Heading Back Into the Closet

64 Arts

Continuing to muse about the Art of Dressing, I’ve hit a snag of closet proportions…


Back when we started this art, I showed you a picture of my closet. Nice, organized, everything in it’s place. Getting dressed was simple and easy, each day, because I could find what I was looking for with ease.

Before we moved, I knew I was going to need to reorganize things as I went back to a standard single-pole closet–at least for a while. The plan was thin the herd before it was time to pack it up but, well, with the chaos that surrounded the move itself, that plan fell by the wayside.

For the last three weeks, getting dressed has been a chore. A third of my close are stacked on the dresser or piled into 2 suitcases. The stuff that does (barely) fit in the closet is packed so tight that finding anything is impossible. Garments fall off the hangers but don’t fall to the floor because they’re sandwiched so tightly together. Skirts and slacks are interspersed with tops and dresses, and nothing is in color order anymore.

Chaos reigns.

The chaotic new closet

I'm embarrassed to show you this mess. (In fact, I'm not even showing you the bottom half because it is just. that. bad.)

Sure, I could take everything out, install new closet shelving, put things back in order but… is that really the best way to handle is?

Could it be, instead, that I have way too many clothes (as evidenced by the fact that I haven’t had to do laundry in the 3 1/2 weeks we’ve lived here)? Could it be, honestly, that I could stand to downsize my closet contents considerably? Could I, to be so bold, get rid of 1/3 of my clothes and still have plenty to wear?

That’s what I’m going to try, this weekend.

Of course, with a task like this, having some parameters will make the culling process go more smoothly.

Here’s what I propose as criteria for keeping an article of clothing:

  1. Fit and Flatter
  2. Wearability
  3. Do I love it?

Fit and flatter is pretty obvious: does it fit and, just because it fits does it actually flatter my coloring, figure, personality, etc.? While certain items might be a little snug here or there, we all know the exceptions we make for things we think look great on us. Wearability is the  catch: if, when I wear it, I’m constantly adjusting it, pulling at it or having to adjust my posture to make the item less pinchy (a very scientific term).

If I love it, though, I’m going to keep it. I’m not going to use the 6- or 12-month rule (as in, haven’t worn it in x months, ditch it) because some things are special occasion wear and those occasions don’t happen every 6 months. Some things are waiting for the next cruise-ship formal night for an excuse to leave their garment bag, you know? Also, items with sentimental value, even if they no longer fit, don’t have to go into the Goodwill pile. But they also don’t have to stay in the closet with the other wearables, either.

So. That’s my mission this weekend. Anyone feel up to taking on the challenge with me? What’s your keep versus toss list look like?

Maybe your closet is fine, maybe it’s your kids’ toys that have overgrown their bins, the stacks of magazines that need to be read or tossed, or even (dare I say it) craft supplies that need paring down.

I’ll let you know Tuesday how it went.

Personal Style

64 Arts

“Style” is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma. Fashion is something that comes after style.

–John Fairchild

Do you know what your style is?

Here’s a quick test to see if your style matches your clothes.

  1. Write down what you consider your style to be.
  2. Go into your closet.
  3. Notice what colors, patterns, and pieces dominate.
  4. Compare the two.

Pretty simple, huh? Our clothes along with shoes, jewelry and other accessories, plus the way we put them together is our way of saying “this is me” to the outside world (or even just to ourselves).

My Closet

My Closet

For instance, I know my style revolves around simple pieces, tops in mostly solid colors, soft stretchy fabrics and that I prefer skirts with a tailored look or details and slacks over jeans. Shoes are a major draw and I like to have plenty of heel, color and style options. My closet?

The facing rack is all tops with dresses on the left and two racks of skirts and pants tucked into the right side. Behind the dresses are built-in shelves of shoes with more stored on the top shelf and still more in my office closet (more about shoes in another post to come). This was taken just after Todd installed the ClosetMaid system–it may only be a rental but that ancient steel rod I knew was going to collapse with the weight of my former walk-in closet all settled on it! I wish it was always this neat, but I do keep my tops in more-or-less color families in the standard ROY G BIV lineup with white on one end and black and grey on the other. Putting my clothes in this sort of order made it very easy for me to see what I was most drawn to.

