Many experts offer quick fixes for wardrobe organizing: having your colors done; de-cluttering by giving away anything you haven't worn in a year; or installing closet organizers.
But these solutions often ignore the real issue: lack of planning."When I was young, I had a closet full of impulse buys. Nothing matched," says fashion expert Nancy Nolan.
"Now my wardrobe is built around classics. I buy natural fabrics like wool and cotton. And pay attention to tailoring. I instinctively limit colors to those that look good on me."
Nolan, a manager for Neiman Marcus in Denver, developed her common-sense approach to wardrobe planning through her experience with clients as a fashion coordinator and personal shopper. Her formula is simple:
- Determine what you have. Hang skirts, blouses, slacks, etc., together. Play with your clothes. Experiment with what might work together.
While some experts advise throwing away anything you haven't worn in a year, Nolan believes this is simplistic. "If the garment is a classic piece, raise the hemline, change the accessories or just hang on to it for a few years until it's back in style."
- Assess what you need. Based on your lifestyle, list the fill-in pieces you need for leisure, career and dress-up.
Develop long-term goals with an eye toward quality. Many in the fashion industry have limited wardrobes built around a few good skirts and jackets. Use accessories to change the look and feel of your clothes.
- Plan a budget. If funds are limited, shop sales and decide what you need most.
- Shop for quality. Natural fabrics such as wool and cotton often outlast rayon and polyester. Look at the tailoring as well as the quality of the fabric. Are the buttons loose? Are the seams and hems finished? Do patterns match? Do the shoulder pads lie flat?
Nolan says clothing in classic lines and quality fabrics costs less on a "per-wear" basis. For instance, a $300 black wool suit may have a life of five years and cost only $2 per wear, while the polyester suit that was a bargain at $100 may cost $5 per wear.