Rubbermaid Homefree Series Closet Kit 3H11
Image via Rubbermaid Products under a Creative Commons License

Mornings can be a challenge. Whether it’s getting out of your soft, warm bed, struggling to get your family out the door or just planning the day’s agenda, the AM can be a prime time for stress. And that’s all before you face the most irksome of mornings tasks: deciding what to wear. Ugh! You stand in your closet, staring at your sub-par wardrobe, thinking “If I just stand there long enough, something will come to me.” Finally, you realize you’re going to be late for work, shake yourself out of your torpor and throw on the first thing your hand touches. And then you go about your day, knowing that you don’t look your best.

Well, frump no more. It’s time to build a wardrobe that compliments your lifestyle, and, most importantly, makes you feel good.

1) Assess your lifestyle – Do you work in a corporate office where full suits are de rigueur? Do you spend your time in a business casual environment with the same people every day? Are you working from home, or raising your children? “If you “think about your time like a pie chart, you can get a sense of how much time you spend in particular types of clothes” says Mary Lou Andre, founder and president of Organization by Design and Plan to allocate your wardrobe accordingly. If you’ve recently left the corporate world to work from home, for example, it may be time to downsize your suit collection. Which leads us to step two…

2) Downsize your wardrobe – We are a nation of consumers. But the answer isn’t to add more, it’s to pare down your wardrobe. “Before you go shopping,” Andre suggests, “make an appointment with your closet.” Set aside plenty of time for your closet overhaul, and be ruthless. Doesn’t fit? Get rid of it. Uncomfortable? Get rid of it. Make a pile for alterations, a pile for donations and a pile for clothing that’s stained/torn/awful. Andre suggests getting rid of as much as 80% (!!!) of the clothes in your closet, keeping only the items you really love. Once you’ve identified the keepers, try them on (in front of a full length mirror) and identify some common themes. Learn what looks good on you! Then identify your wardrobe needs.

3) Thoughtful shopping – For some, shopping is a delight. For others, torture. Andre suggests carrying a list of the items you need in your wallet. This list can keep you on task when you wander into a massive department store with an over-helpful sales clerk. Only purchase items you have identified on the list. Maybe you love little back dresses, but already have three. Stick to your list and purchase the chic wool overcoat you’re missing instead!

4) Organize your closet – Now that you have a closet full of items you love, it’s time to organize them in a way that makes them accessible. “Organize your closet according to type of item and color,” says Sarah McManus, owner of Sarah McManus Styling. This makes it easier to not only locate an item, but to envision new combinations.

5) Get inspired – Got a favorite celebrity? McManus suggests mimicking some of their outfits, or check out inspiration sites like Pinterest. When you find a look that speaks to you, identify key items in the look that you already have in your closet. Lay out your outfit the night before, taking an extra minute to pull the right accessories. In the morning, your perfect outfit will be waiting!

 Learn more at and Sarah McManus Styling. For more on fashion in Boston and New England, check out The Boston Fashionista.