It’s time again for our monthly style report with Cindy and Sarah and we are talking about fall closet cleanup. The change of season is such a great chance to start fresh, look ahead and make better choices for your wardrobe and your self. Take the time to spend time doing this for you. Some ideas for what you already own and what classics you can add.
Sorry this post is publishing a little late. We have been grappling with excessive heat here in Northern Cal and our internet was off yesterday and today and I was finishing this post at a coffee shop that also lost it’s internet, so I am so sorry!
I am always aiming to be a better shopper, choose things that I will love and look good on me, and make less shopping mistakes! Begin not by spending, but by looking at what you already own..
To do a seasonal clean out, start with three bags, a full length mirror, and a cell phone.
You will have items to reassess.. place those you’re not in love with on the bed..
For the bags..
- one bag for donate
- one bag for things that you could sell at consignment
- one bag for things you don’t love, but are waffling on …set these items in a bag and place in the garage or a closet and see if you can live 6-9 months without them..That can help you get some clarity and see how nice the closet is with less if you have separation anxiety.
Now for those you are reassessing, ask of each: Does it flatter? Does it feel good on? Is this a piece that is me?
Trying these pieces on in a full length mirror and they should make you feel good and get excited about wearing them again. If there is any doubt, place it in one of the bags.
Some people have a hard time donating something because they have spent a lot of money on a piece. Those items you can try and sell at consignment like Crossroads, get some dollars and make you feel better about it. I have done that and I love getting some money back for nicer items.
I’d rather take a loss and chock something up to a bad purchase than have it linger, along with the anxiety about it, in my closet. Let things go and wish them to be loved by the next person!
You want a closet that is not loaded, wedged with clothes you have to pry apart to see-to be inviting and a joy, not stressful. Think boutique. The less you own and manage, the better you will dress and shop.
I just read an article in the fall Bazaar about the American Deeda Blair, who was the most stylish woman for decades and she says..
‘I often think when I see somebody who’s not terribly well dressed, but has a ton of clothes, if she had just restricted her shopping a bit..’Deeda Blair
Think about restricting your shopping this fall, and buy less and buy better.
After you clean your closet, you should see a pattern of things you buy. Are you buying cheap things that don’t last more than a season? Are you buying pricey designer items just because they were on sale? Both things are a mistake. Know yourself and your style. When you know what you like, and what looks good on you, remember it.
Take photos of the items that work and outfits to remember on your phone. If you always dress casual, maybe you’re a casual chic type and can look to someone’s style you admire when you shop. I always find that is helpful.
For example, I identify with things Jennifer Aniston wears and likes. She has a casual chicness that I also try for. Say I am in a store, and see an item that I’m drawn to like a big patchwork jacket for instance, which is very hip for this season, and I’m feeling a big love for it. If I ask myself would Jennifer wear this, the answer is likely no… and well, since I dress very simple and much like her, likely it will sit in my closet too.
I find this little trick keeps me from buying things that aren’t me, even though I can fall in love with something. If you find yourself often with a closet full of things that aren’t really ‘your style,’ find a person, a friend or celeb whose style you most identify and admire. You can ask yourself, is this something x would wear?? It can be super helpful to stay on track and create a wardrobe that you aspire to and feels more authentically you.
I also make a list after cleanup, for things I would wish to add to the closet this season. Think about what items are missing or would be nice to have. If you try and tick these off one by one, you can buy better and buy less. I would rather have one nice blazer than 5 or 6 tops from various places. That is how some people have nice things and others are all over the place.. Spend the same, but buy less and better quality.
And I know I’ve said it before, but consignment can be one of the best places to get quality items- so think of it like collecting. Look for good things, keep an eye out for what you want, and be picky!
So for fun a few mistakes I made the last year…
I am still learning too so I thought this might be helpful… Here’s my first bad purchase of the year..A dress that I bought when I saw I loved it on the mannequin, I fell in love with this brown floral. Too big, not flattering and gathering hit me in the wrong place, but I loved the print, so I thought I’d keep.. When something looks bad on you, don’t try and make it work, take it back! This is one of those cases of a dress wearing me..
