Fit. Feel. Flatter. My Wardrobe Simplifiers

posted by Andrea | 08/30/2019

Over the course of my adult life, I’ve worked hard to regularly purge my own closet of anything that doesn’t fit, anything I don’t feel great wearing, and anything that doesn’t flatter my figure — a pretty tall order for someone who has gained and lost roughly 180 pounds of pregnancy weight over the past 8 years, someone who has worn maternity clothing for 4 different seasons, someone who struggles with Diastasis Recti, and someone who shops almost exclusively at thrift stores or ThredUp!

Obviously, I didn’t purge all my clothing every time I got pregnant, but I was fairly ruthless about purging anything once it no longer fit, felt great, or flattered me.

It has not always been easy or fun to purge my clothing. 

I’ve definitely struggled with the “but it’s in perfect condition” and the “what if I need it again?” feeling that makes it so hard to purge. However, as I think back over all the clothing I’ve purged in my life, I truly can’t think of anything I regret getting rid of.

Let me be clear… I do NOT have a minimalist wardrobe!

However, I still prefer fewer pieces of clothing that fit well, feel great, and flatter me (and mix-and-match with each other) versus a closet full of things I don’t love. 

Plus, only focusing on FIT, FEEL, and FLATTER makes it significantly easier for me to remove any sort of emotional, sentimental, or monetary attachment to a particular item of clothing. 

Think about it… if you simply stand in front of your mirror, try on your clothing, and evaluate it based on the fit, how it feels, and if it flatters you, you won’t need to worry about how much you paid for it, if it’s still in great condition or not, if you could potentially wear it once you “lose 10 pounds”, if your grandma or best friend gave it to you, etc. etc.

If it doesn’t fit, it’s gone — EVEN if it still has the tags on.

If you don’t feel great wearing it, it’s gone — EVEN if you paid good money for it.

If it doesn’t flatter you, it’s gone — EVEN if it was a gift from your mother-in-law. 🙂

Of course, it most likely will not be this black and white once you’re actually standing in your closet… but these 3 factors have often helped me realize when I’m hanging onto an item out of guilt and/or sentiment, or if I actually like the item and will wear it on a regular basis.

Please keep in mind that this type of organization and purging is forever a work in progress (at least for me).

There are always, and probably will always be, things in my closet that aren’t my favorite but I still wear, things that don’t fit me perfectly but are good enough, things that don’t feel great but I need them anyway, and things that don’t flatter me but I’m too cheap to buy a replacement.

For example:

  • The red long-sleeve shirt that is too tight for my preference, but it’s the only red shirt I have and I only wear it a couple of times around Christmas (usually under a cardigan or sweater) so it doesn’t pay to get something new or purge the one I have.
  • The jean skirt that’s a little big but it’s super cute and it works if I have a shirt tucked in.
  • The pair of super thick wool socks that are also super ugly, but I wear them a few times every winter when it’s really really cold and I’m outside playing with the kids.
  • ALL nylons and tights… I don’t love them but I need a couple pairs to wear with skirts and dresses in the winter!

I certainly don’t want you to toss out your entire wardrobe… but instead, just start really thinking about how your clothing fits, how you feel when you wear it, if it flatters your figure, or if you are simply holding onto it out of guilt, or emotions, or sentimentality.

If you can’t answer “yes” to my Fit, Feel, and Flatter tests, then it might be time to purge!

This might mean purging an item that is fairly new, something you THOUGHT you’d wear more often, or something that used to be your favorite before you __________ (had a baby, lost weight, gained weight, changed your style, etc.)

If you’re not 100% convinced you can live without a certain item, I’d encourage you to put everything in a couple boxes or bags and completely remove them from your bedroom. Then, make a note in your planner or set a reminder on your phone for 4-6 months. If you still haven’t touched the items in that period of time, I’m almost certain you’ll be able to live without them!

What about you… what items will you purge first!

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28 comments

  1. jennifer

    09/03/2019

    I also love thrift stores! You always look amazing. Love your polka dot pants in one of the photos! I also use swap.com, which is a little like ThredUp!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks… the polka dot pants are some of my favorites too!

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  2. Carol Smith

    09/02/2019

    Snce you do so many home projects I’m curious if you keep any older clothes for painting or yard work? I tend to save my favorite shirts but probably have too many!

