Being Content with My Closet

How to organize your closet in 5 minToday I just wanted to share with you something I’m continuing in 2015. Hold tight, as I’m about to talk about clothes for a while. 🙂

But let me back up to where this began. First, I’ve seen quite a few fellow bloggers and IG friends trying out the whole capsule wardrobe thing (if you haven’t heard about it, you should read about it here because it’s way cool!). There’s a whole lot of reasons to try something like this, but what struck me as really cool about it is only needing less than 40 items for an entire season.

The second thing that happened was I was talking with a group of friends one night about the whole idea of being content with what you have and living in the moment. You know, that stuff we all remember to do 100% of the time. Not! At least not me. I sometimes do a terrible job of being content, taking time to be thankful and count my blessings, and allowing that attitude to infect my state of being and also propel me to help others. I’m all for improving your situation, don’t get me wrong. I’m a goal oriented, future-dreaming kind of gal. But trying to find ways to be content with life as it is right now, in the present tense, is something I forget to make an effort to do sometimes. And I’d like to work on that in 2015.

Obviously, there’s a million and one ways to try to involve this kind of thinking in your life. And I think that’s what got me thinking about the whole capsule wardrobe thing. I thought, you know, keeping to a set amount of clothing is kind of a daily reminder to be content with what you have, to really appreciate the clothes on your back.

Easiest way to organize your closetThen Elsie showed me this little trick for sorting/cleaning out your closet. You add a ribbon (or yarn) to one side of all your clothes, and when you wear something, you move that article of clothing to the other side of the ribbon. The goal is to wear everything in your closet. This can help you recognize items that you just don’t wear, or it might force you to wear something you impulse bought or have had a long time that just doesn’t fit you well. So I tried this during the last month and a half, and I loved it! It helped me wear more of the clothes I already had, and it sort of opened my eyes to all the clothes I already have and love but don’t wear often enough.

So, I’m keeping with the ribbon method for now. I feel sort of silly sharing all that as I think this would be way more interesting if I was making some kind of more extreme resolution, like:
I’m not buying anything for a whole year!
I’m donating all my shoes except one pair and wearing only those all year!
I’m only wearing a burlap sack I got on sale at a thrift store… for a whole year!

Yeah, I’m boring because I’m really not doing a lot of strict rules. For example, my birthday is at the end of January, and every year my grandmother takes me to the mall to buy something new. She does this with all her grandkids (we usually get lunch too, so it’s a great time to connect with my grandmother). I usually end up getting a new pair of jeans or shoes and I don’t think that this hinders my ability to be thankful for what I already have. So I didn’t really want to make any rules that were unnecessary to my overall goal—to appreciate what’s already right in front of me.

For me, I just want a little reminder that I already have so much. I’m so lucky, and my daily attitude should reflect that. If I want to go to the mall with a friend one night to shop for fun, that’s OK, but I’ll know that I don’t need another plaid shirt no matter what it costs (I already have three!). It might surprise you, but I’m not that big of a shopper anyway. My thing is I want to make sure that I really wear everything I own, or I should be donating it. If I do buy something new, it should be something I really need. And the big goal is to be thankful for what I already have. In all areas, but clothing is an easy, daily reminder since we have to get dressed everyday. So, that’s why I’m doing the ribbon method this year (over and over as I go through my clothes) and now you know why.

If you’ve never tried the ribbon method before, I highly recommend it. Or if you have your own closet resolution that you’re trying this year, feel free to share as I’d love to hear about it. Thanks for letting me babble about clothes for a while. 🙂 xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • I love this idea! I’ll definitely have to try it, I have a habit of keeping a ton of clothes in my closet that I think I’ll need and never actually end up wearing, ha! This is a good excuse to donate a lot of my clothing. 🙂

  • I’ve never heard of the ribbon method before, but I like it! It’s a great way to take inventory of your clothes without doing a huge overhaul at once. I’ll be giving this a try for sure.

  • I do something similar, I switch the coat hangers around on items I’ve worn – the unworn items all face a different way. After 6 months and they still don’t move, then I donate.

  • I recently did a major HAUL (like whoa) on my closet and it felt amazing to get rid of so many things, all at once, although I was a little shell shocked during the process. What helped me was that my husband did it with me, and helped me let a lot of things go that I just don’t wear anymore. Having someone I love/trust affirm my decision to clean out my closet helped me feel no regret once it was all said and done. Bonus: I got like $80 for reselling my stuff at Plato’s Closet!

    GO YOU.

    Sarah Alves

  • Contentment is such a hard lesson to learn, and I’ve chosen that as something I want to work on this year, as well. My lack of contentment is usually more about the state of my house than the clothes I wear, but it’s the same principle. I have so much. And my house will never look exactly the way I want it to. (That’s the fun part!) But I need to be okay with that. I can’t wish my life away to a time where I have the right couch and curtains. Instead, I should enjoy this married-without kids-still trying to combine our styles time in my life.

