We’ve all heard the advice: “If you haven’t worn it in a year, let it go.”
It’s a good guideline and a provoking thought. It begs the question “Why haven’t I worn it in a year?” which opens up the door for some introspection.
But you don’t always have to follow that advice if it doesn’t jive with you. Instead, we can give ourselves the freedom to ebb and flow, to change our mind, to write in pencil.
For example, these Vans. After wearing them for a year, I’d dubbed them as too bulky + too masculine for my style, and categorized them as ready for donation.
But something in me couldn’t get rid of them. There they sat, for over a year.
And then, last week, something in me flipped and I wanted to wear them, like right now. I was so glad I’d listened to my gut and kept them!
It’s got me thinking about what clothes I keep, what clothes I let go of, and why.
It’s interesting — I’m holding onto clothes more than I used to. In the past, I’d let go of an item as soon as it lost it’s usefulness. I’m not a fan of clutter and I don’t like keeping things around “in case I need it one day” because that can easily get out of hand.
But now, I’m taking a more tempered approach. I’m learning to tell the difference between clothes that truly don’t work, and clothes that just need a little (or a LOT) of breathing room. Usually it’s as simple as this:
Things that don’t work: trendy or low quality items
Things that just need breathing room: high quality items, classic shapes, and good brands. (I held on to my Vans because they are a classic brand and a classic shape.)
So, more and more, I’m keeping those high quality, classic pieces, even if I go a year or more without wearing them. Later — maybe much later — when I pull them out again, they’ll feel new and exciting again, just like these Vans. It’s like shopping without shopping.
So how about you? Do you have a criteria that helps you decide what you keep and what you let go of? Are you more prone to keep things “just in case” or do you shed things quickly? I’m definitely a blend of both, but I’d love to hear where you are.
• • •
Liked today’s outfit? You can shop it and support Unfancy at the same time by using these affiliate links:
01 | Sweater (old from Nordstrom Rack) | similar (under $40)
02 | Black jeans (old by Joe’s Jeans) | similar (made responsibly)
03 | Hi-top sneakers (old from Madewell) | similar
Tanya E says
Haha, very appropriate. I am toying with a similar conundrum with a jumper I bought. I bought it at a charity shop, so not expensive, but it is a handknit, wool fairisle jumper (so very expensive new), I love the style and colours… but, I think it’s too bulky and it’s a bit itchy. I put it on this morning and promptly changed out of it as soon as I got back home. I might give it another go, but I think I like the idea of it better than the reality!
For me, itchy is an automatic “How fascinating!” I hugely prioritize comfort. I had a gorgeous wool blazer ($70 on sale) that was worn once. It has a new home now. Tanya, maybe you could keep looking for a similar jumper that’s cotton-based or has a softer knit? Choosing fabrics that drape sometimes helps reduce bulk. Good luck!
I guess I would say if the item fits all of my usual criteria for buying a piece, I will hang onto it longer than if it doesn’t. For instance, I have a few work shirts that aren’t my style right now, but they’re super comfortable to wear and I used to wear them a lot. They’re still in really good shape, so I’ll keep a few of my favourites until I’m 99% sure I won’t wear them.
What I have trouble with are the items I wear, like, once a year. Are they worth keeping around? Do they really fill all of my needs? I really value variety, too, so getting rid of something I actually wear sounds so counter intuitive. I use the Smart Closet app (I think Caroline recommended it a while back), and the statistics help me see that I have at least 9 items in my closet that aren’t earning their keep.
As Caroline said: Why am I keeping them? I think the answer will help me weed a few out.
Anna W says
If it’s itchy but you love it, you may also consider adding a base layer that protects you from the itch.
“What I have trouble with are the items I wear, like, once a year. Are they worth keeping around? Do they really fill all of my needs?”
I’ve realized a lot of my items that don’t get a TON of wear are things that have super-specific purposes. Like, my suit: worn maybe twice a year, but super important for those two days. I guess in theory I could wear the pieces as separate and get more use for them, but that’s not really my style. That said, it totally fits the purpose of being a suit when I need one. See also: fancy wear. I’ve realized that as much as I like the idea of a minimalist wardrobe, it simplifies my life to have the special occasion things I need when I need them, instead of trying to make do with something that doesn’t quite work.
I recently had success making some itchy sweaters softer following instructions I found online. Search by fabric type for best results. For me, it changed several items from unwearable to new favorites. Hope you can have the same success!
