Stewardship of Life

Lessons from a Happy Closet ala Audrey

Posted in Just Living by Sharron R. Lucas on January 20, 2010

The closet purge is history, and my closet and I are both very happy.  It looks so orderly. I can see everything. The clothes have room to breathe, and the shoes are organized. I think I was about four years old that last time my wardrobe was so lean and easy to manage.  Maybe it will hit me later that I have really limited myself in terms of options, but for now it just seems good. Wondering what this has to do with Audrey Hepburn? Well, gentle reader, read on.

Now that the wardrobe is clean and lean, the question is how to be a good steward of this streamlined closet. There are plenty of organizational gurus and websites in cyberspace offering any number of ideas and plans, but I’ll keep it simple. Whenever something comes in, something goes out. An heir to that depression-era mentality of “don’t throw it out because you never know just when you might need it,” this will be a good challenge for me. Next time I’m in Plato’s Closet or another resale or consignment shop and find a great pair of slacks or jeans, I’ll have to decide if the purchase is really necessary. Do I need them enough to cull one of the two pair of jeans I currently own? Is the little patched tear in the back pocket of my favorite khakis annoying and noticeable enough to justify spending $15 on a new-to-me pair? That $15 could go into savings, could be applied to my student loans, or could be given to support a ministry of choice.

Another way I hope to keep a lid on the clutter is to keep a running list of items that would be helpful to augment my wardrobe. For example, one thing I hope to find this year is a really great white, tailored dress shirt.

The only one I have right now is a seven-year-old oxford cloth basic from Eddie Bauer. It works, but it isn’t great. I also want to keep an eye out for a lovely cardigan or two in bright colors that work with black. If I find one or more, I’ll say a fond farewell to the oversize wool sweater from Scotland that has more pills than my medicine cabinet. I’m finding that I really don’t need that much.

One of my fellow Compactors once posted a list that I think she called the basic “Audrey Hepburn” wardrobe. Here’s the list:

2 pair classic Capri pants

2 white shirts

6 pairs of shoes

2 basic black dresses

Trench Coat

4 classic sweaters

2 simple skits

I like the concept a lot, although it would have to be modified for North Dakota conditions. Capris don’t work so well when the snow is over your knees, and boots are a must have for at least four months out of the year.  Just try tripping across snowy terrain of the Fargo Airport parking lot on a January afternoon in a cute little pair of ballet flats with no socks—not smart. At any rate, I believe it is possible to have a functional, stylish wardrobe built around a few really good pieces instead of a closet full of things that seemed at the time to be a really great idea. After all, how we shop and clothe ourselves is ultimately an issue of justice and stewardship.

                I’ll keep you posted on my progress, and if you see any great white shirts let me know.

How basic is your wardrobe? How much can you streamline your closet? I’d love to hear from you.

5 Responses to 'Lessons from a Happy Closet ala Audrey'

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  1. m said,

    I have some medical conditions that made me gain weight after I got married and tried several different medications, surgery, etc. I finally lost the weight and had to redo my entire wardrobe.

    I also had to redo my wardrobe from that of a college student at Bob Jones University to one that would be more suitable for my lifestyle now. I don’t like to spend a lot of money on everyday clothes for me because I’m not in public that much. I do have some unique requirements because of my chronic diseases. I need comfortable lounge clothing to wear around the house and have found some great yoga and sweat pants on clearance at TJ Maxx and even Target.

    When I cleaned out my wardrobe, I was able to consign most of it and also give a lot of my extra skirts and church outfits to my SIL who is a pastor’s wife.

    I absolutely *adore* Clothes Mentor, the upscale women’s clothing and accessories consignment shop that is owned by the same people as Plato’s Closet. The clothing is much better quality, but the prices are incredibly inexpensive.

    I have to carry medication including an epipen with me at all times. I love finding fabulous deals on cute handbags at Clothes Mentor. I have also picked up a lot of scarves and shawls that help accessorize the few outfits that I have. The shawls also help keep me warm.

    I’ve noticed that a lot of the most fashionable women like Anna Wintour (Vogue’s editor in chief) and Audrey Hepburn have figured out what silhouettes look best on them and buy outfits accordingly. I lean towards trouser jeans and other pants that have that silhouette. I also like hip skimming cardigans. I love thick matte jersey for skirts and sheath dresses which can be dressed up and down with a nice jacket, cardigan or shawl.

    As for shoes, I’ve discovered that quality is much more important than quantity. While I would *love* to have a closet full of shoes, I find that I keep wearing the same few pairs. With my health issues, support and comfort are most important. I’m young, and I want pretty shoes. I invested in a pair of Cole Haan black dress shoes which I found on sale on Ebay. I’ve gotten other great shoes at TJ Maxx/Marshalls and Ebay. The expensive shoes last so much longer and are so much more comfortable. I can economize on other items.

    I find a lot of my best pieces at consignment stores and outlets. Quality is important. My GAP tees that I got on sale for $5 each last so much longer than the ones I got at Old Navy.

    My last discovery is that natural fibers last so much longer and are more comfortable. I’ve gotten fabulous deals on cashmere sweaters at the end of the season, and they last so much longer than the blends. You just have to keep your eye open for deals and know your fabrics!

    I don’t keep a lot of clothes, but I don’t always throw out something just because I’m not going to wear it again. Some items have history, like the dress I was wearing when I got engaged and the one that our engagement photo was taken in. My husband remembers what I was wearing when we first met. He likes that I have kept a few important clothing pieces. I’m not a packrat by any stretch of the term, but it doesn’t take much room to keep a couple of dresses, a sweatshirt and my wedding dress–my husband loves for me to dress up in my wedding attire every year or so.

    If I were you, I’d keep that wool sweater that has so much history. You may wish you had hung onto it in another 10-15 years. Someone else may want to wear it, or you might want to turn it into a baby blanket or felt the wool and make a fuzzy toy out of it.

    • Thanks for your many good comments and ideas! I’ll be talking more in my next post about minimizing my closet post move.

  2. […] months ago, I wrote about streamlining my wardrobe and trying for a more unified, basic, yet stylish look. In the interim, I have made a 1500 mile […]

  3. […] months ago, I wrote about streamlining my wardrobe and trying for a more unified, basic, yet stylish look. In the interim, I have made a 1500 mile […]

  4. women loves deep colors so i think that the best womans clothing should have bright and beautiful colors *;;

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