Another poor choice..this is a Proenza Schouler white label shift dress. The quality of this dress is beautiful and what drew me to it, and it was at The Rack on sale.. Once I put it on I had thoughts of Jackie Kennedy and her lovely shift dresses. Reality check- I’m not Jackie and this dress is not great for my busty body type, makes me look larger than I am, and hit me at an unflattering spot on the leg. . Again, I was drawn in by the nice label, on sale.. That should have been a no.
What do you own that can look better?
Another item that I almost donated is this shirt dress I bought from J. Crew.. I was attracted to the menswear details, but on me I think this looks like an old man’s nightshirt, but this shirtdress had some potential.
Using items already in my closet, and wrapping a sweater around the waist, folding up the sleeves, adding some accessories I already own- silver necklace, ( 10+ years old Furla bag, and Tory Burch ballet flats I’ve owned forever..) this looks so much cuter.. Ballet flats are back BTW.
Another potential idea, loafers I already own ( loafers with dresses are a look), and another vintage black bag from the closet depths, or sneakers and a tiny backpack, and a messy bun for a day out at the museum or sight seeing right..
Other ways for you to use what you already have in that closet
… Have some fun and get creative with layering. How about swim coverups?
Dresses over pants is a big trend this fall..I have many and two that I bought in a cool shop in a small town in Hawaii.. Why not use them over pants? You’ll need to find the right pant..not too tight or loose. These looked good with jeans. Give it a try experiment with your pieces-and take pictures so you remember..
Before you pitch things for being out of style, check out the latest magazines and Pinterest to see what is trending. ( Link to my fall/winter fashion board. ) What do you have that works for now and how can you choose better? I love this article in Bazaar- The True Path To Sustainability: Mindful Shopping. Alec Leach who wrote ‘The World is on Fire and We are Still Buying Shoes’ says ..
Also when I want to remind myself what style is and how to hunt for the coolest things..I reread my favorite style book, Classic Style. So much inspiration this book about how to dress and what to shop..Older things you’ve owned forever are the best.
And if you need to add a few good pieces, here are some GOOD buying decisions I have made that and others that are on the ol’ radar..
In June, I bought this Veronica Beard jacket I’ve been saving for. I loved the back with silver buttons, as I mostly wear silver. It also come in navy with gold buttons. It’s a little heavier in weight and I know I’ll wear it a ton as a jacket in fall and winter.
I also just found a more casual feeling Maeve Jacket for less at Anthro that I can see being a great grab and go finishing piece…I tried this on in store in Carmel and it’s got the most lovely fabric that drapes beautifully and feels much more expensive jacket than it is. This blazer has a slightly longer line, which is modern and also a teeny bit more fitted.
This also looks like a great classic piece from J. Crew in Italian wool..
I bought some pretty Start Weizmann classic loafers last fall ( above with the shirt dress), that are no longer available, but worn a ton..l also want a lug sole pair. These from Madewell are a nice look, well rated and have a modern feel. Now I just have to decide which color..Black, Cherrywood or Stable.. They have a back to school feeling and I love that.
I also love this version from Madewell..but back order until October …Maybe worth the the wait.
Juliet also did a great roundup of loafers in her weekend blog here!
I bought these white straight leg Mother jeans that I’ve worn a million times this summer..Great fit and look.. and also have these Mother jeans on my wish list…And these by Madewell come in petite and regular- love the look and wash..
I also bought two dresses that have gotten the most wears this year.. A T-shirt dress by Jenni Kayne, and this jean dress by Frank & Eileen.. Love these and both are great all year long here in California.
I hope this was helpful and made you think a bit more about using what you have- and thinking of shopping as collecting rather than a pastime!
Now please pop over to see what Cindy and Sarah have to say about Closet Cleanouts…
Thanks for being here!
