How to Make Your Closet Feel Fresh-2-Death

by Leandra Medine
January 22, 2014
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Guess what? For once, it doesn’t include shopping

Oldclothesfeelingnew

I had an epiphany when I was in Paris last week. I was there for a quick four-day, work related stint and as such, I packed the smallest carry-on suitcase known to mankind. Marcel the Shell could have used it while transporting himself from point A to point B via Dorito if he wished.

In the suitcase, I had exactly one pair of high waist jeans (the medium wash Patrick Ervell ones I’ve been wearing so frequently) and one pair of leather leggings (Helmut Lang). I took two of the same cashmere sweaters from Uniqlo — one navy and one grey — and a black and white flannel mens shirt of the same brand. For shoes, I wore a pair of white Golden Goose sneakers (with black jeans, an ivory sweater and my navy blue ascot) to travel and packed Prada lug soles and a pair of white Ferragamo short heel ballet slippers.

And that’s it. That’s all I took — save for a toothbrush (no toothpaste) and under-eye concealer which I obviously didn’t use because I would never miss an opportunity to subject to myself to an Instagram commenter likening the state of my visage to that of a meth addict’s. Never!

The way I saw it, I was barely wearing anything else while at home in the comfort of my closet’s vastness so why not exercise my ability to edit? But when I got there, I felt suffocated. The cashmere was starting to pill, the flannel shirt smelled a little bit like onions (what? I never said that) and my leather leggings were stretching in all the wrong places (e.g. at the knees — where I’d have likely had room to stow the couture knee pads Karl Lagerfeld showed for Chanel yesterday). I longed for the variety of my trusty closet. The white jeans. And silk blouses. Double breasted jackets and cotton t-shirts.

And that’s when it occurred to me.

There is a way to overcome the inevitable feeling that comes with the wrath midwinter blues and that sense of interminable, insurmountable blah, the prosaic sound of the face of a full closet coupled with the sentiment that, “ugh, I have nothing to wear.”

In an ideal world, Paris would be the solution but in the real world, the answer is actually in the restriction I felt among the small edit of clothing I took with me on that trip and subsequently how fresh and new that sense of prohibition made the contents of the rest of my closet look.

So, here is my advice. Lay out 4-6 articles of clothing right now and tell yourself that you are not allowed to wear anything but the chosen spoils for five days. Don’t even look at your closet during the course of that work week. Then, when the week is over and you, too, smell like garlic and onions, take a shower and a deep breath before you open your closet and reintroduce your old friends to your new-old friends. The assumption is that everything will feel so unfamiliar in all the right ways that you won’t even know department stores exist outside the confines of the small one you’ve cultivated for yourself.

What will have happened to you in the previous week is that you’ll have gotten bored with the selection of clothing you vowed to wear by day 2, and as a result, will find yourself observing the style cues of the people around you, appropriating the details of their outfits and comparing them to things you own. Those khaki wide leg pants, the combat boots you almost sold, even the bubblegum pink sweater, equipped with armpit breathing holes, will make perfect sense again.

Then you will think to yourself: I never have to shop again! while you open your web browser to learn that Asos is now on double markdown. After this, you will say and maybe you will mean it.

REPLIES
  • Elisa Taviti

    Really nice post!

    My Fantabulous World

  • STYLE-SQUARED

    Lololol!!!! This was AWESOME!!! Totally enjoyed it ! ;) bot sure if i am ballsy enough for the 6 item a week experiment but i ll try !!;)
    Xoxo

    http://style-squared.blogspot.ca/

  • Kari

    My job basically forces me to do this, working a 20 day on 10 off rotation away from my closet (in a town of 300 with no bar). It’s like a reunion with my oldest best friends every 20 days! God, how I miss them.

  • Courtney Dillon

    Going to try this actually. I currently hate my closet, maybe this will help!

  • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

    Well, I do wear the same outfit for a week (but don’t smell cause I change my underwear :-) since it is home office sweet home office for me. So yes, my wardrobe is full of exciting stuff to go out in, all the time. But …
    – I don’t seem to find enough time to put things on and check their combination potential at home, which makes me quite a Hits-And-Misses-Moose outside, even though my wardrobe surely contains enough stuff for a … 98% Hits Potential.

    – I often forget things I actually already own … which means I cannot feel smug about them, as I should (because I paid for them and all).

