My mother used to do a huge overhaul once she believed summer was over. She would take all her summer clothes and pack them in plastic and garment bags down in the cool basement in one of the closets. Dressy clothes would be dry cleaned and put away. Shoes and purses would be wrapped and put in little bags with labels. But first out of the same closet she would take out all her winter wardrobe. It was a two-day ordeal and my mother and our housekeeper looked like they had been to war when it was all done. Not to mention the biannual trip to Holt Renfrew to get my mother’s furs out of storage for the winter, another day. But my mother was a staunch believer in no white after Labour Day and before Easter ( Passover) and those were the rules never to change.
My mother hardly ever wore denim. Don’t get me wrong she was one of the most stylish ladies ever. My mother looked great in whatever she put on. She had a great sense of fashion but my mother believed once you turned 45 your style kind of changed. My Dad ran a ladies sportswear company, Koret of Canada. They made clothes ladies could live in every day and I don’t think denim ever crossed the factory door.
Fast forward to new century. Every woman I know wears denim. Styles have changed and so has the way we view our closets and wardrobes. Yes there are certain items that are truly one season items. Those are things that are only worn in summer and in winter, bathing suits, shorts, down jackets, heavy wool blazers, etc. But now most fabrics are made to be seasonless. Go on any of my favorite websites and you will see ‘seasonless’ wool or ‘the seasonless suit’. What we used to call in the 1990’s transition dressing ( we would sell these clothes to stores to tide them over until their big fall shipment or spring shipment arrived) is really how the modern woman dresses. Many fabrics I have shown pictures of you can wear all year round. Denim is a for sure 12 month fabric, so is a polyester blend. I have a light weight wool black sweater from Eileen Fisher that I wear all year round. So the rules have changed and your closet needs to adapt with the changes.
I ‘clean out’ my closet twice a year. And what I mean is that I take a look at every piece in my closet and decided whether it stays or goes. If it stays it gets put away back in the closet. If not it either gets given to charity or most of my clothes are taken to a local resale or second-hand boutique. I have done really well with selling my worn items. I usually can make anywhere from $300-$800 depending on how deeply I cut the items in my closet. Fall always is more profitable than spring, but they take shoes, accessories and bags as well. So it adds up.
The question for most women is how do I start. It can be overwhelming. You really have two choices: you can pay someone like me to come and clean out your closet and reorganize it. It costs about $500 for 4 hours and you need to be present the whole time. Or you can do it yourself. Of course I would love to come and do it for you, but I am going to tell you a couple of rules that help me get started so you can save that money to buy some new clothes. So here is how you can get started getting your closet ready for all the new fall styles you are dying to own:
Rule #1: And I will not budge on this. If you did not wear it last fall and it is still in your closet it must go. I mean it. I have found myself wearing a few summer tops I love but haven’t worn this summer the last few days because I know next February when I clean out my closet they would have to go. If you didn’t wear it last fall you will not wear it this fall and it is taking up valuable space. Think it kind of like real estate, the old renter of your space is hardly making his rent and his space looks terrible, while waiting to rent it is someone new and exciting you make your building look great. You would boot out the old renter wouldn’t you.
Rule #2: You must be prepared to try everything on one last time. I wear shorts and a tank when I’m doing my closet ( leggings in the winter) because if it doesn’t fit it goes. If it’s too small or too big or makes you look too big, get rid of it. the only way to tell that is to try it on. The only thing I don’t try on is shoes and boots. Because I have worn the same size since my kids were born and I either want to keep them or not. But same rules as the clothes, if a pair of boots didn’t get worn last fall and winter they are gone. I like most women fluctuate in my weight and size. I don’t care, if you can’t do it up or if you do up a skirt and it falls to the floor, no tailor can help. Be honest with yourself, if it’s too tight it’s not flattering and you won’t want to wear it.
Rule # 3: You need to be kind of ruthless. This summer I am all about dresses. But the other side of my closet is pants. I have to admit that there are a few pair that I look at all the time and wonder why I don’t wear them. Fair enough right. Maybe they are not super comfortable or maybe they are a print that I thought I loved then I bought them. Regardless they have a date with the resale boutique. After the first half an hour of going though my clothes I can be very ruthless. but I have to say I have never been sorry when I bring home new things and there is lots of room for them to hang. I am due for a new pair of fall jeans and I already had two fall dresses arrive from Nordstrom’s anniversary sale. They need to get the real estate in my closet. I also have a new pair of boots and no room, so next week an old pair will definitely be leaving.
