How to Simplify

Large wardrobes are full of clothes, shoes and accessories that are rarely worn. They can be overwhelming, especially when there’s a mish mash of confused style, things you don’t love, things that don’t fit or don’t suit you, and that pile of stuff that require alterations. They require more decision making, more trial and error, more maintenance and more organisation. All of these things make it difficult to quickly and consistently pull together effortlessly stylish outfits.

The good news is you can overcome the daily battle by simplifying and thoughtfully curating your wardrobe. You will have fewer choices, but all of the choices will work together with minimal effort a maximum style.

Despite the many benefits and the best of intentions, downsizing to a minimal, quality over quantity, thoughtfully curated, trend proof wardrobe is challenging. Here are some practical steps that worked for me!

1. Embrace you. Understand your body shape, maximise your assets, know the styles and cuts that suit, and embrace you for you. If in doubt, consider a personal stylist for some expert assistance.

2. Wardrobe edit, round one. Empty the contents of your wardrobe onto your bed and roughly separate them into two seasons, Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. For some quick wins, immediately discard any items that no longer fit, show signs of wear and tear, you don’t feel comfortable in, don’t sit right, don’t maximise your assets, or no longer suit your personal style.

3. Your loves. Identify any standout items that you absolutely love and would wear right now without hesitation. Return only those items to your wardrobe and keep them separated in two seasons, Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. If you didn’t already have a clear understanding of your personal style and preferred colour palette, you will learn a lot from admiring your most loved items.

4. Define your colour palette. Based on ‘your loves’ and colours that make you glow, identify no more than 3 neutral colours and no more than 3 accent colours for your Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter wardrobe. They can be the same, but I personally like to mix it up between the seasons.

5. Wardrobe edit, round two. Put to one side items that you haven’t worn in the last 90 days, and (keeping your colour palette in mind) any items that you can’t see yourself wearing in the next 90 days. These timeframes cover all the seasons. There’s a reason you haven’t worn or can’t see yourself wearing them!

6. Build the bones of your wardrobe (80%). Using the All Seasons 80/20 Wardrobe Checklist and the remaining items on your bed, identify the pieces that align with your colour palette/s, and return them to your wardrobe in separate Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter collections.

7. Make a wish list. Use the All Seasons Checklist to identify any gaps in your wardrobe essentials, make a wish list, keep it in line with your neutral colour palette, set a budget and fill the gaps in a thoughtful and considered way. It is all about buying quality and adopting the mantra of cost per wear, not cost per item. Remember this is for the best result in terms of being able to regularly rotate and repurpose your outfits!

8. Add some pizzazz (20%). Once you have accumulated your good quality, versatile basics, you may wish to prioritise a couple of new statement pieces to compliment your basics and add some additional fun, creativity and personal style to your wardrobe. To help you consume thoughtfully, there are helpful tips in the All Seasons 80/20 Wardrobe Checklist.

9. The things ‘put to one side’. If you can, be ruthless and get rid of everything that hasn’t been returned to your wardrobe. If the items are still in reasonable condition ensure you purge sustainably (give to family/friends, donate, sell, clothes swap party, upcycle). If there are some items that you just can’t part with yet, you can always store them away out of sight for the season and if you haven’t needed them or missed them, you will find it easier to part with them in future.

10. Off season storage. If you’re in the seasons of Spring/Summer, safely store your Autumn/Winter wardrobe (and vice versa) so the everyday space of your wardrobe is clutter free.

11. Other wardrobe items. You will have other pieces of clothing that don’t form part of your eighty twenty collection, such as pyjamas, house/lounge clothes, exercise gear, underwear and swimwear. Store these items separate to your eighty twenty collection so you can always easily identify the most important items in your everyday wardrobe.

12. The start of a new season. Repeat the process starting back at Step 2 by emptying the contents of your season ending eighty twenty collection onto one side of your bed. There will likely be a number of items that you carry across and continue to enjoy in the upcoming season. Then unpack the upcoming season items that have been stored away and lay them on the other side of the bed. Ensure you refer back to the All Seasons 80/20 Wardrobe Checklist to build the bones of your collection for the upcoming season and identify any gaps.

You may wish to freshen up your new season wardrobe with a few new pieces or a different accent colour, but remember to adopt the one item in, one item out rule…we don’t want our wardrobes to expand and become unmanageable…we want to hit a simple maintenance stage :-). Pack away remaining items that you continue to love from your season ending collection so you are ready to enjoy them again next year. For any items that don’t make the cut, remember to always purge sustainably.

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