Tuning Up! Part 1

While we patiently, or…well…not so patiently, wait for the summer heat to pass and fall fashion to really rev up, it is a great time to soak up a little AC and cast an eye to our closets and do a little tidying up – run through the wardrobe, determine what is needed, what needs to go and show everything a little love.

I do a closet tune-up before each new season – yes darlings that means I do this four times a year (at least!).  The tune-up helps me focus on what I am wearing and needing so I can create a plan before I am lured into a new fashion season and start shopping.    Here are some easy steps I use when I do my seasonal closet tune-up:

Step 1: The First Pass

Go through closets and drawers item by item identifying those items that no longer fit, require repair, are well past their prime, or that I just don’t wear.  I have a one-closet/all seasons approach so the don’t wear rules apply seasonally. 

I don’t spend a bunch of time debating on the first pass, just assess, decide and move on.   I also try to exercise a little tough self-love when I do the first pass.  Closet space and mindshare are valuable so the goal is to focus on what I really can wear and what I really like and feel good in.  So when a first pass is done that is what should be left on the shelves and hangers, these items can stay put for the moment, we will get back to them.

I create three piles for the stuff that isn’t staying:

  • Goodbye – Items I no longer wear, don’t really love, no longer fit or are well past their prime and MUST go.
  • Repair – Tailor, cobbler or DIY, this can’t be put off, clothes you can’t wear don’t do you any good.  Shoes and bags need love too so get them to the cobbler for new heel caps, innersoles, replaced buttons or broken straps.
  • I Like It But Don’t Wear It – you like them, they fit, but for whatever reason you aren’t wearing them.  These wardrobe orphans aren’t done yet so stay tuned.

Like many folks, I have a hard time parting with stuff so sometimes I create a fourth pile “I Can’t Say Goodbye, Yet”.   Here is where I put the clothes I am not really wearing but for whatever reason think I may later on.  These items aren’t doing me any good hanging in my closet and distracting me from what I can wear so they go into storage boxes.  Then, during tune-up I go through the boxes and I again ask myself if it is time to wear them or give them away.  I find that this holding time helps me let go…of my size 12 fantasies, of my size 26 back up plans, and all those pieces that I will never really wear again.  I have also given myself a limit of only two boxes so I am not storing tons of old stuff.

Step 2: Take Note

I take notes as I bag up the Goodbye items, listing things I need to replace or things that were mistakes I should learn from.  If white basic tees and shirts are stained or go-to shoes are looking unintentionally distressed they have to go, but definitely need to be replaced.  Heavy wear is also a sign that something was a winner and may be worth replacing.  Same goes for garments that are key pieces for other garments – you don’t want to create new orphans.  As for mistakes, well we all make them, but it’s better if we try not to repeat them!

Now that we have cleared the field, the real fun can begin. 

Step 3: The Edit

Now it’s time to go fashion editor on the “I Don’t Wear It” pile.  For each piece, I ask “Why am I not wearing this?”  Generally I find these are my wardrobe orphans, those items that I haven’t built into the right outfits or that somehow miss the mark.  I try things on, play with different pieces and generally see what I can do with them – belt the baggy sweater, layer something with something else, cuff something.  If I hit upon a great outfit I write it down and refer back to it when I need wardrobe inspiration.  If I am not getting any where with what I have, I imagine what the perfect outfit would be and jot down what I need to make that outfit.  If they aren’t quite right, can they be reinvented?  Altered to improve fit, perhaps the buttons changed or cuffs removed?  If I am still stumped, or the need list is going to be huge, then it is Goodbye time.    

So, now with items on their way to Goodwill, the tailor, the cobbler and the attic, and my lists freshly updated I can focus my attention on the good stuff.  A closet full of clothes that fit, I really like, and want to wear.  Time to show them some love.  More on those in my next article!

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