It happens to everyone – clothes just sitting in the wardrobe, sad, and almost never worn. It can be a couple of items or a whole bunch of them – it’s not the key issue about it. To me, it’s always been the feeling of frustration and guilt of witnessing all of my unsuccessful purchases not working for me, not giving me any value-per-wear, and being useless. The wardrobe graveyard is always a waste of money, time, and space. I’ve posted before about how capsule wardrobe didn’t work for me, so you can imagine that my wardrobe isn’t minimalistic at all – I like all kinds of items, which makes the issue even more frustrating because my items of clothing don’t go together very easily. Despite these challenges, I’ve come up with my own 5 strategies to keep the ‘wardrobe graveyard’ problem at bay. These strategies don’t involve dividing all the clothes into ‘yes’, ‘ no’, and ‘maybe’ piles or ‘if you haven’t worn an item over the past year, it has to go’, but practical long-term solutions. Let me share them with you, dear readers ❤️
#1: Figure my style out & the types of clothes that suit me the best. It never starts with the clothes – it always starts with you! It took me a hot minute to figure out what actually suits me and all my thanks for this go to David Kibbe and his Metamorphosis. Determining and understanding my own features helped me figure out what types of outfits work for me the best and the types of items that just fail to accentuate my features in the way I want them to. For me, these are boxy items, elongated items, dark monochrome items (I am petite and such things overpower me).
As soon as I figured what works for me, I could determine the items that would never work, in any outfit. I started seeing my wardrobe much more clearly and could proceed to other strategies.
#2: Tailoring. Tailoring doesn’t get enough hype, even though it deserves it so much! The abundance of ready-to-wear clothing makes us feel that it’s easy to find something off-the-rack and immediately wear it, which is sometimes true, but sometimes not. I am petite and curvy (not overweight, but my shape is hourglass), so off-the-rack clothing is usually too long on me and requires tailoring. It refers to not only pants – skirts, jackets, sleeves, blazers, dresses too.
After figuring out what can work on me, I ended up with at least 15 items that I never wore because of their length alone (mostly pants & skirts). Full length pants that aren’t tapered don’t look good on me at all, so the solution here was to make them ankle length. Voilà! A whole pile of great pants back from the dead and wearable!
This strategy is one of the best ones for me. My suggestion is as follows: if you see the potential in an item, take it to the tailor and get advice on possible alterations. This is a great way to revive a lot of items from the ‘wardrobe graveyard’
#3: Try brainstorming what items you lack to wear what you already have. Sometimes it’s just one missing piece of the puzzle that keeps many items in the ‘wardrobe graveyard’ and this strategy is great if you have many items you like, but struggle to develop outfits with them, which is why they never get worn. I get my inspiration from Pinterest or just Google outfits that include the items I’d like to wear. For me, the ultimate missing piece was a pair really basic black skinny jeans (examples in this post). They work well with a lot of tops and shoes, which makes me wonder why I didn’t try them earlier.
I have a golden rule here: an item is worth investing in if I can create at least 5 outfits with it, combining it with my ‘wardrobe graveyard’ items. Then it’s worth spending money on and bringing more stuff to the closet. If not – then I proceed to other strategies.
#4: Donating/Selling. This strategy is a ‘last resort’ kind of strategy and is mainly applicable to items that don’t have any future in my wardrobe.
There are the items I get rid of:
– very old items that don’t look presentable and can’t be recovered to their former glory
– don’t suit me in terms of size (the ‘I’ll wear it when I lose weight’ – let’s face it, it almost never happens)
– things that I flat out dislike
– things that I know for sure can’t be tailored
– items that I know for sure will never suit my features (e.g. too boxy, too elongated, too stiff, too rough, etc – my whole ‘no-no’ list is in this post)
If an item still looks good, I try to give it away to someone who’ll enjoy it or donate it to charity. Some stores also accept pre-owned clothes for further reselling (e.g. thrift stores) and repurposing or recycling – it’s always useful to keep that in mind and research such policies of stores in your area. I know for a fact that H&M has such initiative, but I haven’t used it, so can’t tell whether it’s any good. If an item doesn’t look good at all, I move on to the final strategy.
#5: Repurpose & Recycle. Sometimes clothing doesn’t have to leave the house – it can serve a new purpose! When I do my seasonal shift of clothes (moving summer/winter clothing to the front and/or shelves that are easy to reach when the seasons are changing) I come across items that simply don’t look good anymore. These are usually light t-shirts with deodorant stains, tops that lost their shape, cotton shirts, homewear, and other items. While I wear them, they look okay because I get used to them, but after not seeing them for a while their drawbacks become obvious.
Remaking items into new items at least partly us a great idea! I wish I’d have a sewing machine and learn how to sew to be able to remake my old items into new items! The items that are already not as good to take to the tailor, but just something for me to experiment with! Someday I’ll get there, but at this point I’m mentioning this opportunity as inspiration for you.
My recycling at home is very simple. Old cotton t-shirts are excellent for drying hair after washing. They can also be used to make dish cloth – something I do regularly. There are plenty of tutorials online on how to do it – here’s one of them. One of my absolute favorite options for recycling old clothes is making a rug! Once again, there are many tutorials and examples online, but I’ll leave one here for your convenience. Another fun option is making a pillow or a pin/needle cushions. If I have an item of clothing with nice beads, decor, or buttons, I always cut them off before recycling the item – these are the ‘never know when you need it’ kind of things 😊
The possibilities are truly endless – there are all kinds of DIY’s for bags made out of old jeans, home decor, etc – you can let your imagination run wild if you like crafting!
Bonus! If you have items that you love, but can’t figure out how to wear yet, just let them be or put them in storage. You’ll always be able to donate them or recycle them, but it often so happens that these are the items that come in handy when the style we wear changes or our size changes, or whatever else. So my best advice is to keep what you like and don’t mind that ‘if you haven’t worn an item for one year, it has to go away’ – generalizations like this have to go away instead!
What are your best strategies to deal with the ‘wardrobe graveyard’? Do you just let it be and do a ‘purge’ every once in a while or keep your wardrobe very organized? I’m very curious to know and looking forward to your comments!
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