For itchy items you can try soaking the item in vinegar or conditioner. Sometimes that + a baselayer underneath is enough to make a sweater tolerable. Also making sure to use a sweater shaver on the inside hems to cut down on the fuzz factor can help (the sensation of fuzzy sweater can really up the itch factor for me).
Tanya E says
Oh, I might try this. I did wear the itchy jumper with a base layer, but think I might have been spoilt by usually wearing merino wool (which is super soft). I’m just not sure it’s flattering, either, but I’m having trouble letting go of the “It was such a bargain” thought!
I’m in the same boat with a sweater dress I thrifted…it’s itchy!!! I’m going to try layering it before I launch it. :)
I’ve found it helpful to make a list of items that GO and note why I’m sending them on….
I actually have identied habits this way…like-i buy collared shirts that are too small. It’s a pattern.Spotting the pattern has helped to
change the habit.
I had a beautiful wool sweater that I purchased on a trip to Ireland. Must to my dismay, I really dislike wearing it. It’s very itchy (even with a base layer) and fairly bulky. I finally put it in the donate pile and I hope someone falls in love with it.
I recently moved and was faced with this issue of keeping or donating some of my clothes. To your list, I would also add if it doesn’t fit then donate it. What advice would you give to someone just getting into fashion? or finding/defining your style?
Hey Laura! My biggest advice would probably be to give yourself time. To find and define your style will probably take some trial and error, but look at every opportunity as a learning experience. A good place to start is with basics. Take your time finding jeans that you love and are good quality. Then move onto tops. Learn what silhouettes are flattering and comfortable. You’ll get there! Pinterest can be a good tool as well, you can put looks that you find inspiring all in one place. Enjoy the process! :)
Schille Jeri says
More often than not, it’s still hanging in my closet…
I wish I could let go more easily.
I do this too! Quite a few things that I didnt wear at first have turned into favorites years after. Sometimes I just need a while to warm up to them. I keep unworn pieces that are classic and still in good/new shape. I always feel silly keeping them but I am always glad I did.
Laura @ http://www.thriveorsurvive.us
Dana W says
I think it depends. I’m in a bit of a purging mood at the moment, so I’ve been pulling more and more pieces out of my closet because not only are they somewhat shoddy quality, they just no longer feel like “me”. I’m having a harder time letting go of pieces that would (& probably should) be worn at work, which is more of a business casual environment. I think as I try this year to shift my general style to where I want it to be, my biggest challenge is going to be finding that sweet spot between work and life.
When I’m not wearing something, I ask myself “Why am I not wearing this?” and I try to decide: is it a situational reason? Is that situation likely to change in the next year or two? Or is it a more long-lasting reason?
For ex: for a year, I barely wore any of my blazers. They just didn’t work for my dress code at work – we couldn’t wear jeans, but blazers + dress pants were a little too dressy. But I knew my work dress code would eventually change, so I kept them. Now that I can wear jeans again, my blazers get a ton of wear, so I’m glad I didn’t get rid of them. So that was a situational, short-term thing.
But recently I got rid of a blazer that was nice, but just not the right cut and color for me. I wasn’t willing to alter it, and I knew that the cut and style wasn’t working for my wardrobe in the foreseeable future, so I let it go. That was more of a long-term issue.
I don’t really consider brand or whether it’s “classic”. That’s how I ended up with a wardrobe full of “nice” things I wouldn’t let go of, even though they didn’t work for me. I just try to figure out if I think it’ll be useful again in the foreseeable future, or not.
Olga Vlasova says
Those Vans look great on you! Don’t ever get rid of them! :)
I do the same thing and I use the same criteria – I have quite a few items I’ve worn on and off that I’ll never get rid of. Because just like you said, something flips inside once in a while, it always does and always without a warning, I just wake up one morning and – boom! – style shift! Plus, the quality of clothes has been declining since the 80s. Everything is disposable nowadays, even classic brands have gone down the hill. If I don’t keep my made in England Dr. Martens (they make them in various Asian countries nowadays, and the quality is not the same) where will I be able to find indestructible kick ass leather boots like that again? At least nowhere I can afford, that’s for sure. Levi’s denim is not the same either. Plus, denim only gets better with wear, you can’t fake genuine denim distress, and it looks way better than all the holes and discolorations a manufacturer can put on a new denim garment.