Chic Linen Pieces You Need was August’s Signature Style
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La Contessa says
I bought my first Furla handbag in Florence in their tiny tiny shop it was probably 10 x 10‘ yes I still have it I cannot bear to throw it away I will never carry it again but that was my favorite handbag ever even over the Gucci‘s which I worked for the company so I had to carry!
Mine was the same the faux crock printed pattern in a brown or light brown I will show you one day. I Ihad another thing to say but I can’t remember now I’ll be back!!!!
Oh I love this post I think this was one of the best clean out closet posts I’ve ever seen all your points are excellent !
I have found to keep a big trash bag in the closet very helpful if I pull something out and I think no that’s not me anymore I’m too old for that or it’s too big or it’s too small it goes in the bag and that saying “once out of sight out of mind “really works for me!!
Elizabeth, I have always loved their bags! I bought my first one in Italy- a beautiful teal one in Venice. I think Furla is a fantastic company and is under the radar. I also had a small black one I love. Never get rid of their bags! I do think having a donate bag in the closet helps get things out before.. Love the out of site, out of mind.. Thanks so much – sometimes I don’t know if the posts are repetitive!! xo
This was a fabulous post. There are so many great takeaways from this post. I guess we were all on the same wavelength. I adore that Veronica Beard jacket. Those silver buttons are to die for. I wish I were organized to clean out my closet more often. Doing these fashion posts has required me to be more objective about what I buy.
Thanks Cindy! I loved the silver buttons too! For sure these posts help me too and seeing what you choose and Sarah is helpful .. xo
Carol Heartfelt Whimsies says
Really liked this post! So much great info. As I’m in the midst of (slowly) going through my closet and dresser, I’m going to keep these tips front of mind!
Thanks Carol! It’s a good time of year to do it!
Great post, full of ideas! I’m having blue shirt envy… you have some gorgeous ones. You did well to get the post out… the weather has been diabolically hot, my kids’ high school lost power at hottest time of day today so school closed early.
Thanks Fiona! I barely got this done..Oh no.. the poor kids. I was thinking about the ones in our neighborhood in this weather. Take care and stay cool! xo
Such a great post Kim! As always, so well written with advice and suggestions, applicable to us all!
I should carry a copy in my bag when shopping as a timely reminder, to buy something because it really works for me and not simply because I love it on the hanger or the mannequin. Over the years I’ve learnt to repeat to myself that it’s how something actually looks on ME … not how I imagine it’ll look or how it looks on someone else that’s important. Also, to do this before I actually buy it and walk out of the shop lol.
I actually like the brown floral dress on you … ( sorry!) certainly the colour and the fabric suits you and the style looks cute ( imho) but it’s how it feels when you wear it that matters and I guess you just don’t love it.
Your ways of styling really elevate the look of the white “grandad style” dress and it looks gorgeous and so stylish.
Sorry you had such a tough time with the internet when writing this and thank you so much for persevering as it’s an excellent post!
Have a great week!
Thanks Rosemary! I know I loved the brown dress.. maybe I’ll see what can be done with the fit..I have the same struggles and have to remind myself what actually works, and it’s sometimes not what I would wish to wear! Yes and not how it looks on another’s body unless they are your same type! Thanks this has been a struggle to work this week and I about gave up with this heat and power. Hope you are off on your way to Ibiza! xo
Cindy Adams says
Everything you’ve said is spot on. I can’t bare the thought of trying on clothes though, it’s exhausting! And depressing! I know it’s the thing to do, I’m hating my stuffed closet.
Cindy, I hear you.. I do have to be in the right mood and frame of mind. I will put on music, or a podcast and get a cold drink or tea. I also like having a nice spray to wipe the shelves with some herbal scent, like Mrs Meyers lavender spray and a soft cloth.. Think of it as doing something nice for yourself and making it a joy to go in there, not depressing. I have given away a lot of clothes, and many I can never get back into.. Once I do that, I feel so much better.. Onto new things and don’t look back. Don’t do it until you are ready. xo
La Contessa says
Veronica Beard is a descendant to SWANSON frozen foods!Thats what I wanted to say!!
