The Lean Closet
Everyone knows the value of a good closet purge, but very few of us have the necessary hard heart to part with items that often have sentimental value—or worse, cost a lot of money, yet still carry their tags with the promise of a “some day” outfit. Goop’s fashion director, Laurie Trott, is merciless when it comes to overhauling a wardrobe—if you’re looking to part with 80% of your clothing, lure her over with a nice glass of wine, and you’ll soon be carting Hefty bags out to your car. While it can be brutal, the result is that you end up with a much clearer picture of what you actually wear and you abolish that feeling of having nothing to wear—despite square footage in closet that suggests otherwise. We asked her to break down her process, below. As she explains, “It’s a lot easier than you think it will be—paring down your wardrobe to essentials that you like and want to wear is actually incredibly liberating and a great way to start the new year.” So, let’s begin.
- First, go through your clothing and accessories and group items by category—jeans with jeans, dresses with dresses, sports bras with sports bras, and so on. In general, this is the best way to organize your closet, as things don’t get lost in the shuffle—if you have the quantity to justify it, then sort by color, but that’s not necessary for the purge.
- Enlist a friend whose style you like, who knows you well, and has an opinion that you value. It’s important to have a voice of reason around—both to spot ways to re-work items, and to also point out that you’re never going to wear those knee-high white patent go-go boots you bought on sale eight years ago. Crack open a bottle of wine. Or, if you’re really taking your goop detox seriously, whip up some Surya Spa Detox Tea.
- It’s helpful to apply some of the philosophies of the KonMari, which we have a useful cheat sheet for here. Some of her rules are a bit too drastic for many i.e., she asks that you dump the contents of your entire closet on the floor. When we testdrove her method, we only made piles of items that were not already hung—and on the bed, not the rug—and it was just as effective. The main thesis of her method is very useful though, which revolves around asking whether the object you’re holding in your hands gives you joy. You’ll be surprised by how many don’t. If you’re not sure of something, try it on: Does it fit properly? Does it make you feel great? Does it go with anything else in your closet, as in, can you make a complete outfit out of it, or does actually wearing it require investing in something else? Where do you plan on wearing it?
- As you start sorting, pull out some trash bags and make some organized piles: Donation, resale, and tailoring. It’s OK to make an unsure pile, too (more on that in point 9). According to the KonMari method, regifting or giving clothes that are joyless to you is just going to burden the receiver. We think she means that you can’t push something that you feel guilty about buying on your best friend. However, if it’s something that no longer suits you, but someone you know has admired it, it’s actually a generous relocation plan. We’ve given items away that we’ve bought thinking one day we’d tailor them, or lose five pounds, or that we needed some bucket bag in multiples, only to find their presence creating clutter and anxiety. As long as you are thoughtful, it’s very effective.
- As you go through your closet, you’ll start to see your blindspots and weaknesses—i.e., do you have an irrational fear of running out of winter coats and cocktail dresses, but don’t wear either very often? See where you are a repeat offender, and if this makes sense with your lifestyle. Analyze your time and how you need to dress for it. Make a pie chart of how you spend your month, breaking it up into work, exercise, casual, dress up, and vacation. Let that guide you in terms of how balanced your closet should be. When was the last time you went to a black tie function? Never? Then you probably don’t need multiple gowns that kind-of fit. Narrow it down to the most classic one that you truly love, as a just-in-case. Are you more of a pants and jeans person than skirts and dresses? Time to stop hoarding wool tights.
- We all have those items in our closets that we haven’t been able to part with because they were too expensive. Somehow, we think that by holding on to it—sometimes with tags intact—we can justify the purchase, but the constant reminder and taunt from your closet that you wasted good money isn’t that helpful. Instead, remind yourself of a bad choice, and use it as a learning opportunity to be more thoughtful when it comes to spending on items. And then pass it on.
- Here’s another thought. We all hold onto items that don’t quite fit anymore, and probably haven’t fit for awhile, holding on to the vague reassurance that maybe they’ll fit again some day. Sure, hold onto your favorite jeans from college if they have true sentimental value, but chuck the rest as it’s clearly not incentivizing you. When you do reach your goal weight, reward yourself by purchasing something new.