Sometimes I think it would be fabulous to wear, as Kimberly Wilson does, all black and just accessorize with color but… as you can see, I’m drawn to tops of all hues and just don’t think I’d be happy with such a limited palette!

What if you aren’t particularly happy with your current style?

Longing for a makeover but Clinton and Stacy aren’t knocking down your door to lend a hand? Before you text a 911 to your most fashionable girlfriends, let’s try a fairly simple exercise that will show you what direction your style is heading, even if your closet doesn’t know it yet.

Lucky Style Collage, September 2010

Lucky Style Collage, September 2010

What you’ll need:

  • Fashion magazines (Lucky, Glamour, Cosmo, Elle, etc.)
  • Sticky tabs (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Plain paper
  • Glue or tape

Grab your first magazine and your stack of sticky tabs. I admit, I’m partial to Lucky as they give you the sticky tabs right in the magazine–so considerate of them! Now, you can skip straight to the scissors but I like this first-pass to be look-and-tag simple.

Simply flip through the pages. Don’t read the articles, don’t look at the brands or prices or any of the fine print, just tag whatever catches your eye and makes you think WANT or LIKE! Just do it, don’t think about how it’ll fit funny here or there, we’re going for broad strokes, here.

Once you’ve tagged a magazine or three (I usually do an issue at a time but doing 3 or 4 from the still-to-be-read pile can give you a broader look to work with), start removing pages that you tagged and cutting out the items that interested you. These can be clothes, accessories, colors, textures, the entire image or only a detail if that’s what caught your eye.

Take all your pieces and start to arrange them on your blank sheet of paper. This is collage 101: match up pieces that go together (again, I don’t necessarily mean outfits, just shapes and colors and items that look fun together–we’re not ready to analyze yet) and move them around the paper until you can see the parts you want and like the arrangement. Glue or tape them down.

Analyzing your Style Collage

Lucky Style Collage, October 2010

Lucky Style Collage, October 2010

First we want to look at colors–what color(s) drew your eye most? Going back to your recent closet evaluation, is this something you have in abundance or are you totally lacking that color in your wardrobe? If it’s the latter, you’ll want to look for it the next time you go shopping and buy one or two pieces in that hue (or at least try them on in the dressing room) to see if you like that color on you. If it’s a color that doesn’t work with your skin tone, it’s okay, look for accessories or accents in that color, instead.

Next, did you pull out any total outfits? What about individual garments that have a particular detail you like? Again, if you don’t have it in your closet, considering adding a piece or two that reflects the style your drawn to. You don’t have to buy exactly what’s in the magazine! Visa knows those sorts of things aren’t in my budget, but knowing what you like can help you be on the lookout for items of similar style in the places you already shop.

For instance, the red sweater with the black buttons in my October collage would never stay shut with just those 3 buttons at top–my boobs would make it into a gaping mess! Instead, though, I can look at updating one of my current red sweaters with some over-sized black buttons to get the look without flashing everyone! Same with the skirts–I can find a simple wrap skirt practically anywhere and add my own edge treatment to make it look more tailored.

Give yourself permission to be a little daring. After all, a makeover is most effective if it’s totally unexpected!

Why not ask your girlfriends?

Just because you bff is a snappy dresser, doesn’t necessarily mean her style is for you. Once you’ve determined what sort of things you want to add to your wardrobe, then you can call her up and plan a shopping day or a weekend at the nearest outlet mall.


Clothes may not actually make the man or woman, but I know for a fact that I feel loads better when I’ve put together an outfit that is more my style than someone else’s. Wearing jeans and a t-shirt, even if that’s what everyone else at the event will be wearing, makes me feel frumpy and uncomfortable.

It’s better to be comfortable and have people wonder where you’re going to or coming from to be dressed so differently than wear something that doesn’t reflect the real you.

So, are you planning any wardrobe updates this season?