So I say no to the 1 year rule. Not for classics anyway. :)
that’s not my philosophy….and you are right, perhaps after one (or more) years you like
it again and when you kept it long enough (some good pieces I store already for 10-15
years) they are in fashion again. Unfortunatelly we live in a disposable society (as yet)
as much more it is important to care for our environment .
Anna W says
Excellent advice, as always. I would also add that I get rid of or refuse to buy something whenever the fit or coloring seems “off.” There are certain colors and shapes that just do not suit my complexion (ahem, orange) or my body (ahem, drop waists and tunic tops). It may be a high quality, classic shape, but if it doesn’t make me feel 100% comfortable and enhance my natural “me-ness,” it goes to the giveaway bin!
Alisa Parmenter says
Great post! Totally agree with each point!
Marie Therese says
Super interesting. I like how you ask “Why” when it comes to never-worn pieces.. I feel like that can give me a lot of insight into evolving style. Glad you kept the Vans – they look fun! xx, Marie
High quality, classic pieces, that work for your body regardless of trends, are a must to hold onto. I have beautiful pieces in my closet that I go without wearing for years, then happily wear when I want. I often want to minimize my collection, but I think of my clothes like an artwork collection, I just rotate things back in as needed, while others remain in the archives. Recently, inspired by your long sweater over a sweater dress outfit, I shopped for a similar sweater dress. But new clothes are out of my budget right now, so I looked to my closet. I had a dress that had a similar shape, but wasn’t a knit. I hadn’t worn it in over a decade! I wore it with a long cardigan, tights, and booties, and was thrilled with my ‘new’ outfit! So I agree, if you are selective about the pieces you keep, you’ll find your future self quite pleased.
I had been holding onto a nice jumpsuit for over a year, not wearing it but not ready to let it go. The other night I just couldn’t find the right outfit for a date so I decided to put it on but roll up the legs and wear with different shoes than I would typically pick. And then all of the sudden the jumpsuit was back in my good graces! But you’re right, holding on to trendy or cheap items isn’t worth it!
I love this look! Glad you kept the shoes. I struggle with guilt and pressure to get rid of things I haven’t worn in a year (or longer), but breaking it down by quality and classics helps draw a line.
Emily Mahi'ai says
I’m glad you kept these because I think they really suit you! I used to have three pairs of sk8-hi’s until I realized I really only reach for the black pair over and over. Silly me for buying so many pairs. ? They are fantastic shoes though, and so comfortable. They were one of two pairs I took to Europe with me.
Always a great place to start asking “why?”! For me lately I’ve realized I hang onto pieces, especially tops and dresses, that I don’t wear because I like the quality or the shape. I started asking myself why I always change after trying them on, and noticed that the colors were washing me out completely! I’ve been trying to better define a color palette that works for my hair and skin tone, without limiting myself too much. Any suggestions on how to find a color palette that you like and that looks good with your skin and hair tone?
https://cladwell.com/blog/2016/4/12/how-to-create-your-color-palette here you go. :)
ooo thanks for the link Rochelle… this is really helpful!
Anna W says
Julie! I’m a bit of a color palette nut, and this is my favorite resource that I recommend to people all the time. It’s based off the season analysis that was big in the 1970s. http://www.30somethingurbangirl.com/p/free-quiz-what-is-your-seasonal-color.html
Once you figure out your season, there are all kinds of Pinterest boards and Polyvore pics that put together the colors in images of clothing if you’re looking for inspiration. (I’m a soft summer, so these are two image resources I keep around: http://www.polyvore.com/soft_summer_palette/set?.svc=copypaste&embedder=6153949&id=120244123 and http://www.polyvore.com/pinterest/thing?.embedder=3258367&.src=share_app&.svc=pinterest&id=104676625)
Learning my color palette REVOLUTIONIZED my wardrobe and shopping. Suddenly it was SO much easier to say no to those great pieces that ought to work, but they have that one color that just doesn’t suit me, or the temptation to buy one of every color when only one or two of the colors really work for me. And now almost everything in my wardrobe can be paired up with anything else in my wardrobe and look great on me!
these site are really helpful Anna! I’m just getting started and can already tell that it’s going to dramatically change what I look for when buying and (hopefully) make getting ready even easier since I’ll actually how the colors look on.
