Tips To Create a Wardrobe You Actually Wear (and Love)

posted by Andrea | 09/12/2014
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new clothes for mom and nora

(she thinks we’re twins!)

Over the past month, Dave and I did a BIG closet purge and found several new items for his “back-to-school” wardrobe. I also added a handful of new items to my ‘side’ of the closet — thanks to working hand-in-hand with a friend of a friend who just so happens to be a personal stylist!

So yes, Dave and I have been thinking and talking about clothes a lot lately! Many of our recent clothing discussion, paired with so many of YOUR questions lead me to the idea of doing a full week of clothes-clutter posts.

So in case you missed any of the posts this week — here they all are!

MONDAY: My new mix-and-match wardrobe (with TONS of pictures!) plus a list of EVERY item of clothing I own.

TUESDAY: How to Get Free (or Almost Free) Clothes

WEDNESDAY: Kid’s Clothing 101

THURSDAY: A Giveaway! (It’s the most organized bag I’ve ever used)

FRIDAY (today): Tips to Create a Wardrobe You Actually Wear (and Love)

My hope is that after reading through this weeks posts, you now have a better grasp of what your own personal style is, what you feel great wearing, what you should keep, and what you should purge.

That’s a lot for one week, I know. However, even if you just take one helpful tip away from my week of posts, that’s still a start!

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skinny-pants

I think one of the reasons clothes clutter is SO overwhelming for most people is because it ties into so many of the common excuses we make to keep our stuff

1. I might need those baby clothes one day — you know, if we have another baby.

2. I paid good money for that coat… yes, the one I never wear.

3. Those shoes are still in perfect condition (because they hurt my feet so I don’t wear them.)

4. That bag might be worth something — I could sell it if I ever get around to taking pictures of it and figuring out how to get a Craigslist account.

5. I’ll get rid of those jeans, but I’m going to give them to ________ (insert the name of the person you will certainly forget to give them to.)

6. That sweater was a gift from my mother-in-law. She will be offended if I get rid of it.

7. That’s what my baby wore on her first birthday, her first day of school, her 4th Christmas, Wednesday… ok, I just love all these baby clothes.

8. I have plenty of storage space, what’s the big deal if I simply hang onto everything — because I might need it again some day (see #1 above).

9. I’m going to lose weight, and then I’ll fit in those pants… at least that’s been the plan for the past 7 years.

And the list goes on. 

I know from personal experience, even as someone who LOVES to purge, simplify, and clear the clutter from my home and life, clothes clutter is hard! However, I can also share from personal experience that paring my wardrobe down to the items I actually wear (and love) has been extremely liberating.

So how can you finally ‘bite the bullet’ and purge the clothing you no longer need, use, wear, or love?

Keep reading!

a wardrobe you wear and love



1. Get In the Right Frame of Mind:

Before you even attempt any sort of closet purge, I think it’s important that you have the right frame of mind.

For example, if you are currently upset about gaining a bunch of weight (or not losing your pregnancy weight), you are probably not in the right frame of mind to be willing to purge your too-small sizes. It might just be better to wait a bit before you attempt a larger closet purge.

On the other hand, if you have recently changed jobs or quit a job to be home, now might be the perfect time to purge any unneeded business wear that you’ll no longer need. Also, if you’ve just been feeling really unexcited about your current wardrobe and have been wearing the same things over and over again (guilty!), this might be the perfect time to mix things up a bit!

The important thing is to realize you must be mentally and emotionally ready to purge. Otherwise you’ll waste a bunch of time, get very few results, and end up more frustrated than before you started.

2. Determine YOUR Style:

When Jess (the stylist) first came to my house to look through my closet with me, she asked me what my style was.

Instead of answering her question, I rambled on and on about how I knew I needed to update my wardrobe to include more “adult-looking” clothing and that I should probably be wearing mostly Gap and J.Crew pieces for a little more sophisticated form of casual.

She quickly interrupted me and asked again: “What is YOUR style? What do YOU love wearing the most?”

To that, I responded “Jeans and t-shirts… with yoga pants thrown in about every other day.”

I thought she would instantly tell me that in order to look cute and stylish, I’d have to trash everything and start over with all the latest trends. Much to my surprise, she informed me that we could easily add a few stylish twists to make my mainly jeans and t-shirt wardrobe fresh, new, and exciting again.

So before you throw all your clothes in the donation bin, stop and think about what YOU love wearing, what YOU feel great in. Who cares if it’s not the latest style or not super trendy right now. You won’t wear or love your wardrobe unless it fits YOUR style.

3. Determine Your Needs:

Obviously, if you have a certain dress code for your job, you will need to keep specific pieces in your wardrobe whether you’re a jeans and t-shirt girl like me or not.

