What made it possible for me to do my big wardrobe cleanse was first catching up on the laundry. Some things got packed away in the attic to wear for another season. Tons of items were given to charity. A few were tucked away, but not too far, for being just a tad too small.
Only keep those pieces that you really like and feel great wearing, and that fit your lifestyle and body right now. This point bears repeating, because if you haven't whittled your wardrobe down to the clothes that you really need and actually do wear, you will have a difficult time discerning your personal style in order to shop wisely for additional items. If you have an item that you like but never wear, consider whether that is because you have nothing to wear with it, in which case you must remedy that situation, or because it really isn't "you".
What if, after you have purged your closet and dresser drawers, you find that you still literally have nothing to wear? You were probably keeping many things that didn't flatter your figure and that you didn't enjoy wearing, because you had nothing better. Now you fear that you will have to go naked. Non, ami. Keep a few presentable pieces, maybe 10 items and a few extras to get you by. Now here are some suggestions that will hopefully help:
1. Simple Abundance: This book, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, takes you through a whole year of unearthing your authentic self, in a series of daily meditations. I recommend this book to every woman. Go to the section where she talks about discovering your authentic, personal fashion style. You will find a goldmine of inspiration in this classic.
2. The Illustrated Discovery Journal: This is one of the tools Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests in Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. First purchase an artist's sketchbook. Find a pair of scissors and some glue. Turn on soothing music and brew a cup of tea or your favorite drink. Make sure you won't be interrupted. Gather some magazines together that you have lying around, or ask a friend for those that she no longer wants. If you don't have any to use, buy a few current issues. I highly recommend People magazine's monthly Style Watch issue. This features real world, wearable trends in a broad range of prices. Slowly flip through the magazines in a meditative way, cutting out pictures that grab your attention as you go. Any image that stirs your imagination and makes you feel happy looking at it. When you have finished, arrange the images in your sketchbook. You might also clip out words or parts of articles, anything you see that speaks to you in a meaningful way. Set your finished work aside and look at it again later. Do you see a recurring theme? Do the hairstyles, makeup, and fashion you were drawn to resemble your current style?
3. Make a List: Being as specific as you can, make a list of your dream wardrobe. Note the color, fabric, shape, and details of the items you want, ie. boot cut blue jeans in a dark wash; low heeled leopard print dress pumps; a black leather motorcycle jacket; a long sleeved cashmere pullover sweater in pink, etc...
4. Window Shop: Make a trip to a department store and note which designers or labels strike your fancy. When I was shopping for my honeymoon, I discovered that I really liked INC (International Concepts). Once you have found those boutiques or department store lines that reflect your fashion sense and lifestyle, make those your go-to sources when you need something new. Another idea is to shop vintage boutiques, consignment shops, thrift stores, Etsy and Ebay to try to find those brands or similar styles. Take your time, check your budget, and when you are ready...
5. Plan Your Shopping Excursion: Perhaps take a friend along who understands the essential wardrobe concept to help you decide whether something looks good on you or not. Make sure you have eaten and are not tired. Bring snacks and a bottle of water with you, or plan a nice lunch into your day. Have your essential wardrobe list handy, and look for only those items. If you happen upon something not on your list that you just can't live without, and it will mix and match into your wardrobe, buy it. But keep your focus on those pieces that will build the foundation of your streamlined style.
6. Wear Only Your Best: Avoid keeping clothing that is past its prime. If it has holes in it, fits poorly, is ugly, is faded, or has lost its shape, don't wear it. Never tell yourself, I am only going to the grocery store, the playground, or whatever. Inevitably you will run into someone you know, and you will regret looking sloppy. Respect yourself and others with the quality of your appearance. I don't mean that you should wear a ball gown to buy deodorant, simply that one should look pulled together always.
Soon you will be on your way to a closet that makes you smile when you open it, and getting dressed each day will be a joy, something that motivates you to begin your day on the right foot. I promise, this will change your life!