Living in the San Francisco Bay Area means we have about eight to twelve seasons to dress for in a year’s time.
Here in January we may have a few weeks of winter where most people are wearing jackets, sweaters, and scarves around their necks, but you will spot one or two people wearing shorts, short-sleeved tops and flip flops because their GPS says they’re in California and that’s the outfit that matches their GPS. I’ll be the one snapping pictures of them wearing my puffy coat, cashmere gloves, and tall boots with SmartWool socks inside of them.
There are weeks ahead where we have winter weather in the morning and the evening but spring shows up from noon to four in the afternoon.
Then there will be weeks of full-on spring weather with a smattering of summer heat from noon to four in the afternoon.
That might bring us to March…or not! It’s unpredictable. When we advise visitors on what to wear when they come to visit, we use the word “layers” a lot. It’s always easy to spot the tourists who don’t follow our advice. They’re turning blue at the corner of Stockton and Powell.
This is all entertaining and fun for me because I don’t mind tinkering with my clothes all year long. It’s calming, like meditation. It also keeps me busy with my style and wardrobe clients as well. We’re all in it together, trying to figure out how to get dressed for the next four weeks!
So here at home in my own closet, this is how the process works.
Step 1: The climate gets my attention: “Brr! Where’s my wool?”
I only have clothes in my closet that reflect current life/my current style/the current climate so if I’m suddenly freezing it means it’s time to switch my clothes out. The first weekend that rolls around I open my closet doors and touch every clothing item in my closet. I pull out the items that don’t fit the current climate. These will be cleaned and lovingly packed away to be brought out when the weather is right, maybe six months from now.
Step 2: Make the swap
The storage cubes (from the Container Store) are stored outside in the garage. So if one comes into the house, it’s holding clothes I’m needing right about now. The clothes I’ve pulled from my closet will go back into the storage cube and enjoy a long winter’s nap.
Step 3: Face the facts and put every clothing item through the CSF Formula
Remember the CSF Formula? It stands for color, style, fit. Everything about the color, style and fit of the garment needs to reviewed for the yes/no test. If one of those things is off about the garment, it needs to go. So I ask these questions:
a. Is this item of clothing reflecting my current style?
b. Does it still fit?
c. Do I still love the color? How’s it working with my current coloring?
d. Can I see myself wearing it this year, maybe in a new way?
If the answer is yes to all of those questions then they’re ready to go into service. Most likely I’ll air everything out and steam them before they go on hangers. I like everything in my closet to be ready to wear right this minute. So any fixes need to happen soon!
Step 4: Handle the rejects
Chances are there are things that did not pass the CSF test. That was true in my most recent edit. Thankfully, most things fit. But strangely, some things felt just too voluminous to me. So a couple of sweaters didn’t make the cut. A dress on the shorter side felt too “young” to me so it got rejected. A Carlisle dress and coat ensemble that I’d worn the year before for a special event felt too severe to me.
I’m going for a softer, prettier look now. Maybe it’s my shorter hair that throws the balance off now. Thick, long, wavy red hair would have been a better balance for that outfit. But that phase of my life is gone. So the ensemble is gone, too…to a consignment store where it will serve someone else.
Other places my rejects go may be:
*The trash can (yes, if it’s really ragged and I’m noticing it for the first time!)
*A charity of choice
These donation requests come in our mailbox and they are great motivators for getting your closet cleaned out! As you can see, they pick up your donations rain or shine!
Step 5: Play with clothes!
The final step is to take those clothes that are now in the closet and play with them. I like to make a few new outfits right on the spot so it gets me into the groove of wearing these items I haven’t seen in a while.
Sometimes we pick up some sale items at the end of a season but then don’t get much of a chance to wear them. So some of the clothes may be practically brand new, never worn. They need to be put into outfits!
I’m also aware of items that didn’t get worn much last year so I’m watching to see whether they’ll get into the rotation this year or not. If not, they won’t make the cut next year.
It’s fun to wear the oldies in a new way. I love my Coco Chanel sweater with appliquéd flowers and now it’s cold enough to wear it! I was happy to know my sequined wool bouclé skirt still fit. It’s an Ann Taylor favorite from about ten years ago. This year they came together in an outfit I wore when the Swedes were here.
Clothes…aren’t they fun? I hope you’re enjoying your outfits! If you aren’t, maybe it’s time to put your hand on every item in your closet and apply the CSF Formula. A little editing can result in a lot of joy!