I’m going to start this post by apologizing to my mother. I don’t know where I went wrong. Clothing maintenance (or selection, but I think my mother will mostly be disappointed in maintenance since her skills are on point) is not my strong point.
One of the perks of starting a blogger group in your city is that you get to meet a lot of really cool, fashionable bloggers who live nearby. While yes, sometimes this can be intimidating because you realize that you know nothing about clothing, it can also be a blessing because sometimes you can talk them into coming over and overhauling your closet.
There are a few things I blame my lack of clothing knowledge on:
- I’m an engineer. (Other female engineers probably wouldn’t appreciate this. I’m pretty sure there was an entire hashtag about this called #ILookLikeAnEngineer. It’s just a quick out.)
- I wore a uniform in high school. That’s four years of plaid kilt, white shirt, burgundy fleece, and black or brown shoes. It was awesomely mindless.
- Just general cluelessness about three-dimensional design. As I’ve said before, two-dimensional design, great, three-dimensional design, not my jam.
All that said, the real reason that I’m my clothing knowledge is lacking is because I’m lazy and haven’t had too much guidance on finding your personal style in life. So Sarah from smoorelovin‘ and Sarah from Shades of Sarah came over to help me out. (Harvey from #Adulting was also there chilling with us.)
Without further ado, here are the steps to (have someone else who knows more about style than you) overhaul your wardrobe.
1. Find awesome friends.
2. Pull out a few outfits you like to wear.
Before Sarah and Sarah arrived I was asked to pull a few typical outfits I would wear: (1) a work outfit, (2) a church outfit, and (3) a going out outfit. There were a few things I realized very quickly after doing this:
- There was definitely a difference between my simple choice and my complicated choice. My simple choice is what I would pull out of my closet if I needed something super reliable that I love. My complicated choice is what I would stress over putting together one morning while trying on almost every article of clothing in my closet. The purpose of this exercise was to pull out the simple choice.
- The simple choice for me is always black and white. For work I chose a black dress with white polka dots, black leggings, and black boots. For church I chose a black and white skirt with a white shirt and black flats. For going out I chose two outfits, both came with a pair of jeans and boots; one was a black t-shirt with white polka squares (not to be confused with polka dots) and the other was a white(ish) sweater.
- Summer clothing doesn’t come naturally to me at all. Between the sweat and the hair most days it feels like there is no right answer.
I texted the Sarahs before they arrived and told them that everything I had chosen was black and white, expecting to be reprimanded. Instead I was greeted with a “That’s excellent” and an “I love black and white” with a heart eyes face after it. I guess maybe I wasn’t a complete failure?
3. Sort all of the clothes in your closet.
After I shared my outfits in person with the Sarahs, they started going through my closet. Immediately they commented on the fact that they were surprised by how many dresses I owned. They started making piles: fancy dresses, casual dresses, work dresses, work shirts, drapey shirts, t-shirts and tanks, pants, and skirts. Before I knew it everything in my closet was sorted by type of clothing – and color.
There were definitely a few face palm moments in this process (which I’m now about to admit to you, internet):
- I had to admit that I don’t always hang my clothes right-side-out.
- I gave them permission to throw anything that should have been in the hamper in the hamper (because they were going to find it before I did).
- I was informed that there were some things that really needed to be OxiCleaned. (Apparently my mother’s routines weren’t that crazy…)
- The look on Shades of Sarah’s face when she found out that I had been keeping all of my skirts folded in a drawer was priceless. (I have no idea how my mother feels about this, but I’m sure it’s not great…)
They were surprised how many dresses I owned and had a lot of nice things to say about them. They were surprised how much pink I owned. Apparently I usually wear black and white. They were also in general surprised by the amount of clothing I owned, which surprised me.
smoorelovin’ explained to me that there was a point in her life where she narrowed down her wardrobe to 2 dresses, 2 pairs of pants, 5 shirts, etc. and only wore those things for a month or two. She explained that it was nice to do a clothing cleanse, to reset your wardrobe, and to really be able to hone in on your style.
4. Stop lying to yourself.
This part is easier said than done. It’s also easier done with friends (who you love and trust to not judge you too hard).
During the sorting process, when they found an item of clothing that seemed out of place they asked about what the story behind it was. There’s a lot of times my response was, “that’s from high school.” There’s 4 skirts that I bought in 11th grade that are now in my donate pile. I had justified holding onto them this long because they were the perfect “church length” skirt and society wasn’t making those for a while. Well, now they are, so it’s about time that the 11-year-old skirts were retired.
