It’s tax day in America, a day we usually give money a little more thought. In honor of that, in today’s episode, I’m sharing how to use your wardrobe-building resources well.
Obviously, money is a big one, but time and closet space are just as important.
When it comes to time and money, it’s easy to see how they impact your wardrobe, but closet space matters too. From “big purse syndrome” to the importance of white space, make sure your closet is helping you build the wardrobe you’ve always wanted.
Your homework this week is to evaluate how well you’re using one of the three resources. Are you being a good steward of what you have, or are you being wasteful? If you’re not using your resource well, what are some little changes you can make?
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Read the Full Transcript below.
Hi Friends! If you’re listening to this podcast on the day it’s released, you know that it’s April 15, which is Tax Day in the USA…which means I’ve got my mind on my money and my money on my mind. Now, of course, this year is different, because of Covid 19, you get a little extra time, but April 15 is a day we tend to think about money a little more, so in honor of that, I wanted to do a show talking about using our resources well when it comes to building our wardrobes.
Money is obviously the biggest resource we think of when it comes to our wardrobes. We all think that if we had more money, we’d have a better wardrobe, and that might be true, then again it might not. However, money isn’t the only wardrobe-building resource we have. We also have time and closet space, which both play a big role in how your wardrobe looks.
In today’s show, I want to talk about each of these 3 resources, why they’re important to your wardrobe, and some ways we squander them. My goal is to help you make the most of your time, your money, and yes, your closet space to create the best possible wardrobe you can, given the resources you have.
Before I do that though, I wanted to share what Caitlin had to say in her review on Apple Podcasts:
My new go-to!
I love how thoughtful and clear Jen is when speaking about practical, real-person dressing! I walk away from each episode with a better understanding of what I can do to feel my best through the things I wear. A focus on personal choice and self-esteem makes every tip she shares applicable to the individual listener without feeling like there’s right or wrong, or any judgement. Thank you for the insight and guidance I can bring to the stores I *actually* shop at.
Caitlin, if you’re listening–thank you so much for your kind words. More than anything, I want women to make personal style choices, and realize there’s no right or wrong–there’s simply best for you, so you have no idea how happy it makes me to hear that that’s coming through for you and helping you on your style journey.
Ladies, if you’re loving the podcast, and its helping you, I would appreciate it so much if you would subscribe and review the Everyday Style School. Those 5 starts make my day, but more than that, they help other women find our show. I’d love every woman to feel great about the way she looks, and with your help, we can do that, so thank you.
Ok, let’s talk about your 3 wardrobe resources. Time, money, and closet space.
Last year, I shared the principle of easy, cheap, and good. This says that in any undertaking whether it’s planning a birthday party or building your wardrobe, you have to choose two of the three, you can’t have them all. For example, your wardrobe can be cheap and easy, but it probably won’t be good. It can be cheap and good, but you’ll have to put more effort into it–it won’t be easy. And finally, it can be good, and it can be easy, but it won’t be cheap. You can only have 2 of the three.
Your wardrobe resources are different. We all have all three all the time. You don’t have to pick two, and forget about the third. With that said, there isn’t always balance and harmony between them. Some of us have more money than time. Some might have tons of closet space, but no money with which to fill the closet space. Your situation will change over time–I used to have tons of closet space, and now that I don’t, I have to be more mindful of it. So the important things to use your resources smartly all the time. What I want you to notice is how they work together, and how when you waste one resource, you often waste all three.
Let’s start with Money.
I think it’s pretty easy to see why money is important to your wardrobe, right? Without it, you can’t buy clothes. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
There are lots of little ways we waste money on clothes, but I want to talk about two big ones.
First, buying things you don’t wear. When I was doing in-person closet edits, tags on clothes that were bought a long time ago used to hurt my heart. I knew where those things had come from–they came from the clearance section. Linda was flipping through, looking for deals, and found something so cheap that buying it would actually somehow save her money, and inspire her to lose 10 pounds, and to find an event to wear it. I can feel some of you nodding right now..you’ve got that stuff in your closet. I want you to walk away with this. If you haven’t’ worn something you bought within 2 weeks of buying it, the likelihood that you ever will goes way down. Way down. To almost nothing. Don’t let unworn things languish in your closet holding out for someday.
Return them, get the money back, so you can spend it on things you will wear. Once, I had a client who was so proud of her frugality, and her money saving ways–and she had tons of stuff with tags on that she had gotten for a steal. I pulled out my phone, turned on the calculator, and made her start calling out prices as I added it up. She had almost 2 thousand dollars of unworn deals. Not so frugal, huh? Remember that waste, no matter how little, adds up.
