A professional journalist would likely suggest I start my Corporate Chic on the Cheap Series in a snazzier and catchy manner than something so boring as cleaning and taking inventory. But I really believe it will provide the foundation for building a great professional wardrobe. In order to know what I need, I must know what I have and get rid of what I hate. Clearing the clutter of old, outdated, and ill-fitting items no longer worn creates space to see what lovely items already reside in our wardrobe and will be the foundation for curating a perfectly fashionable, functional, and affordable collection for work. As a bonus, I felt the creation of physical space in my closet created emotional space as well (it felt liberating and exciting, and I think that’s probably not unique to me).
On a side note, when doing closet clean outs, I often discover something that I love but had gotten lost in the shuffle and it leads to a great new outfit or two. Here are a couple of outfits I put together shortly after a closet clean-out with “rediscovered” pieces.
Since doing an initial clean out of my closet a year or two ago, I regularly review the contents of my closet and purge things I no longer love, rarely use, do not fit well, have gone out of style, or I just plain won’t wear anymore for one reason or another. I suppose I formally spend 15 – 20 minutes completing this process every few months. But in reality, I scan my wardrobe most mornings when I get dressed. And I keep a donation box in my bedroom ready to collect anything (not just clothes and shoes) that has outlived its life with our family and is ready for a new home. So if a shirt or a pair of pants frustrates me when I get dressed on a random Tuesday morning or gets in my way when in search of something I will actually wear, that article of clothing gets tossed in the donation box right then and there.
I generally donate my excess items every few months, so something has a month or two of hanging out in that box and getting “called back up from the minors” before getting shipped out permanently. In reality though, not much returns from the dark dungeon of that box.
Here are a few of my favorite donation destinations:
- My Sisters (or friends) – hand-me-downs and clothing swaps are the best!
- Zealous Good
- Dress for Success
- Salvation Army
- Local Consignment Shops
Don’t forget also that when you donate to some of these places, you get a discount on a follow-up purchase. Dress for Success, for example, occasionally holds professional clothing drives sponsored by retailers through which you can receive a discount on your purchase the day that you donate high quality professional attire. I recently wrote about our local Dress For Success chapter having such a clothing drive with local retailer Cerato Boutique. Savers offers a 20-25% discount coupon off your purchase each time you donate, so be sure to bring something for them each time you stop by in seach of something for yourself! (We’ll touch more on shopping at thrift stores to build some of your professional wardrobe a bit later on in this series.)
Below are two outfits that include pieces that have since found new homes. I donated the orange and white striped shirt because it was a bit short and I had trouble remixing it with much more than the outfit here. I passed along the purple, orange, and yellow tube top to my younger sister who lives in California. Given her age and her location, I suspect she’ll get much more use out of it than I ever did.
Other options like eBay could also provide some cash for those items you no longer love but someone else might love. I haven’t explored this option due, in large part, to being too lazy to handle the administrative tasks associated with such resale options. But certainly investigate these types of options if they are up your alley.
Some day down the road, I will do another inventory of my clothes and subsequent purge (probably around the time I no longer need my maternity clothes), and I will share that with you. But for now, I will share with you some resources I found helpful or interesting that may provide some strategies for you to begin this process.
- Recovering Shopaholic – here she shares some of her 2013 wardrobe management goals that may be useful
- AJ Wears – she followed guidance from Recovering Shopaholic to complete her own inventory and purge.
- The Minimalist Mom – check out her 2014 Clutter Cleanse. It’s not just a focus on clothes, and she has probably taken the wardrobe reduction a bit farther than you intend (certainly much farther than I did) but I like the principles she shares and use it a general guide for brainstorming how her strategies could work for me.
Please let me know in the comments if you have any other similar resources you’ve found helpful in better managing your wardrobe. Happy curating!