What to Look For in a Wardrobe Clean Sweep - dummies

What to Look For in a Wardrobe Clean Sweep

By Jill Martin, Pierre A. Lehu

The first step to putting together a wardrobe that reflects the true you in personal style is to focus on what you have going on behind your closet doors — and to get rid of what doesn’t work within your clothing collection.

Quality, fit, and style are the most important factors when building a fashionable, comfortable wardrobe. This means everything in your closet should be first-rate, whether it’s a formal gown or sweat pants. As you inventory your existing wardrobe, if anything isn’t a 10, guess where it’s going? Yup! Out the door. Nothing less than a 10 is acceptable. No, not even to just run to the market, walk the dog, or lounge in at home.

In order for your clothing to be considered a 10, it has to pass the following tests. And, yes, you must go through your closet piece by piece, trying things on and asking these five questions of every single item. These questions are in no particular order and are all equally important. Be ruthless!

You must be brutally honest with yourself. Sometimes it helps to have a friend with you, someone whose fashion sense you trust (but any really honest friend will do). It makes the whole process a lot more fun, and you can do it for each other, so you both benefit.

What condition is this piece of clothing in?

Before you even try anything on, take a look at each garment and survey its condition. Is it permanently stained? Are there holes beyond repair? Is it stretched out to the point that it no longer fits well? Is the material pilly (does it have those little round nubby things that cling to lots of sweaters in particular)? If you answer yes to any or all of these questions, you don’t even need to try it on. Toss those pieces straight onto the donation pile.

Does the clothing item fit?

If it passed the quality control test, the next step is to try it on. Does it fit? And, more importantly, is it flattering? Is it really a 10? Do you feel like a million bucks when you put it on? If not, it’s outta there.

If you have a blouse that goes perfectly with a particular pair of pants but it happens to be a little tight so that it shows off that bulge around your tummy, then it’s the wrong choice for you. Ditch it! If you feel uncomfortable about its defects, you won’t wear it no matter how well it goes with the pants. Better to get rid of that blouse and avoid feeling conflicted every time you see it than to keep it just because it’s the only blouse you have in that color.

Is this sweater, dress, pair of pants, or whatever in style?

Is the piece of clothing in style? If not, is it more of a classic piece that will always be in style? Or is it a high-quality item that may come back into style? (The latter scenario is rare. Even when things come back into style years later, they’re always a bit different.

Remember the shoulder pads in the 1980s? Well, when they tried to bring them back, the pads were on a much smaller scale and the whole trend didn’t really take off again, so those pieces weren’t worth keeping anyway. So, if the piece isn’t a classic and is truly last year’s trend (or even last decade’s trend), out it goes.

Is the garment relevant to your current life?

Take stock of your day-to-day life and your activities, and then evaluate what you actually need and actually wear. Do you need office clothes, workout clothes, party clothes? It can be all of the above, but if you don’t play tennis anymore or don’t work in an office, or if anything in your life has changed that affects your wardrobe, then you need to be okay with letting these pieces go. Don’t get sentimental about your old suits. If you don’t use them, someone else may be able to. Isn’t that a lot better? And just think about how nice your closet will look with less clutter!