I think “classic” is a slippery slope. Nothing is truly timeless – it can’t be. That’s why the fashion industry makes money – by making us think all kinds of “classic” things we own are out of style or out of date. I think it’s better to think about the lifespan of a trend and plan your money accordingly. Don’t spend a lot on something that wasn’t in style five years ago, because it won’t be in style five years from now and you will have dropped major cash on it. I’m actually wearing Van high-tops right now, but I got them at the outlet for $15, because I don’t think the sneaker trend will be around forever :) They’re fun for now, but I won’t feel any kind of remorse if I don’t wear them to death because they go out of style. Caroline, I’d love to hear what you think about the actual lifespan of trends and how you think about where you distribute your money? Thanks for all the time and effort you put into your blog. I LOVE it, and it always make me think!! xo, Anna
ITA – a lot of what gets called classic is stuff that, even if it came back, probably wouldn’t come back in its current form. I certainly don’t think it’s bad to consider sticking power, but “classic” as a reason to hold onto or splurge on things can be a slippery slope to a lot of clutter. I would love more conversation around this too!
Sheila Joy says
I identify with this post so much! I’ve held on to my clothes up until last year when I discovered minimalism. We’re talking about clothes from high school and early college that I still wore. I kept them because I would always go back into my closet for inspiration and rediscover new ways to style them. My mom also had an influence on me because she would hold on to my clothes I didn’t want anymore, and then I would go through them years later thinking, hey I could totally wear this! After embracing minimalism I invest in quality and classic pieces now, like you mention.
yep, that’s a good approach. Yesterday I found my old bag and wanted to give it a minute but the zipper is so sharp, instantly scratches my hands when I want to put sth on or take sth out. It is great quality, Italian leather purse but…… and what to do now? Have no idea….keep it? or let it go? From one hand I hate that thing but from the other I love it.Probably I will keep it for next year to realize I need to let it go :) but sometimes we just need more time.
Zippers aren’t too hard to replace, if it’s otherwise perfect if take it to a cobbler and see what they can do.
If you love the bag and it’s timeless you might take it to a cobbler or suitcase repair shop to see if they can replace the zipper. If it’s just one spot try a file. Just a thought.
This is a great approach. As a serial purger/regretter, I can’t count the number of times I’ve joyously carted off bags of stuff only to be kicking myself silly months later when the “perfect” occasion for a certain piece arises. It definitely helps to have a guideline or two to introduce a little clarity into my fervor.
Thank you for always bringing up such interesting topics. By the way, I like the Vans on you. I understand why you say they are a little bit out of you comfort zone, but isn’t style sometimes about expanding your comfort zone and trying out new things?
So, the one year rule. For me it is one of several guidelines to decide about keep or let go.
I like to try the item before I let it go.In my 10×10 I had a sweater I wasn’t sure about and I learned it was a keeper. I also put clothes away in a “donate” box and leave them there for about 6 months. And I have pulled stuff back out of that box!
Yes, there are a few things in my closet that I hadn’t worn in a long time but welcomed back to heavy rotation. Sometimes they just need a new piece to match them or a trend to come back. One of the oldest items in my closet is a pair of gray velvet high rise skinnies circa 1995. They were expensive for a college girl back then, so I kept them. Now they’re back in style and still looking good.
Please keep up your inspiring posts!
Madeline Mudd says
This is so true. I love finding items from a while back and pulling them out again – they feel brand new! When I moved out of my parents’ house for good I left some items, but when I recently went back I was pumped to find some of my sweaters that I had forgotten about.
I hem and huh about what to get rid of… Partially because i think items just need to be rotated (much like my boys toy trucks, lol), i dont have a very large budget, and a “we always need to be prepared” mentality… But if its not classic and i dont think my kids will grown into it (i have some boys/mens tees and sweatshirts, like starwars that im saving for them) i’ve been much quicker to get rid of it and by that i mean pass it on to my nieces :) SO im a mixed bag.
I have trouble letting go of things, too. And there have been so many times where I’ve gotten rid of something and then later been like “I wish I still had that dress” or whatever.
I agree with your technique though! That makes sense to me.
I’ve been doing a big declutter every year in April, so that makes letting go of stuff I simply never wear that much easier.
Ps… Love the look and want to buy sneakers now, lol.
I ask myself: 1) Have I worn this in the past year? 2) If not, why? (Is it worn out, or just no longer my style?) 3) Can I see myself wearing it now? If I think I can I’ll give it another season.
