How many times have you stared blankly into the abyss of your closet wondering how you can have so many clothes, yet still have nothing to wear? We’ve all been there, but don’t despair. What this usually means is that it’s time for a “wardrobe edit.” If you’re not sure how to do that, you are about to find out. A wardrobe edit basically means going through your closet to determine what’s working for you and what isn’t. It means taking stock of your clothing and simplifying things so that you have a wearable collection of pieces to choose from.

The problem is where to start? The first step is to let go of the past. Fashion has changed. It’s become a form of self-expression rather than a list of ever changing trends that need to be followed. Now that you are open to a wider range of possibilities, it’s time to re-evaluate your closet. There may be dozens of outfits hiding in there that you don’t even know exist.

However, before we start to organize your closet, there are some pieces that really have to go first. I know this may be painful, but no matter how attached you are to these pieces, it’s time to part company. They will only serve to make you look frumpy and out of date. Okay, are you ready?

Here are some items that you really need to retire:  

Holiday Sweaters.: Anything with reindeer, pumpkins or snowflakes.

Souvenir T-shirts

Jackets with Big Shoulder Pads (usually from the 80s and 90s)

High Waisted “Mom Jeans” (Google it)

Velour Sweatsuits (Farewell Juicy Couture)

Unflattering Elasticized Pants

Clothing that no longer fit you

Clothing that is worn or stained

Clothing that does not flatter your figure or your coloring.

Okeydokey, now it’s time to organize your closet. First, you need to separate your clothing by category (tops, blouses, sweaters, dresses, jackets, skirts, pants, etc.)  Next, try on each one of these pieces in front of a full-length mirror and get ready to be critical. Is it dated looking?  If so, toss it. Is it figure flattering? If so, keep it. How many different ways can you wear it? What does it go with? If you love it, but don’t have anything to wear it with, start a list, because you are going to buy something to go with it.  The idea is to create a wardrobe of pieces that you love, that are flattering to your figure, and also can be worn a number of different ways. This is called creating a “capsule wardrobe.” It’s better to have fewer pieces, but the right ones, which can be easily mixed and matched together.

It may be a good idea to ask a friend to come over to help you cull your clothing because we all need an unbiased opinion when it comes to editing our closet.  It’s hard letting go of old faithful fashion friends, but the idea is to only keep the best pieces.

Once you have purged your closet of everything unflattering, out of style and worn out, put it in plastic bags and set it aside to donate to charity.  Next, take digital photos of the remaining outfits that you love.  Are there some key pieces that are missing from your wardrobe? Add them to your list. This shopping list is key to updating your look, and creating a capsule wardrobe that will make getting dressed a pleasure rather than an exercise in frustration. If you are unclear what basic elements make a good capsule wardrobe, I have some suggestions.

Wardrobe Staples:

Two Classic Black Dresses (one for winter and one for summer)

Pants in Black, Grey or Navy, and Camel

Wide Leg Black Pants

Black Straight Skirt (One to the knee and the other long)

Denim Jeans

Tailored Black Jacket

A Sheer Summer Cardigan

Classic Oversized Cashmere Cardigan

Cashmere Pullover Sweaters in Black, White and a Color

Tank Tops in Black, White and Gray

White Blouse

A Denim Jacket

A Trench Coat

Wide Leg Black Pants

Dressy Black Top

A Leather Jacket

A Pashmina or Cashmere Poncho

These investment pieces are basics that  you will have and wear for many years. Add in the outfits that you already own and love, and you now have a well-edited, stylish wardrobe.

~ Dorrie

Senior Style Bible

15 responses to “EDITING YOUR CLOSET”

  1. Bookbabe49 says:

    Dorrie- I love your blog and the looks you put together. However, I have to differ with you on the capsule wardrobe. I am a redhead (although not anymore) and I don’t wear black, have never worn black. For me, camel and ivory substitute for black. Either color can be used for monotone outfits and look classic and elegant. For more casual outfits, I also like shades of olive/sage/khaki.
    Otherwise, your list is awesome and your advice is impeccable.