If you’re always cold, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of thin layering items. If you are mainly home all day, you’ll probably want to hang onto some of your more comfortable every-day favorites. If you live in colder climates, you definitely want to keep a couple jackets and a comfortable pair of boots for getting out and about in the snow.

We all have different clothing needs that must be considered before we purge too much.

Personally, I just wanted to make sure I had a couple casual skirts and dresses for church, one nice pair of Khakis, one nice dress for special occasions, and one pair of black heels. Other than that, I’m a straight jeans, jean shorts, yoga pants, and t-shirt lady.

jean skirt

4. Take Note of The Little Things:

I’m still not quite sure how to explain this part — but it’s an important step to create a wardrobe you wear and love.

What I’m trying to say here is to pay attention to WHY you always wear a certain item of clothing. Is it how the fabric feels? Is it because the fit is just perfect? Do you love the color or pattern? Is there an extra special detail you enjoy?

At the same time, take note of why you don’t wear other items. Is the fabric itchy? Does it feel too tight or too loose? Does is accentuate something you don’t want to draw attention to? Is it a style or type of clothing you no longer need or love (like formal items you no longer need or past trends that no longer work).

When I took the time to stop and think about these little details, I quickly realized that I won’t wear something unless it’s somewhat stretchy… and it HAS to be soft.

I had a few sweaters I really liked (and they looked great on me) but I never wore them because they were itchy — even with a shirt under them. I also had several nice shirts that were not stretchy, so I felt claustrophobic when I put them on… and never ended up wearing them. Same thing with pants, if they were not stretchy, I wouldn’t wear them because I felt too confined and uncomfortable.

I also realized that I really like stripes, I don’t love collared shirts, I really like black and grey, and I much prefer bold colors over pastels.

All of this knowledge made purging so much easier (thanks Jessica for helping me think through this all!)

5. Purge!

I know… that’s such a big word to just throw out there. BUT, now that you have some guidelines, it won’t be as scary or as difficult — I promise.

Go back to your style and what you love wearing, add in the items you need for work or special occasions, and don’t forget those little details I just talked about above. Then slowly start flipping through your clothes, purging anything that doesn’t work.

For me, this meant removing a bunch of dress pants I used to wear when I worked outside the home. It also meant that I purged a bunch of non-stretchy items along with many very nice (but very itchy) sweaters and almost every collared shirt (I saved a casual one that I really liked).

All of the items I purged were in great condition, they all fit, they all looked nice on me… but I didn’t wear them, and it felt SO great to remove them from my closet. Plus, I did end up selling many of the items!

Please don’t feel like you need to purge every single item in one day. Start small and do a little at a time. It took me 3 or 4 mini purging sessions to really get my closet where I wanted it — and even just this past week, I pulled 3 more items out because I knew they weren’t my style and I wouldn’t wear them.

You don’t have to get it “perfect” on your first try — any purging is a step in the right direction!

6. Shop With Purpose:

Now that you’ve purged, you might be feeling a little anxious wondering “what am I going to wear?” Or maybe that was just me!

After I purged about 75% of my clothes, I had a mini panic attack and figured I would end up spending a fortune to replace everything. Thankfully, Jessica reminded me that we weren’t trying to “replace” everything — but rather, to simplify and fill in a few gaps.

Jessica helped me make a list of everything I felt I wanted or needed to complete my wardrobe — and surprisingly, it didn’t take many pieces.

I wanted one pair of casual shoes that would go with jeans, shorts, khakis, and a skirt.

I wanted one new pair of skinny jeans (she told me I really need to be wearing skinny jeans to make my legs look longer)

I wanted a couple scarves I could wear to accessorize my outfits (necklaces don’t work with a baby)

I wanted a few “t-shirts” that had a little something special to them — something a little less boring that my current cotton v-neck t’s.

Once I had my relatively small list of things to shop for, I felt much less overwhelmed. In fact, after less than 2 hours of shopping, we already had everything on my list — including placing an online order via Twice.com and ThredUp.com for several shirts  (read this post for more information on these online clothing sites).

Because I was shopping with purpose and not simply looking for the cheapest thing on the rack, I ended up with a few quality purchases and one of the least exhausting and most successful shopping trips I’ve ever experienced!

P.S. You’ll definitely want to read Monday’s posts to see all my new outfits!

I’ve personally never struggled much with body image or cared much about what others thought of my looks. However, I know that my body is currently the least “fit” it’s ever been; yet, I honestly don’t remember a time when I’ve felt better about how I look.

I don’t say that to be conceited, but rather to show the power of consolidating my wardrobe to the items I’ll love and feel great wearing.

Confidence and feeling great is not limited by the size of your clothing. It also doesn’t require an expensive price tag (as I mentioned in Tuesday’s post!)

mom and nora

Do you have any other tips to add to my list?

Any other thoughts or questions after the posts this week?