I have made exceptions and held on to things for longer, but I try to keep that to a very few items (with obvious free reign to special-use items like cold weather gear that I only need on trips). I have a pair of penny loafers I haven’t touched in a few years, but I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them because at one point I loved them so much and they are a really classic, nice pair. But as you said, I talked myself into thinking they were too-something. In this case, too stuffy/masculine/boring. Now penny loafers are coming back and I think I can wear them in a new way and enjoy them again!
Samantha Lee says
I’ve been trying to be more brutal with my closet and get rid of things I never wear, BUT every once in a while I’ll find something in my closet that I haven’t worn in over a year (or two) and decide I love it and start incorporating it back into my wardrobe. It’s a fine balance, haha.
I do this too– but I’m more of a “hang on to it just in case even though I haven’t worn it in one (or more) years”! I have a beautiful dress from Theory that is really high quality and so pretty, but not really my style (more my “fantasy style”) and some tall Frye boots that again, are super high quality, but I never wear because I just prefer short boots to long, to the knee boots. But I keep them around because they were expensive and part of my fantasy wardrobe! Maybe I should get them out now and try to sell them… :)
I also worry that if I get rid of the things that are not my real style, I would have nothing left to wear!
Here’s a different approach to the same idea: My mother and I are similar sizes/builds, and have similar tastes when it comes to those ‘classic’ pieces, though we both other-wise have different styles, which we really like on each other. We do “box-swaps”, meaning as we’re changing-up/re-thinking our seasonal closets, if we come across something that we don’t want anymore – or are sick of – but it’s in good shape and we can see the other person in it, we’ll put it in a box…when the box is full, away it goes, and lo and behold she or I receive a surprise box of great items! And the funny thing about it is that there are some pieces that have been sent back and forth between us for decades at this point because we both love the pieces, but at some point need a break from them…and when those pieces come back it’s “Oh, it’s you! Where have you been!” and it’s love and wearing it all the time again.
What a great idea, Steph! And must be fun to do that with your mom. :)
Lynda Williams says
It’s awesome that you posted about those shoes today Caroline; I was looking over your old capsules yesterday and I was wondering what happened to those Vans. It felt like I hadn’t seen them in a long time.
I really appreciate that you’re challenging the one year rule. I find it rather arbitrary and it tends to annoy me. One of my criticisms of hardcore minimalism is that it doesn’t ask us to reflect deeply or think creatively before we get rid of stuff. Sometimes I worry that minimalism leads to the waste it means to prevent. Using things up and wearing them out might take up a little more space, but if you have that space, there should be no shame in using it.
I live in a house built in 1956, so I don’t have a massive amount of closet space, but I have a tote storage system similar to yours that I fondly refer to as the archives. In it I have clothes that are out of season, but also things like funeral attire, a red top that only makes me happy in December, and a sarong that only goes with me to the beach. The sarong has a small tear from where I snagged it on the zipper of my suitcase, but I can fold it so it doesn’t show. If I followed rules about what to get rid of, I would have parted with it long ago.
I also think it’s wise to reconsider getting rid of everything that doesn’t fit. Womanhood involves fluctuations in weight (takes almost a year to carry a baby), so I think it’s realistic to have some variety in your sizing.
Ladies, if you’re still reading, break the rules!
For more on the subject of waste see http://pinkunicorn.ca/rethinking-waste/
Yes, I love this! I’ve felt so wasteful throwing away shirts with holes or stains that aren’t noticeable or could easily be hidden, but “the rules” tell us to ditch damaged clothing, so out they went. I couldn’t donate them, because clothing donations sites don’t want to take worn-out clothes either. You’ve put words to a sentiment I’ve had for a while. I think in the best version of minimalism, there’s a balance between getting rid of what you don’t need and not letting it make you crazy.
Lynda Williams says
So glad I’m not alone in feeling this way! Couldn’t agree more, balance is key.
Great post, Lynda! When the purge becomes as addicting as the shop, it’s cause for concern!!
Lynda Williams says
I think this is a great rule to live by, keep the classics. I think classics will always come back and will possibly re-inspire you…just like these shoes did! I have recently been getting rid of stuff more often because I kind of like to have less since it forces me to try things different ways!
Anyways, great post!!
I’ve noticed that I’m holding on to things more now too! I think part of this is just a side effect of moving towards only buying higher quality items over the last few years, so it’s harder to immediately dismiss a piece from my wardrobe. But I’m also realizing that as much as I want to attain that “perfect” “forever” closet, it’s always going to evolve, and I’m always going to go through phases. I will get bored of something, and then later come back around on it. It’s why I’m still seasonally capsule-ing.
