THE PROBLEM: CLOSET CLUTTER
Ever feel like you have so much crap in your closet, but nothing to wear? An endless supply of shirts in all kinds of shapes, sizes, patterns and colors to ratty old t-shirts, sports jerseys, oversized hoodies, and baggy jeans from the early 2000s? You have so many options that it becomes crippling deciding what to wear.
THE SOLUTION: WARDROBE PURGE
Ah yes, a good old wardrobe purge is in order. Not the most exciting thing, but you need to pare down and get rid of the excess. Take inventory of what’s in your closet, trim the fat and only leave room for pieces you will love to wear every single day. To me, a closet cleanse is one of the best and most important things you can do for your personal style. No matter where you are in your style journey, you can benefit from the
simple hard as hell act of cleaning out your closet.
Aziz Ansari, writer and star of the hit Netflix series, “Master of None” has adopted the less is more philosophy:
“If you have a massive closet, you’re kinda lying to yourself. If you have a bunch of dress shirts, you know the one that’s really soft and fits you really well. So I think the goal is to build a closet where it’s just that. I try to do the thing in the book that Japanese lady wrote about paring your closet down: If you look at something and you don’t love it, get rid of it.”
With this article, I’ll guide you through a method that can make it easier for you to determine what to keep and what to get rid of so that you have a closet you can be proud of.
A WARDROBE FULL OF 10’S
Ideally you want everything in your closet to be a 10, according to you. Right now you may have 2’s or 5’s. It’s a no brainer what to do with those. But after the purge you may still have 7s or 8s, which is okay for now. It’s way better than a closet full of 3’s. For now, you can keep 7’s or 8’s. This is what I did after cleaning my closet earlier this Spring. Later on when you’re a bit further along on your style journey, you can up your standard to 9’s-10’s, and get rid of those 7’s and 8’s.
Confused by all these numbers yet?
Before I get into the systematic approach for deciding what to discard and what to keep in your wardrobe, let me first mention the tried and true method most people go by. If you haven’t worn an item in the last 6 months, for some it’s 12 months, then you’ve got to get rid of it no questions asked. But it’s never that simple and that’s why I think this formula can help if you’re struggling to decide what makes the cut.
Let’s call it Gentleman Within’s “F It Method”
The “F It Method” is based on these 3 things:
How well does it (F)it?
If it doesn’t fit well and isn’t worth tailoring, it gets a low grade of say 0-3. If it is something you want to try taking to a tailor, you can up the score to 4-7 (but you have to get it tailored), and if fits nicely, give it a 8-10 depending on how well it fits.
With what (F)requency do you wear it?
- Within the past month = 10
- Within the past 3 months = 7-9
- Within the past 6 months = 4-6
- Within the past 12 months = 0-3
Certain things like a black suit , black shoes or other items that you only wear on the most formal of occasions can be exempt from this. And if it’s out of season, then you can go back to the last day of that season and calculate from there.
What is the (F)eeling that it gives you?
This one is simple. Do you feel amazing with whatever it is that you’re wearing? Give it a 10. Settle for nothing less than a 10 here.
“F IT METHOD” IN ACTION
The “F It Method” can help you with pieces that you’re on the fence about. Let’s quickly try this out.
I have a flannel shirt I bought a few Christmases ago. It’s plaid patterned and bursting with color. Overall, the shirt and sleeves could be a bit shorter, but it fits well. I’d give it about a 7. Since it’s a Winter fabric, let’s go back to say, March 30th. I remember wearing it at least once or twice during that season, so I’ll give it a 7. Finally, I feel good wearing it. It’s warm and appropriate for the holidays. I’ll give it an 8. Add them all up and then divide by 3, which equals 7.3, which means I can keep it. But it’s no 10.
If you feel this whole “F It Method” is way too complicated, which it may very well be, I say if you don’t absolutely love it, if it doesn’t fit well and isn’t worth tailoring, and if you haven’t worn it in the past 6 months, LET IT GO.
BUT I DON’T KNOW…
Look, I get it. It’s hard—really hard, especially if you’re someone like me who likes to hold onto everything. So you spent a lot on a piece and barely wore it, or it holds sentimental value. Or maybe you used to really love it and wore it a lot in the past. Or perhaps you’re thinking about a time in the future that you’re going to need it, (trust me, that day won’t come, and if it ever does, you’ll have better options in your closet) but if you haven’t worn it lately and it no longer represents you and your personal style, then it’s best to get rid of it.
It may hurt at first or during the process of cleaning everything out, but afterwards you will feel a weight lifted. You will have more room to acquire pieces that are more in line with your current personal style. And if you stick with the staples and classic items, you won’t have to go through the process of trashing anything because you will always love it and the only time you’ll have to trash something is when it’s been worn into the ground, which is a good thing. Cost per wear is real.
Get rid of the pieces holding you back. You won’t regret it. It’s the best and most important thing you can do for your personal style. Items that deserve a spot in your closet are those that fit really well, that you wear all the time, and that you feel 100% your best self wearing. Aim to acquire those pieces and don’t settle for any less.
ONE MAN’S TRASH IS ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE
If it’s worth selling, try Facebook Marketplace or Grailed. I feel these are better options than eBay. You could also do a good old fashioned yard sale. If it’s not worth selling, then bag it up and donate to Salvation Army or Goodwill. Finally if it’s in pretty bad shape, do everyone a favor and just trash it.
If you’re serious about developing your personal style, getting it as close as possible to resemble who you are at this stage in your life, you have to be willing to part ways with the things holding you back. I’d say the most difficult of the 3 F’s is frequency. If something is a horrible fit, it’s an easy decision. And if something makes you feel like shit, that’s also an easy choice. But frequency is something you can justify why you haven’t been wearing it. In reality, if you haven’t worn it in the past 6 months to a year, chances are you won’t wear it again. So bite the bullet and say goodbye.
THE BEST IS YET TO COME
Earlier this Spring I sold a few items and filled up 2 large trash bags worth of clothes. I’ll likely have to purge some more as Fall comes around. Yeah, it ain’t easy letting go all at once. But as with any type of positive change in life, you have to get rid of the old (like every last memento of your ex-girlfriend) in order to welcome newer and better things to come.
The key is to pare down. Barron Cuadro over at Effortless Gent refers to this as the lean wardrobe. Antonio Centono, founder of Real Men Real Style talks about this as the interchangeable wardrobe. Essentially it’s maximizing your style options with the fewest amount articles of clothing in your wardrobe.
Sometimes the most important things in life are the hardest. Sure a wardrobe purge isn’t glamorous, but it’s crucial. By doing this, you can take your style from good to great, but you’ve gotta do it now and stop putting it off for later.
IN THE END
No one said it was easy to achieve a closet full of 10’s. I guess that’s why they say #ClosetGoals.
There’s something to be said for a minimalism. Good style can become great style if you curate your wardrobe in such a way that only essential items remain. I’m still learning this myself, but I’ll get there and you will too.
What do you guys think of this method—is it too complicated or worth trying?
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