Most of the dirty work happened while I cooked lunch. I went downstairs to the kitchen and left the Sarahs with my wardrobe. After eating I came back upstairs to a pile of clothing that was a “suggested get rid of pile” – actually, it may have been a “strongly suggested get rid of pile.” Yeah that sounds more correct. What was in that pile?
- Items of clothing that looked old and ragged.
- Shirts that had tight elastic bands on the bottom. They tried explaining this to me, but it never really made sense to me why this was a bad thing. That said, most of this clothing was from high school, so I figured they were probably right.
- Items of clothing that had stains that wouldn’t wash off.
- Things you’re not supposed to wear at the age of twenty-seven.
- Clothing that didn’t seem to fit with the rest.
So what did I do with this pile of 20+ items of clothing? I sorted it into three piles:
- Items of clothing I agree need to go and am willing to get rid of immediately because they are not a wardrobe basic for me.
- Items of clothing I agree need to go and I am willing to get rid of eventually, which I placed into a “need to replace ASAP” pile.
- Items which I refused to get rid of. There were two of these. One was given to me by my dad’s cousin (this one just didn’t fit with the rest of my clothing, it’s still in good shape) and a shirt I bought at TJMaxx that I always get compliments on when I wear (so I purposely didn’t ask them why that one made the pile).
I also learned that I’m quite possibly supposed to have gotten rid of all of my capris by now, but I like them. So I’ve decided to keep them. I think with the right shoe choice I could pull it off.
I’ve already even managed to replace a few items. And once I realized how easy they were to replace I felt better about getting rid of a few more things from the “replace” pile. It’s just clothing.
5. Find someone to answer your questions and create sample outfits.
If you’re doing this yourself I recommend taking your questions to Google and finding your sample outfits on Pinterest. If you’re lucky enough to have somebody there with you who is more confident about fashion than you are, it’s incredibly useful to ask someone all your questions. For example:
- How high am I supposed to be wearing these skirts and why does my rib cage look so funny when the skirt is around my waist?
Answer: Find looser shirts to tuck into skirts.
- How am I supposed to style a belt with these outfits?
Answer: Approximately exactly how you think you do it, just actually try it.
- Chrystina: I wore that dress once, but it was really windy that day and kept flying up.
Answer: Buy lacey biker shorts or a part of jean shorts to wear under the dress.
- smoorelovin’: You should probably stop buying dresses for a while.
Chrystina: Maybe after I buy a few more casual ones.
smoorelovin’: (looking confused) You have so many casual dresses.
Answer: I need to stop thinking of nice clothing being for fancy occasions only.
They also pulled out a few sample outfits for me. One of which I had even worn before, so I felt pretty good about that.
6. Put everything back properly.
After we had all of these discussions I sat there and watch smoorelovin’ fold everything that should be folded and hang everything that should be hung. My closet is now sorted by type of clothing and clothing color. My drawers are now a little bit emptier, and things fit in them a little bit better. Here are a few things I learned (which are probably obvious to most of you, but here we go anyway):
- Skirts should be hung.
- Bulky sweaters and cardigans should be folded.
- Drapey shirts should be hung so they don’t get wrinkled.
7. Take next steps accordingly.
The shopping list of items that I should be on the lookout for (but definitely not in immediate need of) include:
- Jean shorts (< already purchased at Loft)
- New white shirts ( < one of which was already purchased at Loft)
- Looser tops
- Workout clothes
- Skirt hangers (I lied, these were of immediate need according to the look on Shades of Sarah’s face.)
- A new black belt
- A new fabric shaver
- A good pair of wedges (which I’ve been looking for for a while, but can’t seem to find a pair I really like)
I also pulled the steamer my cousin gave me out of the basement and set it up in my room so I can look more presentable when I leave in the morning.
When they finished there were two pieces of information I was left with:
- My biggest problem is not knowing when it’s time to rotate out and get rid of old clothing.
- I need to take better care of my clothing so it doesn’t get tossed into the wear and tear ragged pile quite as quickly.
Oh, and if anybody has the answer to how to stop a pencil skirt from turning as you walk to work, I would love to hear it. My best guess right now is to wear an equally heavy bag on each shoulder. I still have to test it though. There’s a chance that just makes it turn twice as fast.