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You are what you wear, what you eat, what you read. And you have the power to control which message you project to others through your clothes.

That is, as long as your closet is not stopping you on your tracks.

To help you clean and make the most of what you already have, here are some useful tips to make your closet work for you without spending much money.

Do at least two of these tasks consistently, and you’ll feel more at ease when creating outfits.

  1. Alternate Light and Dark.

I do laundry once a week, alternating between light and dark coloured clothes. To make this work, use light (pastel, icy, white) items one week and dark (and any intense, highly saturated shades) items the next. This excludes pieces that need a dry-cleaner, of course. Going dark one week and light the next will encourage you to inspect your closet and wear those pieces of clothing that have been sleeping behind your go-to items.

  1. Sort by Type.

Organize your garments and accessories by type: shirts next to shirts, dresses next to dresses, coats next to coats, stilettos next to stilettos, all scarves and ties either folded together or on the same hanger. If you don’t have your closet sorted, start right now and rediscover those pieces that might be in perfect condition and you’ve never considered wearing them because you could not see how to combine them.

  1. Keep a Journal.

At the end of each day, write down what you wore and how it made you feel. You can answer these questions to make it easier. Clothes and colours convey feelings and moods. Once you start seeing patterns between certain colours and garment types, you’ll stay away from impulsive purchases and will not get lost among the noise from social media and fashion magazines.

  1. Unsubscribe.

Let’s get real. Nobody needs to buy new clothes every week. And those who look like they do (think celebrities) don’t even own all the clothes you see them wearing for events shown on fashion websites. Avoid brands’ and retailers’ mailing lists. Unsubscribe from them. If there’s a retailer, brand, or designer you love and buy from often, just go to their site directly when you need a new piece. A cleaner inbox will boost both your closet and your productivity.

  1. Create your Base Outfit.

Looking good doesn’t mean wearing something new every day, all days of the week. Over the years, I noticed I spend most of my time in corporate and business settings. So, my base outfit is made from a pencil skirt, solid blouses, business sheath dress, stilettos, with minimalistic jewelry and a classic long coat. My closet is made mostly of those types of garments. This way, I keep everyday clothing easy, with two or three essential ensembles. I invest in make-up and shoes to add variety.

  1. Keep the Best.

Keep only those pieces that look presentable and that you know you will use. Clothes that lost their color, shape, or are damaged beyond repair must go. Same with peeled-off or overstretched shoes. Those garments that are in good condition but you haven’t worn during the last two years, or that you forgot they existed in your closet, can be listed on an online thrift shop to get some cashback; or donated to your local charity. This rule doesn’t apply to cocktail or formal wear unless you have more of it than what your lifestyle demands.

If you need a shortcut, my Closet Refresh is the way to go.