Wardrobe Editing II: Silver Linings and the Golden Rule of Maintenance

In my previous blog, I discussed considerations and tips to go about editing your wardrobe while being mindful to the practical and the emotional. Introspection about your lifestyle and priorities is key to set a golden mean that is unique to you, so that your wardrobe can reflect who you are, what you hold dear and what you want to express.


First Silver Lining: Your wardrobe reflects who you are

If you have followed my editing tips (and the engaging process of introspection), you will have successfully set aside the pieces that are not a good fit for you, that you never wear and to which you have no emotional attachment, that are useless duplicates, that belong to an “I was” that no longer is, that you have grown out of in all possible ways. Brava! Your wardrobe shines, you shine.

With this feeling of satisfaction, you may also feel the burden of dealing with the piles/bags of items that no longer belong to your wardrobe. But you can take this opportunity to turn them into a rewarding experience.


Second Silver Lining: You have a lot to GIVE

You have been immersed in your journey of introspection. You have thought about your lifestyle, your feelings, your priorities. Now it is time for solidarity, for thinking about others.

Your introspection allowed you to part with many items that will surely be appreciated by other people.

Look at your clothes, make sure they are in good condition, and think: are there any pieces that would be good for particular friends or family members? “So and so would love this pair of white leather pants.” “So and so got a new job and could use this suit.” Place them in bags with their names. Contact them to ask them if they would accept what you have for them. (They may not need it!).

And DONATE the rest. All clothes are useful for someone out there, even if you can’t put a name on them. If you channel them to the right organizations in your area – religious institutions, schools, non-profit and international organizations –they will get to those who will appreciate them. If you have business (like) attire, there are non-profits such as Wardrobe for Opportunity in Oakland and Dress for Success nationally that specifically provide clothing for low-income people in search of jobs or with a new job. You’ve come so far, this is just a car ride away.

It is such a good feeling all around.


Golden Rule of Maintenance: One in, one out

Let’s assume for the sake of this blog’s argument that you have smartly completed your wardrobe with the pieces you were missing to have versatile, elegant and practical combinations, and that you expect ceteris paribus you won’t need more (hey, I said need, if in doubt, look it up). You may have one item that you do not wear that much, but alas!we wouldn’t be humans if that weren’t the case. Now after all this long process involving introspection, editing, giving away, and getting new useful and wearable pieces according to your current self, you don’t want to face the same clutter within a year, do you? So what is the secret to avoid it?

One in, one out. Yes, as simple as that. Rather than the golden rule of maintenance, this seems to be the iron rule of maintenance. And no, I didn’t come across it in New York, despite the size of living spaces, let alone closets. I owe it to my dear friend Cynthia here in Berkeley, who once brought me a pair of wonderful and comfy black shoes in perfect condition (we wear the same big! size) and I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want them anymore. She said: “I got a new pair” as if that were already self-explanatory and self-evident. “So?” I asked, absolutely puzzled. “One in, one out,” she responded, “I buy something new, I part with the/one old one.” Brilliant. As brilliant as gold. She keeps her wardrobe functional and reasonably sized, while keeping it fresh and exciting. She gets a lot of pleasure in how she dresses, she has wonderful pieces, and you would think (well, I thought at the beginning) that she would surrender. But no, it’s been many many years, and she is impeccable, wherever she is (her last swap was made in Berlin a couple of months ago). I can’t wait until she gets a new pair of leather boots, because I love the purple ones she currently has. (Have I said, Alas we are all humans?).

The golden rule is a great way to keep your wardrobe from cluttering up and proliferating. If you practice it to its purest, a 24 karat practice, your wardrobe will be maintained – in size, functionality and novelty. But I know it is difficult to have a soul as noble as the metal, and we may introduce a piece here and there. As long as you keep it at 5 pieces a year, your alloy will be 22 k, and that is still very resistant. (I did my chemistry homework for this blog.)


If you have other tips for keeping your wardrobe under control, please share them in comments below! We need this collective intelligence.

Until next time…


Mara KolesasComment