I met Jada over twenty years ago when we were both students at Tennessee State University but I’ve just really gotten to know her over the past few years and found out that we are more alike than different. Jada really is the epitome of “I’ve Every Woman.” (Read the blog I’ve previously written about her here.) What she has to share is important….and something I need to do this weekend. What about you? Read on.
For most of my adult life, I was essentially the same (petite) size. There were a few fluctuations, but nothing that created the need for a complete closet overhaul, ever, in nearly 20 years. Until I as about 28 weeks pregnant, I could walk into any store and eyeball what size pants, top, or dress to wear. No problem. It was at that time that I first began to detox my closet. Not only were my hips and breasts shifting, but so were my priorities. I was preparing to move three states away, focusing entirely on my child, and helping to send my 18 year old niece off to college.
This closet detox was easy. I was in my mid-30s and had quality shoes and threads from as far back as college; timeless and well-maintained pieces. I also had super fun “club clothes” and stilettos that I knew I probably wouldn’t wear anymore. I gave them to my niece. At one point, I had a serious denim fetish, easily dropping $180- $250 for a pair of designer jeans. It was bad. I do not recommend. They had various finishes, washes, sheens, threading, and embellishment on them, but the one thing that these 20+ pair of jeans had in common was that they each made my bottom and legs look amazing. It’s true! I’m just sayin’… My niece was a little too thick for these gems and I had outgrown them emotionally, so I donated them to a charity for displaced teen girls, through my sorority. I held back a few favorites, but was looking forward to paring down my wardrobe and transitioning my style to that of a cool, fit, and sassy new mom, rather than a trendy college student. This was easy. I was ready.
With more space in my closet, I could literally breathe better. I could see more clearly, and I could make decisions faster, not just those concerning my wardrobe, but in all aspects of life. I was lite and free. Over the next few weeks, I bought 2 cute pair of maternity jeans, a few more pair of leggings than I already had, 3 pair of yoga pants, and about 6 ruched maternity/ nursing tops. This investment was less than $200, easily. I sprinkled these staples in with any sun or baby doll dresses that would dare fit over my boobs. For the winter and fall, I bought a pair of calf-height flat boots and haute pair of knee-high-heeled boots, in this crazy new shoe size, of course. I was set. These cute and comfortable clothes could be mixed, matched, and laundered with ease. For the remainder of my pregnancy, during my fourth trimester, even during my first year of breastfeeding, these clothes were a godsend. I was an adorable new mom and yoga instructor.
However, *ahem* after that, they became a crutch. They were the reason that I didn’t notice gaining 20 pounds in a year, after having returned to my pre-pregnancy weight at 10 weeks postpartum, the year before. They were the reason that I did not socialize when I had forgotten how to mingle and converse without a baby. They were the reason that we passed on invitations to black tie affairs. They were the reason that I chose the nuggets and sweet tea in the Chick-fil-A drive over walking inside for a chicken salad and Perrier at Houston’s. These same old clothes had become dingy, worn, spit upon, torn, marked, stretched, boring, and terribly unflattering.
There was a sizable hole in the back of my favorite nursing top, that I never remembered was there until I’d put it on, left the house, and my daughter started playing with it when I picked her up from school. Did I mention that we stopped nursing when my daughter was 3, but that I still only wore those same ruched nursing tops that I bought while pregnant? I had repaired the seam in my “dressy” palazzo pants about 3 times; one time, with a completely different colored thread. How desperate and delusional was I? My primarily gray and black wardrobe included about 4 different shades of black. Not a good look. Not a good feel.
Four years ago, I had pretty hard and fast rules about organizing and decluttering my closet. The tops are in one section, pants in another, jeans in another, and workout clothes in another- yes, I have a sweat gear section. Within each section, the clothing are arranged by color (darkest to lightest), then by weight. Every item is on the same kind of hanger, and of course, every hung garment faces the same way. Every spring and fall, I’d take inventory of the seasonally appropriate clothing and assess whether or not I had worn it in the two previous years. If the answer was “no”, it had to go. I always sent them to good homes, and never had any regrets, even if the clothes had tags on them.
One day last month, I noticed that my closet was a hodgepodge of pre-pregnancy favorites and pregnancy/ nursing/ tot mom frump that should never be worn by anyone ever again. I had gotten to the point where- for real this time- I had nothing to wear. Nothing was appropriate, nothing was special, nothing was cute, new, or kind. I was holding on to clothing that represented a body I’d never have again or one that I did not want anymore. It was quite the conundrum. I knew that it was time for a closet cleanse. I usually follow a basic Clean – Declutter – Sort – Replenish routine. This detox required a bit more intention and accountability. These steps worked for me. Hopefully, they will work for you as well.