Second- Buying things you don’t love to wear. When I was shopping with clients, sometimes they wouldn’t be thrilled with something, and they’d say, “eh, it’s good enough”, and I always said, “good enough isn’t good enough” You never want to wear good enough. You want to wear clothes you love. Whether it’s that t-shirt that’s the perfect weight, or that dress that makes you feel fabulous, no matter how much you have, you’ll always pick the best of what you’ve got.
This is why women have enormous wardrobes but only wear a fraction of it. The majority of our closets falls under “eh, good enough”. When push comes to shove, it isn’t good enough, you don’t want to wear it, and so the money is wasted. This is frankly the biggest money waster. The things you wore a handful of times, and didn’t really get value out of. The reason this happens is because you don’t know what you like, and you don’t know what’s right for you. I guarantee you’ve got clothes in your closet right this very minute you don’t wear because you don’t like how you feel in them. You don’t know why you don’t like how you feel in them, you just know something’s not right. The best way to turn this one around is to figure out what’s best for you–for your coloring, your body shape, your personal style and your lifestyle. That’s when you can spend more money on the right things, because you haven’t wasted it on the wrong things.
I talked with a woman a few months ago, who is stuck in a loop of doing these major closet edits every few months and donating all these clothes, which is a HUGE money waster. I was like, how do you have bags and bags of stuff to give away every quarter? She told me she’s always buying clothes, but she doesn’t really love it, so she doesn’t keep it. I asked her if she’d taken the Body Shape Class? No. Did you take the Signature Style class? No. Did you reach out to the Color Guru? No. I asked her how she was going to break this cycle of not liking what she was buying, and she said “I’ll know it when I see it” and you know what? She’s right–when you find clothes you, you do know, but that is a really costly trial and error process, and not just costly in money–but costly in time and closet space, too.
Put the effort into figuring out what works for you. It doesn’t have to be from me. Go into your closet today and put on something you bought and wore twice. Now figure out why…do you hate the neckline? The color, the fabric? What? Then don’t waste money buying that again.
Let’s move on to time.
Time is kind of like money, you understand that creating a wardrobe you love takes some time. Clothes don’t magically appear in your closet, and you don’t wake up dressed for the day, so I don’t have to explain the importance. I just want to talk about the two big time wasters.
The first way women waste time is procuring their wardrobes. Buying clothes. In my experience women shop too often and buy too little at a time. Now I know we haven’t been doing a lot of mall shopping for last year or so, but still, we tend to buy a shirt here, a pair of pants there, and it feels like we’re never finished–there’s always something we’re missing, or need to buy. I’ve often heard from women “I don’t have time to go shopping” so they do these little shopping runs, not buying much at all. But time, like money adds up. And you do have to spend time building your wardrobe, but the goal should be to have those investments of time add up to something. Even with online shopping, the time it takes to order, wait for your order, send in the returns, adds up. And in the meantime, you got nothing to wear. A better option is to shop less often, but buy more. A few things happen when you do this. One, you save yourself a ton of time. Second, you save money and third, your wardrobe is more cohesive, which makes it easier to get dressed each morning.
Which brings me to my second time waster—getting dressed each day. Did you know women spend on average 40 hours per year figuring out what to wear? That sounds like a lot, but you know what? That’s only 6.5 minutes per day, so I’m thinking a lot of women spend a lot more than 40 hours per year deciding what to wear. You know why? When your closet is organized poorly, or not organized at all, you waste extra time simply finding things. Forget spending time creating a look you love, you’re just trying to find pants. When we are pressed for time, the idea of creating a look we love, or having fun with style goes out the window, and we just need to put on pants and get out the door. This is another reason women only wear a fraction of what they have. When you need to save time, you’ll always go to your old stand by’s.
I get asked all the time about organizing your closet by color, and that looks pretty, but it isn’t efficient. You have to flip through ALL the clothes to find something that’s right for the weather and your activities for the day. If you pick something that requires layering, again you have to go back through ALL the clothes to find a layer. Flipping through clothes multiple times adds up. If you spend an extra 3 minutes per day looking for things in your closet, that’s almost 20 hours per year.
Benjamin Franklin said “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned,” So this weekend spend 20 minutes organizing your closet to get back 20 hours this year. That’s a good investment of time, and your style will thank you for it.
Which brings me to our last wardrobe resource, Closet Space Time and money are super self explanatory, but this one’s not so obvious, so let’s talk about it.
