I promise myself every year that I will throw away my Ann Taylor blue button down. I bought it in 2010 when I worked for the retailer and fully used (read: abused) my employee discount. It has everything I want in a shirt: it’s blue, it’s button down, it has ¾ sleeves that I don’t have to roll, it has little ruffles and pin-stripes that make it not boring, and it fits. Each and every year I plan on donating it in my annual wardrobe purge, and every year it goes right back into my closet. I can’t help it! I love that shirt!
Could this be the year?
This year I took a long, hard look at my wardrobe and decided on a purge. And I’m not talking an Ethan Hawke purge where the rest of the family makes it out alive, I’m talking full anarchy here. Gone is the long white sweater that has short sleeves and is basically useless in winter; gone are the distressed jeans that I got on sale but never really fit (tight on the legs, big in the waist, story of my life); gone is the beige blazer that once looked good but after a slight weight loss looks like something out of Working Girl; gone is that sheer backless top that I couldn’t wear a bra with anyway. That coat I bought 5 years ago that hasn’t been in style for 6? Gone. But you know what still hangs in my closet? That damn blue shirt.
My point here is that breaking up with clothes is hard to do but it is necessary. Here are some tips for your Spring Wardrobe Cleaning, as learned when I went through my wardrobe:
- If it has a hole, stain, or is fraying at the edges, get rid of it. My beloved plain white t-shirt (you know the one – the one that you can wear with anything and hasn’t shrunk in the wash and you once got ketchup on it but the stain totally came out) has a hole in the armpit. What to do? Do I always wear a sweater with it? Perhaps a blazer? No. I toss it, say a few words, and buy a new one. The same goes for anything else with a hole or massive stain. If you are particularly attached to the item, save it for your cleaning day/bedtime/the one day a year your mom asks you to help paint her bathroom.
- Get rid of anything that “might fit one day”. Not only might that size 2 dress never actually fit you, it’s doing damage to your psyche. Constantly thinking that in order to wear something gorgeous you need to be a certain size can hurt your confidence in every way. Get rid of the “one day” dress and buy the “right now” dress.
- Conversely, get rid of the clothes that used to fit but now make you look like a kid in mommy’s clothes. Remember that blazer I mentioned? I love it, but it makes me look wider than I am and I don’t feel good wearing it. That big, boxy sweater that is comfy as hell but makes me look pregnant? Gone. Because as good as it feels, I don’t feel good in it.
- Shoes cannot be saved. Living and working in Boston means my shoes take a beating like a shitty boxer. I wear my shoes to death. The heels never survive the hell I put them through, and I’ve found that they are almost never worth cobbling. I once spent $200 to save the zipper on a pair of boots and the heels on a pair of stilettos. Both pairs ended up in the trash after one more season. That $200 could have gone to two new pairs of shoes that would have lasted the same amount of time.
- Follow the Keep, Toss, Sell model. When you spend a good chunk of money on an item it can be hard to let it go. This is where consignment stores become your new best friend. You’ll never recover the full price you paid for that trench coat, but you’ll get some cash or store credit which is better than nothing.
- Donating is easy. For the things that won’t fetch a price (and are devoid of holes/stains/general uselessness) donating is the best route. Remember to keep a running list of all the items you donate throughout the year. You can claim a tax credit for each item, which is always a plus. There are organizations such as Dress for Success that put your old suit and dress pants to great use, and Belle of the Ball who take old prom dresses and give them to high school students (P.S., you will never shorten it and wear it again. Donate it to someone who wants it).
- Don’t forget your drawers. And by drawers I mean undergarments. The rule of thumb with bras is that you should upgrade to a new one every six months, and that’s a good rule to follow. As for underwear, if it’s too old or has a hole, toss it. Trust me, your privates will thank you later.
This week was my Spring Cleaning Purge. I have a bag of stuff that’s getting donated, and hangers full of stuff that will hopefully get me some sweet store credit at a consignment store. What I learned this time around is that it’s not about making room for new stuff (though that is always a plus), but rather about keeping what makes you feel your best. Oh and in case you were wondering, I’m wearing that blue shirt right now. I wish I could quit you….