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Filed under: OrganizingHomeClothesPurging

 
 

Leave a comment

29 comments

  1. Jessica

    06/19/2015

    Hey, it’s about a year later and I was wondering if there was an updated contact for the gal that helped you get your new wardrobe… the website doesn’t work for me.

    [Reply]

  2. Jessica

    03/26/2015

    This is what I am working on over the next two days…cleaning out my closet and streamlining my wardrobe! I am both excited and dreading it at the same time. But I have my black trash bags ready and I am getting rid of it all.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay for closet purging! it will definitely be a little bit of work, but the rewards will be SOOOO worth it. Just think how much fun it will be to get dressed once you have everything neat and organized 🙂

    [Reply]

  3. margarita

    09/20/2014

    Thank you for this series. Believe it or not I think it’s one of your best. I have been a follower for awhile and I keep coming back. Why? Your honesty and candor. I have signed up for both. Even though twice doesn’t have my size it does have my daughter’s. This article really makes me want to purge. Buy what I feel comfortable in. Why did I just realize that ? L.O.L

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed the series — and yes, why is it SO hard to get rid of clothing we don’t love, wear, or need??

    [Reply]

  4. Kelly

    09/17/2014

    I have really enjoyed these posts! Thanks so much for the care and thoughtfulness you put into writing them.

    I especially appreciated your words about finding your style – that helped me a lot to think through my own!

    [Reply]

  5. Linda

    09/12/2014

    The clothing post have been good! But why I wanted to leave a comment is that the last picture of you and Nora……….WOW! it is beautiful.

    [Reply]

  6. Bonnie

    09/12/2014

    You and Nora look beautiful!!

    [Reply]

  7. Katherine

    09/12/2014

    I imagine that all of these posts took considerable time to write, so THANK YOU. I am in my 6th month of my final pregnancy (barring surprises, we will be done after we meet this one!) and am excited to even dream about getting back into clothes I don’t fit in right now. Also- I cannot wait to pass on these maternity clothes one final time:) Get them out of here!!!

    I’ll be re-reading these sometime next year for inspiration!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Katherine! And congrats on the soon-to-be-baby! What a great feeling to be able to pass all those maternity and too-blog clothes on to someone else. Then you get the fun of passing on all your baby things as your little one grows out of each set of clothes. Probably a little bitter-sweet, but think of all the stuff you’ll be moving out of your house in the next couple of years!

    [Reply]

  8. Debbie

    09/12/2014

    I’ve been following your post all week since this is a hot topic for me right now. I’ve started purging yesterday and will continue to do so. I like what you wrote about knowing yourself and what you like (stretchy pants, soft fabrics, etc). It’s a good reminder why I don’t wear some of my clothes and I can already picture which ones are going out the door. I also purged a couple of dresses last night that I was holding on to because I wanted to lose 5 lbs before I can wear it again. I guess I either gave up on losing the 5 lbs (not) or I’m looking forward to buying something new when that happens :-). I researched for personal stylists in our area but I’m not having any luck finding someone. I wish your stylist could make recommendations on where to find one in any area.
    PS. The skinny jeans/pants look great on you, carry on!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Debbie and yes, purge those too-small clothes 🙂

    As for stylists, you could try searching for “makeup artists”, or “style artist”, or even “wardrobe consultant”. That might broaden your search. However, you might also just ask a stylish friend to help you out — or anyone who has an eye for fashion.

    Good luck!

    [Reply]

  9. Siobhan

    09/12/2014

    I always love your posts but this week especially helped me gain a new perspective. I ordered a new shirt online this week…something I haven’t done in a long time! Thanks again 🙂

    [Reply]

  10. Rebecca

    09/12/2014

    I just wanted to thank you for passing along the information on Thread Up! I just placed an order for some cute shorts and thanks to you, they were free! Shipping was very reasonable at $2.99. There is some great stuff on there and I will definitely be a repeat customer. Thank you again!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yay — that’s awesome! I’ve scored some amazing deals too. Just remember to look for additional coupon codes before placing your order to save even more!!

    [Reply]

  11. linda r (phila burbs)

    09/12/2014

    just wanted to tell you that the last picture of you and nora is just beautiful!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Linda 😉

    [Reply]

  12. MrsD

    09/12/2014

    I’m one of those people who has been saving clothes for when I lost weight. I only saved my nicest pieces though and everything else was given away. Well…now I’ve lost more than enough weight and guess what? While there are a couple of things I’m wearing…most of it is now outdated. Even though they are high end pieces….it was a waste of time organizing and saving them. Off to Thredup they go….