Rule # 4: Keep your vintage items. What I mean by this is not your old clothes and accessories but anything that you may have gotten from an estate sale, older aunt or your mom. Of course you keep all the jewellery that has been passed down. But there are other things. My mother worked in New York in her 20’s in the fashion business. She bought two fabulous small black purses that she carried and I still carry today. They are vintage and fabulous. I will keep them forever. There is also a sequin top my mother wore for New Year’s eve in 1961, with a long black skirt and long black gloves. Ask nicely and I will show you picture of my gorgeous mother dressed in her finest. I still have that top, tucked away and pull it out once every few year with a great pair of black pants or skirt for a dressy event. Those are three things that my mother loved and because I loved her I still wear them.
Ok so now that you know the rules you are ready to start. I start at one end of my closet and work my way around to the other. I lay everything I am getting rid of on my bed. Once it is all out. I gently fold it up and take it to the resale. It helps if you can coerce on of your kids into helping you take all the bags. For a big fall clean out I can have up to 10 huge shopping bags of clothes to sell. Whatever can’t be sold I call a local charity that picks up and arrange for a pick up. And usually by Aug 25 my closet is ready for a new season. The change from summer wardrobe to winter is usually done a bit later, depending on the weather. But by October 1 the summer clothes have moved to the back of the closet and the fall things are at the front for easy access.
Pay attention to trends before you edit too harshly. Here is what you can keep from last year:
- Fringe is still strong. So keep your fringe bags and jackets This tribal clutch from Loft has just the right amount of fringe to make a hit now and for fall.
- Lace is still really strong so keep any lace tops you have. This lace top from Loft is great for right now and later this fall layered under sweaters and jackets. Keep your lace.
- Jumpsuits are still huge for fall. I saw them in every boutique for fall in Toronto and they are on all my favorite sites. This pull on one from Madewell is a great seasonless piece. Also look for overalls this fall, but try them on, they are not for everyone.
- Print pants are still everywhere. Just make sure you still like the print. I love these Fluid Joggers from Loft. Soft enough to dress up and wear with heels and casual enough for the above look. This of how great these could look with higher heel booties and a black blazer come November.
- Totes and saddlebags are huge looks for fall in purses. If you own them keep them.This Tote by Madewell and this cross body saddle style of bag from Vince Camuto illustrate the new trends for fall. Hang on to styles like these if you already have them.
- Motorcycle style jacket. They have been big for a couple of years and are still going strong. I have a great one in Vegan leather that I wear and always get compliments on it. Here is one that Madewell is showing for fall. You can find them at every price and in quite a few fabrics other than leather. It is a great piece to have a don’t get rid of it.
- Skinny jeans. Yes you will see flared jeans for fall but they are not nearly as flattering as skinny on most women. J. Crew has 3 styles of skinny jeans and only one of flared. What does that tell you. If you have a pair or two that fit great and are in a darker denim hang on to them. Tell me that you wouldn’t wear a pair like these matchstick jeans from J. Crew all the time and I’ll tell you that you are lying. One word: FABULOUS. Keep them.
- Denim Jackets. Denim jackets pretty much never go out of style. Find one in a wash you like and a style that fits you. Here is a basic style from Madewell. Every label has them, just find one you like or better yet keep the one you love.
So now you are thinking what should I lose? Here is a quick list:
- Anything that doesn’t fit. This should be a no brainer. Get rid of it.
- Animal print pants. You can keep the skirts if you want, but get rid of the leopard pants you won’t be sorry.
- Anything you inherited from your daughter’s closet. Trust me it is not for you. Even if your daughter is Kylie Jenner.
- Anything you owned when you were pregnant. Chances are that is not happening again.
- Shoes or boots that you didn’t wear last fall not matter how much you paid for them. I finally took my dearest pair of Robert Clergie boots from Paris to the resale last year. After 7 years they were done. And now I’ll have to wait until I go to London or Paris in the winter to replace them.
I promise you a good edit of your closet will make you feel better. When you open the doors a know every thing fits and you like every piece there is a certain satisfaction to that. So in the next couple of weeks try to tackle your closet. Fall apparel and accessories are in all the stores and online by August 15. You want to have room for a few new things don’t you?
If you need help please see my contact info on the about page. I am happy to be hired to clean out your closet with you or to give a bit of advice. email@example.com