I read the other day that women spend an average of a year deciding what to wear. Just as adults- that doesn’t count children or the elderly. My first thought? Only a year? I spend two hours deciding before a Christmas party. Even on the average day, I have to flip through 20 shirts I haven’t worn in a year to find the one I wear at least once a week.
And the average woman spends $1,200 a year on clothes. Yep, over a thousand dollars. On average, of course. And most don’t even realize it. That $10 top is on sale…and it looks great! But they add up.
I do this: I buy new clothes. I have an entire closetful of clothes…but I buy clothes. Why? Honestly, I’ve been wasting time and money.
So, what am I going to do? (Well, more accurately, what did I do?) I spent 4 hours fixing the problem once and for all. Yep, I’m serious. 4 hours. I was ruthless, I was determined. And weeks later, I’m still thrilled.
This is a long post…but that’s because I was amazingly detailed. It’s not a complicated process, I promise.
- Get organized.
- Sort- pick “top tens”, “store”, or “donate” items.
- Mix & match over the next few weeks to find fabulous outfits you love.
- Save money over the next year by following the rules you already learned. & Never worry about what outfits to take on vacation again.
That’s it. So don’t let the long post scare you!
Let's Get Going!
- First, print off the “Top Tens” sheet below. Also print out at least two copies of the “Outstanding Outfits” sheet. (Click “read more” to see the files).
- Grab a pen.
- And find at least two large boxes. (I ended up needing five).
Label your two boxes & get the two categories fixed in your mind:
Box #1) Pack away because:
• I like the style AND
• It has fit in the past I could see wearing it tomorrow if it fit. (Not ”I kind of like it, I wish it fit.” It needs to be “Oh, I wish that fit! I would wear it tomorrow!).
• ~~Or~~ I like the style, it fits right now wonderfully, but it’s not in my top ten. Yes, sorry, we’re going to pack it away for a couple of months. Don’t worry, you’re not losing it forever. For the clothes that fit the category of: “I like the style, but not in my top 10 favorite” I’m going to go back in six months or so, open the box, and consider again. Did I actually miss the piece? Am I happy to see it? Would I buy it today? If so, keep. If no, donate it! Trust me. If you aren’t happy to see it and want to wear it tomorrow; you’ll end up wearing it once and then it will sit there another two years.
Box # 2) I admit I haven’t worn it in a year, if it disappears today I wouldn’t ever notice again, or there is just something I don’t like about it. For example, I had 5 (yes, 5!) shirts that had a collar that cut right across the collar bone. I fit into them, I just didn’t like that. Toss it! You’re never going to love it.
If you browse the internet, you might find some draconian advice that doesn’t even allow box #1. (I found one lady who cut her ENTIRE WARDROBE to 10 pieces.) But if you’re like me, your weight fluctuates. And yes, I’m going to need those size 8s that are too small….and sadly, maybe those size 14s that are too big.
Sorting It Out:
Okay, I’m prepped. I’m standing outside my closet. You might not do this, but I got naked. I had a lot of clothes to try on to see how they really fit. Husband wasn’t home, which was probably good. Not that he wouldn’t enjoy the show, but because he wouldn’t want to give his opinion on 100 items of clothing.
Now, you’re going to be one of two people:
1) Those who dressy outfits on a regular basis- aka: your work clothes can double as holiday party clothes. The bulk of your wardrobe is “dress/business” clothes.
2) Those who dress up rarely.
Hey, you’re both great, don’t get me wrong. But we’re going to do something different next.
If you’re #1, grab 2-3 casual outfits you wear on the weekends, etc. Hang them up and put them back into the the closet. They’re freebies.
If you’re #2, grab 2-3 dresses or skirt/shirt combos that are “party-worthy.” Hang them up and put them back into the closet. They’re freebies.
~~Additionally, if you go to the occasional ball/formal event that requires floor-length ball gowns- ruthlessly look at what you’ve saved. Are you going to wear it again? Honestly? Or are you going to go buy a new dress? Save 2-3 if you’re going to wear them again. Toss the rest. Stick the saves in the back of the closet.
Now, the real work: the hard part, where you have to let go.
During this process: if in doubt, try it on. Some will say don’t touch it, but I had to try it on. If it was a little short, if I didn’t like how the neckline went, etc., it got donated. You’re always going to feel that way…it’s not going to magically get a little bit longer in a few month. Thus, it was actually not too hard coming up with my “Top 10”.
