Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Transitioning your wardrobe part 1

I was recently reading an old magazine article about updating your style as your life changes. The article was mainly focusing on people that moved from city to country, or small city to large metropolis etc, but it made me think about how much my style has changed since having kids. Before having children, my wardrobe was made up of tailored suits, dresses, shirts, dressier knits and fashionable heels. I didn't even own a pair of flats and most of the clothes were dry clean only. Now, it couldn't be more different! Almost everything (except for tailored trousers) can be thrown in the washing machine. Instead of one pair of jeans, I own five. And flats have finally made an appearance. If you were in the corporate arena before kids, then you probably have exactly the same scenario at play in your wardrobe. But what to do with all of the corporate clothes that you used to wear and are still taking up very valuable closet space? Rather than getting rid of them (you spent a lot of money on them, after all!), it makes so much more sense to integrate them into your new life style.

Well, the first thing to do is find some time where you can attack your wardrobe in relative peace (hard to do, I know!!). Next, get three bags or boxes and label them toss, donate, and mend. Finally, take all of your work clothes out of the closet, and piece by piece, go through them. Try everything on. Look at yourself and the piece of clothing objectively in the mirror and then decide whether it can go back into the closet, or does it belong in one of the piles?As you try on the items, first, ask yourself these questions.

  • Is it in good condition? This means no stains or tears that cannot be repaired.

  • Does it still fit in with current fashion? It doesn't have to be the height of fashion, but if it obviously belongs to another era, it needs to go. Some items are truly timeless; a knee length pencil skirt in a neutral colour will all always be in style (even if not the "in" silhouette). Other items can be more problematic; pant shapes do change from era to era as evidenced by the at the waist, pleated, tapered leg pant being clearly out of date.
If you have answered no to either of these questions for a particular item, then that item needs to be removed from your wardrobe. Either throw them into the donate pile if they are still in good condition, but out-of-style (they may be old fashioned, but most charities will be able to make good use of them), or into the toss pile if they are not in good condition. A friend of mine who works for a charity told me a good rule of thumb is, "is it in good enough condition to give to a family member or close friend?" If it isn't, then put in the trash. While charities used to be able to recycle damaged and stained clothes into rags that were sold to industry, it is now to expensive to do that. Donating items like this will COST the charity to dispose of, which is not what we want.

Next, be brutally honest, and ask yourself:
  • Does it fit? Is it too big? Is it too small? Is it unflattering?

  • If it doesn't, can it be easily altered to fit?
I have some lovely suits sitting in my wardrobe that are at least three sizes too small. Realistically, I will not fit into these anytime soon! If the piece of clothing is too big, can it be easily and affordably altered to fit? If so, into the mend pile. Put the items that are too small or cannot be taken in into the donate pile. If these items are still in fashion, donate them to a place like Dress for Success. They help unemployed women dress appropriately for job interviews (as well providing other great employment services).

Now, you should have (hopefully) a pile of clothes that fit, are reasonably current, and flatter you. Stay tuned for part 2, how to integrate these clothes into your SAHM wardrobe.

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