Ethical Fashion Thrifting

Evaluating Your Closet // My Tips + Tricks

February 15, 2019
Organizing Your Closet by Stephanie

I’ve finally returned! February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month so it’s one of my busier times at work, and I’ve worked several long days, weekends for special events and have a few projects still coming up. I’m thankful for a surprise day off (and an upcoming three day weekend!) so I can finally dedicate time to the blog I promised weeks back.

I read recently that ClosetMaid (a worldwide leader home storage and organization) conducted a study of 1000 American women in regards to their personal closets. Here are some of the highlights of their findings:

  • The average American woman has (103) items in her wardrobe.
  • She considers her wardrobe to be:
    • 21% to be “unwearable” (22)
    • 33% too tight (34)
    • 24% too loose (25)
    • 12% of the wardrobe is new, unworn clothing (12)
    • Only 10% of the clothes are actually wearable (10)
  • 10% feel depressed opening their closets.
  • 47% struggle to pick out their outfits for work.
  • More than 40% don’t like ANY of their clothes. 
  • 61% just buy new when they can’t find what they need in their closets.

Everyone is at a different stage when it comes to their closets. You might have recognized yourself in the above points (I know I resonated heavily with it up until recently). Some of us maybe have a spare closet filled with clothes that we haven’t quite figured out when we’ll wear, some of us purge our closets every 4 – 6 months and some of us land somewhere in between. For the past few years I’ve made a habit of going through my closet and evaluating what I like and moving out the things I don’t. I’m a minimalist at heart–I don’t want more than I know I’ll use and love.

There are SO many articles everywhere about systems of evaluation when it comes to your closet. Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix just took society by storm and had us all clutching our clothes, waiting for them to spark joy and for our homes to fill with peace. Here are a few of the things I consider when I go to re-evaluate my own closet.

Find Your Why
Why for evaluating your wardrobe? Are you hoping to create a capsule wardrobe? Are you wanting to clear our items that you don’t wear much? Are you trying to keep only quality made items? Are you wanting to work towards a more ethical closet? Are you just hoping to find your own personal style?

Before you commit to anything, it’s important to know why you’re doing it and what you’re hoping for, For me personally, I’m working towards an ethical capsule wardrobe and trying to find my own style after years of change and phases that never seemed to stick. I realized about a year or two ago that I didn’t like any of my clothes (I hated getting dressed) and I also began to learn about labor trafficking in the textile industry, so finding my why helped me narrow my focus.

Organizing Your Closet by Stephanie

See What You Have 
Sometimes we think that to feel good about our closets that we need to go out and replace everything right away but for most of us that’s not realistic (time-wise and financially speaking), and that’s okay. No blouse or pair of jeans is going to satisfy your need if you can’t find the value in what you already have. That’s the true heart of minimalism and KonMari anyway, so if you figure out that, no matter what your possession, style or home space, you’re on track.

I do like the method of pulling everything out on your bed just so you can really get a picture of how much you already have and would definitely recommend it.

Find a Theme / Palette
Looking at all your clothes you might notice you have a lot of the same color or multiple shirts of the same style. Do you love bright colors? Neutrals? Are you all about casual or do you like dressing up? You might realize you really love what you see or you might be like me last year, looking at it all like “Why do I even have this?” Make a note to yourself of what themes you see (same colors, patterns, styles, etc.) and how you feel about them. This will give you a hint of how you want to proceed.

Consider Your Lifestyle
I’d spend the rest of my life in jeans and tanks if I could, but I do have an office job at least 32 hours a week (casual Friday is a convenient loophole) so I need to divide my closet between casual and business casual. You can of course do whatever you like, but if you don’t like to go out, you probably will be safe with a dress or two and a few nice tops, instead of a dozen sparkly tops from Express. If you work in an office like me, you’re going to need more than Madewell’s Perfect Summer Jeans–I’m sure you get the idea! Being realistic with yourself and your weekly activities will help you with evaluating your closet.

Separate Into Categories
Everyone has their own way to break this down, but this is the way my closet is organized but I’ve got mine divided up like this:

1. Favorites / Repeat Wears
This is where I put my capsule, and keep all my absolute favorites. It’s right in the front of my closet so it’s the first thing I see each time I open my closet. You can move pieces in and out as you learn what your favorites are, but there’s a good chance you’ll know right away. You only include your absolute favorites here. At this point I honestly just go straight to this section and rarely touch anything else.

2. Unsure / Maybe
This is where I keep my maybe / in-between pieces. You know the ones–there’s nothing technically wrong with them, they’re in great condition but maybe you just don’t reach for them as much. I turn the hangers around and if I ever reach for them, I switch the hangers around so I can consider moving them to my favorites. Items in this section could end up going into my favorites or end up in my donate / sell. I personally would caution against just getting rid of everything you don’t love all at once–if you’re like me then you just suddenly wouldn’t have almost anything to wear! Having a middle ground section is good to see if you could still get use out of some of your items.

3. Seasonal / Special Occasion
Bridesmaid dresses, formal wear, coats, sweaters—this where I stick all those. Living in Florida means that my seasonal wear doesn’t take up much space so it’s not a problem for me to combine all these (my Northern readers may have different needs for this!). This is also the section where things I may not love, but have been gifted end up (if anyone has creative ideas on how to best use this section, please let me know!)

4. Donate / Sell
For things we just don’t love, we can either donate them (I’d recommend to a local shelter) or keep them with the intent to resell. If you have a Poshmark account that’s a great place to sell your gently used, on trend items that you just haven’t been wearing.

Make a List of Things You’re Missing
Once you’ve divided up your closet, use what you have! When you’re getting ready each day, feel free to move around the items to your different sections of your closet. If I’m consistently saying to myself “Man, I wish I had ___________ (you fill in the blank)” when I look in my closet, I’ll put the item on my list in the notes section of my phone. Maybe that’s something you can start doing to fill in the gaps in your wardrobe and to avoid buying more things that won’t fit in with the theme you’re going for because they were on sale.

Sidenote: Keep Your Loungewear Separate
I have a dresser with my undergarments and my pajamas, random tshirts from events (why do I have so many??) and sweats which I don’t include in my capsule / official wardrobe. At this point, all of it is fast fashion. I’m planning on slowly replacing it all with ethical brands but to not create waste, I ‘ll just use things until they fall apart.

There are no real rules, and whatever works best for you is what you should do! There really is something to be said for evaluating what you already have, finding value in that and taking inventory so you can shop thoughtfully when the time comes.

I hope this gave you some ideas on how to start evaluating your personal closet so you can move towards your goals! How are you organizing your closet?

  • Reply
    Daniella Ntuen
    February 16, 2019 at 12:28 am

    Great and helpful post! This has come just at the right time because I have indeed begun to rethink my wardrobe and do a little bit of sorting out. Thanks so much!

    • Reply
      February 23, 2019 at 2:47 am

      I’m so glad it could be helpful for you! I’ve had to do a lot of refining of my closet and style of the last year or so and it’s such a fun project to share 🙂

  • Reply
    April 18, 2019 at 10:42 am

    I feel like I go through my closets almost monthly! lol as soon as I don’t like the way something fits then it’s in the donate, poshmark, or consignment shop pile!

    • Reply
      April 18, 2019 at 6:30 pm

      I agree! I’m constantly evaluating my things and I want to move them out ASAP too if I don’t like them!

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