Style & Then Some

Wardrobe maintenance: the kaizen approach

I know I’ve said before that New Year is not the best time to start afresh despite all the probiotic yoghurt and fitness commercials telling us differently.  However in the spirit of Kaizen (a Japanese philosophy advocating the need for continuous improvement), the process of de-cluttering  shouldn’t be sporadic and overwhelming, a mini tweak can reinvigorate and get you out of your predictable jeans/boots/umbrella outfit rut.

I’ve found having limited space has been conducive to keeping volume under control and facilitates a more practical outlook.  Back in pre-London days my Cheltenham flat was, in hindsight, the size of a football field; I had a walk-in wardrobe and owned a museum-quantity of clothes (although perhaps not museum-worthy).  Some might think this uber space was a tiny bit luxurious, but give me portion controlled storage any day.  The more space available, the more you’ll fill it.  Morning outfit panics were trebly stressful and looking back, my ensembles lacked some coordination amidst the sheer clothing mass.


We’re familiar with the stats that suggest we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time and this is a good place to start when calibrating your wardrobe.  You’ll notice the 20% core is the practical, comfortable, flattering stuff – this is where you need to expand.  Obviously occasion and seasonal items are justified (I don’t believe in being as ruthless as binning anything you’ve failed to wear in the last 3 months) as you can’t attend weddings in gym trainers and an ‘interview’ skirt.

To avoid bulking up on the 80% portion of the wardrobe which lies dormant, avoid impulse purchases, sales (pur-lease don’t get up at 4am to queue at NEXT with an IKEA sized holdall), anything too trend-driven and shoes you can’t walk in.  Furthermore don’t buy countless dry-clean items and definitely don’t buy the wrong size with a half-hearted pledge to  diet or finally buy that sewing machine.

no to sales2

Try and buy fewer items throughout the year but trade-up to a better quality.  Brands such as Kain, Alexander Wang and J.Crew do great everyday collections.  Having said that, Uniqlo and COS are amazing high street alternatives.   I’m not encouraging a bland wardrobe full of endless jeans and white t-shirts but I have been known to rebuy flattering blazers or perfect-fit waxed jeggings to see me through on uninspired days.  You can always puncture the uniform look with interesting shoes and accessories.

Attempt to buy multitasking garments which will work for work and weekends and  do an approximate’ cost per wear’ sum in your head prior to purchase. 

In a similar Kaizen vein, avoid doing a massive shop each season (unless you’re loaded) as it not only sounds like a mountainous task but you’re likely to make myopic purchase decisions.

Shop little and often to keep your wardrobe interesting, relevant and flattering.


One comment on “Wardrobe maintenance: the kaizen approach

  1. fashionforlunch
    January 15, 2013

    I need to do this

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This entry was posted on January 15, 2013 by in Style and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .
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