August 26, 2010

Cleaning Out My Closet: A tale of woe and redemption, in two parts

I believe that everyone should have a well-managed closet. When the closet gets out of control, like an overgrown lawn or an unkempt 'do, it's time to get in there and make some cuts.

One of the reasons I haven't posted lately is that I've been living in a style rut for the majority of the summer. I've been wearing tired outfits day in and day out these last few months. I can't count how many mornings I spent wondering who that person was staring back at me in the mirror. It wasn't me. It was disappointing.

I needed to make a change by re-examining and re-imagining my wardrobe. The pieces that you collect should work for you and add up to a cohesive whole. I wanted to make my clothes work for me in new and exciting ways. But before I could do that, I needed to get a handle on the burgeoning shitpile that was my closet.

Instead of adding new things, I needed to make some deletes.

So I took every single thing I owned and pulled it out of the closet. One by one I broke down whether that piece was working for me, or not, and how I could wear it differently to spruce up my look. If it worked, great! If not, I threw it in the No Pile and off it went to Buffalo Exchange.

Now, I know this sounds like a daunting task. It made a sty out of our tiny apartment and I felt a little overwhelmed at the beginning. But once we (I strongly advise enlisting a helper) started going through it, I came out realizing I had a whole closet-full of new outfits that I didn't even realize were possible.

Cardigans became shirts (thank you FANTASTIC MAN,) sweater vests became wearable (just you wait,) and a jacket that I hadn't seen in ages was suddenly THE piece for fall. Not only that, I jettisoned a ton of stuff that was only bogging me down while picking up an unmentionably large amount of money from my local Buffalo Exchange. (LOCALS TIP: Management there has just changed hands along with a complete staff turnover. What was once an unpleasant experience is now a highly recommended resale destination.)



Ann said...

You're inspiring me for some fall cleaning. What do you do about sentimental pieces that no longer work for you anymore? That's the hardest part for me.

Michael said...

That's a really good question Ann, as I had that dilemma the other day.

I hemmed and hawed over a few pieces that I felt particularly attached to. Most of them were vintage tees that had a lot of memories built in. I decided to keep those that I knew would one day come back around to work for me again--this step is difficult, but I believe we have the foresight to understand what fits suit us best.

I tried to ignore trend cycles and seasons, and focus instead on the bigger picture of what I want to be wearing over the next few years. You have to really ask yourself, "Will I wear this piece out of the house in the next year?" If the answer is no, or you're not absolutely sure, that's a possible scratch.

Remember, too, that I advised enlisting a buddy to help. They can usually help you on those close calls.

Those pieces that I felt I had outgrown, physically or mentally, I said my goodbyes and into the No Pile they went. This can be a very difficult process, but it's extremely satisfying and rejuvenating when it's done.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes! ph

Emily and Abigail said...

that's the best part about cleaning out your closet!! You find such great stuff that you didn't even know you had! :) Have fun!