I also just noticed this with a lipstick I thought I didn’t like! In the summer, it seemed like it was too close to my natural lip color to make any difference, but now it’s one of my favorites–I might be paler now in the winter, and it just works. Makes me think sometimes things just need breathing room and certain context.
I had a pair of Cole Haan shoes that my mom purchased for me a while back. Too me 2 years to even wear them. Once I didn’t, I wore them into the ground. They were so comfortable, but I need to be “ready” to wear them.
I get so emotionally invested in my clothes, it is ridiculous. I’m realizing (in large part thanks to this fabulous blog) how to have a healthier relationship with my closet. Thank you Caroline! My delimna now is being a stay at home mom and having a serious work wardrobe (lots of high quality suits, blazers, slacks, skirts). I don’t want to get rid of these reminders of the hardcover work that I used to do or give up that part of my identity, in some ways these suits are my trophies. But it’s frustrating when so much of my closet is not serving me at the moment. I haven’t touched my work clothes for 3 years, but am hanging on to these classic high quality (brooks brothers, theory, j crew) pieces. I should probably just be thankful that I can fit into it all these days ;)
Melody smith says
I get rid of things I no longer love with the Poshmark app. Knowing I can make money for travel & to shop for things I will actually wear gives me the incentive I need to clear out closet space all the time :)
So true! I get a little rush out of giving things away, so I think I might actually give away clothes too quickly! Sometimes I look back and think “wait a minute, I loved that! Why did I let it go just because I had already worn it a lot??” Now I tend to stick things in storage if I have loved them and think I might love them again. I pulled a sweater out yesterday that I wore to death last year and was excited to see it this year!
I think I’m the opposite. I hold onto things for too long. For the first time in my life, I’m seeing trends I’ve already owned reappear (getting old!). I have been lucky to remain the same size since high school and things still fit well… but maybe they’re overaging me? Because these pieces are in good shape and size, I plan on packing them away for a while and seeing if I miss them. This goes against everything Marie Kondo, but I think it’s the only way I can ever be critical of those pieces and let’s be real. My budget cannot afford the hit if I miss even some them and taking up the storage space isn’t an issue in my household.
Going by the gut is almost always right :) Glad you found a comfortable approach.
Katy Bruchmann says
The same thing just happened to me with a tweed blazer that has been sitting in a bin in my basement. I just couldn’t let it go, and all of a sudden BAM I wanted to wear it again and it suddenly seemed to go with everything I own. I’ve worn it twice in the last two weeks– which is two more times that I had worn it in the prior two years. I think you’re right about it being a classic piece (especially because I’m a professor!)
What’s funny is I have these same Vans. I barely wore them last winter. I live in Florida and a lot of times it’s too hot for them. But suddenly this winter I have worn them nonstop on cold days and particularly for winter travel.
Nicola Smith says
I think it all depends how I feel in the item. If it doesn’t make me feel my best then I get rid of it, if it’s good quality but I’m just sick of it at that time I see if I can style it differently or, as you say, let it breath for a while. If I’m really on the fence about something then I take it out of my wardrobe, add it to a “maybe” bag, store it in another cupboard and if I miss it or find myself reaching for it then it comes back to my wardrobe :) Lower quality items tend to find themselves at the op-shop quicker than my quality items though so I’m being more conscious about the quality of the clothing I buy.
I’m definitely a keep-just-in-case person, though I’m trying to shed as I travel too much. I still have an off-white t-shirt that I will never wear because I like colors, but what if I need it! What if I suddenly learn to tie-dye!
I just want to say how proud I am of your blog; look at the dialogue you create on a daily basis; it’s amazing! You get everyone so interested in such realistic, applicable, captivating questions and it’s a part of my day that I really look forward to. Thank you for maintaining this blog the way you do; it means a lot to (I’m sure not only) me ?