The other day I was being interviewed for a podcast–a home decor, DIY show, and the host asked me why an organized closet is so important. What I said was that it’s really difficult to easily find style in chaos. Can you do it? Sure, you can, but it’s hard. It takes extra time, its frustrating, you’re more likely to wear the same 10 things over and over again.
But there’s another reason, and that is the way you treat your clothes in their storage space says a lot about how you feel about yourself, and your style in general. I have never seen a woman who finds herself worthy of having fabulous personal style with a dumping ground closet. Not in all the hundreds of closets I’ve been in. On the other hand, the women who had some real hangups about taking care of themselves, and investing in themselves had disaster closets full of decades of stuff. I know its not a super scientific study, but I have to believe there’s a correlation there.
Unlike time and money, I don’t really think women squander closet space. So instead, I want to share a couple of thoughts around using closet space well.
The first is the value of white space. For those who don’t know, white space is the space between text, graphics, etc in print or web design. It’s important for a lot of reasons, but one thing I learned ages ago when I did instructional design is that white space–parts of a page with nothing on it, can actually help readers and learners feel at ease, and lead to better comprehension and retention, and make them more confident that they can be successful. All of that by simply having nothing there. Its the same in your closet. When you look at a space that is overwhelmed with tightly packed clothing, no room to put anything else, so many choices, our minds shut down. We don’t feel like getting dressed is fun, or a form of self care–its a stressful chore. I get that a lot of you have tiny closets and don’t have room to space your hangers out 3 inches, and hang artwork on the walls. That’s a great goal, but probably not realistic for most people. In that case, what CAN you do? Can you do a brutal closet edit and get rid of what honestly isnt working? Can you store some out of season stuff? Can you redo your closet to maximize space? Putting even the tiniest bit of white space into your closet will do great things for your style mentality.
The second closet space issue is what I like to call “big purse syndrome”. I actually loved working with women who had smaller closets, because most often, it was pretty well edited to begin with. The Lindas with the big closets, were another story. They had big purse syndrome. What that is, is the idea that if there is space, I must fill it. The name comes from my own love/hate relationship with big handbags. I notice that when I have a small bag, like a clutch or a camera bag, I carry just the essentials–ID, credit card, phone, lipstick, pen. That’s it. When I carry my big bags, I carry EVERYTHING. All the essentials, plus a wrap in case it gets cold. 2 pairs of sunglasses. A business card wallet in case I meet someone I need to give a card to, which hasn’t happened in years, but you never know. 2 tins of mints, a few pens, a highlighter, and some mechanical pencils–you get the idea right? Because I have the space, I fill it.
The other thing that happens is that the quality of each item goes down. If I have space for one lipstick, it’s the one that looks best on me. IF I have plenty of space, I end up with a lot of lipsticks I never wear in there. If I have space for one pen, it works. In my big purse, I can go through 5 or 6 pens before I find one that writes properly.
It’s the same in closets. When we have the space not to be picky, lots of us take advantage of that, and our wardrobes reflect it. If I had a client with a small closet and a minimalist wardrobe, she’d probably have one great black t-shirt. But women with the big purse closets might have 10 black tshirts–that were stretched out, faded, with the belly holes, or an unflattering neckline. You have all these things, except for the one you really need.
If you’re a woman with a big closet, get comfortable with white space. Lots and lots of white space. Just because there is room, doesn’t mean it needs to be full. Focus on having what you need and love, rather than keeping things just because you physically can.
The last thing I want to leave you with today is that when you think about buying things, ask yourself if you’re using your resources well. If you bring home a clearance skirt, and you have nothing to wear with it, you’ve wasted the money on the skirt, the time it took you to buy it, and the closet space of storing it. On the other hand, if you bring home the perfect dress, you’ve invested money in yourself, you’ll save money when you have to find something to wear, and you’re using your closet space well by only holding things you love.
Learn to become a good steward of these three resources, and your style will show it.
Your homework is to pick one of the resources–the one that hit home the most, and ask yourself how you’re using it well, or wasting it. If you’re a person with tags on clothes you never wore, pull out a calculator and get real with yourself about how much you’ve wasted. If you’re wasting time getting dressed every morning, get those hours back by getting organized a little better. If your closet isn’t supporting a woman who values herself and her style, make changes–and clean out that big purse if you’ve got one.
We’ll be back next week! In the meantime, come say hi on Facebook or Instagram–you can find us at everydaystylewithjen on either one. I’d love to connect. Bye for now!