Why (and How) I purged my closet and started a "Neutral Only" wardrobe
Updated: Dec 23, 2020
It was a breezy day in spring when I took a deep breath, walked into my closet, and moved about eighty percent of what I owned to our donation box.
Yes, I know what you're thinking. "This woman has lost her daggone mind." Maybe I had, or maybe I had just watched one to many Marie Kondo episodes on Netflix. Either way, it all had to go.
The truth is, between having a new baby, running our home, and having an extremely busy work life, I rarely had time to come up with outfits that were trendy- or that even matched half the time if we're being honest. Instead of bringing me joy, my closet was bringing me clutter and stress.
Not only that but the cost to upkeep my wardrobe and keep it trendy was wearing a huge hole in my budget. I wanted to upgrade our daughters' rooms. Our couches were old enough to tell war stories of surviving two toddlers, and our bedroom desperately needed some TLC, but every month when I went to check our "Spend Me" budget, it was either empty or very close to it. In its place sat receipts from a dozen stores where I had purchased trendy, cheap pieces of clothing that likely wouldn't be worn long after the season ended. Something had to give, and one day after standing in my closet bewildered and exhausted, it finally did.
I had seen tons of articles about how the French, instead of buying clothes frivolously, choose to buy a few quality pieces in neutral colors and have one or two statement pieces. While I knew myself enough to know that one or two statement pieces wouldn't cut it, I did need a wardrobe that was easier to manage and more time efficient, while also cutting down on my monthly need to purchase more items. I needed sustainability.
Here are the steps I took to get it done:
Step 1 - Bring the whole box of trash bags
I'm not joking. I know I said to move it to your donation box, but lets face it, you own half of Target and that box just isn't big enough for that. Go ahead and save yourself the time and aggravation and instead prepare for the massive overhaul that's about to happen.
Step 2 - Take a deep breath
Seriously, getting rid of this much stuff can be liberating but also stressful. It's amazing how attached we become to things, and how many memories we associate with something as small as a tee-shirt, both good and bad. Breathe deep, and then prepare to let it go.
Step 3 - Remove anything that's a color
Do this step in one swift motion. Unless is is a very soft color that can pass as a neutral (think soft pinks, army/olive green), put it in a bag. Do this for your shirts, sweaters, dresses, skirts, pants, purses, belts and shoes. Put your blue/black/white jeans off to the side. We'll address them later.
Step 4 - Organize what is left by color
First, use the ROYGBIV scale (otherwise known as rainbow order) to organize any colors that made it through the mass removal. Next order your neutrals as such: Grey Black Beige
Do this also with your pants/jeans, shoes and belts.
Step 5 - Get down to the nitty gritty
This step takes a little longer because you need to go through every remaining piece, now including, and ask yourself these questions:
Do I wear this item regularly?
If no, is this something I would regularly use for special occasion scenarios? (Think weddings, date nights, etc.).
If no, does this item have grave sentimental value?
By this, I don't mean "I've had this a long time and I'll miss it."
I do mean something like, "This is my wedding dress," or "It's my loved one's who has passed."
If the answer is still no, put it in a bag.
If the answer is yes, put this article to the side to either store in a memory box or shadow/display box.
Does the item still fit you properly? Be honest with yourself. If it's "Only a tad bit small/big," it doesn't fit.
If the answer is no, put it in the bag
Does this item look worn? Does it have pulled or faded fabric?
If the answer is yes, put it in a bag.
Does this item invoke a negative memory or have negative vibe associated with it?
If the answer is yes, put it it a bag.
Step 6 - Replace what is needed, starting with the basics
At this point your closet might be looking a little bare. That's okay! It's time to replace responsibly. Here are some tips to rebuilding your Neutral Color (Grey, Black, Nude, White) wardrobe:
Build from what you already have, starting with the basics
1 Tee-shirt of each Neutral Color
1 Long sleeved shirt of each Neutral Color
1 Sweater of each Neutral Color (Sweatshirt, Knitted or both depending on your style)
1 Blazer in each Neutral Color
1 Cardigan in each Neutral Color
1 Button up shirt in each Neutral Color
1 Blouse in each Neutral Color
1 Pair of slacks in each Neutral Color
1 Pair of Jeans in each blue wash (Dark, Denim, Light)
1 Pair of Jeans in each Neutral Color
1 Jean Jacket in each blue wash
1 Black leather jacket
1 Brown leather jacket
1 Black and 1 Tan Trench Coat
1 Black and 1 White winter coat (If needed for your climate)
1 Black and 1 White pair of sneakers
1 Pair of ankle boots in each Neutral Color
1 Pair of Black and 1 Pair of Brown/Tan knee high boots (Either heeled or non-heeled)
1 Pair of heels in each Neutral Color
1 Pair of Sandals in each Neutral Color
2 Bathing suits in a Neutral Color of your choice
2 Bathing suit coverups in a Neutral Color of your choice
Create a list of what you still need to complete your wardrobe
Be purposeful in your purchases
Is this piece versatile? Does this coordinate with more than one piece of my wardrobe?
Is this piece timeless? Will it still be in style a year from now?
Will I wear this more than once? Is this an impulse buy?
Do I love this piece? Do not be mediocre in your choices!
Find a style you love that comes in all four (or at least three) of the Neutral Colors
Buy all three or four items at once if possible to ensure they don't run out of your size.
Utilize services such as Afterpay or Quadpay to pay for a style set (one at a time of course) in installments.
Remember: Quality over Quantity!
Cross the purchased item off your list and do not buy any additional/extra items in this style!
Have any of you done a massive wardrobe change? How did it feel? Or maybe this post inspired you to do one for the first time? Let me know in the comments!