Updated: Oct 18, 2019
It is important to evaluate your closet and clean it out to keep it well rounded and purposeful, but you also do not want to use this as an excuse to impulsively throw away items that still have life to them.
If you read my https://www.therackblog.com/blog/what-is-fast-fashion-and-why-is-it-bad you will understand why throwing away (even donating too much) isn't the best way to get rid of your unwanted clothing.
Here are some tips for maintaining your closet and being more intentional with what you own.
#1: Don't buy unless you love it
This is super important one. Before you buy, really think through the purchase no matter where it is from or how much of a sale it is on. Try really hard to combat the urge to buy something just because it is inexpensive.
Only buy if you really love it AND need it.
HERE IS A TIP TO SLOW DOWN YOUR PURCHASES AND MAKE THEM MORE THOUGHTFUL:
When you are online shopping try this trick to slowing your purchases down and really getting what you love and can afford. Create a list of links to items you want (I use notes or google docs for this myself and clients) Don't heavily filter yourself here, let your imagination go! Add all the links you want to this list. It kinda feels like you are putting them in a shopping cart which can be an exciting step for shopping lovers. Add what you want and when you are done shopping for the day, save the doc and step away, go to bed, get back to work ect.
THEN go back to this list the next day or even a couple days later and filter through them.
You may be surprised at what sleeping on it can do for your perspective of what you should purchase. This gives you time to come down from the shopping high, but doesn't make you feel restricted because you could hypothetically get anything you originally wanted in this curated list.
Look through the links and with a clear, fresh mind and narrow down what you really love and need. This trick really really helps slow down shopping and really will train you to think through purchases better. You will be surprised at some of the things you initially wanted and what some space can show you for what you actually wanted.
#2: Shop for quality over quantity
When you shop really try to focus on the quality of the garments. If something is cheap, it is not worth buying because it won't last, won't fit properly, won't be as comfortable and you will just end up contributing to the landfills or over filling other countries with our crap.
Aim for versatile pieces and really focus on durability and higher quality fabrics for staples such as leggings, jeans, t-shirts and sweaters.
When buying shoes, bags and accessories make sure to buy nicer metals (such as sterling silver, gold or gold plated, brass) and well made leather shoes. If you are not a leather wearer there are good vegan options as well. Vegan doesn't just mean avoiding leather and buying the cheap $29.99 plastic boots from DSW that will peel in 3 months. If you are shopping vegan, I hope you are in the mindset of being intentional enough to shop for quality here. Shop canvas or vegan leathers that are still durable and thick. Avoid the cheap, plasticy shoes & bags that peel and crack within a couple months of wear - regardless of your budget! No matter how low your budget is, you can always afford a quality bag or accessory if shopped with intention.
Second hand is an awesome place to shop for quality, designer and well made staples and accessories at a more affordable cost.
When you shop look at the tags for what the fabric is made of.
Try to make sure that the item isn't made of too many different fibers blended together. Two (3 sometimes) fiber types is okay, but you want to make sure it is a 3rd of one fiber (preferably a natural fiber) and then a quarter of another. If the ratio is slightly off that is ok, you wont always find the perfect ratios - but it is important to use this as a base.
Avoid polyester (some polyester can be great and you can shop high tech, fair trade, quality such as Patagonia fleeces and other athletic wears. When I say avoid poly I mean try not to buy the adorable polyester floral blouse or prairie dress that is sheer, cute, cheap and itchy, that is made of plastic so it isn't breathable and can't be very well fitting.
Avoid avoid avoid acrylic of any sort. If it is made of acrylic that is a huge indicator that it is probably low quality, won't last you and should be avoided.
EXAMPLE: If the sweater is polyester and acrylic I guarantee you will have at least 1 of the following issues:
1: You sweat in it (thinking you are just "run" hot..when it's really that you are wearing fabrics that aren't letting your skin breathe)
2: It pills and gets dingy after a wear or two (not to mention the mess the washer and dryer will make on it)
3: It looks cheap and doesn't feel good on your skin
4: You are constantly buying new versions of this same item
#3: Do Closet Audits often
Taking a look into your closet on a regular basis and evaluating it, editing it and giving it a fresh organizing can be extremely helpful in maintaining a great wardrobe and keeping your waste down.
If this feels super overwhelming that is OK, just start! Once you get going you will be surprised at how far you can get once you just get the ball rolling. Bringing in a professional (such as the RUBA RUBA Wardrobe Development Services) can really help bring you clarity and guidance as well if you feel like it is way too much to take on yourself.
When doing closet audits for yourself go into the closet and try to think about what is bothering you about your closet currently. Look at what you have that you love, what you have that you dislike and try to determine why for both. For items you want to part with break them up into piles: Donate | Give to Friends or Family | Sell | Repurpose | Recycled | Get Altered or fixed. Then when you go to put what you are keeping back make sure that you are using your closet in the most proactive way. Try to have a place for everything! This will make getting dressed easier and make you know what you have or need later.
Get out that list and make a list of what you feel you need. Ask yourself what you are missing after looking through your wardrobe. What would help make your wardrobe more versatile and productive for your style and life?
#4: Sell, give away, donate, repurpose, recycle, get fixed
Maintaining your closet does mean that you have to put some effort into "getting rid" of items. Please try to remember that throwing something in the garbage is not a good form of taking it off your hands. EVER!