Her Grand dad started that I believe her sister she is one of three lives here in SF and wrote a book on Napa and was married to ???Big Family in the city TRIANA and we’re the Ambassadors during Obama administration in Austria I believe!
TRIANA father married Danielle Steele snd on it goes……I have lost track now!!
I think i knew that.. Do you know there are two Veronica Beards and they are sisters-in-laws that began the company? Hmm I know you know so much about all the old money SF families! I saw Danielle Steele shopping at Neiman’s! She has cool style.
Linda Salazar says
A great post Kim! My closet definitely needs an overhaul…my problem is since I don’t work outside the home I don’t wear as many of my nicer clothes as often as I should. I get teased for dressing up a little when I run errands but when else am I going to wear the pieces? The only exception is when I babysit my grandkids, then it’s yoga pants or jeans, or shorts when it’s hot. They have a boxer too that sheds all over me. I keep a lint roller handy in the car!
I like your comment about being true to yourself and your style, and avoiding buying designer pieces just because they are on sale. My biggest waste of money was a Tory Burch tunic. I always wanted one and I found it on sale. My first mistake was buying it at Neman’s. (30 day return policy) It was black with a lot of white embellishments. For some reason it reminded me of a marching band uniform! After 2 years I ended up selling it on eBay. I think I got $175 for it so at least I wasn’t out too much money.
I bought a navy jacket like the Maeve years ago at Piperlime before they went out of business. I thought I had lost a button so last season I almost bought a bunch of new ones because it didn’t come with an extra and it would be impossible to find a match. Good thing I never got around to it because a few months ago I was looking through a nightstand drawer and I forgot I had put the button in there! 🤪
Linda Salazar says
Oops meant to say “Neiman’s”. Darn auto correct!!
I know! So annoying.. xx
Linda Salazar says
Actually my navy jacket looks like your Veronica Beard jacket, not the Maeve. (read too quickly) Now you know why replacing the buttons would have been a pain.
Linda lucky you found them!
Linda I hear you about the nicer things sitting in the closet.. And your lifestyle has changed! Maybe the to purge some of them or sell. Can you wear some of the jackets and skirts ( I’m assuming you have them) as separates, and are any of your dresses usable as casual like with a sweater over them? Think about if you can make then work for everyday? But clearly you need to be comfy with the kids and doggy..
So funny I actually bought a TB tunic too and never wore it. It was stiff ! I think I sold mine back, but gosh you did well with that! Hey good thing you found the buttons for your jacket.. I saw your note- like the Veronica Beard one.. Must be cute!!
Linda Salazar says
I haven’t been in the office in years and prior to that I worked at home for over 4 years. I do have some jackets that I wear with jeans. (dressing up for me lol) I have a few pairs of nice pants on hand too. I think Californians have gotten way too casual… most people dress like they are going to the beach, no matter what the occasion. I think my mom made an impression on me. She was very meticulous about her appearance and I don’t think she owned a pair of jeans ever! 😊
Oh Kim, mistakes … I’ve made a few. And keep making them so thank you for letting me know that you occasionally go astray too. Sometimes I wonder, as I near my 60th birthday, how am I still making these errors. But the goal is to be making fewer of them and I’m achieving that. You really turned that shirt dress around with the sweater … great reminder to experiment and try things on. It’s so hard to donate pieces we’ve spent good money on, but another wisedom that comes with age is to do it sooner rather than later. I adore blazers and the VB looks great on you. I have the navy with gold buttons and absolutely treasure it. The Anthro blazer is great too. You loafer choices are spot on and I may deviate from my standard black into a brown or reddish pair. My closet is a work in progress and yesterday, during the excessive heat, I did a little clean out. It feels so good … thanks for the inspiration! xo
Juliet, I guess that’s how we learn..You are right, sell what didn’t work soon so you can recoup some money back. Obviously waiting years isn’t a good thing. I have always been looking at the black jacket and you in the navy with gold made me think I could wear it a lot and it would be a good investment! You inspired me. Yay for using the hot days to clean out.. What else can we do on these days?? xo