    – Because I don’t discard things just to make place for new ones and because my clothes get to see the Great Outside very seldom, they remain in good condition quite some time, even H&M stuff. So I have to introduce Shopping Fast(ing) from time to time, because, while I don’t have a life, I do shop and force feed my wardrobes.
    Right now, I am doing month 1 of 6 & feeling OK. Right now. No smugness, also, I promise.

    • Kari

      “force feed my wardrobe” is the best thing I’ve ever heard. Online shopping is the fast food in my fashion diet.

      • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

        So you know what I mean … :-) The times when an online action starts with “I have to have that” and isn’t followed by “even though I don’t have space or need for it” soon enough.

        I have developed quite a dislike for my (2) wardrobes, because I’d prefer them to contain more space, but feeding fashion landfills isn’t an option and anyway, who knows what I might need those clothes for, one day.

        • Kari

          I’ve had to induce a 30 minute simmering time for my “shopping cart” just to give the shopping high a bit of time to wear off before actually going through with the purchase. I’m usually able to purge at least one thing after I let it sit for a bit.
          And completely agree with you on the point of who know’s when you might need that item to complete the perfect outfit!!

          • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

            I usually try to introduce the sentence “You already have something similar, so why bother” – it has worked quite fine recently, but one really needs all that stuff so as to tell the truth :-)
            It happens often enough that I am thankful for not having discarded something. Slight weight changes (both ways), color preferences and there you go. So yes, we do need all those clothes, definitely.

            And a bigger flat :-)

    • Leandra Medine

      WHY DON’T YOU rotate the clothes that are in your direct vision in your closet? This way the white t-shirt you’ve been wearing for a week doesn’t stay at the top of the pile and instead another one does thus forcing you to wear THAT ONE

      • Andie Schlather

        This brings me to ask a question that is *not totally but kinda sorta* off-topic:
        What do you do with the amazingly soft, perfectly fitting t-shirts that have holes in them? Mine always occur in the same place- dead center where they meet the waist of my jeans. Does anyone else have this problem? Do you keep or toss? I need guidance!

        • Jenny Jones

          This happens to all my shirts. I’ve taken to blaming my belts…

          • Rebecca

            I have that problem, and keep the shirts because I love them. I wear them layered under sweaters, etc.
            Belts, button, waist band – and especially seat belts cause the hole :^)

        • Kristen

          I had a shirt that got quite a few large holes in it but I liked it too much to throw away. That being said it was cheap and probably not as good quality as the ones you’re talking about but I just kept it and added some of my own holes to it. People actually liked my shirt that way, one girl even thought I’d bought it like that! So I don’t know if that helps but if you love it a lot I’d just wear it with that one hole if you couldn’t bring yourself to cut more holes in it

          • Andie Schlather

            Good point. And I have done the same with a few of my shirts, as well! For the others, I’ve just been doing “the half tuck” lately to hide the holes. Its funny, my ultimate fave is a cap sleeved F21 pocket tee.. its outlasted several other pricier ones. I’ll half tuck that baby forever.

      • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

        Oh, I don’t mind wearing 1 T-shirt for a week or so – that way, I make sure it gets dirty and needs to be washed. Also, I have a special pile that contains clothes To Be Worn Only At Home, but they are all OK, so I don’t look, you know, all neglected, like your typical stay at home freelancer :-)

        I can and do rotate clothes if the weather changes or something else happens and I am forced to do that, it is just that clothes become really interesting only when I want or need to go out – that’s when I shop my wardrobes, feeling or excited about it. And disliking its stuffiness …

  • LaRaeRae

    i’m pretty sure you are the devil for posting that asos link. are you freaking SERIOUS?! i’m supposed to be working right now.

    i feel like my coworkers might judge me if i try to wear the same 4-6 items for a week. but maybe i’ll do it anyway.

  • http://mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr/ Mafalda

    I get bored so easily of my stuff that I very often sell it on eBay, then I buy new stuff, and goodbye boredom!

    Mafalda ❤
    http://www.mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr

  • hila

    distance makes the heart grow fonder.

