Fashion · Toronto

Revamping My Closet

So I read a variety of blogs, websites and books over the holidays because I really need a closet/wardrobe overhaul. Okay, I’m always reading a variety of stuff but this time a lot of my reading was about organization, wardrobes, fashion and the like. Not my normal stuff but necessary as my closet is a mess. In fact, I’ve been thinking about it for about a year and even did a couple of minor purges but there was still a lot of work to be done. So I decided the new year was the perfect time to really put my plan into action. What can I say, I love making changes in January.

Mid-changeover, I switched the hangers to see if it works
Mid-changeover, I switched the hangers to see if it works

How I uncluttered my closet 

I read a lot about capsule wardrobes – where, depending on the website, you have a small (33-37 items or less) wardrobe for each season – and came to the conclusion that there is no way I could, or would really want to, do a capsule wardrobe as it was described. The concept of being so minimal, nor wearing what kind of amounts to a uniform, just doesn’t appeal to me. Of course, I’m not saying that it’s not a good concept or that it doesn’t work for others, it very obviously does. But I would find it too binding, too restrictive. 

That being said, there are still some interesting and very useful tidbits I learned from the various websites, blogs, magazines and articles I’ve been reading, many of which talked about capsule wardrobes. While I don’t want to restrict the items in my closet to a particular number, using some of the things I learned would be useful to unclutter my closet. The stress of trying to get down to an arbitrary number of clothes would stress me out which would defeat the purpose of an organized closet in a lot of ways. So I am using it as a reference, a starting point.

However, the information on colour palates, signature pieces and the necessity to re-evaluate one’s closet and style for the stage of life one is in was invaluable to me, as I want to refine my style both to reflect my personality and my life stage. While I’ve never dressed particularly older or younger than I am, nor inappropriately, I would like to be a little more stylish and fashionable – without spending a lot of money or trying to be someone I’m not.

So many clothes... do I wear them all?
So many clothes… do I wear them all?

Here’s what I did  

  • Take everything, and I do mean everything – every item of clothing, all your shoes, every accessory – out of your closet, drawers, etc. Pile it all on your bed (probably the biggest flat surface in your house/apt).
  • Sort and divide your stuff into four piles. Be honest, even ruthless, with yourself while you are doing this.
    • I love it and wear it – Keep/put back in closet or drawers
    • I don’t wear it but it’s in good shape – Donate or give away
    • It’s not in good shape – Throw it out
    • It’s not the current season but I love it and wear it – Put it away for the season
  • I divided my clothes into two seasons – fall/winter and spring/summer – rather than four seasons as most of the sites do. Basically because I don’t want to do it every 3 months and because in Toronto I need clothes that fit a variety of conditions in a season.
  • As a double check, when I put the clothes I loved (and that fit) back in the closet, I put the hangers in backwards. For clothes in my drawers, I put a sticky note on each. This will allow me to know when I switch over in the next season if I wore the item.
  • Remix every 6 months, taking a hard look at any article of clothing that still has a sticky note or backwards hanger. If you didn’t wear it all season, there’s a good chance it’s something you won’t wear.
One of my favourite shirts... too many washes, it looks too wore
One of my favourite shirts… too many washes, it looks too wore

Bonus points – developing my style

Of course, I do have a personal style… everyone does. But I wanted to refine it and make sure that the majority of the clothing I kept and bought moving forward, reflected that style. So I took a hard look at the clothes I really loved, the fashion that appeals to me in magazines and even took a few online quizzes to put a label to my ‘style’.

One of the things that was often discussed that I wanted to try even if I wasn’t sure I could stick to it (I like variety too much) was developing a colour palate to use as a guide for one’s wardrobe. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try, even if it was only used as a guide. Here’s my palate:

  • 3 main colours
    • Dark purple
    • Dark green
    • Royal blue
  • 4 accent colours
    • Violet
    • Navy
    • Orange
    • Wine
  • 3 neutral colours
    • Black
    • Gray
    • Tan

Yes, it’s perhaps an odd palate of bright and dark colours but those are the ones I like best, and that look good on me. I am naturally a “winter” but because I dye my hair various shades of red, I can also wear some colours that fit in “autumn”. However, I look like crap in any light pastels and hate yellow so I don’t own either.

My closet after the purge. There's still work to be done but my cardigans now fit in it
My closet after the purge. There’s still work to be done but my cardigans now fit in it

So, was I successful?

Yes, well mostly. I was honest with myself over what I wore and tossed a bunch of my favourite tees/tanks that were just too wore; accumulated a way bigger pile than I was comfortable with of stuff to donate or give away. Asking myself questions like – “Come on, you haven’t wore this shirt since your university clubbing days, are you really going to wear a “I ❤ boys” shirt ever again? No, I didn’t think so.

But, there is still some work to be done, which is why I when I put everything back in my closet and drawers, I put the hangers in backwards and sticky notes on. This way, when I turn my closet over to spring/summer in April, it will be easier to be honest about what I actually wear. I’ve also made a list of all the key pieces I have, those I need and those I want. And I’m going to review that list when I change over my closet.

I also learned a lot about myself, my style and what I need to do to keep an organized closet.

Seven things I learned…

  • I have a hard time getting rid of stuff. I’ve never really spent a lot on clothes but I keep everything. So my new rule for 2016 – two items out for every item in.
  • Using the backwards hanger and sticky notes is effective and I’m going to continue to do this each time I change my closet over.
  • I love scarves, own a ridiculous number and so, decided scarves are going to be my “signature piece”. They are fashionable and useful – two things that work for my personality.
  • I need to stop buying t-shirts. I have way too many that I love and want to wear but no one can wear than many regularly.
  • I love dark green almost as much as I love purple.
  • I want my work clothes to be more fashionable, not just warm in the winter.
  • Having one pair of goal jeans – you know, the jeans you’d like to fit into – isn’t necessarily a bad thing (they are only a size smaller, not crazy unrealistic) but having FIVE pairs of goal jeans is.
My t-shirt collection... I love t-shirts
My t-shirt collection… I love t-shirts

Final Thoughts

While I still probably have too many clothes, I did make a big difference in my closet. One of the biggest changes was my acknowledgement that I need to toss favourite t-shirts, tank tops and other knitwear once they get too wore… and I did with sadness. My wardrobe is still a work-in-progress but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made.

Have you done a closet cleanout before? What did you learn about yourself and your closet? Any advice for me or others doing one?

Thanks to Un-Fancy, The Everygirl, The Blissful Mind, Project 333 and Into-Mind for the inspiration.

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