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    Andrea Reply:

    you know, I don’t really save anything. I have 1 shirt and 1 pair of pants for painting, but that’s it. I just wear a t-shirt and jeans or shorts (depending on the weather) for our renos.

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  3. Michelle

    08/31/2019

    Also, to go along with the flatter idea, knowing from a “professional” what colors look good on oneself versus which colors are not flattering makes purging and shopping SO much easier! There are times I’m tempted to buy something but when I know it’s not in my color code, and therefore won’t look flattering on, I have saved money and space in closet.

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  4. Michelle

    08/31/2019

    I love the pink dress on you in the outdoor (church?) Family picture. Did you score that at a thrift shop?

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Michelle — yup, form a thrift store on their “dollar day” so it was $1! It’s Ann Taylor!
    And YES, knowing that I prefer grey, white, black and tan — with a pop of pink REALLY helps me to simplify my wardrobe. I know if I’m looking to buy something and it’s green or yellow or orange, to just put it back — even if it’s a great deal. It won’t go with the other things in my closet and I won’t end up wearing it.

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  5. Jennifer

    08/30/2019

    I love alliteration so I love your fit, feel, flatter guidelines! Our locker (closet on a sailboat) is just 2 ft wide, so I had to pare down drastically. Drawer space is tiny so I hang almost all of my clothes. When we first moved aboard my husband let me have the whole locker and as I wore something I moved it from left to right. After a while I would go through things I never moved to the right and decided whether or not to give them more time. Mostly I realized there were quite a few items I just won’t wear anymore, maybe because of fit, feel or flatter issues, but also a new lifestyle.

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    Jennifer Reply:

    I meant to add that now he has about 1/4 of the locker, too. Ha!! 6 whole inches!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’m an “alliterative junkie” too! 🙂
    Sounds like such a fun lifestyle you have (although I get motion sickness, so not sure it’s for me!)
    Glad you were able to simplify your closet space!

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  6. Andreea

    08/30/2019

    Hi, Andrea! Thank you for another practical post on clothing.
    I go through sections of my wardrobe twice a year, when I prepare for summer vs. winter. However, I have always had an issue. For a long while, I have afforded but unexpensive or second hand clothes. They looked awfully cheap and trashy after a year or two. Then I went through several style changes, the most important of which being slowly giving up pants and jeans. I went through 3 pregnancies and am currently living my fouth. At the moment, our financial status changed to a very comfortable one and I am dreaming of a more or less capsule wardrobe made up of only high quality super resistent clothes. But it’s hard to achieve that at once, since it requires a big investment and a lot of effort that my body really couldn’t cope with during pregnancy. Online shopping is full of negative suprises in our country. I am thus a bit disappointed about how my wardrobe looks like and a bit puzzled whenever I need to get ready to go out.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Andreea!
    Believe it or not, I was EXACTLY in your spot when I was pregnant with Clara — feeling like I just wanted to completely start over with a new wardrobe (but I knew that would be expensive — and I’m glad I didn’t do it because I ended up losing a lot more weight than I planned on).
    Anyway, my advice for the time being would be to purge everything you don’t like and buy 2 nice pairs of jeans (or pants or whatever you wear) and 3 or 4 nice tops that you feel are quality and that you could wear for many different occasions.
    Start there and see how it goes.
    Then, after you are finished having babies and your weight is more stabilized, you can either decide to invest more into a “capsule wardrobe” or add a few less expensive pieces into your current wardrobe to mix things up.
    But I personally wouldn’t want to invest much money into my wardrobe while pregnant, while losing baby weight, or if I thought I might be pregnant again in the near future.
    Does this help at all?

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    Andreea Reply:

    Thanks, that’s encouraging. Except I almost never had baby weight. I have been weighing 55 kilos (non-pregnant) for the last 8 years or so. Only my first baby left me with a year long baby blues and about 20 post-partum kilos to fight with. So I am guessing the weight will not be an issue. But I will deffinitely take your tips. I am glad I made the courage to write to you, because I have been reading your posts for 2-3 years now.

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh goodness, never worry about contacting me! I get so many emails and messages every day — one more certainly won’t bother me at all!
    Thanks for reaching out and for your long-time readership!!

    Also, way to go not holding onto your baby weight — good for you!