  • Brie

    i’ve already established this in my life. i have been wearing nothing but sweaters (patterened, solid color, bejeweled, mens, womens, kids) for most of this winter. it is TOO freakin cold to think of anything else at 7:15 in the a.m while i am shivering in my bra and panties. so this morning i chose a polka dotted cardi, a magenta sleeveless (I KNOW RIGHT) button up, some skinnies that haven’t seen the light of a work day in months and my new chelsea boots. basically i opened my closet this morning and shopped the shit out of it. i found skirts i haven’t looked at since July, jackets that i thought i had lost, dresses that just scream for me to wear them with tights, and thick open sweaters that have been hiding WAY in the back (screw you guys!). it’s nice to do this sometimes to remind yourself you don’t need to buy anything, even at ASOS. ;)

  • Josie Kim

    I actually do this already, but that might be because I’m an unemployed recent graduate. lol. I love taking a few pieces and trying to different looks with them! Great post!

    iloveworkclothes.wordpress.com

  • AnnaSafronova

    You have always something nice to say! I’m gonna do it!

  • pinkschmink

    I’m building a new closet soon (to fit in all the stuff that I’ve forgotten I own, so I can actually see it and remember to wear it), so maybe while I’m doing that I’ll pack away everything except a 4-6 item edit. Which will scare the hell out of me, but then so does the notion that I probably only regularly wear about 15% of what I own …

  • Dana Sage Di Russo

    I love you Leandra! I am definitely trying this hehe

  • the coattail effect

    genius! and doesn’t cost a thing haha

  • Dandy,

    Thats what travelling around Europe made me realise! then coming home to all these clothes I had so dearly missed! It was like they were all brand new again!

  • Sabrina | afterDRK

    Nice one! I kind of did the same on a 3-month trip to LA with only 23kg’s of clothing + shoes + bags allowed to bring along. Worked like magic!

    http://www.afterdrk.com/3-months-with-23kg/

  • The A-List

    One word… ACCESSORIES, ACCESSORIES, ACCESSORIES! ;) But we don’t have to tell the Queen of ‘The Arm Party’ that… Fabulous post… Bon jour!

  • http://www.365daysofthought.blogspot.com/ 365 Days of Thought

    Very, very true! Apparently those with large(ish) wardrobes only wear 10 percent of its contents on a very regular basis. Not good! Will definitely be trying this (and hoping to avoid the onions smell)

    http://www.365daysofthought.blogspot.com

  • Joy

    I’m on a month long trip to Paris/London/beyond & only brought 3 shirts, 2 pants, 2 sweaters, 2 shoes, and a bag on makeup/soap. It’s liberating! Now I feel like I can ditch my whole closet. But I’m impulsive / usually look like a mess / probably can be considered a clothes hoarder / and the trip is not even half over! So we will see after the onion phase sets in.

  • terri yang

    I would have never gone to asos.com even if I was told it’s going on a 70% sale. because of all that description of longing for something new, i popped over to asos.

    Asos need to work on their styling dept.

  • http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ Newborn Fanatic

    Hahaha is this what it comes down to so women can curb their shopping hunger?! I may have to try that tactic. :)

    http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com

  • http://fashionmusingsdiary.blogspot.fr/ Miss J.

    Hilarious post! And very clever tips!
    http://fashionmusingsdiary.blogspot.fr

  • chezsasha.com

    Hehe. Great advice!

  • Ragia

    good idea!

  • Ivy Davidoff

    Love a good digestible article that’s applicable to my life, and adds simplicity to it. As for the ‘meth comments’. Happy people aren’t mean. That’s a fact. I said so. xo

  • Aubrey Nell

    This is the way I have been dressing for years. It cuts my options and always has my outfits looking unique. Beautifully written!

  • Joie Mayor

    I work in retail, and have to wear the clothes they sell which is basially 2 maybe 3 outfits to last me a month or two, so when I’m not in work I get so excited about the possibilities! however, I do still shop… alot…

  • Jillian

    AMEN SISTA. Seriously though, amen. I recently left cold NJ (just in time, thank glob) wirh a small suitcase to travel the world. That was 3 months ago. And let me tell ya: I have gone through a rollercoaster love/HATE/like relationship with the small amount of clothes I’ve packed. I’ve nearly written love letters to my closet back home, which I took for granted when I was home. All this to say: your idea is a great one. As someone who’s been doing this for 3 months (a little unwillingly), it certainly makes you appreciate what you have. It also makes you more creative and thrifty with what you already own.

    Thanks for sharing this idea!
    xx Jillian
    roadtohereblog.com