How to Organize Your Wardrobe
An easy and economical way to organize your wardrobe according to color, occasion and season so that you're never at a loss for something to wear and always look a million dollars.
My Wardrobe Disaster
One prerequisite of working in the beauty business, which I've always done in one way or another, is perfect grooming. I've never had any trouble with hair and makeup, but my wardrobe was a disaster when I began my first apprenticeship as a hairdresser.
I was a bit of a showoff back then. To impress my boss and colleagues, I saw to it that I had more to wear than anyone else in the salon. But, because I was paying so much attention to quantity, I never gave a thought to quality. I filled my closet with utter junk found at the Sunday open market near to where we lived. It was the sort of throw-away fashion intended to be worn only once or twice, which was quite evident after a first or second laundering.
It wasn't long before I became overwhelmed by my ever-growing wardrobe—although my closet was overflowing to the point that my room looked ransacked, I still found myself at a loss for something to wear and, in spite of being cheap, constant new additions were eating up my meager wages.
How I Devised an Effective Way to Keep My Wardrobe Organized
One afternoon I complained to my grandmother about the cost of clothes and how impossible it is to have enough of them, not to mention where to put them all. She had no sympathy. She told me that when she started work in 1950 in an exclusive milliner's store, Britain was still on wartime rations, yet she always managed to look immaculate. I could do the same, she said, with a little good old-fashioned commonsense.
Using the advice she gave me that afternoon, I devised a basic five point plan to help me organize and manage my wardrobe more efficiently. I've called it the Five S's: select, scheme, systemize, survey and spend.
The Five S's
This "S" is about deciding what to buy and what to throw away.
When shopping for clothes, pay attention to quality above quantity. Choose designs that won't go out of style too quickly, and that can be teamed with some of your existing clothes. Clever mixing and matching creates a versatile wardrobe, allowing you to put together numerous unique outfits using very few clothes.
But to do this well, you need to know exactly what's in your closet.
Clothes You Should Throw Away
Streamline your wardrobe by throwing out anything you haven't worn for a year or more. It's usually mispurchases and items that have gone out of fashion, no longer fit, are worn out, or don't match any of your other clothes.
Scheme according to color and occasion.
Sort your clothes into casual and formal, then sub-sort into color schemes. If you've chosen your clothes well, your color schemes should be interchangeable, and perhaps some of your formal and casual clothes, too. Your casual tops, for example, could be worn with a business suit in place of a blouse. Or a formal blazer could look great teamed with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.
Save closet space by sorting your clothes not only by color and occasion, but also by season.
When the weather gets warmer in spring, send your winter clothes to the cleaners, then pack them away until it gets cold again. Do the same with your summer clothes in fall. If you put them in vacuum-sealed storage bags (also called 'space bags'), you can keep them in the attic or cellar without fear of damp, mustiness, or moths.
Let Down the Hem
Before sending dresses, skirts, and pants to the cleaners for the first time, let down the hem in case of shrinkage. It prevents the hard line that appears if you have to let them down afterwards.
Regular maintenance will save you money, so set aside a quiet evening once a week to appraise your wardrobe.
Check for items that need cleaning, mending, or throwing away. Pantyhose with runs belong in the trash, as do wilting blouses. Coats and suits might just need a brush down; if not, send them to the cleaners. If your shoes are down at heel, get them repaired.
This is the best of the Five S's.
If you organize your wardrobe well, you'll rarely be at a loss for something to wear. That means you'll be less likely to buy new clothes on a whim.
Spend some of the money you save on accessories. Shoes, bags, belts, scarves, and costume jewelry keep any outfit looking up-to-date and allow you to vary your look and ring the changes.
Any woman can look a million dollars, even if she doesn't have those dollars. But being well-dressed has little to do with money. It's mostly about good old-fashioned commonsense.
© 2010 Jayne Lancer