The Wardrobe Challenge: How To Revitalise Your Closet
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The Wardrobe Challenge: How To Revitalise Your Closet

How to shop your own clothes

According to Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner (author of You Are What You Wear), most people wear 20 percent of the clothes they own 80 percent of the time. We reach for trustworthy, flattering and comfortable pieces – while leaving the more daring and bold items to languish at the back of our wardrobes. Looking to make more use of the things you already own? Time to take on The Wardrobe Challenge.

The Wardrobe Challenge: How To Revitalise Your Closet

What Is The Wardrobe Challenge?

The Wardrobe Challenge is a way of curating your wardrobe with honesty: keeping things that you wear regularly, feel comfortable in, and which flatter and fit nicely. There are plenty of variations, but we’re keen on the shopping your own wardrobe angle – delving into the back of your closet to find the items you haven’t worn in a long time and scrutinising why, and then asking how you might make the item more appealing (pairing it with another item in your wardrobe, layering it, altering it or, ultimately, selling it).

Decluttering a wardrobe

The Wardrobe Challenge: How To Do It

Pick Out What You Never Wear

There are different ways of doing this. One approach is hauling everything out of your wardrobe and only putting back what you know you wear frequently. Be honest with yourself: there’s no commitment to tossing your items at this point.

If you’re working on a longer timescale, try the coat hanger tactic: every time you wear an item, return it to your wardrobe with the hanger facing the opposite direction to the rest. Then after a month (or two months, or even six months), pull out the items you haven’t touched and get down to business.

Ask The Hard Questions

Going through your offending items one by one, ask yourself the important questions:

  • Have you worn this item in the last 18 months? (Be honest.)
  • Why don’t you wear it? Is it the shape? The colour? How it makes you feel?
  • Why do you want to keep it? Because it’s too small but you might fit into it one day? Because you have a sentimental attachment to it? Because you spent a lot of money on it?
  • Can your relationship be salvaged? You could alter the item if it’s too big, or find a new way to style it if you don’t like how it falls on your body.

As a general rule, if you’re holding on to an item because you might be able to squeeze back into it one day, cut your losses and get rid – you’re only upsetting yourself. If it’s too big, look into alteration options; and, if you can’t be bothered, you have your answer already.

If the answer is getting rid, try resale sites like Vinted, eBay and Vestiaire or drop it off at a charity shop so someone else can enjoy your clothes. If you bought it for a specific special occasion and you can’t face letting it go, consider popping it on a rental site like HURR or By Rotation. If that’s too much hassle, time to sell up.

How To Sell Clothes Online (& Do It Well)

Woman on laptop looking at phone

Bruce Mars, Unsplash

Restyle Time

If you’ve decided something is a keeper because it still has potential, it’s time to get restyling. Try the item in an outfit you’d never ordinarily reach for to see it in a new light, whether that’s layering or pairing with something wildly different. Make sure you also experiment with shoes: they can totally transform an outfit. If you’re struggling, take the item out with you on a shopping trip and experiment with new items real-time.

As Kath Brown writes in The Telegraph, ‘One of the easiest ways to bring old clothes up to date is with the right footwear and I saw this immediately with my officious-looking black trousers.’ She proceeded to pair her Prada trousers with feminine heeled shoes, framing the trousers in a new light and pushing them to the front of her wardrobe.