, simply because that’s what the weather calls for. If you live in Arizona, you likely don’t need more than one heavy jacket, thick scarf or pair of gloves, for instance.
Buy Quality Pieces That Will Last Year After Year
After years of buying a new pair of jeans every fall, not because the old pair no longer fit, but because they were so thin and cheaply made they fell apart after just a few washes, I decided to invest in a quality pair of jeans. I’ve had the same two pairs of jeans (which is really just one and a duplicate of an incredible pair I love) for the last six years, and although I spent more upfront, I was able to save myself a lot of money in the meantime to stock my wardrobe with things I actually loved and needed.
Take Care of What You Already Own
Follow the care tag instructions on each piece, and invest in dry cleaning for pieces that need it. If dry cleaning isn’t in your budget or doesn’t fit your schedule, simply don’t buy things that need to be dry cleaned. Properly caring for your items will extend the life of your clothing, decrease the amount of clothing waste in the world, and ensure that you get to enjoy your clothing year after year.
Fix Items That Are Damaged
Speaking of clothing waste, an estimated 15% of landfills are clothing waste, which is absolutely insane. Mend items that need to be repaired, or hire a seamstress to do the work for you. Many things, like small holes, pilling, and even stains or pulled threads can be easily and inexpensively remedied, giving your clothing a second chance at life.
If you don’t know how to mend your own clothing, check out YouTube videos or find a friend or family member who will do it in exchange for a home-cooked meal, help moving house, or some other favor you can swap. Being sustainable doesn’t have to be expensive!
Have Your Items Tailored to Fit You
I have a freakishly long torso, which means sometimes I sometimes have to size-up a size or even two to ensure my clothing is long enough, and then I have the item taken in so that it fits me properly. A bit of tailoring can elevate a piece of clothing from “nice” to “wow!” simply by bringing the fabric closer to your body. While this is an additional cost, it will remove the excuse we all too often use to ignore pieces in our wardrobe because they “don’t fit”.
Learn to Love What’s Already in Your Closet
Now that you have empty space in your closet, don’t rush to fill it back up again. Give yourself 60 days where you don’t buy anything, and see what your closet is actually missing. If you find that you need another pair of pants, keep an eye out for a good deal on a quality pair of pants with a great fit that look a bit different from what you already own, but that you’ll still wear. If you find you still have things you’re not using after 60 days, get rid of them and go through the process again and again until you’re satisfied.
If it turns out that you don’t miss anything you’ve nixed, keep that in mind next time you’re shopping.
Learn to Differentiate Between Admiration and Needing
Remember that just because you enjoy looking at something in the store, or find unique pieces you appreciate the aesthetics of, doesn’t mean you need to buy the piece and take it home. You can admire things in the store without buying. Whenever I see something I like in a store that I may be able to wear in multiple ways, but I’m still not sold on, I take a photo and make myself wait a few days before deciding. I look at the photo on my phone, and if after a few days I’m not in love with the piece anymore, I delete the image and move on having saved myself some $$$.
Once you remove the clutter, stop buying things you won’t use, and extend the life of things you love, and embrace your own personal style, you’ll be left with a wardrobe that is uniquely you. You won’t have things that don’t fit, you won’t have things you don’t like, but you will have something you’ve edited to perfection that reflects who you are on the inside, fits perfectly, is quality, and is versatile enough you won’t need to buy new things every week, or even every month.
I hope this guide helps! Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Until Next Time!
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