Monday, December 19, 2011

How to Love Your Closet: Fill in the Gaps

If you're just joining us, this is a series on managing your closet so you can get the most out of your clothes. New articles out each Monday! 

So now that you've cleaned out your closet and played dress up you're ready to fill in the gaps in your closet. Here's the next step.

1. Make a list of must-haves. Contrary to what you might read in, ummm, every fashion magazine ever, a white button down might not be a must-have for you. There is no hard and fast rules on this, so think about what you really need. Ask yourself these questions.
  • What do I need to wear to work/school every day?
  • What do I like to wear?
  • What do I need to add to my closet to get the most out of the clothes I already have?
  • What do I tend to buy that I don't really need? (Hint: Stop buying this. For me it's casual shirts. And I don't even like to wear pants!)
  • Do I have a solid set of basics? (Neutral tights, leggings, slips, tanks, socks, and underwear?)
These questions will help you pinpoint what it is that you need in your closet so you can make shopping for these things your top priority. Look for good brands on clearance or at the thrift store, but splurge on these things if you need to. It will be worth it.

2. Make a list of like-to-haves. This is your clearance rack, thrifting, garage sale-ing list. Be as crazy as you want, but hold out for the bargains with these. You shouldn't spend a fortune on a rust colored burnout cardigan unless it's one of your must haves, but if you see it for a steal, get it! These are the things that will keep your wardrobe fresh, fun, and unique and they matter just as much as the must-haves... they just aren't worth breaking the bank over.

Here are my base rules for buying like-to-haves:
  1. It must be reasonable enough that you will not be annoyed if it doesn't work out. My limit is usually $10. This might seem low, but I almost never have to go over it unless something is so unbelievable wonderful that I might not be able to live with myself if I walk away. The low price goal keeps me from making bad decisions in the name of having a fun wardrobe and it keeps shopping fun because it's a challenge. (Challenges are my favorite.) Set a goal that you feel is reasonable for you and stick to it.
  2. You must like it. This might seem like a no-brainer, but for some people it's not. If it doesn't speak to you, don't buy it! Hold out for the piece that has you written all over it, even if it takes longer, which leads us to...
  3. Be patient. I've been in search of the perfect grey blazer for two years. But it's a like-to-have, so I'm going to hold out even longer. Hang on to both your resolve and your goal amount. It will pay off!
  4. Keep your list updated. I never found the bright teal leggings I wanted a few years ago, but then I realized I wasn't twelve and crossed them off the list and added wine colored skinny jeans instead. (No judgement if you happen to like bright teal leggings.) Change your list as your tastes change. Having an updated list will help you when you're overwhelmed at the mall or, even worse sometimes, an under-curated thrift store. You can scan for particular colors, cuts, and kinds of garments amidst the craziness and stay sane.
  5. Style it as soon as you get home, or, if it is thrifted, as soon as you've washed it. Don't let an awesome but intimidating piece languish in your closet because you a.) keep forgetting you own it (this happens to me all the time) or b.) as soon as you get it home you wonder what the heck you'll wear it with. Go back to the dress up stage! It's fun, I swear.
3. Go shopping. Be it at the thrift store (DO IT), a consignment store, or the mall, go shopping for your missing treasures. Buy from your must-have list and embellish with like-to-haves as they jump out at you. But most of all, don't expect this to take one trip. Let it be a process. Be patient and open and see what happens. Hold out for things you love.



  1. Great tips! I need help "filling in the gaps" of my closet for sure!

  2. Love these tips for keeping your wardrobe organized and USEFUL! I can't tell you how many times I simply forget what I have. I will never stop playing dress up, that's a tip I will back you up on any day of the week! It is how my greatest and most unique outfits are born, and where personal style takes shape.


    I'm hosting a vintage dress giveaway on my blog, hope you will stop by!


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