(and how to stop buying clothes that you will never wear)
Do you have a closet full of clothes and feel like you never have anything you wear? Do you have clothes that you bought months ago that still have their labels on? Or do you feel like you always are buying clothes and then realising you already own something similar? Maybe it’s because you buy too much, or maybe you can’t let go of items that you never will wear, or even because your wardrobe doesn’t match your lifestyle? However one thing is certain, you need a functional closet!
What is a functional closet?
Picture the ideal scenario of waking up, opening your closet and liking and wanting to wear all the clothes that you see in it? Or only spending money on clothes when you really love something and when you find a piece that matches your personal style? That is the definition of a functional wardrobe, a wardrobe that works for you!
It may see like an impossible feat to achieve, but it’s not! After a lot of trial and error over the years, these are the 3 tips that really helped me to avoid expensive and unnecessary purchases:
The first step is to liberate yourself from the fog of clothes in your wardrobe and get organised:
1. Organise your closet…
… and be ruthless! Donate or sell pieces that you don’t wear and that your don’t see yourself wearing at any moment, even those weird presents from your great aunt; life is short, free yourself from things that only occupy space! There is no point keeping clothes that don’t make you feel good. To really check out this theory you need to get trying things on!
If a pair of jeans doesn’t fit right, if a top is too short or tight on the chest, that isn’t going to change, and you will have the same problem every time you try to wear them. Items that don’t make you feel 100% don’t have a place in your wardrobe!
It may be painful, but shoes that were never comfortable won’t suddenly stop hurting your feel. I feel like crying when I think of my velvet Miu Miu ballet pumps that cut my feet every time I tried to wear them, or a pair of sky high wooden platform Louboutin saddles which I acquired in my days working in fashion, but to my dismay, I literally fall on the floor whenever I try to wear them, I think it’s something to do with the surface area of the front part of the platform…how life can be cruel!
And you know that pile of clothes stuffed in the back of your closet, waiting years to be adjusted? Enough with procrastination! Give yourself 7 days to take everything to a seamstress or donate. No mercy!
I know a lot of people talk about getting rid of clothes that you haven’t worn for a year, but I don’t personally subscribe to that school of thought. As a vintage lover, I see certain pieces as timeless investments, that I may not wear every year, but I do believe in buying better and buying less, so clothes shouldn’t be disposable. Take for example a long flare sleeve black Dolce e Gabbana dress that I bought in a vintage shop when I was 17 and I still use today, even if it goes for a year or two without seeing the light of day, after all we are creatures of phases.
It’s likely that you will come across clothes that you don’t wear and you can’t remember why. These pieces need to spend some time in clothes purgatory, this can be a clothing rail or a visible space in your closet. Try to use these pieces in over the course of the next couple of weeks. Either you will remember why you never wear the item and feel more comfortable putting it in the sell or donate pile, or you will realise you never gave the item a chance and love it and end up with more outfit options! Win win situation!
After the massive clear out, aside from gaining shelf and hanging space, you will be able to see what you already have and what you need…the first steps to a functional wardrobe. It’s not a coincidence that the organizing part occupies more than half of the whole post, as it’s more than half the work!
2. Define your Uniform
Once your have your wardrobe cleaned and organised, you will have the emotional and literal space to think about the gaps in your wardrobe. What are the pieces that make up the basis of your outfits on a day-to-day basis? Think about creating your own uniform. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you throw away spontaneity or that you buy 5 pairs of the same pair of trousers. Your uniform can be whatever you want it to be. It’s more a case of you defining what basic pieces make up your go to outfits. In my case, I’m not really a big time jeans person, not to say, I don’t wear them, but my version of a go to uniform, involves lots of 60s shift dresses and ankle boots. Clearly, I wear other things, but I know what suits me and my lifestyle. Once you have defined your uniform, start to identify the gaps. Do you find that you have enough bottoms but could do with a few more tops to go with them? Or would a neutral coat really pull together your looks? Use what you have and think about what pieces would really elevate your outfits and make them look more pulled together.
3. Consider your lifestyle
Not taking into account my actual lifestyle, when I bought clothes, was a mistake that I regrettably repeated many times over a number of years. Your clothes need to match your lifestyle. There is absolutely no point in having a wardrobe full of heels and executive dresses if you work from home. It’s normal for our lives to evolve and our wardrobe necessities to evolve with them. When I moved to São Paulo after a solid 5-year stint in London, I ended up selling a lot of my winter work clothes that I used in my Marketing job. Don’t get me wrong, we still need warm weather clothes in São Paulo, but I didn’t need as many as when I lived in London, winter was no longer my predominate season, plus I was back in the freelancing life. My wardrobe needs had changed and I was better off investing in pieces that suited my new routine.
When it comes the time to buy clothes, think about the lifestyle you really have and not the glamorous fantasy version you wish you had. That is not to end on a damper, because trust me a wardrobe full of cocktail dresses with nowhere to go and nothing that makes you feel good on a day to day basis is a far more depressing reality. Be the best version of yourself for where you are today!