"I love the program. It really made sense, but now I want to go home and throw out all my clothes," wailed a participant following a Saturday seminar on wardrobe strategies.
"Welcome to the club," I said, trying to let her know that her feeling is all too typical. "But the word should be `through,' not `throw.' I want you to go home and go through all your clothes. Decide what works for you, what doesn't and why. Once you know that, discard what doesn't work and make plans to build on what does."It's not enough to simply know what you like and what you don't. You need to know why. As you go through your clothes, look for similarities in the colors, styles and fabrics. You may discover you have certain preferences for specific colors or color families. You may prefer specific types of lines, shapes and styles. You may discover you have many more slacks than skirts. Find out why.
Maybe the colors and prints or plaids accurately express or reflect your personality and typical moods. According to one young woman, "I discovered the bright-colored prints in my wardrobe are bouncy and fun, kind of like me and I like that."
Maybe the lines of your favorite clothes fit you better than some of the ones you don't like as well. Said another woman, "A-line and flared skirts always fit my figure more easily and comfortably. No wonder I wear them more often, and straight skirts just hang in my closet for years."
Maybe you lead a very active life and pants meet your needs more often than skirts. Pants are preferred by one first-grade teacher because she is down on the floor and often dirty during her day. Just a few skirts and dresses are all she needs for special school occasions and weekend wear.
The variety of "maybes" is endless, but whatever the case, try to discover why you have these likes and dislikes. Make some notes along the way. Don't expect to come up with pat answers for every item in your closet or learn everything about yourself in one session. This is part of wardrobe evaluation and it is an ongoing process.
As you mature, change and experiment with your clothing, you will gradually come to know yourself and your resulting clothing preferences. As your roles or responsibilities change, you can expect your needs and preferences to change also.
Take a long hard look at your older clothes, especially the classic clothes more than 5 years old. Are they still appropriate for the person you are today? If they're not, that might explain why you don't wear them or why you feel uncomfortable in them when you do.
If you feel out of place in some of your clothes, chances are they really aren't appropriate for the places you need to go. Maybe the colors, fabrics or styles aren't coordinated so you can't mix them around for a variety of looks and occasions. So many "maybes," but discovering why something doesn't work for you is the first step in avoiding the problem in the future.
Don't overlook those wardrobe orphans that hang unloved, unwanted and unworn in the back of your closet. They may be perfectly good clothes you'd like to wear but need a cleaning, pressing or replaced button. Maybe your time is limited and some of the fabrics wrinkle easily, demanding more care than you're willing or able to give. Knowing this, resolve never to buy those fabrics again.
Maybe you really like the garment but have nothing to wear it with. Decide what it needs to make it wearable again and put that item at the top of your shopping list of new clothes to buy as the budget allows. Add any items to the list that you think you could really use to make what you already own more workable.
Discard what doesn't work and concentrate on what's left. Those clothes may have only enough life left in them to get you by until you're able to begin getting something new. On the other hand, some of your clothes may be good enough to build your future wardrobe around. Whatever the cause, concentrate on what works for you and make plans to carry through - there's that word again - with plans for a more workable wardrobe that will leave you feeling confident and capable of looking and doing your best.