Thinking about cleaning out your closet in this heatwave is the furthest thing from my thoughts. Yesterday it was a record breaking 116 f which felt like Death Valley. Luckily I did this closet refresh 2 months ago with the email help of a best friend in Vancouver BC. I took a lot of photos!!! Then added a new accent color to my accumulated wardrobe. Red. A blue red that looks great on me. A pair of red Beek leather slides. A red crossbody Mansur Graviel leather bucket bag bought on the Real Real for 20% of the retail cost. A thin red bandana scarf half off. And a woven red cotton sweater found in Sonoma on my birthday. Also a pair of white leather espadrilles. And one very cute short linen tunic by Johnny Was on sale for a day in Carmel. Then a straw handbag from Etsy made my entire closet new and fun. Almost nothing went into the discard bag except a couple of threadbare items. I repaired. I had a pair of white pants shortened. And I’m so happy that I didn’t buy any losers. This is a lifestyle choice I made 7 years ago after I moved three times in 2 years. Your advice and that of the others is spot on. We really benefit from slowing down on buying and then making careful choices. Your blog was my fave of the three but each of you did a great job of putting into words what took me so long to learn. Thank you!!
Ha Leslie true. Just unbelievable the heat.. and if the Ac isn’t on, forget doing anything. How fun having a friend help you with this! I love that idea.and adding a color to your mix! Wow you did good and got some cool pieces! I love that you said your closet now feels new and fun.. It shows it doesn’t take a lot of things, but just making some good choices that you have an affinity for! Nice you repaired things too. Yay this is inspiring too. Thanks so much Leslie.
I appreciate all your insights and tips on how to approach cleaning out the things you do not want or never wear anymore. They take up space. I remember reading what someone said put the hangers back on the opposite side if you have not worn any of the hangers going in the right direction then it should go within a year. Just thought it was an interesting perspective.
As you know you aren’t alone purchasing things that you have never worn or you just don’t like. I have many times, and as your body ages you may no longer feel comfortable in short sleeves. I have a closet full of clothes that need to find new homes.
Your Maeve jacket from Antho is fabulous on you. The silver buttons make the jacket.
Hi Katherine, yes they do take up space and we Americans all have too much already.. Hey that hanger idea is great. Really lets you know if something is just sucking air in there..I know I can already feel I am changing what I think looks great. Why are arms so hard? Even fit, they can look just okay. At least shoulders are always good.. Thank you about the jacket! xo
Well I’m one who doesn’t have to go thru my closet as I have limited clothes! I’m not a shopper – hate shopping. Did I buy anything this summer = no. What did I buy in the spring? A good pair of shoes for walking here/there/everywhere. Also a yellow umbrella – it rains a lot here and I wanted something colourful/cheerful for rainy day walks. No clothes. What will I buy this fall – hopefully a jacket for work as one is not provided with our uniform anymore and it does get cold when the theatre entrance doors are open. Other than lingerie I don’t expect to buy anything else this fall.
I’m always AMAZED at how much clothes some of the bloggers I follow have and are still buying. It would be fun to see if they don’t buy anything for 6 months to a year! That would be a fun challenge.
Rosemarie! I have friends who feel the same about shopping and the closet. I like the yellow umbrella! Right now color seems like a spot of happy in our lives. I love how the French gravitate to color in pieces like that.. Well I hope you get yourself a new jacket for the cold months. I am with you that there is too much seasonal push to buy new- and the ‘haul’ videos… it promotes more consumerism. I know people who have done the 6 month challenge and it is a good way to change your habits. You think a lot more about using what you have. I mean we did that as kids. We bought clothes twice a year out of necessity..Shopping has become a pastime and that’s not good. We all have too much.
