I have many clients who have been with me for years.  Because of our time spent together, these clients have moved way past the point of their wardrobes needing to be fixed.  They have graduated to the stage where we just update seasonally and continue to add items to freshen up.  Sounds like a dream, right?  Well a new issue has started to emerge that has created a new problem; they simply have too much.  And because they have built their wardrobes with me, it’s even harder to let go.  After all, I’d be pretty bad at my job if I didn’t continually put the right things in their closets.

I know it’s not just my clients who have built wardrobes with the right things and who have now found themselves with a closet full of good clothes and a desire to go shopping for fresher and newer.  This problem can happen to anyone who is a good shopper, buys well and knows their style.  Today I am sharing some tips on how to keep your wardrobe under control when you already have a closet full of clothing you love.

Put your money towards one great investment piece

You have done the hard work of building up a great wardrobe of clothes.  You don’t need anymore.  Great and good for you.  However, this season you now have money burning a hole in your pocket and you really don’t need anything.  How about investing in one good item that you have been coveting for as long as you can remember?  Take the amount you would have put towards several new pieces and buy one or two high ticket items that can add value to what you already own.  Think of this like a reward for being so smart about shopping and building your wardrobe.

This can also be a great psychological test to try on yourself.  There are many people out there who have no problem dropping $100 here and $50 there on multiple purchases.  In their minds, quantity equals value.  However, these same people will freak out when using the monetary amounts of these small “here and there” purchases and putting it towards one thing.  Yet, in this case, where is the value if these small purchases are just more of the same of what they already own?  Let’s say you drop $700 on one item that will enhance what is already in your closet and you will use and wear it endlessly.  That $700 purchase will more than pay for itself than small purchases that you really don’t need.

Add things that will only enhance what you already own

Continuing on the topic of enhancing what you already own.  Your current wardrobe is your base and what you add in should only enhance that.  Yet, no matter how large a closet is, there are always holes that can be filled. The key here is to be super mindful of these selections.

I recently started working with a client who came to me with an outstanding wardrobe.  In her case, I didn’t have to go through the process of introducing her to better labels, she had already established her core pieces and had a well working wardrobe of some of the most covetable items I have ever seen.  She just had way too much of it.  I have worked with her pretty extensively and our sole focus has been whittling down.  Despite this client having more than enough good, through our exhaustive editing, we have still been able to identify very specific holes where she has needs.  Yes, even this client, who has more than enough good, has needs.  Due to the fact that this client lives at a distance and we have been working remotely through two hour sessions bi-weekly to go through her wardrobe, she and I have agreed that she will not buy anything new until we have gotten through all of it and the needs that we cite come up multiple times in order to prove that she really should buy them.

This is how laser focused you need to be when you already have a closet full of clothes that you love.  You can’t just add things willy nilly.  Not only does the need have to present itself, it needs to present itself multiple times to be something that should be added.

As a result of this, a very clear shopping list has been created and the next time she goes shopping she will be able to do it more mindfully.  Even better, she doesn’t have to completely forgo the fun of shopping for new items for her wardrobe.  They will just be more purposefully driven now.

Spend more time making outfits than shopping for clothes

One of my longest standing clients has more than enough clothing.  This past year, I have spent more time with her putting outfits together, executing packing plans for travel and editing her closet space than I have spent shopping with her.  She has used me only one time so far this whole year to actually shop and that shopping trip was for something incredibly specific.   Working with your wardrobe doesn’t stop the second you leave a store with a new purchase.  Time should also be spent working with these new items in your closet so you can figure out how to maximize your purchases and wear what you buy.  The second this client gets slightly bored with her current wardrobe she calls me to put outfits together or to help her figure out how to rework what she already owns.  What this also enables us to do is really pinpoint any needs she may have so we can shop more purposefully in the future.

Donate mindfully

The best way to donate clothing is with a plan.  Besides the guilt that can come with buying clothing that never gets worn, when a woman is ready to let go, the question of where to donate it can be incredibly burdensome.

The first thing to know about donating is there isn’t one magic place to donate clothing.  You need to have several on your list because some things you may want to resell while other things won’t have that level of value.  What I have found is women are less reluctant to let go when they know their donations are going to the right place.

For high end reselling, I recommend a place like The RealReal.  For mid level clothing, if you don’t mind some legwork, Poshmark is fantastic.  If you’re not interested in making money back on your purchases but your professional clothing is in good condition, an organization like Dress for Success is one to consider.

The problem with my clients is they wear their clothing into the ground because I would be pretty sucky at my job if they didn’t.  This often makes places like The RealReal and Poshmark not exactly viable.  In cases where you wear your clothing and can’t donate it for resale but don’t want to see it end up on a landfill, here are some alternatives:

Terracycle: Terracycle has zero wasted boxes for virtually everything on the planet, including clothing and even a separate one for flip flops.

The Bra Recyclers: The Bra Recyclers recycle, reuse or repurpose bras while providing substantial social benefits to women and girls escaping domestic violence, drug addiction, human trafficking and breast cancer survivors.

Soles4Souls: A national shoe recycling program.  Soles4Souls creates sustainable jobs and provides relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world.

Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles: Online resource to find the nearest textile recycling near you.

H&M, Don’t Let Fashion Go to Waste: Drop off unwanted clothing and textiles from any brand at any H&M location.  Call ahead so the store knows you are coming by.

Donation Town: Helps you find a clothing donation pick-up service in your area.

Nike Reuse-A-Shoe: collects old, worn-out athletic shoes for recycling and transforms them into Nike Grind, a material used to create courts, tracks, fields and playgrounds.

Patagonia, Common Threads: Bring back your Patagonia clothing and accessories and they will recycle it and give you store credit.

The North Face, Clothes the Loop:  Clothes the Loop program encourages people to drop off unwanted clothing and footwear from any brand in any condition at their retail and outlet stores and get a discount off future purchases.

Only buy if it is an A+

One of my very smart clients taught me the A+ shopping mindset.  She would only buy something if she could give it an A+ grade for her based on fit, look and need.  Do you know how few things make an A+ score?  Truly, next to nothing.  It’s a simple exercise that makes it so much easier to walk away and only add things that make the mark.  If you are someone who has more than enough good in your closet, this exercise will slow down how much more gets added.  Often the problem with too much good in a closet is there is more flowing in than flowing out.

An A+ mindset can also be used when editing a closet, especially if you have too much of the same thing.  I’m not necessarily against duplication in some cases, you can read more about this here, but there is a fine line between when it is smart to do and when you wind up splitting your wears. Splitting your wears means to have multiples in your closet that serve the same function and, therefore, the use for an item like this gets spread over multiple pieces which diminishes the value of each one.  The less you have for each function you need the more use each piece in your closet will get.  Group together the pieces that serve similar functions and then select only the A+’s to stay.

Consider clothing rental subscriptions

I was shopping with a client recently and she told me she was seriously considering checking out Rent the Runway’s monthly wardrobe subscription service.  Being a client who has more than enough good clothing but could always use some freshening up, I thought this was a fantastic idea for her. I like the idea that these types of services are coming around.  I think it works perfectly for the woman who has more than enough good stuff in her wardrobe but craves some newness from time-to-time.  I also recently learned of Ann Taylor’s similar Infinite Style Program that gives a woman access to hundreds of Ann Taylor looks at one flat monthly fee.

Updating your wardrobe when you already have a closet full of good stuff can be a challenge, but is is what some would call a luxury challenge.  It’s also a sign that you have done a great job of shopping for the right things.  Now it’s just a matter of selecting of the best of the best and being mindful going forward.