Whether your wardrobe is modern vintage or any other style, you want to make sure it represents you. Spring cleaning is a good time to do this, and not just because you’ve probably amassed a heap of cold-weather clothes in every nook and cranny of your bedroom at this point in the year. As the weather warms up, there are more chances to dress up and head out.
Curating a closet in the modern world can be tough – it has a way of coercing you into wearing what everyone else is wearing. You may have brushed the whole “fashion fades but style is forever” adage off as cliché, but it’s solid advice. Don’t dress to keep up with trends, dress for what makes you feel functional and creative. Elizabeth Hawes wrote in Fashion is Spinach, back in 1938, Style doesn’t change every month or every year. It only changes as often as there is a real change in the point of view and lives of the people for whom it is produced… The New York Times was not kidding when it said that she was decades ahead of her time. If only she were alive today!
Phase 1: Clean
Clearing the clutter will help you on your way to finding a more appropriate wardrobe for your style (again, not fashion). The first thing you need to do is get rid of the clothes that don’t make you feel like YOU. To do this, try on each and every piece of clothing you own. No joke! We all know that what looks good on the rack doesn’t always translate, and if you don’t try them on and give it a twirl, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to keep a bunch of useless items that look just as good on your hanger as they did on the rack.
Phase 2: Donate
What to do with the slush pile? Here’s another reason to leave fast fashion behind and go for a timeless wardrobe: fashion fades, but the impact of it doesn’t – Did you know that not even 20% of clothing donated to thrift shops is actually sold? With so many people buying new clothes each season according to the latest trends, there’s simply TOO MUCH to donate. Unsold clothes can end up anywhere from in landfills to overseas (it’s one of the US’ biggest exports) where they’re sold for a profit.
While the long-term solution is to shop more intentionally so you have less to throw away, you have clothes to donate NOW, so how can you get rid of them? You’ll make the biggest impact by heading to a local abuse shelter, homeless shelter, church or other smaller scale nonprofit that will ensure your clothing goes directly on the backs of people who need it. (If you’re in Los Angeles, Downtown Women’s Center, Los Angeles Mission, and PATH are good places to start.)
Phase 3: Organize
It’s time to create a system that not only makes it easy for you to find clothes each day, but encourages you to wear what’s in the full width of your closet, not just those few pieces in your comfort zone (or just straight up comfy). (Don’t worry if it’s kind of bare right now – the process of building an authentic and timeless wardrobe won’t happen overnight. Just keep wearing your few staples until you’ve managed to get the essentials.) If your closet is small, double up on hangers and pair tops you’re likely to wear together, don’t push anything too far back where you’ll forget it, and even try on everything you’re keeping again to make a note of anything you need to buy to complete the look.
Phase 4: Restock
Finally! The fun part. Shopping is pretty self-explanatory, but if you don’t want to fall into the trend trap and repeat the same past mistakes of being lured into the mall by mega sales on fleeting fads and low quality “must haves”, I have a few tips:
- Start online. Gather inspiration, go on Pinterest, and round up styles that inspire you, eras that influence, and fits that add confidence. Do some digging and find online retailers that offer quality pieces in your price range.
- Make a list. Don’t make it totally compressive (it’s impossible to find everything in one trip anyway), but it will keep you on track. Look at it when you’re out to make sure you don’t forget actual essentials, like tees and denim.
- Go local. Before heading to the mall, do a Google search for boutiques in your neighborhood (and go on Yelp if you don’t find much – there’s usually more). You won’t regret spending a day browsing local boutiques and even exploring a few new coffee shops along the way.
- Take it slow. Whatever you do, don’t try to fill in the holes of your wardrobe or build the perfect closet in a day. You’ll just come home carrying grocery bags of wine and cheese instead.
Know any online shops we should check out here on Modern Vintage Life?