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Sunday, April 26, 2009

How To...Revamp Your Wardrobe & Shop Smart

I've recently been really stressed out with my closet. It's stuffed. There aren't any free hangers. I have to push through hangers like I'm Moses parting the Red Sea just to see what I own. Then, I started thinking
I should do some spring cleaning. I want to take all the items I don't wear to Buffalo Exchange and start over with my wardrobe. I start to look at each item and about 1/3 way through one rack of tops I realize I haven't picked a single thing out to get rid of! I've made rationales for keeping each item. Then, I leave my closet, frustrated, and come and sit down at my computer. I start fantasizing about all the new things I could by for my great, fresh, new wardrobe. I can't decide if I want something really expensive or a bunch of less expensive things. I start considering brands that I like, or am familiar with, and the whole process leaves me with a wish list of about a dozen clothing items, a crammed closet, and no plan.

After doing some research, I've come up with a list of steps for refreshing your wardrobe =) I am executing this process myself with confidence I will be successful! I'll keep you guys posted on how it goes and if I find any more tips along the way.

How To Revamp Your Wardrobe

Step 1: Purge Your Closet...With Patience
Okay, the first thing to do is to realize that this is not a Saturday morning project. In order to correctly analyze what clothes  you actually don't wear, you need to test yourself. Here is what I think is the best way to access this...
A. Turn all of your hangers so that the rounded hook is facing you, like so: 
A. (cont) Log the start date when this is system is implimented. One website suggested a minimum of one month is needed to access your clothing usage, but I will explain more about this in a minute! 
B. Whenever you wear an item, and you go to rehang it, face the hanger in the opposite direction. 
C. After a month, or whatever time period you choose, go to your closet! Anything that hasn't been turned around should go to the "give away" pile. The only flaw I see in this is seasonal change. If you do this during, for example, July where the climate is consistently hot where you live, you might be bias towards lighter, more summer-based clothing. In this case, I would not apply the system to heavier, more winter-based clothing. I would repeat the process when the weather changes and only get rid of the unworn summer clothes. 

Step 2: Give A Little, Maybe Get A Little, Too!
Take all of your unwanted clothes to a place like Buffalo Exchange or Plato's Closet. If you aren't familiar with how these kinds of stores work, I'll give you a brief summary. These are businesses that buy and sell recycled clothing. This means, you take all of your unwanted items to a store location and an employee will look at all of your items and evaluate if the store has a need/desire for any of your items to resell. In exchange for your clothing, you can usually either accept a certain percentage in store credit, or a smaller percentage in cash. For example, let's say at Buffalo Exchange they are offering 40% in store credit, or 25% in cash. They would like to resell one of your sweaters at $30. You can either choose $12 in store credit, or $7.50 in cash. 

Going to these stores is really a luck of the draw in my opinion. I've gone into Buffalo Exchange with only two bags and almost all of my items have been taken. However, I've also gone in with tons of stuff and hardly anything has been taken. The only tip I have regarding this is realizing that these stores are looking for items that other people will want to buy, so past trends or damaged clothing probably won't be taken.

There is another positive aspect to this step. Most of these stores will donate the items that they aren't going to take for you. That way, you only have one stop for hauling your old clothes around! Plus, you're doing a good deed, as the clothing goes to places like Good Will or local churches. 

Step 3: Rebuilding Your Wardrobe
For me this is by far the hardest step to master. The fact is that you will always need to purge your closet regularly; however, there are guidelines to this process. For one, it is ideal to only need to get rid of clothes because they are damaged and/or no longer fit. I always find myself getting rid of pieces that I only wore a few times, and then I find them detestful. To prevent this from happening, it is necessary to investigate what went wrong in the first place, and correct the mistake before any further purchasing. This leads us to part two of our segment on how to shop smart...

How To Shop Smart!

Step 1: Evaluate Quality vs. Quantity vs. Labels regards to quality, quantity, and labels I really don't think there is one set law that will generalize when it is good/bad to buy designer clothing at higher prices (and arguably at higher quality). It really depends on personal preference. I will share what I believe is appropriate in regards to this matter. 

A. Identify your core clothing. 

Core Clothing. core cloth⋅ing. [kawr, kohr kloh-thing] noun. 1) The most essential items in your wardrobe that you need/use on a regular basis and could survive on these items alone if necessary. 2) if you were stuck on an island for the rest of your life with one suitcase of clothing to bring, these are the items you would have.

This can vary depending on where you live as far as climate, and your core clothing is dependent on your lifestyle. I personally live in a warmer climate and am a college student with a part-time job. Here is my list...

3-4 pairs of jeans
1 pair of black slacks
1 nice dress shirt
1 pencil skirt
2-3 solid t-shirts (crew or v-neck)
1 light jacket/hoodie
1 solid cardigan
1 pair of yoga pants
1 pair of sneakers
1 pair of good sandals
1 pair of flats or closed toe pumps
1 pair of flat boots

B. The question of labels
Okay, in regards to brand names I really only have one rule: don't ever get label hungry. 

Label Hungry. la⋅bel hun⋅gry [ley-buhl huhng-gree] adjective. buying only for show of the label to please others or gain a sense of self esteem based on a brand name.