Imagine Your Style
Coming from single and childless in tank tops and tight jeans to married mom with wider hips and a deeper cleavage, I seriously did not even know where to begin to dressing this new body and mind. Before I removed a single item from my closet, I watched style shows, perused magazines, and stalked my diva friends on social media. I envisioned a style for myself that was comfortable, versatile, mature, layered, and machine washable- with the occasional bling. These qualities are important to me as a mother, entrepreneur, and sweat junkie. Find the personal style that works best for you. If you could design your uniform for life, what would it look like? That’s your personal style.
Make The Time
This task is time consuming. Plan ahead. I would suggest allocating a full day, or maybe even a weekend to complete the detox. Anything that you can do to keep distractions- including and especially your kiddos- at bay will be helpful. If you begin, then have to stop the ordeal, you may never get finished, and run the risk of stewing in a toxic, disorganized mess.
Sort Your Items
If your closet is not already sorted into like items, do this now. Separate by type of garment, then color. From there, you can determine how retentive you will be with the additional details like season, weight, length, and material.
Empty The Vessel
This cleansing process is essential to the detox. Completely remove all of your items from the closet, in order to clean and gently disinfect the space. Be sure to avoid chemical cleansers that can damage the air or your clothing. Opt for a natural, maybe even homemade disinfectant. Depending on the space of your closet, you may need to do this in sections.
Purge and Prioritize
As you remove items from your closet, be prepared to place them into one of three piles:
A) Give Away clothes that you have not worn in two years, are outdated, are redundant, are in need of repair, are complicated to wear, do not fit your current body, do not coincide with your current lifestyle. You may need to phone a friend for this one, as brutal honesty is required. If you are in the active process of losing weight, keep one item from every section as a goal piece- THAT dress, THOSE jeans- other than that, reward yourself with a few new items once you reach your goal. Remember that items in this category may be consigned, given to friends, family members, Dress For Success programs, and shelters. Share your well loved items with someone who will appreciate them NOW. If you’re in a sentimental mood, place them neatly on the floor and take a picture of them. This helps when purging you daughter’s clothes and toys.
B) Absolutely Keep items that you wear regularly and with confidence, are in good condition, are versatile, and suite your current or imagined style. You do not have to tolerate any clothes that make you feel crappy!
C) Consider More Carefully items that do not fit easily into either category. Be careful, as you will have to revisit this pile before replenishing your closet. This should not be your largest pile.
Anything that I wore while pregnant or breastfeeding had to go! We’re moving on!
Remove Category A items from your workspace.
Take a look (and a whiff) of the blank canvas that is your refreshed closet. Imagine where your items should go for maximum efficiency. Perhaps you’ll maintain your previous layout because it made the most sense, or maybe you will find a more user-friendly, time-saving, or ergonomic option. You may want to keep your favorite items at arm’s reach and eye level, or you many want to make that go-to black dress more challenging to grab, so that you can mix up and maximize your look.
Find space, hooks, boxes, containers, and dividers for accessories. Get creative!
Identify your hanger style and make it uniform. Even if you utilize specific hangers for blouses vs slacks, they should complement each other, creating uniformity rather than distraction. Tops and dresses should all be facing the same way, slacks should be folded or clipped in the same way, and all hangers should go onto the rod in the same way. Neutral colors will always be available. Wooden hangers work well. Slim, felt hangers allow for more space. Plastic hangers are affordable. Wire hangers are never acceptable. NEVER! Joan Crawford taught me that.
Return your in-season Category B items to their assigned space by color, then by any other attribute that turns you on. Hang up as much as you can, as you are much more likely to grab an item off of a hanger, than one in a drawer. Store your out of season Category B items in garment safe bags, boxes, containers, and spaces, to minimize daily distractions. The seasonal divide may not be necessary or efficient if your seasons are not extreme. That said, I keep all outer wear in a separate space, all year long.
Divide your Category C items into the same three categories. Remove the Give Away clothes. Hang up the Absolutely Keep clothes and store the Consider More Carefully… Until your next closet detox.
Repeat Steps 4-7 with each section, including shoes and accessories.
This has been my favorite part! You should now have both the space and the need to add a few essential and signature pieces to your closet. I reviewed my imagined style, created a budget, shopped deals, and purchased items that fit my current body and style, but are versatile enough to stay with me as I continue to transform. I considered how I could wear these new pieces in a few ways, and I made a date with each item over the next two weeks to really begins to integrate it into my wardrobe.
Enjoy your refreshing closet! Be more productive! Go somewhere amazing! Feel confident! Know that you are beautiful! The
You can find Jada at www.blossomom.com and on Instagram and Twitter at @myblossomom.