I’m sort of a neat freak, so about once a year I have to go through my closet and decide what to do with all the clothes I don’t wear anymore. I’m organized on one hand, but on the other I have a really hard time letting things go, so instead of selling or donating them, I take them to my mom’s house (sorry mom, but your house is way bigger!) or I vacuum pack them into space saver bags and stash them in my basement. It’s how I’ve kept my closet relatively clutter-free while still being an undercover clothes hoarder.
Recently, I was pulling a pair of shoes off the shelf when I spotted these neon green Manolo Blahnik BB pumps that I’d gotten at a sample sale a couple years ago. They were cool, but I literally never wore them—not even once. They just weren’t me, and I was baffled by the fact that I’d even bought them. What was I thinking?
In my defense, when I bought those green Manolos I was a different girl. I used to write about sample sales for a living so I had access to all these amazing designer deals, and I’d never walk out of one empty handed. Over time, I racked up a fairly large collection, and although I actually love some of the pieces I got, most of it went straight into my closet and never came out.
Instead of putting the BB pumps in my basement or taking them to my mom’s, I listed them on eBay. I put them up for nothing, maybe $89, but I just wanted to get rid of them. They sold in days, and I didn’t feel any regret—in fact, I felt great.
After the Manolo’s sold, I started thinking. Why was I hoarding all of this stuff that I really didn’t even like? I started going through my closets, and pulling out all sorts of things that I’d barely worn. There was the fur and brocade Rag & Bone jacket that I just “needed” when I bought it last year at the sample sale—I wore it once—it’s totally not me. Then there were all the Adrienne Landau furs I’d collected a few years back. A friend of mine used to take me to the showroom, where we’d pick out furs to buy at wholesale prices—you might see why I was so tempted. But did I really need a teal fox fur vest? I think I wore the vest once when I was newly pregnant and trying to hide my bump, but that was it. I don’t even like teal!
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to get rid of my Celine Trio crossbody. Sure, it’s beautiful and all, but it’s really just not my style. I bought it on a whim, when I had two days left to use a Barneys gift card—the gift card was only worth a couple hundred bucks, and the bag was more like a thousand, so I ended up shelling out a lot of cash. I thought I loved it, but it’s just not my style. Needless to say, the Trio as well as the furs and the Rag & Bone jacket all ended up on eBay. (Here’s the Celine bag if you want to get it off my hands!)
Getting rid of all this stuff made me realize that I was acquiring things for the wrong reasons. I’d either buy something because I was getting a great deal, or because I loved the idea of myself wearing it, even if it wasn’t really me. But now that I’m really comfortable with my personal style, I’m trying to keep my wardrobe a bit more streamlined. Now before I make a purchase I try to take a minute to think it over—no matter how good the deal is. I’ve definitely had to hold myself back a couple of times, but I’ve been a lot smarter about shopping in the past few months, and I’m confident that I can keep going with this.
A lot of you probably relate, so before your next trip to Barneys, you should check out the seven tips that I wish I considered before I ended up with mountains of shoes. Because as grateful as I am for eBay, it would have been way easier if I avoided this mess in the first place—plus my closet would look a lot better.
1. The four outfits rule. Before you buy something, like a new pair of shoes or jacket, picture yourself wearing it four different ways. If you can only come up with one outfit, you should probably skip it—you’ll likely end up wearing it once.
2. The meat and potatoes rule. Here’s some food for thought from designer Michael Kors: “Seventy percent of the clothes you own should be meat and potatoes. Thirty percent should be icing and fluff — that’s color, pattern, shine, accessories. Too many women get the proportions the other way round, then can’t figure out why they can’t get dressed.”
Is most of your closet filled with fluff? That was partially my problem. Fix it by focusing on classic essentials, instead of always opting for the fun embellishments.
3. Do the label switch. Sometimes labels can cloud our judgment, and convince us that we love something that normally we’d never look at twice. So the next time you’re at the Saks shoe sale and see a pair of Louboutins for 70% off, pretend that they’re from Nine West—if they were, would you still be drooling? If the answer is yes, totally get them. If the answer is no, move on to the next.
4. Personal style trumps trends. New trends are always exciting, but not every trend works with everybody’s style. Thus was the case with me and a teal fox fur Adrienne Landau vest. I bought the vest when colorful fur was all the rage, but since I’d never normally wear teal, or any colorful fur for that matter, it left my closet once. Before you buy something really trendy, be sure that it suits your style.
5. The salesperson is your guide, NOT your god. Salespeople are hired to convince you to spend money—sometimes they’re really good at getting you to believe that you look amazing in something, even when you’re not sure about it. So if you’re gut is telling you no, listen! Salespeople don’t come with the purchase.
6. An expiring gift card is not an excuse to waste money. If you have a store gift card that’s about to expire, either try to find something that’s around the value of the gift card’s worth, use it towards basic essentials like jeans, or put it towards something that you’ve wanted for a long time—not something you only fell in love with that day.
7. You should be in love with the product, not price. Never buy something just because it’s really, really cheap. Sometimes a great deal can trick us into thinking that we’re in love with an item, when in reality we’re only in love with the price. Be wary of that when you attend your next sample sale.