    • You are so right. I will keep in mind that women with different coloring, have different color palettes, and aim to be more inclusive in future posts. Thanks so much for your feedback.

  2. Carolyn Gutz says:

    Dorrie, I can wear the colors in your capsule, but where is the color? I am an active senior and do not live in a big city. Also I get too warm in cashmere (love it, but…). I have let my hair go natural (white) but I do love color and do wear colors you adore as well ( as seen in your former blogs ). If I opened my closet doors to an all neutral palette, unfortunately I would say it is not exciting enough to wear and create a whole new “want/need” list and then go shopping. I love they way you present yourself; you are just adorable.

    • frankideas says:

      Carolyn I think the joy of having a neutral palette as your starting point is it allows you to add splashes of colour wherever and whenever you feel like it. You can add a bright scarf, bag, hat or piece of jewelry – that way you can always vary your look without having to fill up your wardrobe.

      • Carolyn Gutz says:

        You are so right on! And I do that whenever I can (often?) And I only thought of that after I wrote my knee-jerk (am I a jerk) response to the “capsule” wardrobe. Duh — it is a top list of the “necessities” from which we all can build. Thanks for writing. What is the name of the product line Dorrie creates in LA? I am formerly from there.

        • Hi Carolyn. Like Frankideas said, the capsule wardrobe is just the base wardrobe, you then add in your trendy pieces, colorful pieces and patterns to that. It’s just that these basics will allow you to create a lot of different looks. I look at them as key pieces. To answer your other question, I don’t have a product line at the moment, but we have some ideas in the pipeline. Thank for your question.

  3. frankideas says:

    Wow – Dorrie your article couldn’t be more perfectly timed! We are in the process of moving house having been in the same place for 25 years…that’s a lot of time to acquire a lot of clothes and I’m in the process of doing a huge edit. I think I’ll find it hugely liberating…lets see how closely I can follow your advice.

  4. Geraldine D. Zimbler Kuss says:

    Dorrie, this doesn’t take into account the fact that BLACK & WHITE are not colors and don’t suit everyone. I went to The House of Colour in London and spent a considerable amount of money to discover what colors suited me best and what my Personal style was. I am a “Spring” Romantic Casual. Black and White are NOT in the spectrum of colors that flatter me, Off white , yes, Chocolate Brown yes. After you have had a consultation with their Stylists, you find your life entirely changed, with people commenting on how you wear colors. Life changing experience, nowadays I only wear black to be invisible.Funerals, perhaps? Nice list though….

    • Great point, Geraldine. You’re s right. Unfortunately I only have a certain amount of space so I sometimes have to generalize and simplify these posts. The idea behind the piece was that the basis of a capsule wardrobe is naturals. So if black and white don’t suit your coloring, they can be swapped out for other neutrals like gray, navy, camel, etc. The idea being that neutral colored basics are key to creating a base which to build upon. Thanks so much for your feedback. It’s sincerely appreciated.

      • Geraldine D. Zimbler Kuss says:

        Actually Grey and Camel are wonderful for people who are classified as “Spring”t ypes. Kettewell is a company that makes clothes in the four classifications. Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn. Based in the UK.

  5. I hear you — but still struggling to find the emotional strength to edit.

  6. If there is something I just cannot seem to do, is organize my closet. Everything you say I should retire, I already have. I am just a spoiled woman with too many good clothes.

  7. Carol Reiner Haley says:

    I just stumbled onto your site today, as my sister and daughter have scolded me to stop dressing like my mother! I am 62…she died at 85. I have a stack of clothing waist-high ready to go to Goodwill, and now, after reading your article, I am purging even more. My “huge” wardrobe (or so I thought) is now non-existent. Being a plus size gal, I am nervous to purge my comfort items, even though I KNOW they make me look bigger, older and frumpy. Big girls tend to have 3 sizes of everything…just in case. This is scary to start over when I thought I had so much. Love your site and will return often. Carol

  8. Kathie Truitt says:

    Well….I guess it all depends. Worn, torn, clothing is my signature style. My idea of ‘dressing up’ is to throw a velvet jacket, or a glittery beaded coat over my Johnny Cash t-shirt, ripped jeans and cowboy boots.