- For those items that have stains, rips, frayed edges, and moth holes—goodbye. Use it as a lesson to be more careful with your clothing and accessories in the future, and treat each like a luxury, no matter the cost.
- For those items that you think you should part with but just can’t because of sentimental value, pack them away in a suitcase or duffel. Set a calendar alert for six months from the current date and stash the suitcase on the top shelf of your closet. When you revisit them, you’ll either feel joy or realize you were being ridiculous to hang onto them.
- For heirloom pieces like jewelry, organize them in a way that makes it enjoyable to approach them, where they’re cared for and kept tangle free. This jewelry box is a nice choice. Way too many women leave their nice jewelry in messy piles.
OK, so now you’ve whittled down your closet to the bare essentials that work for your lifestyle, this is how to stay on track with a lean closet:
- Make an inspiration or Pinterest board of how you see your style playing out and how you want to dress, realistically. Pin photos of people, clothing, and accessories you envision for yourself. Seeing it all together will help you stay on track with your vision.
- Focus on quality, not quantity. Go for investment pieces such as well-tailored blazers, trousers, and trend-free items that will stand the test of time. It’s better to spend on one really nice piece than buy five kind of crappy things that you kind of like.
- Be mindful when shopping sales and promotions. Who doesn’t love a discount? You, when it’s a trap. Ask yourself, would you pay full price for it? Are you only buying it because it’s 30% off or do you truly covet it? Does it need tailoring? Then you need to ask yourself if the cost of tailoring is worth it. Can you think of at least three scenarios where you would wear this item? Can you find at least three ways to wear it with other things you already own? Again, look for the less flashy but more enduring options, like beautifully-tailored blouses, cashmere sweaters, and well-cut trousers—skip the crazy trends that can be traced back to their season.
- Create a capsule wardrobe that fits your needs, based on how you spend your time. Think in terms of multiple ways to wear each item. Stumped where to start? Use the goop Month of Outfits as a framework to create this.
- Keep everything organized. When you can see and access what you already own, you’re less likely to acquire more of the same. Hang things back up, fold them lovingly, and treat them well.
Give Your Clothing to People Who Can Use Them:
- Dress for Success: This amazing organization needs little in the way of introduction: They give interview-appropriate outfits to women in need, lending new life to suits, separates, and even jewelry or unused makeup. Long live the #fempire.
- United Way: United Way has thrift stores in most communities, so you’re likely to find one nearby no matter where you live—proceeds from the sales support work to end homelessness, alleviate poverty, support education, and more.
- H&M: Drop items that are too worn for re-use (anything with holes, stains, etc.) in an H&M recycling box; they have a pretty incredible textile recycling program. Meanwhile, Madewell offers a denim recycling program that we love.
Extract Some Value From Items You No Longer Want Or Can Use:
10 Pieces You’ll Never Regret
Sure, the bulk of these Marie Kondo-proof investment pieces come with a hefty price tag, but they make up for it by never wearing out their welcome in your closet.
T-SHIRT Net-a-porter, $320 Because everyone needs a
t–shirt that can hold its
own at a cocktail
Légers Earrings Cartier, $2,420Prim but never prissy, minimal
diamond studs are worth saving for.
ROLEX OYSTER PERPETUAL
DATEJUST 36 Rolex, $6,600A grownup timepiece you’ll put on
once and never take off.
MID WOOL AND
FELT TRENCH COAT Net-a-porter, $1,595 A true classic, rain or shine.
PIGALLE FOLLIES 100
LEATHER PUMPS Net-a-porter, $675 Ladylike. Sexy. Legs for days.
SUNGLASSES Net-a-porter, $150Lightweight and universally
flattering on all face shapes.
MICHAEL KORS COLLECTION
SLEEVE CREWNECK Michael Kors, $595A tissue-thin cashmere knit
that clings to all the right
curves and goes with
HERMÉS JUMPINGHermés, $2,825These are built to
last for life.
BLAZER Net-a-porter, $1,295Lends instant polish to even the
most basic jeans-and-t–shirt
- CHANEL 2.55 FLAP BAG Chanel, $5,500Duh.