I’ve never been great at knowing what to wear. I buy clothes that I think will look good on me and they don’t. And I buy clothes that DO look good on me, and still don’t wear them. I never know what to put with what and whether what I’m wearing truly suits me.
I default to jeans and t-shirts just because it all feels so exhausting sometimes, and I’m not even really sure how to accessorise. My wardrobe fills up to overflowing and I’m forced to have a clear-out, but then I try the stuff on and if it looks good I just can’t part with it!
At least, that was me five years ago. Does it sound familiar at all?
When I started my intentional living journey, I knew that clearing out the clutter in my life was going to be essential, and sorting out my wardrobe once and for all had to be a part of that.
After some contemplation and a bit of reading around the matter – and a little help from this great video by Rebecca Jacobs – I began thinking about my clothes in a new way, and it’s been a game-changer.
I know now what belongs in my wardrobe and what doesn’t. I have an actual list of rules for what I should buy and what I shouldn’t! (I’m not saying they never get broken…) Now I shop with confidence, nothing in my wardrobe is neglected, and I choose each outfit knowing I’m going to feel great in it!
THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT TO WEAR
The key thing I learned is that it really doesn’t matter what you look good in. You only wear clothes you feel good in.
I used to have a bunch of red clothes. I looked great in them – red really suits me. But I didn’t wear them. Every time I cleaned out my closet, I tried them on and kept them, telling myself I’d wear them more often in future. But it never happened.
They may have looked good, but for whatever reason, wearing red didn’t make me feel good. So they always stayed on the hangers.
They’re gone now. But it turns out that I do feel good in clothes which are red and black, so I look out for them instead. Go figure.
Follow the steps below and you’ll look at your closet in a whole new way. You’ll know exactly what to get rid of, what to keep, and what to look out for – and avoid – next time you go shopping!
HOW DO YOU WANT TO FEEL?
So first up, how do you want your clothes to make you feel? Jot down anything that springs to mind.
Then think about your favourite, go-to outfits. How do you feel in them? Pull out your favourite things – all those you enjoy wearing the most. How do they make you feel? How are you showing up in the world when you wear them?
Some of the words I came up with when I went through this were natural, easygoing, comfortable, feminine, calm, grounded, approachable.
The words you choose will be unique to you. It doesn’t matter how many words you choose – the purpose of this is just to identify and really get a good sense of what your favourite clothes do for you.
If you dress differently for different parts of your life (e.g. home, work, social), feel free to repeat the exercise for each category.
WHAT CLOTHES MAKE YOU FEEL THAT WAY?
When you’ve made your list, look through your closet again. Are there any other clothes you haven’t pulled out that make you feel the way you want to feel? Pull them out too. Take a good look at all the items that make you feel good.
And if they make you feel good, then rest assured, you look great in them too. If there was any doubt in your mind about how you look in them, you wouldn’t feel so good in them. And anyway, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind“.
And anyway, happy people always look great.
WHAT DO THEY HAVE IN COMMON?
Now, when you look carefully at all the clothes that make you feel best, what features do they have in common? What colours are they? What fabrics? Are they patterned or plain? Are they long-sleeved or strappy? Ankle-length or calf-length? Do they have cap sleeves? Cinched-in backs? Tassels? Ruffles? Make a list.
When I did this I noticed that I much prefer to wear natural and muted colours: greys, browns and greens, plus dark purple, maroon and teal. Prints and patterns I like are stripes and large floral prints, but nothing too small, busy or repetitive. I like clothes that accentuate my arms and shoulders – even long-sleeved tops and dresses must lend themselves to having the sleeves rolled up. Drapey and flowing clothes make me feel right. And low or wide necklines and the occasional rollneck. And flared skirts/dresses, and cinched-in backs.
WHAT’S LEFT BEHIND?
Now take a look at all those clothes that don’t make you feel the right way – especially stuff that you never choose. What do they have in common?
I learned not to buy patterned skirts or trousers, because I only wear plain colours on my bottom half! And to forget about wearing bright colours, and any fabric that feels even faintly plasticky – almost all my favourite clothes are either natural fabrics or super-soft acrylic. I got rid of several mid-length dresses and skirts, because it’s clear I feel better in short dresses or maxi dresses.
WEAR WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU
Looking back I find it amazing, really, that I didn’t know these things before. But breaking things down like this and thinking about the individual features of each item really helped me to see them more clearly, without having to analyse exactly what looked good or bad on me.
In time, it has become something I think less and less about, and something I just know without analysing.
And even better, it helps me every time I go into a shop and look at what’s available. There are endless different styles, features and fashions out there, but not all fashions are for everybody. By knowing what clothes make me feel like me, I have fewer clothes to think about and look after, much fewer decisions to make, and I can be confident that I’ll always feel comfortable and happy in whatever I pick out.
MORE CLOSET-ORGANISING TIPS
I was thinking of finishing with a few other practical tips on clearing out that closet, but actually, you know what? If you really work with the steps above, I don’t think you need anything else! This has totally transformed my view of everything I wear, and empowered me to keep my closet in check without any more long and anguished decision-making sessions.
The one thing I’ll say is this: never feel guilty for letting go what doesn’t serve you. You’ve got one life here on earth, and living authentically is way too important to feel guilty about. Give thanks for the things that bless you, and pass the rest on to bless somebody else. Done.
And now finally here’s a space-saving tip I love:
My ‘wardrobe’ is actually a heavy-duty clothes rail in a corner, and I share it with my husband, and it’s kinda small… But thanks to a cheap pack of split-ring keyrings, I hang several items from one hanger like this. Just put a ring over each hanger hook, and use it to add one hanger beneath another. It saves tons of space and helps organise things by grouping similar items, too! I am so glad I started doing this!
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Did this post help you clear some clutter and buy better? Do you have any more closet-clearing tips to share?