Wardrobe Makeover

#8/11 in my "Joy of Less" experience

Could my wardrobe really be as simple as a paper dolls? Just a few sets of perfectly coordinated outfits?

In this post I attempt to answer this question with a description of how I’m embracing Francine Jay’s, “Joy of Less” STREAMLINE concept If one comes in, one MUST come out.   Note that I say embracing not embraced! Like most gals this is a tough area for me, especially when it comes to purses and shoes.

Philosophical Concept:Detach from your stuff (Ch. 5). 

In the grand scheme of things, our stuff isn’t that important (p.37)

Zen Buddhism teaches that in order to be happy we must let go of our worldly attachments. Think back to the last time you went hiking or were under the stars: you were probably only carrying a backpack of stuff, but that’s all you needed to really enjoy that experience of life.  Now ponder if you had to move oversees permanently and could bring only a trunk of personal stuff. What would be in your trunk? You’d have to pare down to what you can’t live without and trust that you will be able to acquire what you need, when and if you need it. With less stuff you’d be free to move faster, to explore: life could be an adventure, like when we were young and carefree.

STREAMLINE: Tip to self #8. If one comes in, one MUST come out (Chapter 12)

Does your closet never seem big enough? Are your drawers over stuffed, hanging clothes so crowded you frequently can’t find what you want? That was me! Some of it was due to excessive gift giving, but for most of us ladies overcrowded wardrobes are mostly due to marketing pressures that makes us think we must keep up with the elusive Jones’ or the pressure of being labeled a bad shopper if you pass up a good deal.

Whether by feel or by number, set a limit and pare it down.  Start by taking everything out – I mean all of it. Put on some music, have a beer or glass of wine, invite a friend or two. Systematically toss what no longer fits, flatters or feels good on you. Discard everything you haven’t worn in the last year. If it’s really valuable like ski equipment, still fits, and you have room store your bests with labels so you can find them.

Next build your minimalist wardrobe. Ponder your personal style, what you really need over the course of a week, a season, or a year. What clothes do you wear 80% of the time?  Start with what you need over the next week. Include jackets, socks and shoes. Try everything on. It really has to look and make you feel confident to keep.  If you need something to complete a key outfit add it to your short list of what to look for.  Also, consider attire for leisure, fitness, sleep and a few seasonal pieces.

Your key pieces should be able to mix and match, dress up and down, in summer or in snow. Consider how to personalize with a unique scarf or other key accessory.  Cull the cream of the crop, and share the rest. Just like everything else, organize so it’s easy to access your everyday clothes.

Maintaining is key!

Daily tidy: Every day and every week. I’m a big believer in “no clothes on the floor!” rule and am learning how much easier it makes it to make “automatically” putting clothes away at every clothes transition.

Preventive maintenance:  Spot treatments, weekly washing, quick mending and, if needed, a periodic dry clean goes a long way to keep your clothes looking good.

Stay out of the stores: Outlaw online clothes shopping except for replacement needs. When you do shop, keep repeating as a mantra to yourself, “Do I really need this?”  Force yourself to try it on: Get a second opinion. Debate it. Put it on hold and make yourself wait an hour.  If you do buy it and find out it doesn’t deserve a place in your permanent collection, take it back, sell it or pass it on. Don’t keep what you don’t really want.


  • Confession. I have an innate need for variety, so I cheat a bit by storing my fall, christmas, winter, and painting clothes separately in our garage.
  • Color matching worked for me. I started with  black and white essentials (shirts, skirts, two pants and two black dresses), basic browns, professional bright blues and of course, one pink suit, one lavender spring outfit and a few pieces of Aloha attire including my grandma’s vintage muumuu.  I actually put on all the outfits to make sure all components fit and matched, and created a few new combinations in the process.
  • The most time-consuming process was gleaning all the unmatched socks, saggy undies, tye dyed, puka (holes) or stained sorts of everything I previously owned.  The vast majority of discards went to our local Salvation Army (Armani).

So, I didn’t make only one sheet of clothes like in the paper-doll picture, but including all the clothes I had previously pared in the garage at Christmas – most of which I had forgotten about –  I did pare down from 20 to 4 sheets. Now, I can actually find what i need. I am no longer buying to replace what I already have and just can’t find.

“The Joy of Less” series is a key component of my personal quest for simplification and my annual New Year’s Resolution Plan for 2017.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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