Aw, thanks Erika! That is so sweet. It’s exciting to see everyone participating. :)
I try to hang on to things that don’t necessarily suit my current lifestyle, but that I might need again in the near future and wouldn’t want to purchase again. I’ve fortuitously hung on to a few dress shirts and slacks, pencil skirts, and high heels while I worked in a laid-back office wearing jeans and flats for a few years, and now that I’m back in a more formal corporate environment, I’m so glad I did! I’m in my mid-twenties, and I’ve learned a lot can change in a year, so I try not to be too quick to ditch high quality, well fitting pieces that I feel good wearing, even if I’m not in a position to wear them right now. It saved me a lot of money and time to keep from having to buy a whole new wardrobe when I started a new job!
i try wearing it. If it feels good I try and work out why it’s not been worn and new ways that means it might work. If I wear it and don’t feel fabulous in it then it’s likely to go. Classic shapes, quality fabrics and a good fit means it’s more likely to stay and those are becoming my guides to buying so hopefully everything will eventually get to stick around. Building a wardrobe for life
Melody smith says
I mostly shop resale, because I get bored easily & I like to cycle my wardrobe constantly. Plus, my weight fluctuates so much, I’m always having to shop up & down :(
I would love to invest in quality clothing I adore & keep forever. How do I get over my fashion ADHD & my habit of buying cheap, because it’s not gonna stay around long?
maybe start with your “go to” outfit? mine is jeans + button down/blouse + jacket & scarf — then upgrade those individual items one by one?
After doing the capsule thing for a year and a half, I finally have a wardrobe that consists solely of clothes I like and wear. However, at the point that I achieved this success, I had to limit the number of items that I own. So now, if there is something that I really want, something else has to go. Therefore, the only way I’m keeping something that I might not wear for a few years, is if I haven’t purchased anything to replace it.
Caroline, thanks for giving me permission to hold on to those high quality items. After reading Marie Kondo’s books, I was feeling a bit guilty. In fact I did hold on to a really cute jacket (not worn in a couple of years—YIKES) that I threw on today (as a afterthought) and it worked!! Whew–what a relief.
I’ve recently decided not to let go of clothes unless I go to a clothes swap and they are going to a friend or friend of a friend. I am a little concerned about the environmental impacts of discarding items. So I’m currently using a capsule wardrobe approach and hiding the rest under the bed. I’ve found by focussing on a few favourites I wear the items a lot more, and eventually they wear them out in which case I can simply go shopping in my wardrobe for something new. My aim is to buy nothing new in 2017 (with a very short list of exceptions namely chlorine free swimwear, long pjs pants and an exercise top).
Hey Alethea, I had the same approach in 2016, I didn’t buy any clothes (except for underwear, tights, etc), and it turned out I had enough clothes to survive the year :) you get to wear what you have, and I had an entire year to reflect on what would complement my wardrobe the most: since the beginning of 2017 I made 2 well-balanced purchases, based on what I really need. So good luck with your experience, I hope you learn from it as much as I did!
I love this post – it’s a great topic & something I also ask myself a bit.
I agree with what you identified for what doesn’t work, and I would add this: Things that don’t work: anything uncomfortable, as in I couldn’t wear it for half the day.
That seems to be the running theme for the things I’ve tossed.
Also, What to keep! I’m glad I’ve held on to items that were “classic shapes” as you said – because they will never go out of style. For example, I’ve never tossed a pair of black heels or black ballet flats, or good boots sans the trendy flourishes… I just feel better knowing I have these things in my closet even if I’m mostly wearing sneakers or, currently, rain boots.
Anyways, it’s really refreshing to hear your thoughts on this “rule”, and I dig the fact that you make your own rules!! :):)
If I haven’t worn it in a year it goes in a holding bag for donation but I keep that bag for one more year. I am free to take things back out in that year but whatever remained untouched for that additional year gets donated. For those items that are too worn to go through this process I donate to be recycled immediately.
Kathryn Mader says
You know how there are certain things you own that you would NEVER get rid of? Like if you are cleaning out your child’s artwork and come across a drawing so special that your gut instantly tells you, I would NEVER dream of parting with that! I start with a similar approach in the closet, and then that leaves everything else as dispensable. In other words, if I got rid of the clothes that don’t trigger great appreciation/love (using that word loosely), it would not be the end of the world…in fact, it might be a good idea to shed that article. Eventually, it would be nice to gut-feel that most of my wardrobe includes pieces I would NEVER get rid of, at least until they wear out. Goals.
High quality items, I keep, regardless if I wear it in one year or not. I am very careful when I purchase higher priced items and even if I go a season without wearing the item, I know that I will always come back to it, because I made sure I liked them when I bought it. I had these boots that I paid a good price for, I went through a season where I felt ho-hum about them, but I held on, now this winter they have been my staple go-to boot.
