You know, I thought I had this closet editing thing down pat. That there was nothing new to possibly learn about culling and organizing my closet. Nothing to change or refine in my own method short of doing the Marie Kondo “sparking joy” thing. Or applying those hard and fast rules like one piece in means one piece out, or if you haven’t worn it for a whole season it has to go. Rules which do NOT appeal to me at all. And then I stumbled across New York stylist Allison Bornstein and her “Closet Editing System.” And I thought, “That sounds like fun.”
So I decided to give Allison’s method a try and film the process so you could listen in. Because it’s much more fun sorting through my closet when I have someone to chat to while I’m doing it.
Allison’s five step method:
Identify your closet “regulars.” What do you wear all the time? Not what you want to wear and don’t. Not what you know you should be wearing. Just what you reach for time and time again. Then spread all those pieces out and have a look. What is your “signature style?”
Okay. I’ve piled all my “regulars” on the bed. Let’s chat about them for a bit.
What do you never wear? Whether you love it or not. Pile all those pieces on the bed.
Categorize all your “never wear” pieces by analyzing why you never wear them. Put them into one of three piles.
A. Gotta go pile. You really don’t like that piece anymore, and don’t want to wear it. Get rid of it. Donate or consign.
B. Not now pile. You still love this piece but just don’t want to wear it now. Store it. I’m a big fan of the “not now” pile.
C. How pile. You love this piece and want to wear it but you can’t think how to style it.
I’ve finished step 2 and all my “never pieces” are on the bed. That darned bed is getting piled, I can tell you. Ha. Now let’s try to figure out why I never wear these pieces.
Spend some time restyling your “how” pieces with pieces from your “regular” collection. This is the part of Allison’s system that I had the most fun with. And which I never thought of doing myself. Taking pieces which I reach for all the time and pairing them with pieces which I love but which have been languishing in my closet.
I haven’t worn my pink Everlane tee shirt enough. I’d planned to wear it under my Veronica Beard jacket, with jeans or my Burberry denim skirt, and sneakers. But in the spring when I was more likely to wear an outfit with a jacket, we were “sheltering in place,” and I simply went nowhere. Now the jacket would be too hot.
Today I just popped it on with my navy and white checked Rag and Bone pants which I already had on. I like this. Really simple to haul on to go to the library when it opens later this month. Yah! Or out for coffee on a patio. It’s a bit of a spin on my usual white tee, and the red in the sneakers kind of ties in with the pink. I didn’t play with jewellery today. Not sure I have anything that will work. I might just throw on a cross-body bag and go. My little red one from two years ago, maybe.
My black crepe Aritzia joggers from 2015 still fit, and I have no idea why I haven’t worn them for ages. Perhaps because if I want to wear black pants, I pull out my Rag and Bone Simone cropped pants instead. But Allison’s idea to try a never worn piece with something I wear all the time gave me some ideas. I could pair the joggers with my more slouchy, baggy Everlane pocket-tee, do a half-tuck, and wear my ubiquitous Stan Smith sneakers. I like this look. And for more texture, I threw my Theory crocheted sweater around my shoulders. I like the cream on white. Looks good with my “new” hair.
I didn’t style my other “how” pieces. I’ll do those another day. But step 4 has given me some much needed ideas to rescue a couple of my “never wear” pieces. So that’s time well spent in my books.
Allison’s step 5 is all about categorizing and organizing your closet. I don’t need to do that. All my jeans hang together. Ditto dress pants, jackets, tees, blouses, and tee shirts. My closet is so small keeping it organized is not hard. And because I don’t have a lot of room, I reorganize every spring and fall when I bring out my seasonal pieces. In fact, I’m kind of excited to try Allison’s method when I turn my closet from summer into fall in a couple of months.
One thing that Allison’s method doesn’t address is the fact that “never wear” is a matter of interpretation. Never could mean you literally never wear that item. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that. A couple of the pieces I classified as “never wear” … I do wear… sometimes. But never willingly. And I almost always wear that piece because I feel guilty about its not being worn. And I don’t feel good about myself when I’m wearing it. So I gave myself some leeway when I designated a piece as “never wear.” Maybe I should have said, “never willingly wear.”
Other pieces I didn’t classify as “never wear”, when someone else might. These are pieces I wear maybe only once or twice a season. Pieces like my navy Rag and Bone dress from 2016 with the netting detail. I love this dress. I don’t often have occasion to wear it, but when I do I feel great in it. Ditto my Burberry denim skirt. I have had this skirt for years. Lately I’ve been wearing it once or twice a summer with a casual tee, sneakers and my Veronica Beard navy jacket. I love this outfit. It makes me feel comfortable and polished at the same time. And feeling great in an outfit once or twice a season is reason enough for me to continue to give that skirt and dress closet space.
Anyway. Have a look at Allison herself applying her 5-step closet editing system to Violette’s closet below.
Culling one’s closet during a pandemic can be a bit of a struggle. When you might be working from home, or not working at all, not travelling or doing much of what you’d normally do in the summer. And thus not wearing nearly as many of your summer clothes as you would in other years.
It’s hard to make judgements about what you always or never wear when you’re not wearing anything much besides shorts and old tee shirts. Or I’m not at any rate. Plus I think the mood we’re all in these days might make us more susceptible to getting rid of pieces we should keep. Still, I was surprised that I had so many “never” pieces. And I feel good about my decision to let those pieces go.
And I may yet decide to change the designation on that navy and white tee I’m wearing in the videos. It looked fine in the mirror when I put it on with my checked pants. Look at me pattern mixing, I thought. But mirrors are flat. And I kind of gasped seeing myself in it in the videos, “in the round”… so to speak. Ha. Round being the operative word. Now, it may have been that the video showed only my short, wide top-half, not offset by my legs. It may have been the horizontal stripes. Or it may just be that I need to face the fact that I am getting “broader in the beam” as I said in one of the videos. I still think I’ll rethink that top.
But I think I’ll think about that tomorrow.
How about you my friends? Have you been culling anything during the pandemic?
P.S. If you’re interested, here are links to some of my “regulars”, pieces I reach for the most in my closet. These are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link I will make a commission.
Everlane box-cut, pocket tee. Vince short-sleeve tee. Everlane rusched air-blouse. Everlane tank. . Rag and Bone Simone Pant. Frame high-rise straight-leg jeans. Paige high-rise skinny jeans. Frame straight-leg white jeans. Frame mini-boot cropped white jeans. Veronica Beard scuba jacket. Theory white blazer.