Tuesday, September 9, 2014

End of Summer Closet Purge

End of Summer Closet Purge


Last year right around this time (August 20) I posted about doing a closet purge. Today, in the spirit of embracing fall and the change of seasons, I'd like to encourage all of us to do a good hard closet cleanse. In particular, I'd like to invite you to get rid of everything that doesn't flatter you and lift you up toward being the best possible version of whoever you are. Right. Now. Warning: this is going to be a wordy post and one that might ask some difficult questions. Bare with me, ok? I've used some funky fonts to help break it up a little.
In particular, I've been thinking lately about a question that I get from clients and friends a lot. It comes in various forms, but the basic is this:

How do I know if this outfit/dress/shirt/pair of pants/necklace/hairstyle is too ______________ for me?

The adjectives for the blank include: too young for me, too old for me, too tight for me, too revealing for me, too trendy for me, too young for me, too baggy for me, and more.
Here are my thoughts about this, and I'd love to hear what you think, too!

I'd love to say this: wear whatever you want. However, I know that's not as easy as it seems. Let's break it down:Who is you? If you is casual-around-the-house you, then really: if you own it and it's comfortable, wear it. If not, it gets harder. Which "you" are we talking about? Job or promotion-getting-you? Showing-off-your-curvy shape-to-a-new-date-you? That special outfit can actually be easier than day to day because most of us have a go-to suit or dress for this one event and are usually comfortable pulling it together for that special day. (If not, hire me. I'll help you.)

Maybe it's Tuesday after Labor Day "you." I find this daily what-to-wear can be harder for women because there is so much of our identity wrapped up in what we wear-not just once to interview for a job but day after day, week after week.

I'll start with some guidelines to help you purge your closet in preparation for work. 
  1. First, look at the most influential person in the room. If what you and that person are wearing look like they are attending completely different events (she's in a suit that could go to the White House, you're in a tshirt or dirty jeans or very casual shoes), then you might not be dressing in your most professional way. 
  2. Take a look at how to incorporate elements of how that person is dressing into your own style (if she's the only one in a suit, for example, consider wearing a blazer to work more often, echoing an element of her formality and the formality she perceives for your office; if no one else wears open toed shoes at your job, consider trading your sandals for a pair of closed-toe shoes, even a more casual pair).
Yes for play. Not for work...
For casual clothes, I think a lot of women can make the mistake of dressing too casually. And by that I don't mean for what the fashion industry would prefer for us. I mean for who we want to portray that we are to the world. 
  • Think about this: add the word "because" to the end of your thoughts about your clothing, accessories, hairstyle, etc. 
  • Then, take a look at what that says about you by using the phrase "I'm someone who likes to ______," and 
  • Ask yourself if that's the message you want to send to the world.
For example, I might think "I should get rid of this shirt...but I like it!" Instead, I'm asking you to think about why. This might translate into "I should get rid of this shirt...but I like it BECAUSE it hides my stomach." Then, "I'm someone who" likes to hide herself. 
Eek! I don't like that! Maybe this shirt should be moved to the Wear Less, Sleepwear or even Give Away pile. If I have lots of things in the Wear Less pile for similar reasons, then I can start to give some of those things away so that my whole closet isn't full of them. I don't let myself think self-defeating thoughts like "but what if I end up with nothing to wear?!" This is my mantra instead: 

There is always more clothing, and I would rather have 4 things hanging in my closet that I love than 100 that I hide in/dislike/just like ok.

Example 2: I might think "I should get rid of this dress...but sometimes when we go to Vegas I like to wear it to feel sexy out with my husband." Then, "I'm someone who likes to dress sexy out with my husband." Keeping it! Note: if I said something like "I should get rid of this dress...but maybe someday I'll have somewhere to go and want to feel sexy," then I would still say keep it. And get a date on the books ASAP! And make sure that you have a couple of these items but not a closet full of them. You need clothes that you actually wear, too.

Example 3: I might think "I love this sweater. It's so cute...but is it too young for me?"  Then, "I'm someone who likes to dress too young for my season in life." Ouch. I don't like that at all.

Side note: I fall into this trap a lot. When I'm out shopping, I can picture just who should be wearing something (hence my business here!), and sometimes I fall so deeply into that trap that I buy the thing. And there it sits, perfect for 25 year old me, or my younger co-worker, or, on the flip side, a version of me that doesn't exist yet like stay-at-home mom me or retired-to-the-beach me. I love to donate these things or give them away to a friend because they belong with someone else. Fly, little bird! I think. And I remember this next time I'm drawn to something that's perfect for someone who's not currently me. Maybe it's best purchased as a gift?
On the other hand, let's make sure that "too young for me" thing is really true above. If it's a work item and it renders me less credible for my position then I'd demote it to the non-work only category. If it doesn't fit there, I let it go.

I realize that I'm pushing you to ask yourself difficult questions. I think it's worth it. If you want help, ask me. This is what I do-virtually and in person. Let's schedule time if it feels overwhelming!

Here's what a friend said were her reasons to keep things after I sorted through her closet with her:

That looks better on me than I thought.

I didn't really believe I could pull it off but loved it-just needed the vote of confidence

Oh I forgot about that!

I didn't think I had anything to go with that (but you showed me that I did)!

Also, I read this this week; you might have, too? It made me ache. Ache for Sara, mostly. Made me want to say to her, do that. Go there. Go be wild because it's your heart. Ya know? Sometimes, the questions that haunt you in your closet are about the life you lead outside of it, too. 

My tips for how to do a closet cleanse parts one, two, and three. Looking to sell clothes? My best friend loves ThredUp.

1 comment:

  1. A very timely post! I was just staring at my clothes yesterday, thinking I needed to try things for Fall on. I'm going to do what you suggest for sorting out my clothes and only keep what I love (your closet cleaning post one). And Sara's story...powerful.