Happy Earth Day, peeps. Let’s celebrate it by starting with your closet.
FACT: The average woman’s closet is a cesspool of material waste.
Recall the inspiration for the first installment of Wardrobe Bitchslap, if you will. The Pareto Principle is its technical moniker; the Closeto Principle is its lame-in-hindsight Cheap JAP designation; cut all the bull, and it’s the 80-by-20 theory.
80-by-20 theory in world of business —–> 80% of sales come from 20% of clients.
80-by-20 theory in world of wardrobe —–> 80% of outfits come from 20% of clothes.
We’ve been through this. We know only twenty percent of everything we own gets worn on a regular basis. We know we should probably reassess our YAYs, NAYs and OY VEYs, figure out what works, toss what doesn’t, and shop according to the results of our respective Wardrobe Bitchslaps in the future to ensure that we actually use what we buy.
Fast forward one year, and we’re back at square one.
There’s nothing royal about the “we” repeated above. I can’t speak to the aftermath of your Wardrobe Bitchslaps – maybe you managed to disprove the 80-20 theory, maybe you really do wear what’s in your closet often enough to have zero regrets about buying it – I can only speak from personal experience.
Here’s a snapshot of MY closet post-Bitchslap, circa one year later:
What the eff happened? I initially made a valiant effort to assess what I wanted in relation to my YAYs pre-purchase. Why couldn’t I keep it up? Because in a stuff-saturated culture, buying only things you’ll actually use is a tall order. The Thing Buzz is a ticking time bomb set to derail your good intentions.
Said Thing Buzz looks something like this: You go shopping for something you need, you can’t find it, you grow irritated, and the bust pisses you off to the point of relapse. You just want to buy SOMETHING, ANYTHING, it doesn’t effing matter WHAT it is. The prospect of going home without a material treat – without the Buzz – is simply too disheartening to bear. So you make an exception.
I don’t really wear necklaces, but this one’s soooo cute; I’m not a skirt person, but it’s only $5; the last time I wore heels this high I broke my ankle, but these are too hot to refuse… and BAM! Stuff you don’t need and won’t wear slowly creeps into your closet.
This leaves us with two options. We can cut ourselves off from media, internet, television, blackberries, iPads and everything else bound to influence our buying behavior, and go all Walden Pond and shit. Or we can keep trying.
You’re probs wondering if this tangential diatribe has anything to do with environmental consciousness a la Earth Day, so let’s connect the dots. Say you buy a top at H&M that proves an impulse purchase – a top that sits in your closet barely-worn until it gets donated to charity or whatevs. H&M doesn’t know that you bought it and didn’t wear it – it just knows X amount of customers bought Y top in Z week, and re-stocks accordingly.
One shopper’s erroneous top purchase doesn’t tip the scales, but think about how many other shoppers make the same mistake. I know I have. Put us all together – all of us who shop at H&M and buy tops we never wear – and the numbers are enough to cause a significant increase in the production of H&M tops, and an unnecessary one at that. The result isn’t just more tops – it’s all the environmental no-nos the manufacturing of those tops creates.
One shopper’s Thing Buzz resistance doesn’t tip the scales either, but what if most of us managed to abstain from an H&M impulse buy? X amount of customers wouldn’t have bought Y top in Z week; H&M wouldn’t have needed to re-stock accordingly; a decrease in production means a decrease in environmental no-nos; etc.
There’s a margin for Thing Buzz error in secondhand shopping too. An impulse buy shopped resale might have zero carbon footprint, but if it’s a thing you end up not wearing, it’s a karmic no-no. You’ve robbed someone else of a thriftastic score! Tsk, Tsk.
Bottom line? What you buy isn’t inconsequential, regardless of how you shop it. Be brutally honest with yourself about whether or not you’ll wear it, and you’ll buy less by default. You’ll be more likely to wear what you do buy, and your closet will be greener for it…and not because you stock it with $180 organic hemp cotton bamboo tee-shirts either. A closet of things you wear regularly, things purchased not in the spirit of excess but in the spirit of conservation, is a small step toward making every day earth day (at least where fashion’s concerned).
Oh, riiiiight. All this warmth and fuzziness almost made me forget about the part where my closet is a total shitshow. It’s not easy to shop according to what you wear in lieu of what you want in a given moment, but eff it – I’m giving it a whirl anyway. Earth Day is a day for resolutions. Today, I resolve to reassess what I wear (and donate what I don’t) so I can shop smarter in the future.
Today, I resolve to not buy overpriced shoes made from soda cans on the grounds that they’re green.
Today, I bitchslap my wardrobe. Again.
At this stage of the Wardrobe Bitchslapping Process, it’s time to literally clean house. This is how we do it.
All NAYs can be categorized as such:
The Money NAYs
Money NAYs consist of gently worn designer castoffs that you will SELL. NYC’s consignment stores are notoriously snooty, so unless your stuff is uber upscale (think Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, DVF, etc.) AND relatively recent (anything from the 80s or 90s probs won’t fly), don’t even bother with those jerk-offs. Ebay’s your best bet.
The Thriftastic NAYs
Thriftastic NAYs are best sold at Buffalo Exchange, or at stores like Beacon’s Closet. They’re usually cool, no-name items or stuff that’s one notch down on the brand-o-meter (GAP, Banana Republic, Juicy Couture, etc.). Money NAYs can def be sold as Thriftastic NAYs if you don’t feel like completing the nine thousand steps necessary for selling on Ebay.
The She-Would-Love-That NAYs
These depend on how much you like your friends and family. Getting rid of something you know would look fab on your cousin? Wrap it up real pretty: Happy Hannukah to her! What? It’s not re-gifting if you’re giving away clothes you bought for yourself. Just don’t saddle her with a fugly college sweatshirt or something.
