January, a new year and good time to do some sweeping out of the old. This is a perfect time to do a closet clean out. In a book by the Simplicity pattern company, the statement is made that most people only wear 10% of their clothing 90% of the time. After years of watching What Not To Wear, I have a pretty good handle on what I should be wearing. After all, I do still have a day job, so I have to have a working wardrobe. But, do I really need six long-sleeved black cardigans? Apparently so, since each one is a bit different with beads or lace or ruffles or some kind of detail.
One thing I like to do is flip my closet at least twice a year, and clean it out in January. This means moving things around, so that the pastels are put away for winter to return in the spring, and the warmer clothes come out when the weather turns cooler.
It also means pulling out and getting rid of things that are past their prime. It keeps me from becoming tired of the same things, and I have something fresh with each season (without spending any money!). I’ll only wear rust, pumpkin and harvest gold in the fall, so those things come out in September and are put away after Thanksgiving.
I really like these cropped cardigans and shrugs, and I think they look reasonably good on me. I have a feeling, though, that these will be out of style after another season. But for now, I have a quite a few. Right now they are all in good condition and still wearable to work.
I have found that this surplice style looks best on me, so I have quite a few of that style. Thank goodness for camisoles though!
I like animal prints, and they have been good for a few years now, but this one is that cropped style and may be on its last season. I wear it with a black sleeveless shell.
So, how did I figure all this out? By trying on lots of clothes in stores, and doing a wardrobe analysis. Essentially, pull out your favorite things and figure out why those are the things you like the best. Is it the style or color, or the fabric? Or is the fit just fabulous? Now pull out the things you never wear. Why don’t you wear these? Again look at fit, style, color, fabric. Is there a theme emerging? Are you drawn to particular colors or styles more than others? I found the styles that I liked and looked good on me using the rules from What Not To Wear for my figure type. I also realized that on my next shopping trip, my mantra will be ‘step away from the black’!!
Shorter jacket styles on my shorter frame are more in proportion to my height (or lack of it!). I should wear straight leg jeans and trousers, create a waist with surplice styles or thin belts, and use completer pieces for a whole outfit like cardigans, jackets or shrugs.
While I was in a clean-out mood, I decided to sell some of my huge collection of vintage jewelry. I came up with a new idea of how to wear the multitude of antique pins in my box while I was doing this. This idea came to me just a day or so ago, so I had to get a pic before I went to work yesterday. I used two strands of black and white beads, and I put a vintage butterfly pin on both to link them together on the left side. Pretty neat, huh? I got a ton of complements on that look, and it didn’t cost a penny. I just re-imagined what was already in my jewelry drawer.
I took a pic in the mirror, then one straight on like a selfie to get a better look. The butterfly is a vintage Trifari black enamel from the 1970s. I really like this, and will look around for other pins and necklaces that might work. Great, new jewelry out of my old box!!
Back to you and your closet, if you really want to do a hard analysis of your current wardrobe, try on every piece. Place them into three piles – Keep, Alter, Donate. The keeper pile just needs to be put back into the closet. Can you alter the marginal things? Would an inch shorter on the sleeve or the hem make a difference? If you can do an easy alteration, take it to the sewing room. If you love it and are willing to spend some money to have it professionally altered, take it to a tailor. I did this recently with this skirt. The zipper was broken and it needed an inch taken up in the waist. I just love this suede skirt with its border print, and I was willing to pay to have it wearable again.
If you cannot easily alter it, and it doesn’t fit you perfectly, donate it. There, now you have more room for things you really like and fit well.
And speaking of fit, when I stopped wearing things that were essentially too big for me, people started asking if I had lost weight. Amazing what a good fit can do for your self esteem. This is true even if you only wear T-shirts and jeans. I was wearing the wrong jeans for a long time – high waist with a tapered leg and a tucked in shirt. Awful, but I didn’t realize it until I tried the right ones – lower-rise straight-leg and left the shirt un-tucked. My derriere lost 10 pounds with that alone. So when I really did lose weight, my new smaller clothes were purchased with better fit and more flattering style. I also realized I needed more prints in my wardrobe, so the next shopping trip had more purpose.
A book I highly recommend is Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible. It was a Christmas gift to me this past year. Not only is it a fascinating read on the history of certain types of clothes, there are fitting tips for each one in each chapter. The info on T-shirts and jeans alone is worth the price of the book! But reading about the evolution of the dress from the hoop skirt to the Grecian goddess draped dress was very entertaining. Even if you aren’t a fashionista, you might enjoy the history. There are also chapters on all kinds of accessories, vests, shirts, shoes, and lots more.
So, what’s in YOUR closet? Are you happy with your clothes, or do you have a closet full of nothing-to-wear? How do you create something new from something old?