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The Money Mom: Simplify Your Closet

Picture 1If you were watching Today this morning, you know that today marks the end of my sixperiment (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, click that link for a briefer). I’ve officially made it through 30 days of wearing only six items of clothing, often updating Facebook, Twitter and this blog with my progress. It was fun, monotonous, frustrating, a little boring, and very often a bit of a relief. My morning routine was, to say the least, streamlined.

I also learned a lot about how to edit my closet – what I need, what I don’t need – and I have a few bags ready to be donated. To that end, I thought I’d share some tips with you. Even if you’re not ready or willing to limit yourself to six items of clothing – trust me, I understand – it can be really freeing to clean out your closet and live a little more simply, whatever that means to you. The extra money in your pocket is just icing on the cake.

Set yourself up with staples. I certainly found out what mine were over the last month, and I’ll tell you, my black pencil skirt and black cardigan saved me on more than one occasion. A few versatile pieces are really the foundation of your closet, and you can mix and match them to your taste. Suggestions from Jill Heller, a sustainable fashion stylist and founder of PureThread, include a pair of medium to dark wash jeans, a crisp white shirt (with or without a collar – your choice), a cardigan in a neutral color like grey, and a black dress. You can pick and choose to fit your own lifestyle, but the idea is to select items that can be worn in a variety of different ways. That cardigan, for example, can be worn over a dress, your white shirt, or buttoned up with jeans or a skirt.

Start at the store. A well-edited closet means having a lot of self-control. If you’re wondering how many times you’ll wear something, put it back on the rack, says Heller. Instead, you want to look at the cost and compare it with how often and how long you’ll be able to wear the item. “Spend a little more here, because it’s really about multiple usage, and getting the most mileage out of things. I’ve even seen reversible cardigans, where one side is brown and one side is black, so with one item, you get two colors,” says Heller. She also suggests dresses that you can wear a variety of different ways, like sustainable bamboo one from ANGeLRoX. Remember, you’re going for quality over quantity.

Accessorize. You don’t have to get crazy, but one thing I learned is that a couple of bright scarves or a few pieces of jewelry can give the same old outfits a brand new look. These kinds of pieces are generally inexpensive, so they allow you to dabble in trends or switch up your look from season to season without breaking the bank. “Fashion is about change and newness, and so when we buy something that we’ll get a long life out of, it sort of goes against the fashion industry. So you want to get your fantastic quality basics that last a long time and fit great, and then play with accessories and color in a way that doesn’t cost much,” explains Heller.

Repurpose. We all have a few things that we just can’t wear any more, but we can’t part with them either. Maybe the material is beautiful, but the dress doesn’t fit, or your favorite old leather jacket has a small tear in the sleeve. Consider recycling the material into something new and different – that jacket could become a handbag. There are a lot of new designers popping up these days that specialize in this kind of sustainable fashion, called upcycling. One Heller recommends, specifically for handbags, is reMade USA.

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