“But what will I wear?” According to the writer Caitlin Moran, this is every woman’s first thought for nearly every event in her life, whether that’s work, snow or even birth. And she’s probably right. The fact that what we wear has such an impact on how we feel, which can then influence our entire day, means our choice of clothes whatever the occasion can be crucial. But given that most of us have a wardrobe full of clothes, why is it that we still find getting dressed so difficult?
Simply put, a bulging wardrobe doesn’t necessarily mean armfuls of wearable clothes. And the fact that the space is full is not only deceiving, but perhaps more importantly holds us back from resolving the problem. We question the need to buy more clothes, and feel guilty by the thought of spending even more money.
Having spent over ten years helping clients manage their wardrobes, I’ve come across the same reasons women struggle again and again. If you regularly find yourself facing the nothing-to-wear dilemma, there’s usually a root cause behind the problem, so I’ve put together a list of my top ten, and what steps you can take to help fix them…
1. Holding on to clothes that are no longer fit for purpose.
Opening your wardrobe doors should be a pleasure rather than fill you with disappointment and dread. Clothes that don’t fit, are no longer flattering, are falling apart or have fallen out of fashion simply play to these feelings, as well as take up valuable closet space. But if they don’t work for you, they may be perfect for someone else, so if they’re in good condition then why not consign these clothes to charity, gift them to friends or resell them?
2. Buying clothes for the person you’d like to be or the lifestyle you aspire to lead.
Accepting who you are and dressing for your life as it is now will ensure your clothes are worn rather than simply gazed at wistfully. If you’ve essentially been shopping for someone else, ask yourself ‘Is this really me?’ and ‘When exactly am I going to wear it?’ next time you find yourself at the cash desk or poised to click to buy another questionable item.
3. Refusing to acknowledge unwise purchases.
If you’re hanging on to certain items simply because they’ve cost you a small fortune, then don’t. If you haven’t worn them or they’ve rarely been out of your closet how likely is it that this will change? Putting it bluntly, the money has already been spent, and the items will now simply be costing you peace of mind every time you set eyes on them. Selling them on will help you recoup some of the money, and you can then put this towards something that will work hard for your money.
4. Forgetting the basics.
Shopping for Insta-worthy items is far more fun than trying to track down trusty basics such as jeans and t-shirts, but the root cause of a nothing-to-wear wardrobe is often a lack of good quality essentials. If you think you’re guilty as charged, investing in some great staples to style with your statement pieces can help bring a seemingly unworkable wardrobe back to life.
5. Repeat buying.
For some women, a wardrobe full of serial purchases is far from a cause for concern, and the multiple versions of the same item that they own simply reflects their personal style. But for others, it can suggest quite the opposite. Buying the same items over and over again can be a sign of being stuck in a style rut, which gives you very little choice over what to wear. If this sounds familiar, go through your wardrobe with a firm hand and remove as many of the offending items as you can. This should then help reveal what you really need.
6. Shopping by item rather than by outfit.
There are times when a certain piece stops you in your tracks. You might have had no intention of buying anything of the sort, but despite it being an impulse buy, it ticks all the right boxes. Except for one that is – you’ve nothing to wear it with. If you can count on one hand the times this has happened then there’s no need to feel guilty. After all, fashion should be fun, and those items obviously ‘sparked joy’. However, if you regularly shop by item without questioning what you will wear it with, you’re destined to be forever playing catch up, spending time and more money trying to create outfits and in the meantime still having nothing to wear.
7. Playing it safe.
While a certain amount of staples are essential, a closet full of safe pieces can be very constricting. Without anything to add the wow factor to an outfit, however subtle that may be, it won’t take long before wearing the same look will start to feel, well, samey. A few well-chosen clothes that make a style statement will help break the monotony and also mean you get much more out of your wardrobe.
8. Making do.
Building a want-to-wear wardrobe is a marathon not a sprint. While you may know exactly what you need to pull everything together, finding it is often not that simple, but you really do need to play the long game and try and hold out for the right piece. While this is not always possible, or practical, making do with the nearly good enough is not an ideal option either. Not only will you find it hard to feel your best, but you’re also highly likely to keep up the search which will then simply keep adding to the cost.
9. Filling your wardrobe with keepsakes and occasion clothing.
Many of us hold on to certain items for sentimental reasons, clothes that we know we won’t be wearing again but that remind us of a special event or were bought for us by a special person. Or we have items that we only wear for certain occasions, such as hobbies or for special events. Hanging these items in your wardrobe will give you the impression that you have more to wear than is actually the case, so if you can store them elsewhere you will free up some space for those essential everyday items.
10. Sticking your head in the sand.
As strange as this may seem, I’ve been with many clients who during a wardrobe edit or styling session have ‘discovered’ items that they didn’t know they had or had forgotten they had bought, unworn and with their tags still on. Many have simply put off taking a really good look inside for fear of what they may find, and realising what they have spent. If you haven’t taken some time to go through your wardrobe in a while, then do try and find a spare moment to do so. As well as clearing out the dead wood, you may be surprised at how many hidden gems are hanging inside!
Author: Julie Hurst