The Charity NAYs
My Charity NAYs often go to my parents’ housekeeper’s daughters. So noble of me, I know. Give yours to a local shelter, Goodwill, Salvation Army, whatever. Some people really do need clothes.
The Nostalgic NAYs
Your old sorority garb. Your Bat Mitzvah gown. Your best Halloween get-up. These are NAYs because they don’t belong in your closet, not because you’re saying goodbye forever, so cease with the sniffles. Nostalgic NAYs go in the attic, in a space-saving storage bag under the bed or in that trunk that doubles as a coffee table. Out of the closet, out of sight, but never out of mind. Oh, memories!
The Garbage NAYs
Old socks, ripped and/or pitstained (eew!) t-shirts. Anything utterly unwearable. This and ONLY this is what you throw out. If I bust you trashing the bag of NAYs destined for Goodwill, I will personally hunt you down and beat some sense into your lazy arse with my Botkier bag. Giving to charity – Good; Giving to landfills – Bad.
As I recently subjected my own closet to the Wardrobe Bitchslapping Process, I’m well aware that much of this is easier said than done, particularly where letting go of the Money NAYs is concerned. The high-end stuff to which I’m saying buh-bye follows.
The next stage of the Wardrobe Bitchslapping Process starts and ends with an OY VEY. Actually, I’m lying. It starts with you NOT touching and/or attempting to organize the YAY and NAY piles. The reasons for prolonging the disarray will become clear in due time, young Skywalkers. For now, quiet your inner-neat freaks and focus.
When Mom and I got to the OY VEY pile, we repeated variations of the following exchange for almost every article of clothing.
Me: (holding up item) What about this?
Mom: I wear that!
Me: When was the last time you wore it?
Mom: That’s not the POINT. I THINK about wearing it.
This is but one example of the kind of waffling you’re apt to indulge in whilst sorting the OY VEYs. Use these three steps to counter the flippity-floppity:
1. STOP, LOOK & LISTEN
Yup, we’re doing a little visual exercise here. Look at the item you’re holding; look at the NAY pile. Look at the item you’re holding; look at the YAY pile. Is the article in question similar in color, cut, style and/or material to your other YAYs or not? If so…
2. TRY IT ON
Immediately. If you’re not comfortable wearing it now, you’re not going to wear it anytime soon, dollface. And don’t give me any of that this-will-look-great-if-I-just-lose-five-pounds bullshit. You’ve got a whole pile of YAYs that look great NOW, and whatever you’re trying to squeeze into obvs shrunk in the dryer and cannot be trusted ;).
3. MAYBE USUALLY MEANS…
NO. But even I can’t go uber-minimalist (oxymoron?) in one Wardrobe Bitchslap. Only you know what you use most in your closet. Only you know what cuts, styles, colors and materials make you feel fab. Sort your OY VEYs according to that, and you’ll get closer and closer to the epic achievement of actually wearing all that stuff you “need.”
DON’T feel guilty about the accumulating NAYs. We’ve wasted just as much moolah on our castoffs as you did on yours. And it’s not like we’re throwing this stuff in the trash: We’re going to donate it, gift it, sell it, and/or re-fashion it. Stay tuned for tips on Greenly dispersing your NAYs slash organizing your YAYs.
To refresh: The Closeto Principle and/or 80-20 Theory states that 80% of our outfits come from 20% of our clothes. Here’s how to sift through the shit to find the stuff that’s the SHIZNAT.
Disclaimer: If the words pack rat, sentimental and/or greedy apply to you, embark on this process with a friend whose opinion you trust and whose spending habits and personal style you admire.
1. Get it OUT.
All of it. I’m not effing around. Remove EVERY SINGLE PIECE of clothing from your closet. I don’t care if it’s an American Apparel tee or a Diane von Furstenberg frock. I don’t care if it’s a pair of slacks you haven’t seen in years or those leggings you wear 24/7. Out of the closet and onto the floor it goes. Successful execution of Step 1 should result in a massive, disorganized pile of crap. Read on.
2. Yay, Nay, Oy Vey; Repeat.
Every single item in your wardrobe falls into one of the following three categories.
YAY! (yes): Your fave pair(s) of jeans; your go-to LBD; that linen blazer you can’t wait to bust out each spring; those camis you wear under everything you own. The stuff you LOVE not for its brand or because it’s, like, so Now, but because it makes you feel fab every time you put it on. YAY.
NAY! (no): Anything you haven’t worn in six months. Anything that makes you feel fugly, fat or flat-chested. Anything appropriate for a costume or theme party and no other occasion. Anything you’ve been saving for your BFF/sister/daughter/niece. Anything you’re keeping around only to rationalize how much money you wasted on it. NAY.
*Don’t flip out – we’re not donating or trashing all this stuff, stupidhead. We’re just getting it out of YOUR closet because YOU aren’t wearing it. Mmkay?
OY VEY! (maybe): A shapeless cashmere sweater; an accidentally-shrunken shirt; a designer suit too dressy for the office; a pair of stilettos too painful to walk in; a baggy dress; your ‘skinny’ jeans; all that shit you haven’t let go of because it’s a brand, really pretty and/or invokes nostalgia; anything you have ANY doubts about tossing OR keeping for whatever reason. OY VEY.
After you’ve sorted every single item in your closet into one of these three piles, you’ll likely have a little YAY, a little NAY, and a whole lot of OY VEY.
To be continued…
Wear something black and plain with that skirt. Don’t crap it up with anything crazy.
This, from Mom, after she’d bestowed said skirt upon me.
I can’t stand it when she’s right!
If the I Rock! face, victory dance, and two-thumbs-up don’t say it: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!
Psyched to the point of cheesiness. Obvs.