Yes, it’s only August but with fall just around the corner lots of clients are taking advantage of the end of season sales (hey Nordstrom sale!) and beginning to think about building or refreshing their fall wardrobe. A change of seasons is usually accompanied by a closet edit in my world, so I'm sharing two of the most common misconceptions that come up during these consults. These two assumptions leave way too many women feeling stuck, frustrated and in a cycle of putting off discovering their personal style.
If you get rid of it, you have to replace it.
I could have also called this section “Button-Down Shirt Syndrome.” I lost count of the number of women I've worked with who are holding onto one or two button-down shirts “just in case.” I’m still not totally sure what’s this “just in case” scenario entails, but I feel like it might be terrifying.
Working in a corporate environment used to mean that a button-down shirt was a wardrobe staple. In the past three to five years, the silk top has been on the rise and has pretty firmly knocked the button-down out of its place as corporate attire heavyweight. Here’s the thing: button-down shirts are not inherently unstylish. If you wear them often and comfortably, then keep it up. However, if you’re not reaching for those button-downs, or any other piece in your closet for over a year (through one full season), and you decide to get rid of it, don’t jump to the conclusion that it should be replaced just because it's time for it to go.
Maybe you’re not drawn to a piece anymore because your personal style has evolved. Or, perhaps your lifestyle has changed in such a way that that particular piece just isn’t a good fit anymore. Wait it out a few weeks after your closet edit and see if you even notice the piece is gone before you get something new. When you are ready to replace it, a good rule of thumb is not to replace something unless you can style it in at least two ways with what you already own.
Holding onto aspirational sizes is just about fitting into a smaller size.
A pretty commonly dispensed piece of style advice is that we shouldn't keep pieces in our closet that are an aspiration size. If we're not wearing it right now, it should go.
But that's a pretty simplistic answer that misses important truths about clothes. Clothes are a practical necessity but they have a huge emotional component.
A more persuasive reason for letting go of clothes that don't fit anymore has more to do with the fact that our personal style is always evolving. Ask yourself: if you woke up tomorrow morning in the exact size of that aspirational item hanging in your closet, would that same style, cut, or color resonate with you today? Just like our sizes change so do our tastes. We just aren't as tuned into changes in our taste as we are to fluctuations in our size. It's easy to get so caught up on the size printed on a tag that we're blind to the fact that we don’t even like the very thing we’re wishing fit us today.
If you have more items in your closet that are too big or too small for you than clothes that fit right now it might be a sign to look at thing more broadly.
In situations like this, we’re often having trouble accepting that something we perceive to be either very good or very bad has happened to us. Buying new clothes to fit into our perception of ourselves and our life may be not something we can bring ourselves to do easily. I have seen examples of this not only in cases of weight gain and weight loss but also in cases of clients who have battled cancer and are currently remission, or clients who have abruptly had to leave a career they felt deeply invested in. In scenarios like this, the closet is just a symptom of a deeper problem and is a great indicator that it's time to reach out to get another perspective. Clothes can always be replaced but days of happiness can’t. be The best place to start is with a therapist before reaching out to a personal stylist. I have worked with clients who have worked through these issues with a therapist first, and the results have been truly incredible.
My August Style File is filed with tips for incorporating fall's best trends into your wardrobe now. It's hitting inboxes next Friday. Get on the list here.