Cultivating a Closet: Tips for This Fall

Modern Retail

Posted on December 24 2016

It happens every year. At the peak of August’s warmth, when everything seems most bright and bronzed, I pass a store and suddenly, without any warning or apology, sweaters have appeared. Soon enough, as much as I try to ignore them, coats ALSO appear. Pools close. The grocery store starts selling cider and gourds. And, I know it’s time to actually start thinking about fall. Darn. Time for the annual closet assessment and purge. Time for some sartorial honesty: what actually fits, will be worn, loved? What new things do I need?
I’ll let you in on a secret: I have major wanderlust. In the past decade, I’ve had 9 homes. I’ve learned to stare down the thickest of closets with an editing eye and really get to the heart of things. Returning from Los Angeles to Providence in 2009, my U Haul truck was half the size of its westbound counterpart. Expert downsizer? Maybe.


As you might imagine, working at Clad in presents me with fantastic temptation and, oh, just about a thousand gorgeous reasons to stray from my sharp editing guidelines. So, in the face of (heavenly) cashmere, new (buttery, hand-burnished) leather boots and (swoon-worthy) jackets, how does one make sense of their fall wardrobe?
Here are my favorite tips that I use on my own closet. Feel free to adopt and share!

Keep Vs. Toss?

When I look at my existing wardrobe, I greet each garment with two cardinal questions: 1) “Do I love you?” and 2) “Do I actually wear you?” I try to remember that I’m asking specifically “Do I wear?”, not “Will I wear again?” There’s no sense having a bunch of clothes that I wore every day 5-10 years ago.

At first, this process is painful. It can feel as if you’re interviewing old friends, each of whom you have a special relationship with. Every garment is a story. But, what’s the point of having a closet bursting with old clothes and stories when you still feel that you have nothing to wear? My advice: stay resolved. Cutthroat even. If you haven’t worn something in a year, send it on its merry way. Or, put in in a garment bag and store it in the basement or somewhere out of sight. If, over the course of the next year, you think “hey, where is that _____?”, then save it from the donation pile. Otherwise, out it goes!

I’d Love it If…

There are garments we make excuses for season after season. I’d wear it more if it were _____ [a different color, hemmed, didn’t have shoulder pads, etc.] We like parts of a garment, but are shy of loving it fully. My advice: gather up all of these pieces, set a deadline and make a to-do list. You’d be surprised by how much you can do in one weekend, and how much better you’ll feel. Go to the tailor and be specific about any alterations necessary for you to be in love again. Invite a friend over for a dying project. $12 in materials from the local craft store is a small price to pay to reinvent that odd, chartreuse skirt you own (and have it stop haunting your closet).

Identify Your Staples

Think about the last week or month of your life. Which pieces have you reached for again and again? Mark these as favorites, or staples. These are the pieces it’s basically impossible to have enough of. For me, it’s well-tailored skinny pants, tanks in sleek fabrics and edgy layering tunics. Basically, if I see these pieces at a store, and they’re well made and in my size, I buy them. No questions asked. I know that I’ll wear them. A friend of mine has over a dozen sweaters that she describes as “throw on and go” pieces. She could have 100 and love each equally. There’s absolutely no shame in knowing what works for you and stocking up on it. Extra points if it’s on sale!

Good Things Come in Small Drawer Spaces

Accessories have the double advantage of taking up almost no room in one’s closet, and being able to completely refresh (even transform) an outfit. One $500 necklace + one $100 dress = a $1,000,000 outfit. If I see a memorable scarf, hat, belt or pair of stockings, I pretty much know it’s coming home with me.

Know Who You Are & How You Want to Feel

Sometimes I try something on in a store and think “this just isn’t me.” In saying this, I’m measuring the difference between how I feel at that moment in the dressing room and how I want to feel. I have friends that wear stiletto heels all day long and this makes them feel wonderful. That’s not me at all. I have to feel super comfortable. I also have to feel beautiful, inspired, strong, noticed. If I put something on and it really inspires me (ie: I want to go home and write, paint, take photos, dance), I buy it. Because I know how I’ll feel every time I put it on.

When the Crystal Ball Says “Yes”

Two years ago, I found the dreamiest cocktail dress I’d ever laid eyes on. It fit perfectly and I looked amazing in it. The stars were aligned. Did I have a foreseeable occasion to wear it? Absolutely not. Did I believe that at some point in the future, I’d have occasion to wear it? Yes. Last month, I was invited to a wedding and while all of my friends stressed out about finding a dress, I knew exactly what to wear. I looked and felt fabulous while hardly lifting a finger.

Fashion Schmashion

Above all of the other tips and rules, remember that fashion isn’t meant to be too serious, so approach it with a sense of humor, wonder and bravery. Find your own style and don’t apologize for it. If something makes you smile, buy 10 of them.

Happy hunting (in your own closet and in ours)!

-Bre Goldsmith, Individual Style Consultant, Clad in Providence