How To Do A Complete Closet Overhaul

As you know, I am here in Michigan, currently without a closet. As I packed up my life to make the cross country move, I took the opportunity to edit and refine my closet. In my 20's I would have described my style as mix between Zoey Deschanel and Carrie Bradshaw. I couldn't resist a quirky print and I often frequented my favorite vintage shops hunting for charming fit and flare dresses. I paired those with blazers and finished the look with a vintage belt and the most ridiculous platforms or stilettos you have ever seen. Now, not so much. These days I live in jeans, a tee with a blazer or a blouse and mules. My heels don't get much play and my vintage dresses were stuck in the back of the closet. It was time for an overhaul. 

Back in January one of my favorite bloggers/Instagrammers, Jen Pinkston of The Effortless Chic posted a closet overhaul series over on Instagram. I've read lots of closet makeover posts in my day, but Jen's philosophy stuck with me. You can read all about her method here, but I'll give you the cliff's notes version in this post. 

How to do a closet overhaul

Step 1. Separate your real life from your fantasy life. Be honest with yourself, when you're reviewing your closet, and you come across a pair of heels you hastily purchased after seeing them on your favorite blogger at a high fashion event, remember that her life isn't yours. You need clothes that work for you. 

Step 2. Journal your outfits for a week. Notice what kind of outfits you wear most and what kind you don't. If you live in lounge wear, might be time to consign the pencil skirts and invest in chic casual wear. 

Step 3. Make a mood board. I feel like most of the closet overhauls I read about start here, but I love that Jen's method started with you evaluating your actual life and how you wear clothes. This is my favorite step, but even if you're not as much of a mood board enthusiast as I am, this is a very important step, as these visuals will be your North Star as you're evaluating your clothes. 

Jen goes on to explain that this is hugely important - every time you go into a store or on a website, that store is trying to sell you on their brand vision. That's why when you go into Free People you suddenly feel like you could pull off the boho goddess look, but if it doesn't align with your vision of your style, put down the fringe vest!

Here is my style vision board, French "it" girl meets California casual for coffee in SOHO (you can come up with anything, and I mean anything that resonates with you). But what on Earth does that mean. For me, I am often attracted to all the best French girl style, the effortless chic jeans and blouse look isn't exactly what I gravitate toward in store, but it's what I like to wear and the balance of dressy and casual that fits my lifestyle. Because the denim and tee look is such an important part of my wardrobe, I had to register the California vibes that wear on the daily. I also love blazers and some more polished pieces bring in a little New York style. Here's what that looks like to me:

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I would also take this a step further and create a color palette, this will ensure maximum mix and match versatility in your closet. Stay tuned for my palette in an upcoming post. 

Step 4. Purge! Ditch anything that doesn't fit, is worn out or damaged and doesn't fit your vision. 

  • pull anything out of season and store away or at least put aside for now
  • organize your closet by category - this way you can see if you have 6 blazers that you haven't worn in a year, or not one skirt that suits your stule
  • pull your three favorite outfits that fit your style vision, use them as your guide and as you go through your closet. If you're on the fence, ask yourself if each piece can mix and match with your outfits. 

Keep going until you have a closet full of clothes you love to wear. 

How to do a complete closet overhaul

Step 5. Begin to fill the holes in your wardrobe. Through your journaling or organizing you may have noticed some pieces you may be missing. In my recently closet I tossed all my tees with stretched necks or distorted hems, currently I'm shopping for more polished tees that look great layered under blazers or stand alone with jeans or a skirt. 

  • Consider a favorite piece, do you love the cut? would you benefit from having it in another color? or lighter or heavier weight fabric?
  • Does your work wardrobe need a refresh? Maybe a chic trouser that can be paired with several tops that already live in your closet. 
  • be mindful about your purchases, think about your ratio of the tops and bottoms you already own. Similarly, think about your shoe closet in the same way, do you need another pair of shoes that you might only wear to a wedding once every other year?

My favorite piece of Jen's advice: Will this piece make getting dressed much easier in the morning? Can you easily think of three different ways you would wear it and three different places you would wear it to?

The goal at the end of all this is to have a closet full of clothes that you love, that fit your style and that style together seamlessly. The goal is to be more intentional and less spontaneous. 

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