Spring Ahead: A Guide to Refreshing Your Spring Wardrobe

Published On: April 17, 2024

I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of spending plans with clients over the last 35 years, and when we got to the Clothing category, there was almost always hesitation. 

 When I probed further, I found several reasons why they wanted to skip this category.

  1. I’ve gained weight and didn’t want to buy clothes at this weight
  2. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I don’t have to worry about how I dress
  3. I have a closet full of clothes already
  4. I feel guilty about what I’ve already spent on clothes. 
  5. I hate to shop.

Regardless of the stated reason they wanted to skip this category, there was a common thread that, deep down, they believed they didn’t deserve to spend money on a wardrobe that they loved, and that would make them feel great.  

Yet, in every scenario, clients described how difficult it was to face the new day or a special occasion because they didn’t have anything good to wear.  

There’s a reason it would be hard to face a day with nothing to wear. Research shows a link between clothing choices and mental well-being.  

Why Your Clothes Matter

Several studies indicate that what you wear can alter your mood and psychological state. One survey, for example, found that 96% of respondents felt their emotional state changed depending on what clothes they chose to wear.

Your clothes tell a story and can have a recognizable impact on your mood and emotions. Have you ever worn a new outfit and instantly felt confident and beautiful? Or thrown on a stained t-shirt and an old pair of sweatpants and suddenly shifted from energized to exhausted?

Your clothes also influence how others see you. 

The idea of fashion psychology supports the belief that your wardrobe can influence everything from the outcome of a sports match to an interviewer’s impression of your ability to perform effectively in a job position. Your clothing choices can distinguish you in a group setting or help you hide in a crowd. 

It’s not frivolous or shallow to care about what you wear. Your clothes matter. 

I also want to note that cleaning your closet and freshening your wardrobe can be very emotional. Don’t be afraid to ask for support! Ask your partner or friend if they’d be willing to help you during this time.

How do you go from “I have nothing to wear” to “I love what I’m wearing?

It all starts here – 

Your Closet Refresh: The Clean-Out

First, block off two to three days to complete this process. Make sure that it’s okay for things to be a mess. 

First, take a complete inventory of all of your clothes and accessories. Take everything out of your closet — and I mean everything! Sort your items into five groups:  

  1. The Love and Wear Pile: This group includes items you love, wear, and plan to keep.
  2.  The Discard Pile: These are “meh” items that you dislike or just don’t wear. They may not fit or feel like “you.” Later, you can sort this pile and decide whether to toss, sell, or donate.
  3. The Ambivalent Pile: This pile includes those items that you’re unsure of. You’ll take a few weeks to sort through these things, try them on, and determine if you want to keep them. One day a week, wear something from this pile. At the end of the day, decide if it goes back in your closet or into The Discard Pile. 
  4. The Special Moments Pile: Here, you have items with sentimental attachments or for special occasions.
  5.  The Get Fixed Pile: Lastly, this group includes items that you want to keep but need alterations, mending, or cleaning.

Now that your closet is empty, do a deep clean.

 Tip: Take a look at your hangers. It’s important to throw away your wire and mismatched hangers and purchase matching hangers instead. 

Nearly ten years ago, I helped my granddaughter Jacqueline fix up her closet, and we bought bright pink plastic hangers. On a recent visit, I noticed that she still uses these hangers — so think of this upgrade as an investment in your future! 

Here are a few things to consider: 

  • You may want plastic hangers. I like using them for kids because it makes it easy for them to slide clothes on and off. The downside is that they take up more space.
  • I use slim, black velvet hangers. They leave a minimal footprint, so they are ideal for smaller closets or closets filled with lots of clothes.
  • Choose a color you like and buy enough for all of your clothes. You don’t want your clothes competing for hanger space!
  • Having just enough hangers is also a great way to track incoming items. Perhaps you’ll be encouraged to give away a lesser-worn dress or blouse to make space for something new, thus ensuring that your wardrobe stays filled with pieces you love and wear.
  • Lastly, if possible, use wooden hangers for your coats and keep them in a separate closet. If they’re hanging near your front door, it’s nice to leave a few empty hangers for your guests to use. 

Your Closet Refresh: Action Steps

Now, take The Love and Wear Pile and put them back into your closet.

You can group your clothes by type—blouses, skirts, pants, and dresses separately —or you can group all of your clothes by color. So you would have pants and blouses together but by color. 

I’ve tried both ways and like them both.

Tip: Now, take a moment to look at what you have done. Imagine looking in your closet and seeing only clothes you love.  

For The Discard Pile, decide whether to toss, donate, or consign. Avoid putting these clothes back into your closet, as they’ll quickly be forgotten again. It may be hard to part with some things, especially if they were expensive, so be prepared for an emotional tug-of-war! A support person can be particularly helpful in these moments. 

For the Ambivalent Pile, use your old hangers. Hang them together and try to wear them over the next month or so (if they’re in season, of course). If you don’t wear them, it’s time to say goodbye. 

Also, note if there are “orphans,” those items you love but can’t make a complete outfit with them. Those three blouses that just don’t go with any of your current pants. Hint: the pants that would complete those outfits might be the first thing on your shopping list. 

