First, you need to get rid of everything in these categories:
1. Doesn't fit
2. Is uncomfortable
3. You don't like it anymore
4. Poor condition
5. Hasn't been worn in a year+
6. Doesn't match anything else in your closet
Items like these only serve as clutter, making it harder to sift through to find something you really like. One tip I've heard about cleaning out your closet is to hold up an item ask yourself, "Would I buy this again?" If the answer is a definite no, it may be time to throw it out.
Next, get to work organizing so that you can easily see what you have. I have my closet separated into these categories: tops, skirts, dresses, blazers, trousers, jackets/vests, and coats. Once you have everything hung in categories, you can further organize it by color or style. My shirts and dresses are all color coordinated, but my skirts are separated by style (pencil, mini, etc.). Figure out what works best for you and is the most visually appealing. I find that when my clothes are organized in a pretty way, I am much more inspired; not to mention it makes it easier to find things.
Once everything is nice and neat, do a closet inventory. You can do this in your head, with pictures taken on your phone, a written list, or by using a closet app like Netrobe (free), or Stylebook ($3.99). This doesn't necessarily mean you need to track every single thing you own; just get a general idea of what you have and remind yourself of pieces you may have forgotten about. The beauty of using a closet organization app is that you have a virtual closet you can look through whenever you like. It can definitely come in handy when shopping to make sure you don't buy something similar to an item you already have.
After you've done your inventory, come up with a list of completer pieces you would like to purchase to round out your wardrobe. A completer piece is an essential clothing item/accessory that you can wear tons of ways, with lots of pieces you already have in your closet. For example, I can think of a million+ ways I could wear a pair of tan riding boots, so I'll add those to my list. The idea is to find out where your closet might be lacking. You want to be able to walk into your closet and come out with a complete, impeccably styled outfit every time. Completer pieces you might be lacking are items such as a black blazer, pencil skirt, crossbody bag, statement necklace, or nude pumps. Of course, what you and I consider "essential" may be completely different, so do some brainstorming. Other ideas can be found in this fashion essentials article on The Everygirl. We'll talk more about what to do with your list in next week's post about shopping on a budget.
With an organized closet full of pieces that you love, how much easier will it be to shop your closet? But, if you are anything like me, you are a little pressed for time when getting ready in the mornings. This doesn't leave me much time to thoughtfully put together an outfit I really love. There are plenty of times throughout the week when I look down at my outfit and think, "If I had spent 3 more minutes choosing my accessories/shoes/top, I would like this outfit so much more." To combat this, plan outfits in advance. When you have an extra 30 minutes on the weekend, spend some time poking around your closet, putting together potential outfits as you go. I like doing this while scrolling through my Pinterest fashion board, seeing if I can recreate any looks I pinned.
If you have an extra rod in your closet, hang your outfits together to prepare for the week ahead. I don't have any extra space in my too-small closet, so I keep a running list of outfit pairings on paper. I can easily refer to my list in the morning, grab something cute to wear and run. Anytime inspiration strikes while perusing my closet, reading blogs, or browsing Pinterest, I jot down outfit ideas in a notebook and save them for later.
Establishing a uniform is another great way to pull together outfits in a hurry. You may have a different uniform for each season or occasion. My work uniform is a pencil skirt, button-up, and low heels, and my weekend uniform is skinny jeans, a blousy top or tee, and ankle-strap heels. I've labeled these as my work and play uniforms because they are made up of pieces I'm drawn to, so naturally, my closet is filled with them. When I haven't planned any outfits in advance, or want to stick to what I know, I can quickly grab three pieces and create a great outfit that I love.
These tips are very simple, but how often do we take time to clean and organize our closets and plan outfits? It does require a little effort, but saving time getting dressed and feeling put together each time you leave the house make it worthwhile. The more you like and wear the things you have, the less temptation there will be to shop til you drop! Stay tuned next week when I'll discuss the advantages of shopping on a budget.