It’s time to upgrade your wardrobe. There’s just one problem: no room in your closet! In the name of fashion, it’s time to take a good, honest look at what’s in there.
Downsizing is an important step in your pre- or post-retirement journey. In your quest to downsize, it’s helpful to know how to objectively assess the items you have. Everyone has pieces they can’t bear to get rid of, but most of us have clothes we haven’t worn for years.
What should you keep? What can you sell? What should you get rid of? To help you clear out the old and make way for the new, here’s a guide to dealing with your overstuffed closet.
Hesitant to approach downsizing? Reset your mindset and celebrate ‘rightsizing.’ Read these 13 tips for rightsizing your space.
Is There Anything Hip in Your Closet?
Honestly, do you own any clothing that qualifies as “hip”? If you have a keen eye for fashion and you’ve kept up with styles, maybe you do. Your first step to downsizing will be to pull those items out and set them aside. They are your “keeping” candidates.
But beware. What you think is “hip” might be off-track from what’s truly fashionable. In order to make sure you’re not seeing things through your own fashion bubble, get someone else’s opinion – preferably someone younger with a keen sense of style. Listen to their advice and, as much as it might pain you, follow their youthful words of wisdom.
Secondly, you may have some “hip” items that you don’t actually wear. Do any of these phrases sound familiar? If so, consider selling or giving away the hip item in question.
- “But it cost a lot”
- “It doesn’t fit now, but it might someday”
- “Maybe my granddaughter will wear it”
- “But I bought this on that trip to France”
None of these reasons matter if you’re not wearing the piece. Find a way to emotionally detach yourself from all that unwearable clothing and make way for things you’ll actually wear.
Once you’ve passed these “hip” tests, run the remaining items through one last filter. Ask a close family member if the piece is flattering. You’re no longer 30–years–old but that doesn’t mean you are resigned to wearing tents! An item can be hip but also very unflattering at the same time. If you have a spouse, ask them what they think and be ready to hear the truth! If an item of clothing doesn’t make you feel good, what’s the point of keeping it?
Did you know that bad posture can make a great piece of clothing look completely different? Before you toss your favorite clothing, read about the benefits of having good posture and see if improving your posture can improve your wardrobe.
How About Vintage Clothing That Might be Worth Something?
You may not be a vintage clothing expert, but there are a few easy guidelines for spotting value in your closet. If you’ve been holding on to dresses, pantsuits, or tops that you feel are just too good to get rid of, consider selling them as vintage pieces. There’s a huge market these days for good quality vintage clothing. Some of your things could be just what a trendy vintage shopper is looking for!
One thing to keep in mind, however: just because you may remember when and where you bought each piece in your closet, that doesn’t mean vintage shoppers will recognize the value. Savvy shoppers look for pieces they can clearly identify as vintage. The value of a piece you’re thinking of selling will be partly determined by the following:
- Labels. One way to tell if something is truly vintage is to examine labels. Check your own vintage clothing. Do the labels have union tags? That’s an indication they’re Made in the USA, which indicates it’s pre-1980s. You may know the item is that old, but vintage shoppers will want proof.
- Workmanship. Before the 1960s, clothing manufacturers used different techniques and materials. If something is really old, you’ll often find metal zippers instead of plastic, for example. Other hints you can look for are the use of bias hem tape and pinked seams. Side-snap closures are also a good indication that something is truly vintage. Again, savvy vintage shoppers look for all of these things.
- Quality. Natural fibers age much better than synthetic fibers. Vintage clothing made of polyester is easier to find than vintage clothing made of cotton, wool, fur, leather, or silk. If your vintage items are made of natural (plant-based or animal-based), then you have a greater chance of selling them.
A Word About Wearing Vintage Clothing
Your granddaughter would probably look fantastic in that 1970s-era Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. And maybe you’ve kept it all these years because it looked great on you, too – in the 70s. But truth be told, it’s hard to wear vintage when you’re no longer in your 20s. Even if you’re only in your 40s, vintage can be awkward. That’s because there’s an art to sporting vintage clothing. Vintage has the tendency to age anyone who’s not skilled at paring vintage with modern pieces. Even young girls can get the look wrong and end up making themselves look a decade or two older. Nobody wants that, no matter what age they are!
It’s for these reasons that even if some of your old clothing is designer label and still in great shape, it still might need to go. Use the tips outlined above and collect your good vintage stuff. After letting family members or friends have a look, the next stop should be a good consignment shop (or anywhere but back into your closet).
Spot What Needs to Go
This next part is easy. Anything that’s not vintage and not hip should be tossed or donated. But keep in mind that you’re not the only one cleaning out your closet these days. Clothing drop-off sites are inundated with daily deluges of old clothing, so they’re far pickier.
For example, the very reasons you’re tossing something are the same reasons that Goodwill might not want them, either. This includes clothing that’s…
- Damaged (broken zippers, etc)
- Cheap and flimsy
If you can’t sell it, donate it, pass it to your family members, or re-hang it in your closest — trash it.
Once you’ve solved your closet clutter problems, you can celebrate. After all that hard work, why not treat yourself to one nice item? With all the fashion knowledge you now have, it’s time to hit your favorite boutique and buy something fabulous that makes you look as young as you feel!
For more information about downsizing and retirement, read these articles by Acts Retirement-Life Communities: