Doing some very quick math in this moment I’d say, on average, about once every couple of months I have a spark of enthusiasm that drives me to want to clear out my closet. It’s often triggered by a greedy thought– that I’d like to replace something in my closet with just a better version of it.
It sounds greedy I know, but I like the idea of having a wardrobe that consists of entirely quality items, including one of each of the essentials.
Unless you’re Chuck Bass and can afford to “refine” your closet in a single day, understand that this process takes time, is ongoing, but is definitely worth it. Below are 10 tips to help you on your way to an Iron Man-status closet.
Start by organizing the space and clothes you have. Fold what needs folding, and hang what needs hanging. How you organize is up to you. I’d suggest separating summer and winter into tops and bottoms, and then keeping basics together. An impeccably organised closet is difficult to create, let alone maintain. Starting this diet with a quick cleanse, so to speak, is essential.
2. Ditch it or alter it if it doesn’t fit properly.
There are always going to be trends in styles such as the fit and length of your denim. I’m relatively conservative with my style, but I definitely prefer the slimmer and just-long-enough look. Occasionally I’ll debate holding onto a pair of chinos even though I know they’re too long, am frustrated by that, and consequently don’t wear them.
When those times arise where you’re uncomfortable because you know something doesn’t fit right, weed those items out ASAP. You’ll likely never reach a point where you agree to the discomfort, so bite the bullet in that moment.
3. Throw away anything that’s damaged.
Stains, torn fabric, holes, loose threads, buttons missing…
These are all reasons to get rid of clothes you know you will never wear again, even if it was once your favourite thing. Denim is often excused.
4. When something doesn’t make you feel good – get rid of it.
If you know something isn’t really working for you, even though it seems to work for everyone else, just accept it. Also, that fluorescent jacket might have looked cool when you saw it in a post on Tumblr, but you’re not pulling it off now, and likely won’t tomorrow either.
I know I have owned a couple of button-down shirts that had flimsy collars that felt cheap, and I hated wearing them for that reason. If you have a similar issue with something just get rid of it.
6. Trust the classics. Be cautious of trends.
Classic wardrobe staples will rarely go out of style. For guys that means white button-down shirts, well fitting denim jeans, navy/grey/black suits, black or brown oxford shoes, and a simple watch. That’s not to say you shouldn’t move with trends and styles too — just be wary. A good example is the current Kanye-inspired long tee look that Justin Bieber is a big fan of. Sure, maybe your personal style fits in with the current urban, tailored sportswear trend, but will you look back on it in even just 2-3 years and think maybe that wasn’t such a great look?
7. Invest in items themselves, and in the upkeep of those items.
This is probably the most difficult part for me, and it is twofold.
Firstly, to the best of your ability, try to purchase the best quality of item you can afford. Secondly, you should put time and effort into looking after those quality items.
Shoes make for a great example of how this plays out. A pair of synthetic leather boots from a disposable fashion house like H&M or Zara will never last long. Nor will they be waterproof, or keep you upright when navigating an icy sidewalk. A pair of genuine leather, hand-constructed boots from a century old bootmaker like Red Wing, however, will keep you on your feet for many seasons. A tagline like “For over 100 years.” often counts for something! It’ll be worth the 400% price difference.
When you’ve made the financial investment in a nice pair of oxfords, store them with cedar shoe trees and have them polished occasionally to keep the leather healthy, and looking as good as possible.
8. Be more patient and less impulsive.
Another difficult and twofold step for maintaining your ideal closet. The first part is to stick to what you know you like. If you find a brand that makes the perfect fitting collared shirt, continue to buy your shirts from them. Experimenting with new brands and fits is important to begin with, but after some A/B testing you should refine your closet down to just the brands and fits that you know are perfect.
The second part of this step is to be patient with finding those items. If there’s a particular item of clothing you are in the market for, don’t impulsively buy something if it’s not 100% what you were looking for.
Number 7 on this list applies here — be patient in searching for, or even saving for, the perfect quality garment. You’ll feel better about your purchase in the long run and you’ll appreciate wearing it more.
9. Pay closer attention to feedback.
If you’re so lucky to have a loved one or close friend who will kindly tell you “yes” when you ask “does this look stupid?”, take that advice and let it guide your choices. If you wear something and many people comment on it in a positive way– buy more things like it, or in that direction. It can be difficult to look in the mirror and make a clear judgement of whether something does are doesn’t look good.
10. Always donate the clothes you don’t want to charity.
If you are privileged enough to be able to shape and curate your ideal closet, be gracious and donate your unwanted clothes to charity.