Since clothing has become so inherently viewed as disposable - the average person throws away about 70-80 pounds, annually. If textiles are not disposed of properly about 85% of this waste goes to landfills where it occupies about 5% of landfill space and the amount is growing.
In the past when clothes weren't so cheap or accessible the way they are today, they would not have been thrown away or donated JUST because there was a small hole, button missing ect. This is a hard habit to break and I even have issues with this since stains and holes in my clothes drive me nuts - luckily I have a friend that doesn't mind distress in clothing and if it isn't something I can repair or remove I give to her and she loves them and wears them to death! BUT it is important to be mindful that just because something has a minor damage doesn't mean it is garbage, but instead it just needs some TLC. If you need to replace buttons, hem a skirt, taper a waist, replace an elastic waistband or replace the sole of the shoe - there are seamstresses, tailors and cobblers that can do this!
If you have well known or designer brands and the items are in good condition but you just don't want them any longer, try to sell them!
I do this constantly and it gives me the ability to shop and invest in better quality items with the profits.
Really think about the longevity of your clothes and how you care for them so you are able to sell them later. Consignment shops, The Real Real, Tradesy, Poshmark or Thred-up are great ways to make money for your unwanted items and also great places to find quality pieces to add to your own wardrobe.
Luckily lots of dumps now offer textile recycling for the clothing, towels, fabrics, ect that just don't have any life left in them (like underwear, socks, destroyed kids clothes, towels ect.). Try to seek these out before you toss textile items into the regular garbage. If something is in pretty good condition and you just don't want it and it isn't nice or cool enough to sell find a friend that can make use of it, bring them to a local shelter or church or donate to your local thrift stores. Try to avoid those big metal boxes that sit in random box store parking lots (if you do make sure with a little Googling to make sure that it is legit and won't end up being thrown away anyways) and always donate items that are cleaned and in plastic bags so they don't get dirty, destroyed or lost during its travels.
Find friends or family members that love hand-me-downs! This assures you that the life of the clothing can last much longer!
#5: Take care of what you already have or will have in the future
Laundry, storage and even appropriate wearing times is super important!
If you know you are going to be eating spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, running around the park with your kids or spending the afternoon cleaning out your car maybeeeee just really don't wear that silk top or that white skirt. Dress for your life and what your day is going to command of you.
If you know you are hard on clothes and you don't want to think about changing your top to cook, clean or garden than don't buy tons of white, satin silk or delicate pieces.
Buy work horse fabrics you know are going to be durable like linen, thick cottons like twills or canvas, raw silk, hemp and wool. Look for thicker fabrics that need to be broken in over time and don't get tricked by it being super flexible and soft right off the bat - like rayon or refined silk. If you know you are a rough wearer, you will dominate delicate, wispy fabrics. Go for thickness and avoid items with too much stretch.
Avoid the dryer!! Honestly 95% of your clothes should be air dried. Yes... I mean 95%!!!
None of your athletic wear, underwear, cottons, polyesters, leggings ect. should be put into the dryer!! Your clothes will last 10X longer if you don't put them in the dryer and if you break up your laundry loads!
The old rule of darks with darks and lights with lights is still very important and works! I also urge clients all the time to wash items with like items. Don't wash jeans, towels and your favorite date-night blouse all in the same load. Home items should never be washed with clothing! This is a problem that occurs with men that help with the laundry..haha.. I see this all the time in my own home and with clients. Their husbands, boyfriends, sons, dads or whoever think none of this matters and they throw everything but the kitchen sink in and then the women wonders why her clothes don't last. Do your own laundry and don't let the men near it. (I know I know, it's cool he is helping and all, but he doesn't get it - so don't let him do it)
Always try to do smaller loads. Smaller loads create less friction, tangling and pulling.
Always wash on cold, inside out and lay or hang flat to try 95%-99% of the time. All white loads that you are bleaching can be washed on warm, but other than that - ALWAYS ON COLD! ALWAYS!
Having a place for everything is key to getting dressed quicker, easier and keeping your clothes nicer longer + it just feels SO much better!
Sweaters/knits should really never ever ever be hung. The hanger, weight and tension from the other clothes will create a natural tug and pull affect on your sweaters and make them loose their shape. The shoulders will get all wacky and the body of the item will droop.
Don't hang thin spaghetti straps or stretch straps. These should be folded over the body of the hanger and NOT hung by the straps. They will stretch out on you!
Avoid hanging t-shirts - if you prefer them hung do the same fold over the hanger method I just mentioned and don't hang by the shoulders. This is a quick way to make your t-shirts look distorted.
Store and hang like items with each other and don't cause closet friction. If you have a sequined dress and a silk blouse it would probably be a good idea to not have these next to each other. Really be mindful of what is hanging with what and how it will affect the item it touches.
Do not stack your shoes! I see this in almost every closet I enter! When you throw all of your shoes into a basket they are going to naturally loose they sheen, shape and structure. You can get a shoe rack that will fit right in your closet or by the front door for under 40$! So don't wear out your shoes when they aren't even being worn.
Thanks for reading!
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Let me know what you think and if this has helped you at all!
Happy fall all!