Over the past 12 years, I’ve helped hundreds and hundreds of women who don't know what to wear, by sorting through their closets, teaching them how to dress to make the absolute best of their shape, and showing them how to wear the clothes that are hanging unworn in their closet.
And in this article I'm going to share the process I go through when I'm sorting out my clients closets, to help you maximize your wardrobe so you stop wearing the same few pieces, in the same way, day after day, and actually start to enjoying your closet!
THE FOUR STEPS TO MAXIMIZING YOUR EXISTING WARDROBE
I've broken the process down into 4 simple steps for you. You can click to visit each step individually, or keep scrolling down to go through them one by one.
You're going to remove all the unworn items from your closet, asses each piece, and put them into one of 4 categories so you can see what you have to work with.
Focusing on color, pull any clothes from your closet that compliment the clothes you're not wearing so you can start to build outfits in Step Four.
a few things to note before you start...
I just want to let you know that you're not going to be conducting a full closet consultation here. That's too much to cover in one article as it involves other important points such as your body shape, and your style identity (my fellow Personal Stylist, Arash wrote a great piece on creating a style that's unique to you). In this article I'm just focusing on helping you build new outfits with old clothes.
If you're feeling a little overwhelmed or nervous about starting this, that's OK. It's perfectly natural. You're about to try and change habits that have built up over years and years, so you’re undoubtedly going to feel resistance. It’s also an indicator that this is something you need to work through.
Take a deep breath, (and a sip of wine if it helps!) and take it one step at a time, it will get easier once you start ♥
I've created a workbook for you to guide you through each step:
It's a digital workbook that can be filled in on your computer, tablet, or phone
STEP ONE OF MAKING THE MOST OF THE CLOTHES IN YOUR WARDROBE
Gather together these 7 essentials
- 1Full length mirror (this is crucial if you’re to build complete outfits that work!)
- 2Hanging rail (I've used this one for the past 12 years and it's never let me down)
- 3A notebook and pen (or my FREE workbook which you can download HERE
- 4Dressmaker pins
- 5A tape measure
- 6A selection of accessories - long and short necklaces, belts, scarves, footwear
- 7And an open mind!
To see all of my closet maintenance and storage recommendations, click here
STEP TWO OF MAKING THE MOST OF THE CLOTHES IN YOUR WARDROBE
Remove the unworn clothes from your wardrobe and categorize them
The next part of the process is to identify and remove from your wardrobe all the items you’re not wearing. Don’t panic if it’s a lot of items, it often is!
Once you’ve removed all the unworn items from your wardrobe you’ll need to go through them and group them into these 4 categories:
CLOTHES THAT ARE No Good
This is where you’re going to put the items that you don't like, that don’t fit, can’t be altered, or are beyond repair.
Be honest with yourself as to why you’re not wearing these pieces. Put aside any feelings of guilt and try and let go of the hang-ups associated with certain items. Give yourself permission to get rid of them (whether that’s selling, donating, swapping or binning) and move on. Trust me; it might be hard but it’s incredibly cathartic.
If an item holds sentimental value and you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of it, then consider removing it from your closet and storing it elsewhere.
CLOTHES THAT need altering or repairing
If something can be altered to fit you better or needs a simple repair to make it wearable, pop it in this pile.
With that said, there are a few ways to bypass alterations and fake the perfect fit. I wrote a post all about this over here so I highly recommend you check it out before you cut and sew!
CLOTHES THAT DON'T LOOK GOOD, BUT YOU LIKE
Any items you like, but that don't flatter you go in this pile.
If something doesn't flatter you it can be down to a number of reasons, but the two biggies are that the color doesn’t suit you, or the item is the wrong shape for your body type. BUT this does not mean the item is no good!
There are quite a few things you can do to make these clothes work better on your shape so hold onto these items because we’ll come back to them later.
If you're not sure what your body shape is, I highly recommend taking my quiz below before you go any further, as understanding your shape, and how to dress to flatter it will make the process of unlocking the potential in your closet so much easier! 👇
If an item doesn’t fit into any of the other four categories this is where it should go...even if you’re not sure how to wear it.
If you like it, it fits you, flatters you, and doesn’t need repairing, you should be wearing it!
This is the pile of clothes we're going to be working with for the remainder of this task. So, when you're ready, move onto Step 3 👇
STEP THREE OF MAKING THE MOST OF THE CLOTHES IN YOUR WARDROBE
Look for clothes in your closet that compliment the unworn pieces in the "EVERYTHING ELSE' pile.
All the clothes in the 'EVERYTHING ELSE' pile are items that you could be wearing.
Some of clothes you might have worn a couple of times, but there will also be pieces in there that you have never worn and it's making use of these unworn clothes that will unlock all the hidden potential in your closet, and create lots of new outfits that you didn't know you had!
There are lots of ways to identify and build new outftis with these clothes, but the simplest is to focus on color so that's what we're going to do in this exercise. Once you've got the hang of mixing and matching colors, you can move on to looking at shape, texture and print!
How to use color to identify and build new outfits
Take each piece of clothing into your wardrobe and pull out any clothes that you think match it or compliment it. Here are some tips:
IF IT'S A NEUTRAL
A neutral is a great base to work with, it will pretty much go with anything, but do consider the tone and undertone. You can do a monochromatic look, team it with denim, a block color, a print...
IF IT'S A SOLID OR BLOCK COLOR
It the item is a block or solid color, the easiest color to pair it with is a neutral, but they look great worn with bold stripes, soft prints, the same hue in a different tone, or a graphic tee...
IF IT'S A PRINT
When it comes to prints try not to get overwhelmed by all the options. Pick out a couple of colors in the print and focus on matching those 2. Prints look great with a neutral, a graphic tee, another print or a block color. If you want some tips on print mixing, check out this post
While you're doing this exercise, forget about occasion. I don’t want you to leave an item in the closet because you think it’s too dressy, or too casual.
Remove the occasion 'labels' you’ve given each item, and pull anything and everything that you think matches the piece you're working with.
Once you've done that, move onto the final step - building new outfits!
STEP FOUR OF MAKING THE MOST OF THE CLOTHES IN YOUR WARDROBE
Build new outfits with your old clothes
By this point you should have a selection of clothes that you think will work together. All that's left now, is to KEEP AN OPEN MIND and start building outfits using those clothes.
Do not rule anything out. Try as many combinations as possible, and when you find one that works (and you will!) make a note of it so you don’t forget it! I’ve included some of my favorite combinations in my workbook in case you need a little help kick starting the mixing-an-a-matching.
There will be some instances when you can’t find anything to pair with an item, or where you need to purchase something in order to make it work (such a camisole to layer under a sheer item). When this happens just make a note of the missing item and look for it when you next go shopping.
As you work through the rail, hang the pieces that are a keeper in your closet. Eventually, when you’ve finished working through the rail you’ll have a closet containing only the clothes that fit you, that you like, and that make complete outfits, and you’ll be well on your way to maximizing your wardrobe and wearing everything in there rather than the same few pieces!
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