In hopes that spring may someday soon arrive on the east coast, I gave my closet a cold, hard assessment this weekend, trying to be as unattached and unbiased as possible in saying farewell, regardless of them being “loved,” aka worn, quite a bit, hardly at all, or a moderate amount. I really wanted to be able to let go of them without thinking twice, and guiltily plucking them out of the donation bag and placing them back in my closet.
Over and over again, I found myself relating each piece within a blogging context, evaluating each one that came across my hands on the basis of if I had used it in a personal style image on my blog, had it been a gift or had I purchased it, its current state of wear and fit, how nicely it “plays” with everything else in my wardrobe, and if it expresses who I feel I am in clothes, and who I want to be perceived as being.
I absolutely love to shop, and constantly revel in the flux of new possibilities, aka garments, footwear, and accessories coming into my apartment that I get to wear, photograph, and oftentimes keep, however, I have an incredibly difficult time getting rid of stuff, especially fashion-related items ranging from magazines to clothing. I can rationalize anything, and oftentimes find myself citing blogging-related reasons, such as “this is perfect for an outfit post,” or “this color really pops on camera,” or “this was a cool memento from a fun event I attended” as why I should keep the object in question indefinitely.
Stepping outside of myself I'm able to gain perspective on what I actually need, and how to get my fashion fix in while not looking like my apartment could be featured on an episode of “Hoarders.”
It's hard to know when to say goodbye, so here's some rules of thumb that I've found to be helpful and effective when keeping your closet in check:
Having trouble saying goodbye? Take one final swan song photo with it on. You an immortalize it on the screen, not in your closet, so that you can make room for something else or just give what you currently have some extra breathing room.
Once you've made your bags of items to be donated, get them out of your place ASAP. The longer that they are still in your presence, the more time you have to rethink your decision and keep them.
When in doubt, quickly snap a pic with your phone and see if it really is a great piece on you. If you still aren't sure, text the photo someone who you know will give you honest feedback. If you hesitate or feel a bit self conscious to send the pic, then that should be a sign that it's a goner.
Bring in backup to help you give items away. A mom, a friend, a boyfriend/spouse, whoever can just go down the line of items and say “no,no,no yes,” without the emotional attachment or investment in any of the pieces.
Make some stiff rules when it comes to what you bring into your apartment. For example, for every new item you buy, you have to get rid of three over items, and accessories only count as half of an item. By setting some steep boundaries by way of items brought in versus items going out, or only using a set number of hangers, you should be able to better regulate your shopping.
Borrow, borrow, borrow! There's no faster or easier way to reinvigorate your look than with a special, “limited edition” item. Borrow a best friend's necklace, your boyfriend's oxford, or use a subscription service like Le Tote, Rent the Runway, or Bag Borrow or Steal to experience the product, without having to commit to making room for it in your closet or on the shelf.
Don't hesitate to return something that just isn't 100% perfect for you/on you. Save the receipts and don't clip the tags just yet; sometimes it takes wearing an item for more than thirty seconds in the dressing room to figure out if it's truly meant for you. Know the return policies of the places that you shop in-store and online, and be guilt-free and unapologetic about taking it back if it doesn't feel or look amazing.
If I ran into _____ on the street while wearing this, would I be embarrassed or confident in it? It may sound silly, but it's a good way to evaluate if you should keep or buy an item or not. I use Marc Jacobs as my example for this, because it actually did happen, and instead of focusing on the conversation, all I could think about was how hideous the pants I had on were, and promptly donated them on the next Goodwill run. Since clothes are so much about the way we feel, try setting someone in your mind as your barometer for confidence, and try evaluating each piece based on this scenario!
The flashy items should most likely not be the items that will stick around. That baby pink ostrich jacket looked amazing in all of the photos, but in reality, it has shed feather all over the place and whenever you wear it, your entire day's plans revolved around it. Is it worth the hassle? Would you rather have the extra space? The answers may be yes and no, but what I've discovered is that I usually tend to be able to purge the more avant garde pieced in my wardrobe way easier than the staples because they require more work in what I wear with them and how I store them.
If you don't want to donate, why don't you sell it? Plenty of sites and apps like Poshmark, Threadflip, Swapdom, Bib + Tuck, and TheRealReal let you sell, consign, and/or trade your items for money, credit, or directly other fashion goods, so that you can refresh your wardrobe with a simple swap, or put money back into your wallet to save toward a future purchase.