The Tough Wardrobe Questions 

It’s the season for clearing out and making way. As the weather warms up and spring fashions beckon, wardrobes over the country are being reviewed and re-thought.

There are great posts out there on clearing out your wardrobe. Lots of good ideas about sorting and piles and only keeping the things we love.

The Tough Wardrobe Questions

It’s the fence-sitters I find tricky. The pieces of clothing that I hesitate to put back in the wardrobe but I’m not quite ready to give away. I sort of love them. A little tiny bit. Or perhaps I might love them again. There is a chance they will come back into trend or my shape will shrink and they will look like they once did.

When I’m trying to decide whether it stays or goes, these are the questions I ask …

Does it look good on me now?

There are times I slip something on and it doesn’t look like I remembered it. Things cling in all the wrong places. It’s time to be brutally honest about what suits me now. Not when I bought it.

What memories do I associate with it?

There are clothes I love not because they are awesome, but because I made awesome memories wearing them. The shorts I wore in Africa. The kaftans I adored during a Fijian holiday. The dress I wore on an early date with my husband. These things all have sentimental value, but they may not have sartorial value. I can still hang on to those things, but they are best in storage, not in valuable closet space.

Why did I buy/make it?

What purpose did this garment serve? Is that purpose still relevant? If not, can I wear it differently to how I originally intended? I often do this with my old corporate wear.

Does it suit my current lifestyle?

The sparkly nightclub numbers and sky high heels are still pretty, but they aren’t terribly relevant. I probably don’t need multiples of them.

Have I worn it in the last year?

This is always the best litmus test of the practically of an item. If it’s not been worn in the last 12 months, it’s unlikely to be worn the next.

Is it in good condition?

Some pieces are well loved. Too well loved. Over-loved. And even though I love them, I’m slightly embarrassed to be seen with them in public. Time to go.

Does it play well with others?

Some garments might be fabulous but they have no play mates. I try to only buy or make things that go with at least three other existing things but I don’t always get it right. If I’m tossing up tossing out, then how well the garment works with the things I am wearing regularly is an important factor.

Is it comfortable to wear?

This is a big one. It might be super lovely but if it’s not comfortable I’m really unlikely to wear it.

Am I actually in love with the label, the idea or the price?

Ah, how many things do I hold onto because it’s a coveted label? Or I love the idea of the garment but not how it looks on me. Or I bought it for a ridiculously high price. Or I bought for a ridiculously great price. These are not good reasons to hold onto garments that don’t work for me.

Is it classic or a returning trend item?

It’s always worth keeping classic items or items that are likely to re-run as a trend. Things like stripes, animal print, full-skirts, wrap dresses, jackets, maxis and crisp white shirts are always worth keeping as long as they are in good condition and you still like how they look on you. If it’s a trend piece from more than three years ago and I don’t really love it – it’s time to part ways.

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Those tough questions might make letting things go a little easier. If they don’t and you just cannot part with a piece, hang the garment back up again but turn your hanger so that the open curve faces you — the opposite way to what you would normally do. Turn the hanger back around if/when you wear it. If you look to wardrobe cull in another year, and the hanger hasn’t turned back around, it’s probably time to say good-bye.

If you are sure you won’t wear the garment in the coming months but you still can’t let it go, store it with your off-season numbers. When you pull it out again, you might be able to asses whether it’s a keeper or not.

If you really won’t wear it again but can’t bear to see it go into the donation bin, gift it to a friend. Or organise a swap night and expand your wardrobes. If it’s really too lovely to place in the hands of someone you don’t know, give it to someone you love.

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How do you sort out the clothes you’re just not sure whether you should keep or not? 

14 thoughts on “The Tough Wardrobe Questions 

  1. Jan says:

    Great advice Robyna. I have the luxury of a little used spare bed, on which my spring/summer clothes are currently lying. As the weather warms up I wear items from there. If in a few weeks an item remains on the bed it definitely needs to show cause! Fortunately, we have a woman in town who organises a regular quality second hand sale so I get to sell some stuff there.

  2. Shari from GoodFoodWeek says:

    I feel that I was pretty tough before we moved to Sydney and I threw out or donated a lot to charity. I feel that I have been so much happier with less in my wardrobe – I actually love all of the pieces in there. Now I just have to be not pregnant so that I am able to actually fit into them. Thanks for linking up with the Ultimate Rabbit Hole – guest host, Shari from GoodFoodWeek.
    Shari from GoodFoodWeek recently posted…The Ultimate Rabbit Hole: I’m guest hosting!My Profile

    • Robyna says:

      Pregnancy is always such a style issue! You want to look good but you don’t want to spend money on stuff you will wear for a few weeks. I agree, a leaner wardrobe tends to have more options for some reason!

  3. Emily says:

    I have been doing exactly this after realizing that my wardrobe was overflowing and yet most of it I don’t want to wear. I started culling last week, and I’m amazed at how many different scenarios you have covered here. I’m feeling less alone, with all the wrong reasons to hang onto things and ready to tackle my wardrobe again. Thanks Robyna .

  4. Bron says:

    Asking the tough questions here Robyna. I have a hard time parting with things in the past but now I am fairly ruthless. Less is definitely more when it comes to my wardrobe.

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