Such a fabulous post! I try to go thru my closet 4x a year since we have very distinct seasons in the north east and I find it easiest to purge at the end of a season – once you realize what you haven’t touched. I’ve had great luck selling on Poshmark – especially bags and jackets – and use the proceeds for something new. Super easy. Planning to finally pull the trigger on that Frank and Eileen dress. How did you find the sizing?
Thank you so much Laura. Good for you doing the closet clean quarterly. That is the goal. I agree that it’s much easy to see what has just been worn- or NOT! I am going to try to sell on Poshmark. I have bought some things on there myself, but never sold. So the Frank & Eileen dress, I bought a small and it fits nice, not tight, but seems the right length too. I am 5’4 and 135, if that helps!
Super helpful. Thank you for another inspiring post!
Thanks so much Laura!
Great advice. I am finally braking a long, hard look at my clothes and realized that I can probably give away at least half of them and they wouldn’t be missed. Like all the clothes I have that are made from synthetic fabric. I cannot wear synthetics anymore, especially during summer. I break out in a sweat just thinking about it. So I have hopefully reached a stage where I can get rid of them without looking back. It’s time to stop holding on to pieces for sentimental reasons.
Lorna, sometimes it’s a good thing to just say goodbye to the stuff you’re over, not loving and had forever. I agree I had many synthetic blouses and I can’t wear them. Maybe it’s the whole hormone thing..I’m just too darn hot and fabrics need to breathe. I think we hag onto many things for sentimental reasons..If you have one or two things it’s fine, but if you have a bunch, maybe choose a couple to keep. Good luck! xo
Aimee Adamec says
Kim – I really enjoyed this blog. Would love some tips on finding my person. Maybe you could do a blog on that. Hugs Aimee
Hi Aimee! True that would be an interesting and fun idea! xo
Mary Ann Pickett says
I want those lugg loafers too…figures as I love your classic taste. You bring up so many helpful tips. Such a great post.
I know they are cool right? xo
lisa thomson-author says
Excellent and inspiring post, Kim. Your photos are all so wonderful for giving a visual for fashion dweebs like myself. I have made so many clothing purchases that I’ve had to discard because they don’t fit right, or else I simply tire of the style. I’m now putting an end to that (as of the last two years) refraining from buying new. Rather, wearing what I have in new ways. Because the buy, then donate cycle is not healthy for the environment. I love your suggestions of the ‘classic style’ and I’m there. It doesn’t disappoint. I admit I keep things for sentimental reasons.
p.s. I have a weakness for consignment shopping and tend to give myself a pass on this because it is better for the earth than buying new. But same problems can arise four months later… 😛
Hi Lisa! Thank you. Yay you for changing it up and trying a new way to use what you have… and I hear you about consignment shopping! It’s good to use what is already on this planet… Even if we get in a cycle of resell and buy, if it’s through consignment that feels a little better. Don’t feel badly about that. xx
I enjoyed your post – I found you through Juliet at Snowberry. In my 50’s and still, always, making closet errors. Never in my life have I been into fashion (yes, even as a teenager), so tackling this as I age has been a challenge. I like your style but I struggle with sticking to basics. I’m a plus size woman, so I get sucked in by the cheap shirts and tops with floral prints (I think I’m always trying to ‘hide’ behind the prints). I love knit fabrics (woven fabrics feel very constricting, which I don’t like). I’ll be following your posts and work to build a better wardrobe.
Hi Janet! I’m still learning too as I go…I think a lot of us want to have beautiful basics, and then get attracted to pretty things like florals. Also cheaper shirts are always an easy adrenaline rush for the closet and we all fall into that trap! I’m so glad you are following and I hope the blog will be helpful. I try and keep to fun, but good investments that will make for longtime closet favorites. Thanks so much for letting me know you’re out there! I’ll be keeping you in mind when I post things too. Have a lovely week!