2.20.2014

Fashion Budgeting 101: Culling Your Closet

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step to overcoming it. I've already explored my trouble with letting things go, so I guess I'm on my way in that regard. Getting down to business, though, is another story. It's all very easy to wax poetic on my wardrobe issues, but as soon as I face the challenge of putting my money where my mouth is... well, let's just say I'm a better thinker than a doer.

How do I love thee...?

If you're like me, closet culling will be the hardest part of the budgeting process -- or at least will take the most willpower. It's tempting to hold on to stuff that's still useful or has sentimental value, but (hey) you've got to hide that love away. For now.

Step 1: Pull all of the clothes out of your closet and drawers. Throw them to the floor in wild abandon. Enjoy the chaotic mess that is now your bedroom.

Step 2: Consider each article, one at a time, and send it flying into one of four piles:
   
             1) I love you / I can't imagine my closet without you
             2) Mixed feelings / I know you're wrong but you feel so right
             3) There are things I still enjoy about you but I'm kind of bored / would trade you for money
             4) You're holding me back / We're done here

Soulmates, Friends with Benefits, Temporaries, and Toxics. That is all ye know and all ye need to know.

Step 3: Put your Soulmates back on the shelf. Consider what these items have in common -- Comfort? Sophistication? An obsession with neon? This will be your calling card. It will come into play later. (Note: If your wardrobe is already stuffed at this point, consider doing away with the remainders immediately and skipping to step 7.)

      My examples: favorite Lucky Vintage leather jacket, best-fitting Lucky Brand jeans, classic Ray-Ban sunglasses, versatile knee-high boots

Step 4: Reconsider each of your Friends with Benefits. Have you worn them in the past year? Do they jive with your calling card, or do they belong with a you of the past? Are they secretly a Soulmate you're just not being real with yourself about? What about a Toxic? Ideally, about two thirds of this pile will end up with the Temporaries or Toxics and one third will join the Soulmates as part of your minimalized wardrobe.

      My examples: quirky ballerina print skirt, first-ever pair of high-top converse, favorite yoga pants with stitched-up hole

Step 5: About half of your Temporaries should be in pretty good shape. After all, your relationship with them likely didn't last long. The other half (and probably the discarded Friends with Benefits) may be unflattering or outdated. Take the first half to a consignment store and cash these babies in! Abandon the second half at your local donation center. They are off to find their own soulmates.

      My examples: fancy dress a friend pawned off on me, not-quite-the-right-length pencil skirt, uncomfortable heels I wore to one dance ever

Step 6: Onto the Toxics. Don't think twice about this pile. They are stained, pilled, pitted out, or otherwise offensive. They've been hiding in the depths of your drawers, and they are doing you no good. Take them to the trash.

      My examples: just about everything polyester, overstretched bra, misshapen Old Navy tee shirts (along with my faith in Old Navy)

Step 7: Make yourself a drink. You just went through a lot... of clothes.

Step 8: Look at your new wardrobe. Love it. Put together some outfits.
            Now think about your calling card. What's missing from your current items that would bring everything together? Do you love colorful tops? Maybe some neutral pants and skirts would balance out your brights. Are your retro-inspired blouses and heels begging for a pencil skirt? Write it down. Eventually you'll have a shopping list.


Don't get too excited yet, though. You've still got a budget to calculate.

This and more coming soon!

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