Okay, raise your hand, even if you can’t see them … How many of you have done any of the following in the last 90 days?
- Did you put on an outfit only to find that you liked the top or bottom, but did not have the matching top or bottom that you liked to wear with it and therefore change?
- Did you try more than 2 outfits for a single event?
- Did you try something in your closet only to find that you don’t like the way it looks anymore, but left it in your closet anyway?
- Did you argue with a child (or have a long conversation) about what they were going to wear?
- Did you rush to find a matching outfit for your child?
- Did you want to wear something only to find that it needed to be patched, ironed, or dry cleaned, so you chose to wear something else?
- Have a ton of clothes that need repair, ironing, or dry cleaning that haven’t progressed through any of the aforementioned processes in the last 3 weeks?
This week’s challenge is geared towards your personal wardrobe, but I highly recommend doing it with the children’s wardrobes if you are responsible for dressing them in the morning. It’s just amazing how much time we spend putting on and taking off, looking for a missing garment or ‘match’, running errands to dry clean or fix, iron, soak, take something off in frustration, and then add to a pile that we’ll then have to fold to! that we can repeat the process later!
Since getting dressed is something we do on a daily basis, it is important to approach the simple path. When we don’t have good routines and practices, what should be a simple task becomes a source of stress and waste of time. Not to mention, it’s not a great feeling to put something on and decide you don’t like the way it looks first thing in the morning.
This is how I went through the practice of simplifying my wardrobe. You can do this exercise over the course of a week or take a long weekend to get everything in order.
First, wash and repair everything you own so that everything is clean and ready for a clear decision. Take off any special occasion clothing that you need to keep but don’t wear regularly. Store them in one end of your closet, or better yet, in a different closet.
Start with three piles …
1. Your favorite clothes: you wear them a lot, you feel good about them and they are comfortable.
2. Things you don’t use for any reason.
3. Things that are between 1 and 2: You don’t love them, but you use them.
Now let’s review stack 1, the most important stack.
The first step is to match everything. What bottoms go with what tops? Layer these adorable outfits in ensembles, making sure everything matches (and yes, a pair of jeans can have multiple matching tops). The goal here is to make sure the underdogs are left behind.
If you find that you have pants or tops that you love, but don’t have an adorable matching counterpart, see if you can find something in stack 3 that works. Make sure to try it on and be satisfied with the combo. Otherwise, put this ‘adorable lost item’ in its own closet area.
Once you have completed this step, ask yourself the next question of the combos you have made.
Are these combos easy to maintain? Move the ones that require special care to your own group.
Now count the combos you have left. How many there are? Next, think about how often you will do your laundry. If you do your laundry weekly, do you have 7 sets? If you do the laundry twice a week, do you have 3 or 4? If you find that you have enough outfits to get through between washes, then you have discovered your main wardrobe. Carefully return these items to your closet, keeping them grouped for easy “grabbing”.
Now we have to look at these other piles that he has made. If you find that you have enough comfortable outfits to last for multiple washes, then it’s time to seriously think about trimming your wardrobe. Why keep something on stack 2 or 3? If you have a lot of matching combos on stack 1, why settle for something that makes you feel less than wonderful?
If you find that you are missing stack 1 combinations, take the yellow pages and find a consignment store. Take items from stacks 2 and 3 and put them on consignment or hold a yard sale. Use that money to fund more combos 1. (Make sure you try everything before you buy!)
Once you’ve stored your combos in your closet, check to see what you have in your favorite set of odds and ends. Make a list and keep it in your wallet of items that need matches. Decide if it is worth the time and money and the maximum that you are willing to spend on the article. Keep this with you while you run your errands and check it out before adding new clothes to your wardrobe. So you are buying on purpose, rather than on impulse. People have asked me what I think is a good amount of ‘combos’ to have ready. Personally, I think 10 is perfect for every area of life … 10 combos at home, 10 combos at work, and then 4 combos at church. If you live in a seasonal area like me, then you’d have 10 for summer work, summer home, etc. and 10 for winter.
Also return to your wardrobe any of the most maintenance combinations. Store these items in a different area of the closet and remember that when you remove from this section, the investment of time is greater. Make sure you have a plan to get your garment dry cleaned or ironed so that it doesn’t clump together and become a clutter of clothing.
There are many great options to buy wonderful clothes without spending a lot of money. However, when it comes to buying clothes, it is very important to have the right mindset. You want to go to a day where you are not pressed for time and plan to try everything on (even t-shirts)! Everything suits everyone differently. If you prefer to shop by catalog that’s fine, just make sure stores make returns easy. I like Newport News because they have great clothes in all sizes and the return process is very easy and the last time I ordered, there was no time limit for returns.
What about stacks 2 and 3? Good question! After you’ve completed the above tasks, I want you to stand up and look at the nice combos you made and how you think about how they make you feel. Then look at your other two stacks. Do you really want or need to keep them? Do you want the mess? Personally, when I did this, I took it all to a women’s shelter. There were 18 bags of clothes, shoes and several. Honest. (I told you I wasn’t born simple!) I was a little paranoid and nervous while doing it and I thought my husband would have a fit, but I did it anyway. When I walked into my closet the next morning, I felt great. There are no crowded things everywhere. Without searching. Do not debate. You don’t have to try something on and then throw it in a pile. I loved everything that was there.
If you are not ready to put up with the big gift, do this. Pack it all up in bags and boxes and store it out of the way or stack it in the closet. Live with your simple wardrobe for the next 30 days. Then come back and see if you’re ready for the big giveaway.
Once you’ve completed this process with your everyday wardrobe, consider applying the principles to your special occasion clothing as well. Since special occasion clothing is rarely worn, keep only your ‘stack 1’ combos.
Then consider applying these principles to simplify young children’s wardrobes as well.
Excerpted from the 30-day Walk Into Simplicity class.
(Visit www.changeyourlifechallenge.com/class.htm [http://www.changeyourlifechallenge.com/class.htm] to learn more about this class)