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thank you SOOOOO much for sharing this (and congrats on the weight lose) I can not tell you how many times I have begged people to purge their too-small clothes because I know they will not want to wear them once they actually do lose the weight. You are probably the 200th person who has confirmed for me, once again, that it does not pay to hold onto too small clothing unless you are currently 8 months pregnant (in which case ALL your normal clothes are too small!! )

    [Reply]

  13. Rebecca

    09/12/2014

    I loved this series! I recently quit my job to stay home with my kids and was having trouble getting rid of the big chunk of business casual clothes in my closet because I might need them when I go back to work, hopefully at least 4-5 years from now. Even typing that seems a little bit ridiculous now!. My body and style will most surely be different by that time. So I will keep a few basics and ditch the rest.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — sometimes you just need to say it out loud (or write it in a public place) to realize that your stuff needs to go!

    happy purging!

    [Reply]

  14. Jen

    09/12/2014

    That is a beautiful photo of you and Nora!!

    I have a question-and I know I’m in the minority-but I have short hair in a style much like yours and I would LOVE a post on your favorite hair products, how you store them, time to style, etc. We short-haired gals have to stick together! There aren’t many of us! 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Jen — I LOVE short hair!

    I actually already did a post about my hair — but it was over 2 years ago already, so it’s a bit outdated. You can read it here if you want.

    I might need to do a more updated post though since I get questions about my hair A LOT!

    In general, I’m not brand specific with the product I get, just whatever is cheapest or on sale 🙂 I use some type of wax/paste to style it and then some type of strong holding aerosol spray to hold it in place. It takes me 2-3 minutes MAX to do my hair — but my hair has really good body so it is very easy to do.

    [Reply]

  15. Jules

    09/12/2014

    Thanks for such a great week of posts! I have been working from home full time for almost 5 years after working in an office environment before that. Despite being away for so long, I still find the urge to purge certain types of items. I also recently moved back to northern Ohio after spending a few years in Florida. Talk about change in needs! Your tips this week have inspired me to do another round of clothing edits.

    In case other readers plan on assessing their wardrobes soon, I have a tip that may be obvious… but it helped me! If I am unsure about getting rid of something – maybe I do need that many pairs of shorts or sweaters or whatever – I take the items out of the closet, box them up, and put them elsewhere in the house. After a set time [a month, a season, etc] if I don’t miss them I know I won’t need them in the future. Plus, they’re already corralled and easy to donate at that point.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, awesome tip. I did something similar a few months ago. I put everything I thought I wanted to purge in our guest bedroom closet. I said if I didn’t wear it by the time I worked with the stylist, I would purge it.

    I ended up only wearing 2 of the shirts I had put aside and everything else left my house about 2 weeks ago! It felt great — but I also liked the security net of having the items just in case 🙂

    [Reply]

  16. Sam

    09/12/2014

    Hi Andrea

    Long time reader, I think the first time posting, but I’ve found this series really entertaining.

    I liked what you wrote here about body image and feeling good,

    “show the power of consolidating my wardrobe to the items I’ll love and feel great wearing.”

    I think as busy moms, we can fall into the rut of wearing “whatever” rather than taking a few minutes each morning to pull ourselves together so that we feel our best (whether it’s a weekday or weekend). As someone who is also not that interested in fashion trends or having a large closet, I liked how you showed some simple “mix and match” outfits this week.

    Thanks 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Sam!
    I too am not very interested in fashion trends or having the latest style. However, there comes a point (even for the most untrendy person) when the wardrobe just needs an update!! It seemed like a good time for me and I’m glad I did it. Even if these clothes don’t fit after another baby (whenever that might be) I’ve learned SOOO much in the process and I know it will be much easier for me to find my style again if need be!

    [Reply]

  17. Kimberley

    09/12/2014

    I really enjoyed this post! And the rest of the posts this week, for that matter. I don’t think you are conceited at all to say that you feel great about the way you look! So many people (women and girls mostly, IMO) don’t and how terrible is that?!?! Unfortunately, I am one of those that are not currently happy with my looks. I am 35 weeks pregnant and feel like a stuffed pig, so that could be part of the issue but I wasn’t fit before I got pregnant, so it’s definitely just not because I am pregnant that I feel this way.

    I think its fantastic that you have been able to pull your wardrobe together and really feel great wearing the items that you have now! This is definitely something that is on my to do list at some point. I haven’t worn makeup in months and don’t really “pull” an outfit together very well anymore (I used to love doing this when I was more fit and active)…but it’s definitely time for a change and I am thrilled to get started…after baby #2 is born, of course.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Oh my goodness Kimberley — don’t be too hard on yourself! I don’t know ANYONE (myself included) who feels great about the way they look at 35 weeks pregnant (especially with #2). I’m sure you look better than you feel and I’m guessing that a few months after the baby is born, you’ll start finding your groove again and enjoy putting an outfit together once your normal clothes actually start fitting again!

    35 weeks pregnant is definitely not the time to compare your body or your wardrobe to anyone else 😉

    [Reply]