Simple Approach to My Wardrobe Edit

After nearly three years of transitioning between maternity, post-maternity, and regular old me wardrobes, I finally completed a closet clean out recently that has been a long time coming! With the addition of J to our family two months ago, our two bedroom apartment got a bit tighter. And my dresser got shoved in my closet, making space in there an even more precious commodity. For several months now, I’ve had clothes spinning between sections of three different closets and several items without a home that often found a temporary residence piled on my floor. The clothes chaos drove me nuts, and I was waiting until I was back to my normal size to do a once-and-for-all closet cleanout . I wanted to eliminate all those extra sizes I had been floating in and out of while being pregnant twice in the last two and half years.

While I’m not back to my pre-pregnancy body just yet, I lost patience and emptied out nearly my entire closet (and brought together the lingering floaters from the other two closets) to wholly assess what all I have in my wardrobe arsenal. While we all have different methods for our cleaning madness, mine went something like this.

Do I get excited to include it in an outfit and feel great when I wear it?

I heavily critiqued many pieces that I considered work appropriate, but I didn’t feel great wearing. Many had great bones in them but felt a bit young, so those are headed to two of my sisters (I have four, all younger) who both start new jobs this fall and could use some professional additions to their closets. Have no fear little sisters, “free shopping from your sister’s closet” is here!

Other items felt dumpy and frumpy. Those also landed in a donation box, though they didn’t strike me as items my sisters would love. But maybe someone else will, so off to Zealous Good or the Salvation Army they go.

Why does it not work? Can it be tailored or refashioned to fix the problem? If not, adios!

This resulted in about twelve or fifteen items finding their new home in my refashion box. I don’t have a ton of time to refashion nor are my skills particularly advanced. So I kept my refashioning brainstorming to the basics. But I definitely look forward to finding some time over the next several months to exercise my creative hands and bring new life to old pieces from my wardrobe.

Does it fit? If not, why?

I am out of the maternity clothes so those just had to go! Our family is complete, but if one is still thinking about having more children, certainly a storage box might be a better place for maternity clothes than the donation pile. I have two items (this neon orange sweatshirt and this navy striped shirt) that I really loved and hope to refashion to make then “non maternity.” All else is headed to another sister (not the two mentioned above) or Zealous Good.

Update: I refashioned both of those shirts. Check out the ‘new’ sweatshirt and the updated striped shirt!

I said earlier that my weight and body still haven’t returned to pre-pregnancy shape and size. They may not, but for now, things still seem to be changing. So I hung on to the small collection of clothes I have in a size up that I have been wearing during the transition from maternity clothes back to regular clothes.

I also have some smaller “regular clothes” items that I haven’t worn in quite some time. But given the transitions and missed seasons in those sizes while pregnant, I opted to give them one more cycle to prove their worth before finding a new home. (Yep, it’s like the cliff hanger at the end of the first movie that perfectly sets up the viewers for the thrilling sequel ~ Closet Cleanout 2.0…)

Would I Buy It Today?

If the answer is no, then the item should probably be sent away. That’s a good sign I don’t really love it. And while I may like, I will probably pick something else over that item EVERY SINGLE MORNING no matter how often I wear said “other item.” In other words, it’s adding no value and plenty of clutter to my limited space. Not to mention it’s probably sucking wind from my novice creative sails when I try to get dressed each day.

I find that letting things go (clothes, obligations, what have you) can be so liberating sometimes. You can read more about my thoughts on that here. And this was no different. Cleaning out the items that didn’t make the grade for any one of the aforementioned reasons made space for all my remaining clothes to fit back into my closet and be housed in one place – so nice! (And so much easier to keep track of all the clothes that I have. I definitely stumbled upon one or two things I hadn’t worn in forever, including a dress that was at least three years old and STILL HAD THE TAGS ON IT! Shame on me!!)

Many other bloggers, like Kate (Part 1 and Part 2) and Laura, have recently documented their closet clean out experiences. Curious to know just how many of each item I had, I followed suit and counted my collection. The numbers are pretty astounding. I won’t bore you with all the details, but here are a few highlights showing what I would have guessed and how many I actually had of the following items.

My Guess
Sleeveless Blouses ~ 15 | Shorts ~ 4 | Skirts ~ 12 | Jeans ~ 6
Work Trousers ~ 7 | Blazers ~ 10 | Blouses ~ 15 | Dresses ~ 30

Sleeveless Blouses ~ 28 | Shorts ~ 8 | Skirts ~ 19 | Jeans ~ 12
Work Trousers ~ 9 | Blazers ~ 16 | Blouses ~ 24 | Dresses ~ 52

That’s some serious lack of awareness, which mind you, I fully anticipated and was one of the prime reasons why I really wanted to get my clothes in order!

This looks far more ridiculous on paper than it does hanging in my closet, at least in my opinion. But let’s discuss briefly.

52 Dresses?! PLEASE – that’s insane! (M has been telling me for years that I have a gazillion dresses, and because I wear them a lot, I never really paid much attention. I guess an outside observer has more perspective, and he was right.)

9 pairs of pants for the office?! I almost NEVER wear pants to work. (Most of those got donated…)

8 pairs of shorts? I rarely wear shorts. In fairness, two are in a larger size to accommodate my postpartum belly and will be donated if/when all returns to normal. But still… I live in Chicago where I can only wear shorts for about six weeks of the year.

28 Sleeveless Blouses?! Wow – I just didn’t realize.

Now before you go and judge me, do a count in your own closet. The numbers might surprise you. I entirely realize I have a boatload of clothes that certainly seems gluttonous to just about anyone not living my very fortunate, well-stocked life.

One question I could have asked but didn’t:

How many of these do I really need?

During this iteration of closet maintenance, that wasn’t my goal. I don’t intend to rid clothes from my closet solely for the sake of not having 52 dresses. In fact, I only donated 2 of them, because I wear and feel good in the rest of them.

I only intended with this clean out to address the space issues in my closet and end up having few enough items that I could sanely manage and organize them in my space allotted. This exercise, however, is undoubtedly a fabulous reminder to be highly critical of any new items that might appear to be calling my name. While I did recently buy a new pair of flats to replace an older and less comfortable pair, do I really need that dress I saw on sale online the other day? No, definitely not!

Knowing that I already had 52 made it much easier to say “no” to #53. And for the record, it never even made it into my online cart despite the temptation.

As a writer and reader of style blogs, not to mention as a general citizen of the United States, I battle the demons of consumerism every day. I love reading boatloads of blogs, but that also leaves me inundated with affiliate links to purchase all the clothes everyone else is stylishly wearing. As Kate discusses in much greater detail in her closet clean out post, bloggers also encounter the challenge of always coming up with new, interesting and on-trend outfits from their own real-life wardrobes (or at least most of us are limited to our real-life wardrobes).

Although it’s a continuous challenge, I regularly reinforce to myself the importance of wearing items multiple times in various ways on my blog to reflect the reality that it’s ludicrous to wear something once and say goodbye. (I guess that should be clear after my collaboration with Get Redressed and my Refashions I share that I wear things many times and, further, try to reinvent or refurbish them when their first life is nearing it’s end.)

If you’re running out of space in your closet or overwhelmed with too many unhappy options cluttering your closet, clean them out! And if you’re curious, take a quick inventory. It might lead you to some refreshing conclusions about just how full your wardrobe really is. You may find something you forgot about like I did. And you’ll likely be reminded just how lucky you are to be so well-clothed!

And last but not least, a quick photo of my 52 (now 50) dresses…

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