The back-to-school season is one of the best excuses to shop, even if you’re a few years removed (we won’t tell!) but before you stock up on fall essentials, take a good look at what you already have. Isn’t it time to edit and rid your wardrobe of the unnecessary bulk? Thought so.
After raiding every closet we could, we’ve found the best closets around belong to fashion editors who edit wardrobes professionally, which means they’re not afraid to let go of pieces dragging them down. But you don’t need the luxury of a a walk-in or a six-figure budget to get your closet on par with your favorite editor’s — you just need a plan! Here are a few quick tips to start tackling your wardrobe:
1. Most NYC-based fashion editors are high on style but low on space. The first thing you need to do is to figure out exactly what your style is, even if it’s eclectic. Write it down in three words, tops. Keep it in the front of you mind when sorting through your items. If you’re a grunge girl at heart, all those Peter Pan-collared tops probably won’t stay in rotation.
2. Now comes the hard part: trying everything on! I’m not talking about your tried-and-true jeans and t-shirts, but anything you haven’t worn in a year — barring any seasonal restrictions — is on the chopping block. When you throw something on, it not only has to flatter you, but it should also speak to your style. You should be able to imagine what you could pair it with. Here’s the key: once it’s on, give yourself 10 seconds to decide if it’s a goner. Remember not to get too hung up on how much you spent on an item — you’ll get more use out of it if you sell it to a consignment shop rather than letting it just take up valuable real estate in the back of your closet.
3. Once you have a pile of clothes on their way out (congratulations!), take a note from our new book, Wear This Now, and play fashion detective: what’s the common thread? Are they all crew neck sweaters? Sling-back pumps? Dry-clean-only pants that are two sizes too big? Avoid these items next time you’re shopping.
4. Speaking of clothes on their way out, here’s a quick tally of things you should get rid of without a second thought. Trust.
- Anything owl themed, because let’s face it — the moment is over.
- Poor fitting denim/blazers. These are the two biggest multi-taskers in your closet, so they should fit like a glove.
- Anything velour. Anything.
- Denim skirts, unless you’re still in middle school.
- Harem pants. They’re gone for good.
- More than one pair of sweatpants. One pair for sick days is enough — you need to save the precious real estate for the good stuff.
- Childish rain boots with anything printed on them have to go, too. Replace them with a pair of stylish rain boots that don’t look like rain boots.
- Bridesmaid dresses. She said you could wear it again, but you can’t.
- Light wash jeans. They were invented to make your thighs look fat. No one looks good in these (not even supermodels!).
- Cotton sweaters. They shrink and fade, so invest in cashmere or merino instead.
5. After you’ve figured out what you’re going to do with your old duds (don’t throw them out! eBay, Threadflip and donating are all great options!), make a list of what your wardrobe is missing and, as Wear This Now advises, divide it into two categories: want and need. If you’ve thrown out all your light denim to find out you only have one pair of jeans, picking up another dark-wash pair may be on your list. That sequined cocktail dress can wait, especially if you have nowhere specific to wear it yet.
6. Filling your closet is the real tricky part. If you’re still confused on what to get once you’ve taken inventory of your closet, remember these few fall fashion editor essentials: merino wool sweaters, a white (and a plaid, if it’s your style) button-down, closed-toe booties, black tights, at least one pair of tall leather boots, a leather carry-all, comfy cardigans and flattering black denim.
7. Remember, don’t shop the sale rack just to shop the sale rack — especially if the items are out of season (or not your size!). While fashion editors and A-listers always seem to have endless wardrobe options, they’re always investing in pieces that they’ll get years of wear out of, so while stocking up on a dozen on-trend items from H&M may feel like a whole new closet, you’ll only get a few wears out of each item, and even then, the tailoring is never quite right. If you do shop sale, make sure it’s a timeless, evergreen piece. Get it tailored if you need to.
8. Shop in-season. Most stores have a 30-day return policy, so if you bought a dress for fall and still haven’t worn it all month, you’ll probably never wear it. Bring it back.
9. Once you’ve restocked your wardrobe, take polaroids of some go-to outfits so you can have a visual and grab them on days when you don’t have time to plan.
If you’re looking for inspiration on what to pick up for fall, take a peek of the best summer-to-fall outfits ideas, stock up on exotic snakeskin pumps, or ease your Fashion Week blisters with a pair of cap-toe flats.