For the past few years, I have intended to create a plan for tackling my wardrobe. It's not currently overflowing with garments as I tend to clean it out seasonally, removing items I no longer wear. And the pieces work well enough together, but I have felt for a long time that I am not utilizing my wardrobe to it's fullest potential.
I love all the pieces that I currently have. At least 98% of them are #MeMade (including my undergarments!), yet I find myself quite often in a slump of not knowing what to wear. The greatest issue that keeps coming up is that I simply don't have seasonally appropriate or task appropriate garments, or that I am missing a key item that would make an outfit more versatile for various seasons, tasks, or tie my wardrobe more closely together.
Another issue that keeps coming up is that... without having a plan in place, I find myself starting off the year with great intentions - I'm going to sew only items I need! I won't purchase any fabric that doesn't blend with my current wardrobe! I'm going to finally make that dress slip so I can wear my sheer dresses! - only to backslide by March or April. Then the end of the year rolls around and I haven't sewn anything that I need, and I have more fabric + clothing that are wonderful and inspiring, but don't flow together effortlessly.
So this year, I am making a plan and sticking to it!
With two of my favorite books in hand - The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth Cline and The Curated Closet by Anushka Rees - I am ready to tackle this project once and for all... or at least get myself set up for a lifetime of curating a conscious closet! 'Cuz, is the task ever really a one-and-done sort of thing?
THE CLEAN OUT
I am sure it is no shock that to start this whole process meant going through my current wardrobe and cleaning out the items that no longer suited me. These items include:
- Pieces that no longer fit
- Pieces that need repairing
- Pieces that no longer suit my lifestyle
- Pieces that I have not worn in 6+ months
There honestly wasn't much that I wound up "cleaning out" during this go-round, mainly because I am constantly evaluating and letting go of items I realize no longer suit my needs. But, with the few items I did clear out, I further separated them into the following categories:
- To Sell (either here on my website or through a company like ThreadUp)
- To Donate / Gift
- To Mend (and then put back into my closet rotation)
- To Recycle/ Use as stuffing
For selling things, I usually reserve only the most pristine items. One's that I spent a lot of time creating yet never really wore. I also give myself a time limit for selling things. If something hasn't sold in say... a month or two of me having it for sale, I will donate or gift it away!
My to mend pile is always in a constant rotation. I usually only find time to mend my items once I notice my wardrobe has gotten particularly small. Then I set aside an afternoon to whip through fixing hems, reattaching buttons, etc.
Everything that is too far gone to sell or donate, I either recycle (I am currently working on a blog post with a round up of places to recycle garments / fabric scraps) or put into a scrap bag I use for stuffing pillows, poufs, etc.
Next up, I took stock of what was left in my closet. My mind thinks in lists, so I wrote out a list of literally everything I had left, both hanging and in my dresser. I then wrote next to each item what tasks I saw myself wearing these items for such as gardening or photography day or special occasion.
Next, I wrote down any obvious pieces I felt were missing from my wardrobe. These ranged from the super practical (socks) to the types of pieces that I needed in order to make other pieces more cohesive or wearable (slip dress, basic tank top, jeans, more tops...). I also assigned each of these a "task," so that I would know which areas of my wardrobe I was filling a need for (potentially multiple!).
As you might have noticed, I am desperately lacking gardening clothes as well as tops. I have more than enough dresses to last me year round, and my Pinafore collection is a bit out of control, though I do find myself wearing them often!
I also thought it might be helpful to make note of which colors I noticed I had been gravitating towards and which ones were over / under represented in my closet. I figured this would help me whenever I found myself looking for specific fabrics to purchase. If I had a predetermined list of colors to chose from, there would be less chance of getting distracted by fabrics that are pretty but ultimately wouldn't make me feel amazing or fit with my current wardrobe.
THE GAME PLAN
With my closet cleaned out and stock having been taken, I was ready to map out a game plan for my wardrobe. The first thing I did was draw out a simple yearly calendar on a sheet of paper. Basically, that meant just dividing the paper into 12 rectangles of roughly equal size and labeling them at the top with a different month.
Under each month, I wrote in any task specific things I knew I would absolutely need. This is really helpful for me as I tend to not think about the coat I need for the cooler months until I am freezing my butt off or the shorts I need in the garden until I am sweating through the one pair of jeans I have.
With each month assigned a specific "task," I got to work filling in the items I had noted that I was missing that matched up with a specific task. These would be the first items I would tackle, hopefully before I actually needed to use them.
Next, I looked at which months I didn't have anything assigned to them (clothing or task wise) and filled them in with the remaining items I had on my list. Items that I thought I could get more use from the sooner I made them went into earlier months with those that I felt could wait sliding into the later months.
You will probably notice that I skipped January entirely. That is because I plan to work on the items I need for each specific month at least one month before I need them! So, everything listed for February I will actually try to tackle sewing this month and so on.
Now that my timeline has been roughly set (I kept things written in pencil for flexibility's sake!), I can move on to the task of picking out patterns, fabrics, and notions for the first of my projects. I can also go ahead and order anything that I won't be able to make. For this month that includes:
- Darning my 2 solid tights
- Ordering 1-2 more sets of tights (I work them hard this time of year)
- Jeans (To Repair, To Make: Gardening + Casual Wear)
- Socks (To knit [1 pair])
- Sweaters (To Cast On)
- Cool weather tops
For each of the pieces that I plan to create from scratch, I need to go into my sewing room and take stock of what I already have to complete the project. Let's look at my jeans for example. I have written down on my favorite Get to Work Book project pad (non-affiliate link) next to jeans all the items I need to complete them.
I then gathered all the items I already had available for my jeans from my sewing room and highlighted those items on my list. After I went through my sewing space, all the items that have not been crossed off need to be purchased before I can get to work on creating my jeans.
Before making any purchases for my jeans, though, I continued the above exercise with everything on my "To Make" list for the current month. Now I know which items I need in order to get to work. I will order those items (or search for them at my local thrift shop!). While I wait for the items I am missing to arrive, I can at least start prepping what I do have.
I am super excited about this process! I finally feel as if my brain has allowed me to organize the contents that have been swirling around for the past few years into a coherent plan. I hope to come back with an update next month for you all and share all the items that I was able to complete, and those that I was not (as I am sure it will happen!) and why I wasn't able to complete said items.
Do you have plans for this year as far as wardrobe building / curating goes? I would love to hear what you are most excited to make or any tips you have found super helpful for crafting the wardrobe of your dreams! Feel free to leave them in the comments below 🥰