Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Make Your Own Must-Have List

In the spirit of daylight savings time and 70 degree weather, G and I exchanged out our summer and winter wardrobes this past weekend.  As we were taking out and putting away, we also took the opportunity to clean out some things in the process.  It was really fun, especially pointing all the things G should throw out, and our closet looks so much tidier.

G doesn't usually have an opinion about my clothes but he did intervene on some items for me this time.  There were some pointy toed heels with love written on them that he slowly reached in, took out and placed in the to go bag.  I only slightly flinched as I watched them go.  The same happened with the strappy, rhinestone buckle heels that I bought for our first date. They will be much prettier in memory when I tell the story to our kids, rather than their grubby reality.  The green Theory pants and the candy cane striped velvet Theory pants are in there too.  Bye bye faithful friends, I hope that you make someone else smile too!   The back of the car is full and headed to KCM, our local charity store, this week.

As I was sitting on the floor gathering up my winter socks into their bag for another year in hibernation, I looked up at my slightly stuffed side and thought "I still have too many clothes."   I had preserved some winter items until the heat is here for good, but I still have too many clothes.

This is a picture of my side of the closet and you can see that for the average American woman my wardrobe is really pared down and small, although it's kind of stuffed in there at the moment. 

Even though my wardrobe is smaller than the average bear, I still sat there contemplating this, as only a Closet Therapist would do and I had a thought.

What if I started over with nothing?  

How many clothes would I need?

Hmmmmm.  First I asked Gustavo because guys are simpler to organize.  We both agreed that 10 shirts and 5-8 pairs of pants would be a good place to start for him.  But women tend to be more complicated.  Our closets consist of items that have organically grown over the years, through sizes and trends and phases.  As we exit one phase, we don't automatically let go of the previous one but what would we choose if we started over today? 

I am a stay at home wife and I have a pretty basic uniform that I wear everyday yet my wardrobe is still filled with many unnecessary items because some of those clothes are work clothes.  I don't work outside the home but if I did for a time I wouldn't want to go shopping.  Obviously I would need to earn money and not spend it shopping for new clothes. Everyone has their reasons for keeping items that don't work for them at the moment.  Maybe you are getting back into pre-baby clothes, or holding on to a smaller size because you are determined to lose weight.  I've decided to put those work clothes away so that they are there if I need them but I don't have to look at the extra clothes every day stuffed in my closet.  

Why does this even matter?  Let's just all stuff our closets full and not worry about it.   The truth is that a simplified wardrobe that works for us presently is important to all areas of our life.  It affects our confidence, how appropriate we dress and how comfortable we are working in our daily lives.  

I don't have an answer for how much you need, but if you ask yourself I bet you'll find an answer.  There are tons of must-have wardrobe staples lists but really you should make your own.  Those famous must-have lists are not for everyone.  Why does every list have a trench coat and why don't I see anyone walking around in one?

Why not put in a box the clothes that you don't wear?  They say we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.  Is that true for you?  What would happen if you had less clothes in your closet?  Would you feel rested or start to panic? What would your wardrobe look like if you started over?  Tell me what is in your "Must-Have List".  


Stephanie said...

This is such a good post I had to read it twice and absorb it before responding. I think you are reading my mind! I'm great at purging but I still keep things that I don't really like, never taking that plunge and cutting it to the bare bones and keeping ONLY what really works and what I love. In one way, getting rid of everything that doesn't work would be a great motivator to go out and replace it with things that work, but also, it may encourage impulse buying just to quickly fill the void if it takes longer to find those perfect things.

I think a combination of purging, then planning and buying what is on your must have list, and then a final purge keeping only what works is a feasable solution. The problem is, I never go that extra step after a purge. I know I need to though.

I love your comment about all those must have lists. EVERYONE does include a trench coat! They are not flattering on my body type at all and I think they work on very few people. Plus, it's hot where we live and coats just are not a necessary item 12 months out of the year. I'm going to think about my must have list and come up with some things.

Great post!

Fiona said...

I love this post also. It is very motivating. I laughed when I read your trenchcoat comment. One of the few things I bought when in Paris was a beige trenchcoat and I can count on one hand the times I've worn it! I do feel very French in it though. And you are so right, you NEVER see people wearing them! That Tim Gunn, he's having a laugh (I still love him though).

emigre said...

Love this post, will bookmark and read again. You're anti-consumerist, but in a good way!

LJ said...

I am over a year late responding to this post (!!) but I wanted you to know how much this post has influenced me. I have already done quite a few wardrobe reductions in the last month but this post inspired me to do more. Even if I love everything in my wardrobe (and it fits and all goes together), I could still be happier with so much less. I will combine some of your ideas here with your "turn your hangers around" idea and see what other items I can remove.

I LOVE your observation about the trench coat. I don't think I have ever seen anyone in Los Angeles wearing a trench. I love them but can't figure out when I would need one.

The Closet Therapist said...

Leah, Thank you for your sweet comment! I'm happy that you wrote me about this post. It's a never-ending process for me too. I still love trench coats too, and will just wear mine as a winter coat when it's not too cold.

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