So, what exactly is a mindful wardrobe? What does it look like? It's when you open your closet in the morning and you love every piece in it and every piece loves you back. It’s when getting dressed is easy and fun, not frustrating and stress-inducing. It’s when there are no longer sleepless nights worrying about whether you have the appropriate clothing for a given situation. It’s when you shop knowing exactly what you’re looking for and you make good choices.
Believe it or not, it is possible. Here are my steps to get you on the path to enlightenment:
Step 1: Define your personal style. Before you ever get into your closet, you should know what you want to look like. This might seem unnecessary when all you’re itching to do is get in and start clearing, but it’s wasted time if you don’t do this first. For instance, if your style is boho-chic, pencil skirts are not going to get a whole lot of action and it’s better to know this going in. (Not sure what your personal style is? Check out my post on defining your style here.)
Step 2: Get rid of everything. Just kidding. Get rid of most of it though. Remember, having too many choices is draining. I like to break this down since it can be an overwhelming process, so this is the first round, the easy stuff. Here are things you should get rid of immediately:
- Clothes from high school or college or ten years ago. If it has sentimental meaning, put it in a box. Get it out of your closet.
- Clothes that were a gift. I know, I know, you feel like you need to wear it in the presence of the gifter. You know what? They’re big kids, they’ll have to get over it. Ask people to give you gift cards instead.
- Hand-me-downs. Hand-me-downs are for five-year-olds (anyone else get mistaken for a boy as a kid because you were wearing your cousin’s clothes?), not for grown adults. If you didn’t choose something because you loved it, it has no place in your closet.
- Stuff that doesn’t fit. Please please please stop hanging on to those clothes that you’ll wear when you finally get rid of that extra five pounds. Let’s face it, that might not happen for a while and when it does, these clothes will probably be outdated. Anyway, you should reward yourself with new stuff at that point!
Step 3: Going through the “maybe” pile. This is where the real willpower comes in. These are pieces that you feel like you should wear and yet you don’t. Things you’re saving for the one occasion they might be appropriate for but never happens. Things that you spent money on but never wore. Things that only go with one other piece in your wardrobe or that require purchasing something new before you can wear it. Things that make no sense for your lifestyle. Like the clothes that don’t fit, these things are not just cluttering up your closet, they’re cluttering your mind. They’re like toxic friends, spewing negative messages and inducing guilt every time you open your closet. Let them go. Tell them you are no longer going to let them intrude on your newly found zen-like state. Tell them that you can’t control their actions, but you can remove yourself from being around them. Wait..sorry, what were we talking about? Oh right, clothes. Got side tracked into a therapy session there. Back to the point. If something’s going to get a coveted place in your closet, the answer to these three questions should be yes:
- Do you love it? As in, so much that you want to marry it?
- Do you feel good in it? When you look good and are comfortable in what you’re wearing, you will have a better day. You just will.
- Is it “you”? See Step 1: define your personal style
Step 4: Make a list. After all this purging, you may realize that you have 20 tops you love and only 1 pair of pants, or vice versa. Maybe you have a closet full of cocktail dresses, but nothing to wear for real life. Make a list of what you really need and stick to it when you go shopping.
Step 5: Stop buying stuff! Seriously, if you’re buying clothes while you’re grocery shopping, it’s probably not a good idea. If it’s not on your list, you better think twice. If someone tries to give you stuff, politely decline. This is where the “mindful” part comes in, because it’s really hard to be so picky. Save your money for one beautiful blouse, rather than four impulse buys you’ll never wear. Don’t settle. You deserve better.