Here is an article that talks about why people get so label hungry. I think that if you have designers or brands that you like because of your experiences with that company, or you identify with the designer's mission or style, there is no problem with sticking with those companies. However, I would urge you to go outside the box on occasion and explore new  stores or brands on a regular basis. Myself personally, I like Joe's Jeans and True Religion the best, but all of my solid t-shirts come from Forever 21. However, I do have a solid t-shirt or two from Target, a pair of 7 for all mankind jeans, and a pair of jeans from American Eagle . I love all of them equally =) haha. 

Anyways, the point is don't buy something just because of the label. Buy something because you really like it and you feel the quality is supreme. Quantity, in my opinion, is never a good factor. Less is totally, 100%, without a doubt, more.

Step 2: Plan and Avoid Irrational Buys
The internet is your best friend when it comes to shopping, even if you prefer to do your shopping in the actual store, as opposed to online. I personally have a folder under my bookmarks labeled "Wants," and as I browse websites I often bookmark items I like under that folder. I go through all the sites after a week or so, and any that I no longer like or find inappropriate (for the season, price, etc.) I remove. This way, you avoid the evil "irrational buy."

Irrational Buy. ir⋅ra⋅tion⋅al buy. [i-rash-uh-nl bahy] noun. 1) a purchase made on a whim that later has consequences such as regret or guilt 2) a purchased item that is only worn once or a few times, and is then no longer desired by the person whom it belongs to 3) a waste of money 4) a bad investment

Now, once you have a group of core items in your "Wants" folder you have to consider two things before you make a purchase [1] what you need in your wardrobe [2] your budget. 

[1] For example, if you really feel like you need a black cardigan, that item should be a priority to buy. You can always manipulate your "Wants" folder to rank the links by which ones you feel you need or want most. To do this on most internet browsers such as Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer, just move your curser over the link in the folder, click and hold while you drag your curser up or down (depending on where you want it to go ranking wise) and release the click when it is in its desired position. 

[2] Okay so budgeting is different for every person, but the basic guidelines are to not exceed what you feel you can afford on clothes every month. Some people even make seasonal budgets. For example, let's say I have allowed myself $300 for winter clothes... I will buy a jacket, sweaters, and whatever else I feel I need for winter, and then I won't make any more purchases until Spring. I personally prefer shopping regularly, throughout the month, under a certain budget. Anyways, the bottom line is if you only have $50 left for your budget for the month/season/whatever and you want a cardigan, use the internet to find coupon codes and explore different websites until you find one that you like AND fits your budget. 

Whew! All that planning can be tiresome! I know it seems like a lot of work, but in the long run internet browsing can be fun and WILL help you avoid irrational buys. Now, if you prefer to shop in the actual store, you can use the store locator tool that every clothing website has, and find a telephone number for the store nearest you! Then, give them a call with information handy on the item you want, and most places will be more than happy to hold the item in your size until you can come into the store yourself. 

Step 3: Save Some Money!
Everyone loves a good deal- its part of being a consumer! The best way to find out about promotions or sales, both online and in the store, is via e-mail list. Subscribe to e-mails from your favorite stores, and they will send your regular information on coupon codes, upcoming sales, promotions/giveaways, and more! Some people prefer to have a separate e-mail account for these types of e-mails.

Another good way to save money is to be an outlet shopper. An outlet store is a store where the company sells their clothing direct to its consumer at a discounted price. How do they do this you ask? They cut out the middle man and sell direct to the consumer, or the items may have very minor damage. When shopping at outlets be aware of two things [1] getting money crazy with all the good deals. Stick to your plan! Avoid the irrational buy! [2] inspect all clothing like crazy for damage before you buy.

Some of my favorites are Off 5th (Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet), Nordstom Rack (Nordstom), and Nike Factory Store (Nike). You can find outlet stores, and even whole outlet malls, near you over the internet! 

Step 4: Graduation
Now that you have completed all of the above, you know how to revamp your wardrobe and recreate an amazing, quality wardrobe. Here are some other items I would think about buying to compliment your core clothing

1-3 scarves
1 waist belt
1 hip belt
1 pair of black casual jeans (I prefer skinny, but whatever cut you like is fine)
1 pair of earrings
1 neutral colored clutch
1 larger tote or hand bag (for everyday use)
high quality, comfortable bras and underwear



Anonymous said...

Brilliant article! Thanks for the advice. My spring wardrobe revamp starts right now.

bubblegum0m said...

Hey RemChic!I've been desperate to find a good strategy to start fresh with my wardrobe. Thanks to your tips I think it will be alot easier then I thought it would.Thanks again!

Kristina said...

Anonymous: Sorry it's taken me so long to write you, but I really hope this post helped you!

bubblegummom: I'm really glad to hear that! E-mail me at any time if you have any questions info at remchic dot com

Swati said...

I was looking for a revamp of my style and wardrobe, but on a tight budget, but i was so not able to do that coz im such an impulsive buyer. but your article is a life savour. I picked some really wonderful tips, specially making the want list. I too tend to pick things up when they look good at the moment, and then wonder what was i thinking. I would totally go for want folder tip.

Thank you so much for writting this up.

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