So, you’ve decided to drop fast fashion the way you decided to cut down on fast food after learning what really goes into a chicken nugget. The first step to a lean wardrobe is so simple: stop shopping!
But for many people, the next step is ridding our closets of bygone styles and ill-fitting items. Clearing out the cutter from our closets and drawers can be more of a challenge. To start, it’s key to identify the clothing that you really need. These are the essentials that you love, fit great and you wear over and over. Below is a list of suggestions to get you started.
1. Everyday teeshirts
The perfect tee is comfy, soft and fits great. For the ideal fit, the seam of the sleeve should hit right at your shoulder, and the material shouldn’t strain across your stomach or chest. The everyday shirt is neither too fancy to get a bit sweaty in nor too ratty to be photographed in.
You probably already have plenty of these in the closet. Try setting yourself a limit on the total that you really need to own, based on how many you could possibly wear between laundry days.
2. A great pair of jeans
As more and more workplaces become casual, denim has become a uniform for more people. A few great pairs are definitely essential. Happily, a good pair is also highly durable—if you’re not over zealous about washing them. Consider spot-cleaning over a full wash or get rid of musty smells by letting your jeans get some sun and fresh air outside.
3. A blazer
Even if you have a very casual personal style, a blazer is a timeless and easy way to add a touch of formality to almost any outfit. For a great fit, make sure the seams at the top of the sleeve hits right at your shoulder, and the arms come right to your wrist bone.
4. A cozy sweater
When the temperatures drop, reach for another layer before turning up the heat. A warm sweater or pullover is key. I won’t tell you what styles to hang onto, but pick one that works for your lifestyle in terms of care—avoiding dry-clean only or hand-wash only can save you a lot of time while doing chores.
5. Durable boots
Boots can be dressed up or down, making them surprisingly versatile from a style point-of-view, while also being undeniably practical. Unless you live in a tropical climate, make space for a good pair before you start considering other shoes. Hiking boots, combat boots, or riding boots can all keep your feet well-clad for many years. If you opt for leather, be sure to give your boots a little love and keep them waterproofed and conditioned, with a product like organic Gorilla Wax. That way, your leather shoes will last much longer.
One caveat: If your boots are uncomfortable for any reason—high heels, tight toes, weird rubbing—toss them in the donation pile.
6. The just-in-case scarf
Just in case there’s a blizzard, of course! But even in warmer climates, it’s good to have a scarf on hand for over-air conditioned restaurants or chilly evenings.
7. A collared button-down
Like a blazer, a good button-down shirt will serve you on many occasions where you want to look a bit more thoughtful—a job interview, a dinner party, a graduation. One fit pitfall for button downs is the volume of fabric at the top of the sleeve—make sure that it’s neither baggy nor too tight to lift your arms above your head comfortably. It’s also good to check for any missing buttons.
So, there are your basics. From there, I’d add an all-occasions dress (think little black) for women and a super-warm good winter coat for our readers in cold climates. Lastly, cleaning out your closet doesn’t mean erasing your personal style. If something makes you smile every time you put it on, add it to the “keep” pile. The rest can be sold, donated or brought to a textile recycling facility.