1) Pull out all your bottoms: pants, skirts, khakis, jeans, etc. Lay them on the bed (or floor). Pick out your top 10. The ones you actually wear on a regular basis. They fit well, you like the style, etc. Write them on your top ten sheet- come up with names “Pleat at mid-thigh black skirt,” “Dark blue jeans, Levis 10,” “Black jeans, Lucky12,” “Black khaki,” etc.
~~~Everything else go into one of the two boxes you set aside above. Hang your top 10 back up. Yay!
2) Pull out all your tank tops, shells, undershirts: the type of shirts you normally throw a cardigan or sweater over most of the time. Lay them on the bed (or floor). Pick out your top 10. The ones you actually wear on a regular basis. Write them on your top ten sheet- come up with names “Calvin Klein black lace neckline,” “sea breeze lace tank,” “Jones NY black XL,” etc.
~~~All of the rest go into one of the two boxes you set aside above. Hang your top 10 back up.
3) Pull out all cardigan and over-sweaters. These are items you can’t wear alone (aka- you would get arrested for indecent exposure if you didn’t wear something under them.) Lay them on the bed (or floor). Pick out your top 10. The ones you actually wear on a regular basis. Write them on your top ten sheet- come up with names “Purple ruffle button under bust,” “black cashmere ruffle,” “Purple knit” etc.
~~~All of the rest go into one of the two boxes you set aside above. Hang your favorites back up.
4) Pull out all your “stand alone” shirts- shirts you wear by themselves. Sweaters, long-sleeve tops, maybe a couple short sleeve tops. Lay them on the bed (or floor). Pick out your top 10. The ones you actually wear on a regular basis. Write them on your top ten sheet- come up with names “Blue cowl neck” “purple cowl neck” “Short-sleeve with buckle” etc.
~~~All of the rest go into one of the two boxes you set aside above. Hang your favorites back up.
***Note: if you also wear knee-length dresses on a regular basis, flip over your sheet & repeat the process above.
Whew! We’re done with clothes!
Well, if you want to be really thorough (I was):
- go throw out the bras that don’t fit well
- the socks you don’t wear (why keep them? Do you really need 10 pairs of backup socks)
- pj’s that haven’t been on your body in a year.
But it’s not 100% necessary to our process. Skip if you want.
Next: shoes and jewelry. There is a reason, trust me. You’ll see room on your “Top Tens” sheet for shoes and for jewelry combinations. Pick your top ten shoes.
Jewelry: If you’re someone who worries about matching jewelry, decide now what jewelry works together. Write it down: my antique looking earrings look great with a tarnished cross I have. I wrote it down. No more looking at earring trying to decide what to wear. The rest of the jewelry: well…I just put it aside for now. I didn’t want to toss it. I just want to simplify my life.
If you’re not someone who worries about jewelry, skip this part.
We’re done for today. Yep, the rest is going to take a few minutes each morning over the next couple of weeks.
Over the next two weeks:
Tape your “Top Tens” and (your currently blank) “Outstanding Outfits” up next to the closet or put on a clipboard where it’s easily accessible, etc.
Over the next couple of weeks, you’re going to naturally grab combos you’ve always worn. Trust me…you’ve picked out the clothes you already wear all the time anyway. In addition, look at your top ten list and purposely mix it up. Do you really always have to wear the purple cardigan with that one black skirt? Mix it up…and wear it all day. Don’t glance in the mirror and say “nope” and change five times. Give it a chance.
I had a tank top/undershirt I couldn’t decide on. So I wore it to the grocery store and was intending to wear it all day. But I kept noticing it was just a little short; I felt a constant urge to pull it down. Ended up tossing it. Why be uncomfortable every day I wear it?
If you glance in the mirror and really like a combo, write it down. Right down to the jewelry. Within a couple of weeks, you’ll have 2-3 sheets full of outfits you love that work together. You’re closet will be trimmed down. And after this, no more time wasting time picking out outfits.
You want to know the 2 bonus parts? The really, really good ones?
1) When you go on vacation, you already know what to take! If you’re like me, you plan out outfits for vacation. But now you already know what you like! And what looks great together.
2) When you go shopping for clothes, there should be one question: Does it make my Top 10 today? Am I going to wear it tomorrow? And next week? If I were re-doing the whole process, would this be a shirt (or skirt or whatever) that I would write down as a Top 10? Or would it go to the “fits, I like it, but not a favorite”? (And please, no, not the “It doesn’t quite fit YET, but I love it.” Nope. Nope. Nope.)
If you follow rule #2, I guarantee you will save money on clothes this year.