The sneakers look great on you and with that outfit! :)
I know that everyone says if you haven’t worn it in over a year to get rid of it. “You won’t miss it!” they say. Well, I’ve caught the short end of that stick once or twice. There are things I’ve gotten rid of and totally regret and others that I put in a give away pile but rescued back and loved, much like your vans. I recently lost some weight and was getting so frustrated with my pants bagging out until I remembered the bags of clothes in my car. I pulled out an old pair of skinny jeans that now fit like a glove. They’re the perfect jean for me right now! I can’t always spend $150-$200 on a new pair of jeans so it was a welcome addition to my wardrobe. Had I gotten rid of them I would’ve been so mad. On the other hand, I’d also gained weight a little over a year ago and quickly had to come up with a dress for a last minute special event. Nothing is more defeating than gaining weight, feeling frumpy, and trying to find a quick dress for a last minute event. Now that I’m back down to my smaller size I will definitely NOT be getting rid of that dress or a handful of my other larger clothes. Because dear god I do not want to go through those frustrations again!
With those experiences I can say that having an extra box of clothes that don’t fit are worth the peace of mind!
I wish I had read this article 3 years ago. I had this huge closet clean out and there were some pieces I didn’t “love” so I just tossed them. I wish I hadn’t. One was a black maxi tank dress that I will be purchasing in its place. After doing some personal style research I see how important basics like that dress are for every season. Only the material was polyester. I’m more of a cotton, linen and viscose girl now.
Jan Marie says
Those Vans totally fit in with my style conception for you. I’m glad you kept them, and they look great on you!
But I definitely would not call them “classic” other than that they’re black and white. I think of classic as “held up through the ages” or “would Audrey Hepburn wear this?” Definitely can’t see her in a pair of Vans. Hahaha.
As far as purging, Intotally agree that I have “second honeymoons” if you will, with some of my garments. Upon going to New Orleans I desperately wanted more color in my wardrobe and realized my closet had gotten a bit dark (it’s winter in New England). I went down to the basement and pulled a green top and bright blue pants from a bin marked for donation, and I’m so glad I did! The green top worked for the trip, and the blue pants, while they didn’t come on the trip, my friend helped me do your “tight cuff” trick and now I’m swooning over them again. Second honeymoon, like I said!
Also! Hairstyle changes everything. I was so/so on a dress I bought this past summer, but on the trip I tried a crown braid with it and felt *fresh to death.* You could’ve dressed me in a potato sack and I would’ve felt sexy. So when in doubt, try a whole new “look” before you toss a singular “item.” :)
Samia Osayed says
I love how at the end you gave two choices and than turned it normal like its okay to be both!! with your neutral I am a bit of both comment! We love you for that coz when we come to your blog we know its okay to be anything! its acceptable and also love how you scratch the hard questions right off the bat!
I LOVE this advice. The only thing about minimalism that gets me down is the (sometimes) casual attitude about getting rid of stuff. Just because we don’t like clutter doesn’t mean we have to be wasteful. Bravo! And – those shoes are adorable. :)
Dee Durrant says
I’m on the same lines as you – if they are a classic style then I’ll keep them. I recently dug out my black converse pumps and wore them to pick my little girl up from school. She commented on them and asked if I’d bought new shoes and she was shocked when I told her they were around 12-14 years old. Classics always stay in style – there’s no point in buying something classic, throwing/donating them and then buying a very similar thing a few years down the line.
Great post very useful and i like so much this look!
Absolutely in love with this outfit, and I agree with your philosophy on what to keep.
Out of curiosity, how would you say the Vans fit? I’m debating grabbing a pair from the same collection second hand, and not sure what size to get. I typically wear an 8, but often a 7.5 in Adidas.
Hi lovely! I dove deep down in the archives to ask you about these shoes! I own the exact same pair, and I sort of capsuled them and only pulled them out in the fall cus I love them so and I’m trying to keep them as “new” as possible. So, my question is…any advice on how you cleaned these? I remember them from a capsule of yours a couple years ago – and they look good as new! I toyed with a magic eraser, my husband suggested paint thinner (lol). Just curious what you use.
I wish I had read this several months ago. I had let go of a sweater that I thought I was never going to wear again because I hadn’t worn it in a year. But then later on, I went looking for it again but remembered that I donated it (it was a good brand and good quality too).
I definitely like this approach better. Lesson learned.