I've just completed a massive wardrobe purge, and am thrilled with the results. I had a lot of items lurking in there that I hadn't worn in a year or more, but that I was hanging onto because I was sure they'd come in handy at some point. However, yesterday I realized that although many of the pieces may have been useful in some way, they all lacked that certain something that would make me want to wear them. After yesterday's exertions I can now peruse my closets and see nothing but interesting pieces that I'm excited to wear.
Now I know what you're probably thinking. If you took all the stuff I DO wear and laid it out end to end, that alone would probably already stretch from here to LA and back. And in fact, I've had a couple of comments to the effect of, 'how in the hell can you possibly store all that crap?!' Of course the commenters phrased their inquiries much more politely than that, but hey, if I didn't know my own closets I'd probably ask myself the very same thing. That's why this week I'm going to give you all a little tour of my wardrobe, whereby I hope to inspire you with some storage and organization strategies that work well for me.
I'll start today by describing my general philosophy of living with a large wardrobe in a small apartment.
I am not a hoarder. This may sound contradictory, but aside from clothing and shoes I don't keep large collections of anything. I don't buy things that I won't use regularly; for instance I have very few kitchen appliances and only the bare necessities of tools, cleaning supplies, and dishes. Almost my entire music collection is in electronic form only; I don't stock large supplies of consumable household items since I live right down the street from a market; when I travel the only 'souvenirs' I typically bring back are clothes. Sure, I occasionally get rid of things I later wish I'd held onto. But the upside is that a large proportion of my closet space is available for clothes, while the rest of my storage areas have small but efficient selections of everything else. You can search my apartment high and low, but you won't find an unused popcorn machine, a Halloween costume from 1997, or a collection of Dukes of Hazzard memorabilia anywhere.
I use every square inch of available space. I can't even count the number of hooks, racks, shelves, and stackable bins I've installed since I moved to my apartment. Every new incarnation of my closet space has been more efficient and organized than the last, and I've finally developed an arrangement that makes effective use of my high ceilings and long, narrow closets. Older apartments (mine is from 1934) can be tricky to fully utilize, but if you can get creative with new ways of tapping into the space, you can store far more in them than you might think. I'll show you some examples of this in the days to come.
I keep as much of my wardrobe visible as possible. Clothing folded up and crammed into drawers is a recipe for a wardrobe that isn't being fully utilized. Everything I own except for undies, layering tanks, hosiery and socks is in full view when I open my closets. You'd be amazed at how much bigger your wardrobe seems when you actually wear most of it. Amazingly, I fully expect that my wardrobe will seem to have increased following yesterday's purge, since now I can see what's left much more readily.
I don't buy things (anymore) that are similar to ones I already own. We've all done it. We find an item that works well, and we keep buying that same item again and again. How many pairs of black Mary Janes did I buy before I told myself no more? SEVEN. Who in the world needs SEVEN pairs of black Mary Janes? No one, that's who. My rule now is that if the item doesn't fill some unique niche in my wardrobe, then I have no place for it. It also helps that I have a few tricks up my sleeve for styling certain items in different ways. Why own both a fitted black sweater with a scoop neck and a fitted black sweater with a tie neck, when instead you can just own the scoop neck and a few interesting scarves? It's far better to own items that are distinctly different from one another than a bunch of variations on the same theme. I'm still far from perfect, by the way; in yesterday's purge I only got rid of *one* pair of black Mary Janes.
Tomorrow I'll begin the photographic tour through my 3 closets. My Three Closets -- wasn't that a tv show in the 60's?
Shirt: Banana Republic (unearthed during the purge!)
Skirt: Sunhee Moon
Shoes (black MJ's, natch!): John Fluevog