Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fall wardrobe: Organize now, save later.

I know it is hard to imagine blue jeans and sweaters when it is still 90 degrees outside. It finally feels like summer in the northeast after a relatively mild June & July. But I am hoping a little planning now, will save me money later when colder weather does hit.

This past week I spent some time in my closet cleaning, purging and organizing. I now have a list of my fall needs for when I am out and about.

I try to clean and purge the closets twice a year: fall and again in the spring. I am a recovering closet pack rat. I no longer need my professional wardrobe so I donated those clothes a couple of years ago.

Touch every item in your closet and drawers. Decide if each item should be kept, donated, or trash/recycled. Look at everything: clothes, shoes, undergarments, socks. I have tried to sell clothing at yard sales, but I don't sell too much adult clothing, so I just donate everything to Goodwill. I make a detailed list of all of the items and the condition they are in and staple it to the receipt they give me at Goodwill and file away until tax time. For the items that you are not keeping and aren't worth donating, can they be used as a cleaning rags? Can you think of another use other than throwing in the trash?

If possible divide your clothes by season. I organize my closet from left to right, short to long. Starting with tops, jackets, skirts, pants, dresses. Hang clothes in color order.

Fix any clothing that needs mended. Can you do the mending yourself or do you need a professional. Having something fixed rather than discarding it and buying new can save you money. A few years ago, the soles on my 12 year old Birkenstocks were destroyed from many years of hard use. I took the sandals to a shoe repair shop in my town and for $35 he re-soled the Birks for me. They were as good as new and will probably last another 12 years. A new pair would have set me back $120.

Start cleaning your clothes now. I don't like the smell of my fall clothes that have been hanging all summer. The clothes are clean, but they just don't smell very fresh. I clean almost everything and of course the weather is still good so I can hang outside.

Design your wardrobe around your lifestyle. I no longer need a professional wardrobe, since I have become a stay-at-home mom. Although, I do need at least one business-casual outfit for when I have an occasional meeting in regards to my husband's business. My sahm wardrobe consists mainly of blue jeans, khakis and sweaters in the fall.

Look at your fall calendar for any special events that would require a special outfit, like a wedding or class reunion or holiday party. Can you borrow from a friend?

Build a wardrobe with quality, interchangeable items. When it comes to clothing, I look for quality, timeless pieces. I have found that in the end quality clothing always saves me money because the clothing tends to last longer. I want to look stylish, but not too trendy that the clothes look ridiculous next year. I expect to be able to wear my clothes for a few years especially my jeans, pants, shoes and jackets. I used to think quantity was important, but now I would rather have a few quality pieces than a lot of cheap, poorly made clothes. BTW, quality doesn't have to come from a high end department store. Check out your local thrift store or TJ Maxx and Marshall's

Make a list of your needs and keep it with you. With a list, you will avoid buying duplicate items. You will be better prepared when you are browsing through your favorite stores. Stick to your list.

I also sorted through my kids' clothes for Fall. Fortunately my baby can wear hand-me-downs from my oldest and they are in very good condition. My oldest, however, doesn't have any hand-me-downs, so she is in need of some Fall clothes. She is almost 4 and I learned a valuable lesson this past summer. I bought her a lot of new summer clothes at the end of last summer on clearance. She had a drawer full of really cute shorts and t-shirts from Target and Children's Place and she probably only wore half of the clothes. I bought too much, she just doesn't need that much. I do laundry daily, so she never runs out of things to wear. She is definitely starting to have an opinion on what she wears, so I will let her be involved in shopping in the future, but I am limiting the clothes. I will never make the mistake of over-buying clothes for her again. The good thing is that the clothes will be passed on to my younger daughter.

Have you started to go through your closet to prepare for Fall?

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