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  7. Mary

    08/30/2019

    I retired a couple years ago. I’m struggling with letting my “work wardrobe” go. Some things are fine for some events or for every day but other items I just don’t wear anymore. I have trouble getting around to getting rid of things I’m sure I might need some day.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Mary, you are NOT alone! So many people are in a similar situation… wondering “what if I need it again”.
    My answer is usually “but what if you DON’T need it again”

    In my opinion, it’s more likely that you will NOT need the items again, and if you do, it might only be ONE small item — not the whole wardrobe, so if you feel you could afford to buy one item again someday down the road, I would personally advise you to purge it all now! You’ll be able to enjoy more space, less clutter, and it will be easier to find something you want to wear each day!

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    Pixie508 Reply:

    When I started to work from home, I struggled with this. Although I rarely need them, I did keep 2 pairs of dress pants (black and gray), 2 blazers (one matches with the black pants to look like a suit), and 2 solid color shells (plus I have a few other dressy tops that I sometimes wear with jeans too). This allows me to look professional on the rare occasion when I need to. I’ve gotten the most use out of the black pants (I’ve been to more wakes in the last few years than I care to think about). But, holding on to a half dozen pieces gives me the comfort to know that I could step out and look professional if I needed to with zero notice.

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    Andrea Reply:

    this seems like a good compromise!

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  8. Pat Harris

    09/29/2016

    Over the last 2 years I’ve lost 50 pounds. Obviously some of my clothes no longer fit. Some things I’ve hung onto for the last 20 years fit again! Yeah! I have needed to purge regularly. I have a summer wardrobe and a winter wardrobe. There is some overlap but not a whole lot. So every fall I go through my winter clothes as I get them out and my summer clothes as I put them away. Then the bags go to charity so I can’t save them in case I regain a few pounds. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my closet!

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — congrats on the weight loss! That’s impressive! And yay for purging. I’m sure you’ll love the extra space in your closet.

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  9. Lois

    09/17/2016

    oh so timely now that the weather is turning and I am about to “bring the tubs down” of new season’s clothes. I too, have listened to your blog and purged quite a bit this year. But the idea of trying on fall clothes and doing the same is such a big overwhelming thought for me. I have to just do it, vs saying I will at the end of the season. I have a big wardrobe and dresser that now have empty drawers! Maybe, elimination of the tubs can happen and all seasons fit in one? Ahhh the challenge. Love your blogs. xxxooo

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    Andrea Reply:

    thanks Lois! Wouldn’t it be so great if you could fit everything into your closet with no clothing in storage! Fingers crossed that you can get rid of your tubs!!

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  10. Debbie

    09/16/2016

    I’m so glad you said that it’s a work in progress because I realized that something I’m not able to let go now eventually I can let go in a couple of months or less. The fit, feel, and flatter is what I’ve been keeping in mind every time I try to purge things out of my closet and drawers. I also appreciate that you do keep some items even though they don’t fit or flatter quite well because they’re still cute when worn with other pieces.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes! Always a work in progress… always!
    And yes, there are things I keep because the work and I use them… but they aren’t necessarily my favorite (I think every frugal closet has a few of those pieces!)

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  11. Beatriz

    09/16/2016

    I have been going through my house and purging quite a bit this year. Right now there are several sentimental garments hanging in my closet as we speak garments I know I need to be rid of but just can’t let go. They definitely do not fit into your rule but I have been loathe to get rid of them but I know this will be the year I get rid of them.

    I have also taken some things out of my kitchen and I felt so proud of myself! Yesterday alone I sold a Magic Bullet that I had received as a gift but for which I had no real use. The Bullet had too many parts and not enough of what I wanted, especially as I had only used it a handful of times; I freed up a whole shelf!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yay for less clutter in the kitchen!! I’m sure that feels great!
    And good luck with your clothing purge 🙂

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  12. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    09/16/2016

    Those are the question I ask too! Why would I want to keep something that doesn’t fit well, that I don’t feel confident in, or what doesn’t make me look good? I’ve been pretty ruthless in cutting back our clothing and it is so much easier to get dressed now.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, it’s harder for me after having kids because my size has changed so dramatically SO many times over the past 5 years… but now that I’m “evened out” a bit, I’m ready to purge even more!!

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