Do you have a great dress, or dynamite top that you love, but never wear because nothing goes with it? Or, a piece of clothing that so wonderful, but for whatever reason it does not belong? If so, you have “Closet Orphans”. I have so many closet orphans and I’m in the process of a closet revamp once again. Those three pairs of jeans that I wore once, stored in the bin for three years & have not seen the light of day. . . gotta go. Same can be said about a few dresses that are sitting in the dark with the sales tag still on them. They were purchased awhile ago and the occasion has not come up to wear them. The idea that when an occasion arises and I cannot find anything to wear in my closet, makes me crazy. Items I can afford are very hard to find and this has always been a problem for me. So, when a dressy outfit is at the rock bottom price, if it fits and I love it, I have a space for it.Trendy items are difficult to pair with other items and I have decided not to get excited about them anymore. The printed orange pants I purchased back in 2015, that seldom gets worn because it doesn’t play nicely with others, is just taking up space. It just sits folded with my white jeans, languishing away while my wardrobe workhorses get worn again and again. According to Susan. . . “Something deep in our female brain makes us love a sale. It goes back to the hunter-gatherer stage of humanity. Getting something for not very much money or effort feels like finding a bush full of ripe berries”.
WHY DO WE END UP WITH CLOSET ORPHANS IN OUR WARDROBES?
- They were once part of a set or an outfit purchased all at once, but the other components have been outgrown, lost, or donated.
- They represent a past style or body shape or emotional state, and you just can’t bear to part with them. Even though the rest of your closet has moved on.
- They were SO PRETTY that you couldn’t resist buying them due to your shopping weakness. Even though they really don’t work within your established personal style.
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH CLOSET ORPHANS?
I don’t believe that clothes that have gone unworn for a number of months should be donated. Certainly works for some, but is not a rule that applies to all women. Clothes can go unworn for many reasons and just chucking them after some arbitrary expiration date can be downright wasteful. My sister and I have what we call “vacation clothes” and they get recycled during our vacations every year. We do not wear them around town and they last much longer than our regular clothes because they are not laundered so often. So, a dress in that closet may get worn every other year. Does that mean I should get rid of it. No way.
Some Closet orphans actually present opportunities to stretch your creative wings and push your stylistic boundaries.
Revisit why you love the item: Closet orphans sometimes reflect your “imaginary self.” You may be extremely active and need to wear washable knits, but own a frilly dry-clean-only silk blouse because you admire the feel of the fabric. You may have a carefully cultivated wardrobe of warm neutrals, but own a blazingly hot pink pencil skirt because the color just makes you happy. You bought that item for a reason, hung onto it for a reason. What is that reason?
Define why it’s a difficult piece: Is it an unusual cut or color? Does it fit differently than most of your clothing? Did you purchase it as part of an outfit, and now that the other items are gone you can’t imagine it worn without them? Is it too sexy or flashy for everyday wear? Pinpoint what makes your closet orphan so ornery. If you don’t know why you don’t wear it, you’ll never figure out how you can wear it.
Find your orphan some siblings: Unless your closet orphan is something like a pair of leather chaps or something that both clashes with your personal style and has limited application – it can be paired and worn with other garments that you already own. It can! Pull your orphan from its corner, and haul out anything else that has a prayer of working with it. Clothing, shoes, accessories, you name it. Just pile it all on the bed and take a look. Find similar colors, complementary textures, patterns that play nicely together. Start by building three to five outfits around your orphan, and make sure to deploy them within a month or two. If you cannot find a thing to pair it with. . the orphan must go:
- Does not fit you.
- Is not the right color for you.
(Why wear something that makes your skin look sick?)
- Does not match your lifestyle.
(A proper, tailored business skirt does not belong in the closet of someone who now has a casual and relaxed lifestyle.)
- You don’t love it.
(Especially if someone else talked you into it. If it was a gift, then you may want to create and distribute a wish list to help others select gifts you will enjoy. In the meantime, quietly re-gift it
- If it is too expensive looking for your core wardrobe.
(If you went far out of your reach and bought an expensive designer blouse, yet everything else in your closet is jeans and tee shirts, then it doesn’t fit your style. If you do not have the accessories to make it work, then it won’t. Let it go. Hang it on the wall as a piece of art or an inspiration, but do not put it back your closet.)
If you have a closet of orphans, then you have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. Take the orphans out and get someone else to adopt them. Your orphans may become a cherished treasure for someone else. Since most of my clothes still have tags and were never worn, I am turning them into gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. The items that got some wear are going to Goodwill. My take. . . Make someone else happy and be more discerning in my future purchases. What say you?