Sure, fashion businesses need to do better. But as consumers, we have to do our part. And the first step is to create a conscious closet. And like all things that really matter, that takes time and effort.
In the height of my fashion career, I bought clothes like I bought food. ALL THE TIME. There was an unspoken rule in the business that our appearance mattered as much as the quality of our work. And of course, there were the perks of corporate discounts. And there were always new trends, which is also the story we fed to our customers. And even before the “One and Done” times of Instagram, our outfits still felt old after a couple wears so I would compile huge bags to give to Goodwill (more about that in the next post), thinking that was the responsible thing to do and then go out and buy more.
Even with the occasional cleanout, my closet was bursting and my wallet was burning up in flames. There was so much waste- tops I had worn twice, a printed dress that felt out of season, a sale item that I only bought for the discount, jeans that looked better on the model… you know this story.
It took time to realize that I was caught in this endless cycle created by the industry and that I needed to make a change.
But where to start? Here are some guidelines…
- Sort by season. Focus only on what applies to the current season. This not only cuts down on the amount of work, but also divides it into natural stages.
- Do you actually wear it? If so, keep it. If not, ask yourself why? Does it fit? Does it go with other items in your wardrobe?
- Learn about your shopping habits as you go. What kind of things do you tend to buy? What colors do wear more than others? Which items sit with tags on, never getting worn?
- Learn about the brands you purchase from as you go- do some brands tend to wear out quicker than others? Or not fit as well as others?
- Uncertain about some items? Put them into a storage box and pull them out again for the next seasonal purge. If you never even missed them, chances are you probably don’t need them.
- Put special items in permanent storage. There might be some items you want to keep for sentimental value- pack these up and save them for posterity, but don’t let them take up precious closet space.
- Take what you have learned from your discards and apply it to your future purchases. Remember brands, trends, and colors that you did not end up loving.
- Shop with intention, not by impulse. Buy only the things you will love for a long time.
- Consider options like renting to take advantage of trends and add newness into your wardrobe on a short-term basis.
- Learn to love the things you own. Store all your clothes by seasons so that it feels new again when you’re ready to wear it.
- Rotate the items you see regularly by putting the item you just wore in the back of your closet. This allows you to see everything more regularly and evaluate whether you need that item or not.
Remember, it’s not about doing it perfectly! A conscious closet comes in steps. Congratulate yourself each step of the way!