Friday, June 26, 2009

What "Shop Your Closet" Really Means

Case in point: A perfectly fine cropped satin Rachel Roy trench that hasn't seen the light of day in months

You've heard fashion editors and bloggers alike talk about the new "it" thing to do in this recession: "shop your closet." But what does it really mean?

If you're like me, you've got loads of inventory (yes, think of it as a warehouse that's been stocked) with nothing to wear. It's time to rethink the "more is more" shopping philosophy that is so seductive and reconsider what we already have in our over-stuffed closets.

I propose the following steps:

1. If you haven't already, organize your closet by item type (jackets, blouses, tops, etc.) and then by color (neutrals first, for example, then colored items) for easier and faster sorting.
2. Make a list of everything you own on a word document, spreadsheet, or a sheet of paper.
3. Highlight everything that you haven't worn in over 4-6 months (of course, some items are heavily seasonal, so if it's summer and you're looking at a winter item, approximate the number of times you wore it last winter).
4. Sit down and write down a list of reasons why you haven't worn that item. Doesn't fit? Itchy? Doesn't go with anything? If it's not worth keeping, donate it or swap that item with a friend. But before you're too quick to part with it, remember that once upon a time you bought it--you spent your hard-earned cash on it. Consider ways of redeeming it:
a. Doesn't Fit: Could a trip to the tailor amend that problem? Even if it's small, some tailors can take an item out, depending on the amount of fabric in the seams. (If it's itchy, a tailor can add lining too.)
b. Looks Dowdy: Hemming a long, matronly skirt may just be the thing to revive that long lost item. A tailor can taper a pair of pants to make them "skinny" or he/she could crop them.
c. Doesn't go with anything: This one is the big challenge--one that requires you to think outside the box. Look to other fashion blogs out there for inspiration. A multicolored top? Pair it with a neutral pant or skirt. An old vintage jacket? Pair it with distressed jeans.
5. Continue to make a list of everything that could be worn with that item (an extension of 4c). If it's a top, think of every possible bottom that could be worn with it (jeans? flared trousers? harem pants? skinny pants? a skirt? shorts? jumpsuit?); if it's a bottom, think of every possible top that could go with it.
6. Test drive those looks in the mirror. Eliminate bad pairings and record the good ones for later use. (Trust me: even though this is time consuming, knowing what works and what doesn't saves time in the future.)
7. Sometimes, you have to buy a few items to ensure the longevity and use of the other ones you already have, but I do recommend going cheap here or being wise about how you drop your dough. For example, perhaps a pair of distressed jeans are just the thing to update several existing pieces in your closet. Or maybe some cheap chains at H&M, F21, or Urban Outfitters would alter the overall effect of some more conservative items.
8. Remember, it's okay to store your vintage items for a rainy day. Not everything you own is currently trendy, but I firmly believe that in fashion, "everything old is new again." Whatever dated item in your closet will, like Lazarus, rise again.


Brigadeiro said...

What a great post! I have an overcrowded wardrobe, organised as you describe...most of what I haven't worn are due to weight gain, but am so reluctant to let them go (as I keep telling myself I have to lose the weight, and not just to fit back into my clothes).


Brigadeiro said...

PS. LOVE that RR trench!

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes.'Shop Your Closet' is one of your wonderful postings. Surely I know 'thinking & doing are two different things', as a commercial said. How long have I been put it off from day to day? Thank you for reminding me.
By the way, I will add that fablous RR jacket on my must have.

Nini's Style said...

With this kind of recession shop your closet is the best. That's my strategies for shopping right now. Great post!!!

Rach said...

Good advice! Thanks for doing this for us readers. It was well written and interesting.