Quality Over Quantity and your wardrobe

My big Quality Over Quantity theme this year (besides not over-scheduling myself, which is a big part of my health management) has been pruning and adjusting my wardrobe. My clothes need to reflect who I am now, feel good on the body I have now, and support my happiness and wellness.

I'll be sharing more about this in the weeks ahead, but for the moment here's a little excerpt from my book Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff:

The change of the seasons into summer and winter is a good time to revisit things in your closet because it gives you a chance to look again at clothes you haven’t worn since last year and decide if you love them enough to renew their contract as players on your team. When the chill grows in the air, go through all those coats, sweaters, scarves, mittens, boots, etc. and decide what you're going to wear within the next thirty days. If it doesn't make the cut, get rid of it.

Someone else needs to be warm more than you need to maintain The Gallery of Unwanted Winterwear. As the sunshine blooms and you shed layers, do the same thing, but with bathing suits, shorts, lightweight dresses, halter tops, sandals, and t-shirts.

Don’t hang onto things that you never use. Send that just-not-you suit to one of the great organizations helping low-income businesspeople carry themselves to success. Give that big, out-of-fashion winter coat to charity and save someone from the chill. Let that over-the-top formalwear send someone on a tight budget to the prom or a holiday party in style. Move the neglected items out of your space and into the arms of someone who really appreciates them.

Remember, Someday Is Now still applies when it comes to your dress clothes; we simply define ‘now’ as being a longer time range. When you haven’t worn that suit or gown in six months, but you don’t want to be in the lurch if you get invited to a fancy occasion, you can still hold onto it ‘just in case’ provided that it fits you well and you actually like wearing it.

However, I have seen people keep something ostensibly for the reason “I might need to wear it if I go to a formal event” but really for the reason “I spent too much on this and it fits me completely wrong and I haven't worn it the last five times I've been invited to a formal event, but maybe if I hold onto it somehow that money will magically have been wisely spent.”

I say keep the things that are both beautiful and useful to you and perhaps define the utility of formals in a longer than six month cycle, but move the rest along. Don’t let the fear of being caught unprepared for exceptional events make your daily encounter with your closet a hassle.

You Deserve Some Fabulousness

Got a holiday party coming up and feeling at a loss about what to wear?

You might be very surprised at just how nice a new dress or tie you can find for $10 or $20 at Ross or some similar discount department store. Remember: it doesn't have to be something you'll wear again and again, just good enough for a few evenings out knockin' 'em dead.

Go get yourself some silky swanky thing that makes you feel all dressed up and face those social occasions with a smug smile.

Shop Your Closet #2: Seasonal Clothes

Northern Hemisphere, now is the time to go through all those coats, sweaters, scarves, mittens, boots, etc. and decide what you're going to wear within the next 30 days.

If it doesn't make the cut, get rid of it. Someone else needs it more than you need to maintain the Museum Of Unwanted Winterwear.

Southern Hemisphere, as above, but bathing suits, shorts, lightweight dresses, halter tops, sandals, and t-shirts.

Free Stuff!

Today, go shopping in the back of your closets, basement, attic or other cold storage spots.

You'll unearth some trash, recycling and "give to charity" items, but I bet you'll find at least one treasure too.

Does that old jacket you forgot you owned go great with your newest slacks? Is this rediscovered pair of shoes exactly what you want to wear tonight? Will that old Atari 2600 and a subscription to Make Magazine be a great present for your nephew?

Dig for gold!

There must be a better way

Is there a whole class of clothing which you detest wearing, but which you find it hard to avoid?
Find an alternative.

For me, it's pantyhose. They don't breathe, the tan color looks weird to me, and I hate hate hate the way the waistband slips down. For years I didn't like wearing dresses or skirts to business or formal events because of the expectation of having to endure pantyhose. Now, when I decide to give up my pinstripe slacks for something a little more girly, I wear stockings or stocking-top hose in other colors & patterns .

What about you? What piece of clothing do you loathe and how do you get around it?

Lost Sock Day

Time to get your sock act together.

Get rid of all those unmated and holy soled socks.

Take the ones that you notice are always still in the drawer when you're putting away the clean socks from the laundry and donate them to charity or toss them too. If you don't wear them, don't have them taking up your space.

Does this leave you with too few socks? Then buy some! Socks work hard and wear out. Your feet deserve good padding, really.

Hate clothes shopping? Just go order some socks from Lands' End; they'll last a good long time, I find. Also, when you find some socks you really like, go back and buy another few pairs right away.

Take care of your feet and they'll be nice to you.

Color and your closet

I have to confess, I generally hate clothes shopping. I get overwhelmed by the choices and depressed by the culture adoring disposable fashion and stick-figure thinness. Here's something I did which made a real difference for me.

Figure out a handful of colors that you really like to wear and which look good on you. They don't all have to go together, but they should cluster in a couple overlapping groups so you can make the best use of your wardrobe.

Go poke around in your closets and drawers and note the colors of your favorite clothes. Think about outfits you like that really seem to match up well. (If you're colorblind, have a friend with good fashion sense who isn't help you out with this).

List these colors out and decide on half a dozen you're going to focus on and figure out the ones that can be worn together.

For example, I chose black, red, grey, pale pink and sage green. Black & grey go with everything, including each other.  The pink & the green go together well. Red is great with black or grey.

Now when I'm shopping, I'm looking for my colors first. It makes it really easy to scan a rack (or a catalog) and zero in on just a few things that might suit me. It's then very quick to flip through things eliminating things I don't like about the fabric or details ("Too synthetic & shiny", "Too busy a pattern", "Too many fiddly lacy bits around the cuffs"). When something does connect and it's in my price range, I check the sizes and try a few on to find which one for this manufacturer is flattering to me.

Over time, as I do the "turn the hanger around backwards, put it back the normal way after wearing it, and 6 months later get rid of the backwards stuff" trick, I find my closet has largely settled into my chosen colors with a few exceptions, most of them dresses or suits for special occasions, rather than the mix-and-match outfit ingredients.

Shopping for clothes is still not anything close to my favorite activity, but it's a lot more tolerable now.