The following guest post is written by my friend Stephanie Langford of Keeper of the Home.
I‘ve read plenty of good advice on wardrobe management and how to purge your closet, but there’s one piece of advice that doesn’t jive with this mama of four: get rid of anything that doesn’t fit or that you haven’t worn in the last year.
If I followed their advice, I would have to dispose of the four different sizes of clothing I rotate through to accomodate my various seasons of motherhood… skinny pre-pregnancy, early pregnancy (not showing, but nothing fits), full-on maternity, and post-baby (how did my hips spread this wide?).
It’s a fact of life. When you are in the midst of bearing sweet babies, your pant size goes up. And then down. And then back up again.
Being nine weeks out of having my fourth baby, I know this full well. The maternity clothes are now baggy and frumpy, yet the skinny clothes barely get over my hips. I’m lost somewhere in the middle. Fellow mothers, I know you feel my pain. Purging my closet fully isn’t an option, but I still needed a way to make peace with my wardrobe in the meantime.
At around 6 weeks post-partum, it was time to clear out my closet. I yanked out every single item in there, which now included a mixture of maternity and non-maternity clothes in various sizes, as well as a bin of all of my pre-pregnancy clothes that I had stored away when the stick turned pink.
Using my master bathroom as my staging grounds, I made a huge pile of everything that needed to be sorted. Then I created four new piles:
- Fits me now (regardless of whether it was maternity or regular)
- Will fit within six months
- No longer needed (which was mostly maternity at this particular point in time)
- Get rid of completely
Anything I was unsure of, I tried on. When you’re size-shifting frequently (which happens particularly fast in the early post partum weeks), it’s important to actually try things on, not just rule them out automatically.
Most of these clothes hadn’t been worn for at least nine months to a year. Last year’s summer clothes weren’t worn at all because I was already pregnant, so I was actually dealing with clothes from almost two years ago. A lot can change in your preferences and style trends in that period of time.
I discovered there were plenty of things I simply didn’t like anymore. This is the part where traditional wardrobe management techniques really DO come in handy.These things are important to keep in mind as you sort through your clothes:
- Is this color flattering on me?
- Do I have other items that I will wear this with or specific outfits in mind?
- If an item doesn’t fit, is it that it just doesn’t fit right now, or has it ever truly fit me well?
- Will I actually reach for this item and wear it regularly?
- If not, why? Does it need repair (buttons, mending, de-pilling, etc.)?
My growing “give away” pile, testimony to the fact that I was holding on to a lot of clothes I just didn’t enjoy wearing!
Narrowing down what stays and what goes
Stick with colors that suit you
I am a winter and look best in neutrals like black and white, and also bold jewel tones. I’ve decided to focus my wardrobe on a few favorite colors that I know I enjoy wearing and look good in (for me, these include dark denim, black, white, chocolate brown, purple, navy, turquoise, and red).
Mostly down to colors I look good in. Just a little work to do yet.
Items you love, not just like
They say that most of us wear 20 percent of the clothing we own, 80 percent of the time. Which means, there’s no point in holding on to something that you just sort-of, kinda like.
I know it’s tempting when you feel you don’t have enough to wear, but the reality is that if you don’t feel good in it, you won’t wear it anyway.
Think classic, multi-use, and accessories
Skirts with elastic waists can fit into multiple-sized wardrobes. Cardigans can be worn pregnant or not—plus, they help transition summer tops into a fall or winter wardrobe.
Keeping your clothing choices classic and in mostly solid colors means that they will still look great a couple years down the road. By adding accessories like scarves and necklaces that are currently in style, you can navigate changing fashion trends.
Clothes for now and for later
The key for me was to separate the clothes I liked into what fits now and what will fit later. I hung up or put into drawers only what truly fit. If it was close, but not quite, it didn’t make the cut.
There’s nothing more depressing than to open your closet and realize that 2/3 of its contents don’t actually fit you yet. I knew that I wanted a closet with only those clothes that were truly wearable for me, NOW.
After re-stocking my closet, and dealing with the discards and maternity clothes for storage, I was left with a whole pile of clothes that I wanted to hang on to, but (literally) can’t squeeze into quite yet. The goal was to make them easily accessible, but not actually hang them up.
Rubbermaid bins are my storage method of choice for clothes, so I folded my too-tight items neatly and put them in a bin. Putting the smallest sizes on the bottom, and then work up to the ones that you will wear soon makes it easier to find the right ones when the time comes.
The bin now sits in my closet, waiting for me to use it. As I gradually move back into my pre-pregnancy clothes, the bin will shift in use to hold the in-between sizes I’m wearing now.
How do you handle all of the different sizes that come with the seasons of motherhood?