4 Steps to Cultivating A More Practical Wardrobe

If you're like most people, it can seem like you have too many articles of clothing and not enough all at once. The average American spends $1,800 a year on clothing, yet a large percentage of those items are only worn once or twice before being doomed to many months forgotten on the hanger.

Too often, we have wardrobes full of impractical items. Owning a handful of T-shirts is great for styling casual outfits or hitting the gym, but owning 50 T-shirts means you have 45 fewer hangers where other useful items could reside.

Creating a closet that's practical, organized, and stocked with the right stuff is tricky. It can take years to cultivate a wardrobe that works for you rather than against you. If you're tired of dealing with the disorganized space, and longing for stress-free mornings, start with a closet makeover. Here are four stylish tips to get you started.

1. Purge, Purge, Purge

A closet that's too full is, honestly, harder to manage than a closet that is too empty. Before you go shopping for your more practical dream wardrobe, start by getting rid of items you no longer need. Toss items that have been damaged or stained beyond a simple repair. Next, donate belongings that no longer fit, or that you haven't worn in six months. Though you may be tempted to save some items "just in case," try to be honest. If you take the shirt off every time you put it on, it will probably haunt your closet for another year or more before you ultimately get rid of it anyway.

2. Get Organized

Once your closet is looking considerably emptier, start developing a plan for keeping items more organized. Use colored hangers or tabs to organize each section of your wardrobe, delineating an area for dress shirts, casual shirts, and jackets. Try to keep your favorites and in-season items in easy-to-reach areas, so you don't have to dig through your whole wardrobe to find staple items.

3. Identify Wardrobe Strengths and Weak Spots

Once you've developed an organizational scheme, you'll be better able to identify which areas your closet is lacking in. Is your stack of jeans looking a little sparse? Did your purge leave you with a single, reliable-but-tired sweater? Taking a quick inventory can help you start a shopping list. Also, take a moment to notice which brands you have the most of. Chances are, if you like a brand enough to keep multiple items, you'll like the fit and style of other items by that brand, too. You can even snap a few pics of the tags to jog your memory; after all, 35% of people wouldn't have discovered a business had it not been for their sign!

4. Shop Smart

Once you've purged, organized, and evaluated your wardrobe, it's time to get shopping! Stick to the list you've made-- it can be tempting to buy a fun shirt when you were looking for underwear, but resist! You'll thank yourself later when you have a neat, well-stocked closet. Also consider comfort and your daily activities as you shop. If an item looks great but is a little uncomfortable to wear, save yourself hours of irritation, and don't buy it. Similarly, focus on buying items that will layer well so you can easily adjust your outfit to seasonal changes. After all, 45% of an average person's energy bill goes toward heating, but with a practical wardrobe, you can throw on a well-planned (and cute) sweater without ever touching the thermostat!

Are your hangers jam-packed on their rack? Is your laundry hamper is eternally full? Do you nevertheless struggle to coordinate outfits you like? If any of this sounds like you, it's time for a closet-practicality overhaul. Use these tips to make a more useful and neater closet. In four simple steps, you'll look fabulous, and your daily dressing routine will feel wonderfully simple.

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