Onto The Special Moments Pile! You can hang on to these pieces, but hang them in a nice garment bag in the back of your closet. I still have my wedding dress and two beautiful nightgowns hanging in cloth bags from The Container Store. They no longer fit, but I never want to part with them. If you have an extra closet, you may want to keep them there. 

Other special occasion items may still be in rotation, which is great! For instance, my husband kept his wedding suit and wore it to our grandson’s wedding. 

Finally, don’t put away clothes in the Get Fixed Pile. Instead, put them near your front door and make plans to drop them off accordingly. One of my money coaches recently told me that she took three pairs of pants to get the hems shortened. Suddenly, she felt like she had so many more things to wear. These small changes can make a big difference!

 Repeat this process with shoes, handbags, jewelry, and other accessories. 

I recommend doing a total closet cleanout with the change of the seasons. 

Tip: As you complete your closet inventory, you may notice areas of clothing deprivation.  

There are three signs or patterns of behavior that people develop as they struggle with deprivation in their lives. These are: 

  • Doing without: You live without essentials like undergarments and appropriate shoes.
  • Making do: In this case, you work with what you have, using inadequate substitutions for real needs.
  • Overdoing it: In this case, you may be overdoing it, overspending, and spending a lot of time shopping online.

By exploring whether and how you’re operating in one of these three states when getting dressed each day, you can change your relationship with your wardrobe and thus improve your sense of self-worth. Think about the categories of clothing where you are Doing Without, Making Do, or Overdoing.

Your Closet Refresh: The Shopping Trip

Before you make your shopping list, look at your current wardrobe (The Love and Wear Pile) and think of two words to describe your clothing story. Think about the roles you fulfill and how you spend your days. When I first completed this exercise, my words were professional and approachable. As time passed, I added comfortable to the list.

Your Shopping List

Your Needs and Wants List

Once you’ve determined Your Wardrobe Words, it’s time to consider what may be missing from your closet and create a shopping list. 

For instance, if one of your words is professional, but your shoe shelves are filled with sneakers, it may be time to invest in a pair of mid-level heels. 

Sort your shopping list into categories. Possible groups include: 

  • Casual Clothes
  • Workout Clothes
  • Business Clothes
  • Lingerie
  • Pajamas + Nightgowns
  •  Fancy Clothes
  • Date Night Outfits
  •  Shoes + Boots
  •  Handbags & Accessories

Once your list is split into categories, review it again and determine what you consider a need and what you consider a want. If you can’t decide, include the item on both lists until it becomes clear. 

Tip: It helps to think of needs and wants in this way: A need, when filled, sustains us. A want, when filled, entertains us. Attempting to substitute wants for needs eventually drains us. 

Now, look at your closet and determine where you see missing items or wardrobe gaps. Do you need a special blouse for those Zoom meetings? Or a new pair of cool boots for date nights? Would a new workout outfit motivate you to go to the gym? Additionally, consider your “orphans” again and consider what you need to make them wearable. 

Tip: If you’ve never learned how to build a wardrobe or need inspiration for your future wardrobe, check out fashion magazines or blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest. 

  • I use Pinterest and create folders for each season of looks that resonate with me. 

Be sure to acknowledge your areas of clothing deprivation and include those necessary items on your shopping list.

At this point, your wardrobe refresh efforts circle back to money. 

You may have the money needed to start building your wardrobe, or you may need to take baby steps and find creative ways to meet this need. 

Regardless of your financial situation, see below for a few suggestions: 

  • If you have no money to spend, consider a clothing swap with family and friends. Not only will it allow you to get rid of some clothes you no longer want or need, but it’ll also bring new items into your wardrobe at no cost.
  • If you have some money to spend, you’ll need to prioritize your list. Think about ways you can fulfill multiple needs with one item. For instance, if you need a new blouse for your Zoom meetings, look for one that could be paired with skinny jeans or a leather skirt on date night. 
  • If you have plenty of money to spend but are daunted by the undertaking, look into hiring an image consultant or stylist. Many stores will offer customers this service as well. You can also hire professional organizers to help you get your closet in shape.

Now, add the expected cost next to each item. Check out the free download at the end of this blog.  

The first—and most important—step is that you have decided to address your closet and refresh your wardrobe. 

Remember that the opposite of deprivation is fulfillment. 

Regardless of your financial situation, you deserve to have clothes that fit well and feel good to wear. Even if only two or three outfits check all of your boxes, that’s better than a closet filled with things that just don’t work. 

Fresh from your closet clean-out and armed with your Wardrobe Words and your Needs and Wants list, you’re ready to fill the gaps in your closet and create the wardrobe of your dreams. 

Tip: Fashion Show and Outfit Photos.  After your shopping trip, it’s time for a fashion show! I try on all of my outfits for an audience of one: my husband (I know — I’m lucky). As I sort through my purchases, I determine what I want to keep and what needs to be returned.

Some Final Thoughts

Refreshing your wardrobe is not just about sorting clothes—it’s a chance to align your outer appearance with your inner self. As you organize and renew your collection, you’re making space for comfort and confidence in your everyday life. 

Remember, every item you choose to keep or let go of reflects your style and self-worth. This process is a practical step towards feeling good in what you wear every day.

Ready to create the wardrobe of your dreams? Download our FREE one-page shopping list organizer, ‘Creating My Dream Wardrobe,’ and start shopping smarter today! Download Here.

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