  • Im SO happy you wrote about this “closet capsule” method. I have never heard of it before but I absolutely love it! I always want to start a new wardrobe but get intimidated buy what to buy, how much, when to buy it, etc… Im all about re-purposing clothing items, and I feel like this method is the best way to start doing that.
    Loved this post, Emma!! thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Thanks for posting this! I will have to check out the capsule wardrobe. I love that you guys have such a special tradition with your grandmother as well. Gratitude is really about the heart, isn’t it? If you have a lot or a little it’s still possible to be grateful. I think what you were saying was when the number of material objects begins to negatively affect our gratitude we need to check ourselves? I really enjoy that you shared this tip. Btw your posts on accepting yourself and your path was transformative both on the blog and in the blog life e-course. I read it whenever I need encouragement!

  • The ribbon method sounds brilliant, I think I need to try it as I only seem to wear the same few pieces of clothing!
    Happy New Year!
    Emma xo // Wallflower Wardrobe

  • This is such a lovely post. I’m definitely guilty of being a future thinker too but have started to make a concentrated effort to live in the now. I love the ribbon method. I think I probably wear 10% of the items in my wardrobe so I’ll be sure to give this a go!

  • Great idea. I always wear the same things, if I like something I stick with it :p Maybe this will help me to wear more things I am afraid to wear but still bought..

    Sofie xx

  • I really like the ribbon idea. I’m in a bit of a slump where everyday I feel like I’ve got nothing to wear – I think the ribbon would really help me make use of every item in my closet and make me see that I really do have something to wear!

  • I am all for more simplicity and thankfulness in my life. I am currently on month 3 of 6 month process of a self-imposed “no buying clothes.” It is already helping me realize what I have and that I barely wear half of my closet-no need for me to buy more.

  • I think this is a wonderful goal for 2015. So many resolutions are based on limiting or restricting yourself and are just a set up for failure. This one generates mindfulness and gratitude. Happy new year!

  • I REALLY liked this post, especially the ribbon method! I’m guilty of getting tired of my closet and buying new items, and planning to do some “shopping my closet” posts to inspire myself further. Here’s to being satisfied with what we have 🙂
    Latest Post – Resolutions-shmalutions: How to Crush Your Goals Year Round

  • I’m a huge shopaholic so this really stikes a cord with me. Thanks for posting. I know this is something I could really work on start 2015!

  • This is a lovely idea and I’m definately gonna do this. I have way too many clothes and I want to donate some of them but it’s so hard to decide which ones I still want to use. This is a great way to find out which clothes I’m using regularly. Thank you for sharing this 🙂

  • I struggle with this idea- I really want to do it but I have MAJOR favorite clothing items that are just BARELY too small. So I may have to wait until I lose even just 10 pounds to fit back in. But it is a great idea!

  • I haven’t heard of the ribbon method before, but I use another method I read about online a few years ago. At the beginning of the year, turn all of your clothes backwards, or turn the hanger backwards. Once you wear something and clean it, hang it back up the correct way. At the end of a year (or a season if you live anywhere other than Florida like I do), remove all clothing that is still backwards and donate it. That way, someone gets use out of it and you keep your closet updated with only what you wear. 🙂

  • I have tried having my hangers facing out and when I wear that item it gets flipped the opposite direction but I usually give up mid year. The ribbon thing sounds like a great idea.

  • I do the same thing! I turn the hangers around backwards. I’ve been doing it for almost a year now and I’ve noticed that it really does help me to find a way to wear clothes that I don’t usually. I’ve given myself to the end of February (for a whole year) and then I’m donating whatever I didn’t wear.

  • The ribbon method is such a fab and totally new idea to me!! I really want to downsize my wardrobe – I don’t have an awful lot of clothes – but I love the idea of living more minimally. I may use the ribbon idea to help me determine which clothes I like to wear and then after a week or so, donate the clothes I do not wear to a local charity 🙂

  • I’m so glad you posted again about this! I haden’t heard about a ‘capsule wardrobe’ till you mentioned it a few months ago and it’s changed the way I think about dressing.
    I always felt so overwhelmed by choices while getting dressed. I kind of grabbed at everything in the mall, constantly felt like I needed more just to find the right fit.
    I’ve started of my first capsule wardrobe (yesterday!) and I’m giving me these 3 months as a test run.
    Sorting through my cloest and taking the time to really sit down and think about what I liked to wear, what I wish I had more of, and what works for my lifestyle has helped me get a clearer picture of what I need.
    For the first time I have less in my closet, but I feel like I have more to wear! Oh, and I’m no longer stressed about putting an outfit together.

    So, Emma – THank-you for turning me onto this!

  • I originally saw the ribbon idea from Hilary Rushford of Dean Street Society, but I love it. I think I do need to get on board the capsule wardrobe a little more though…

  • I am a big fan of finding contentment with less. Not only does it save money, but it actually increases quality of life by reducing complexity. I believe most people are happiest when they have complexity only in areas where they desire it. For example, someone who lives and breathes fashion may have clothes in 4 closets… but may also have only a few kitchen tools, because they don’t care about cooking. Adding complexity where we don’t desire it usually results in clutter. Never heard of the ribbon method, but I’ve used similar techniques. So glad you are finding joy in this process!

  • I’ve been reading a lot about the capsule wardrobe concept, but I know that restrictions don’t work that great for me. I usually end up wanting to do the exact opposite of what should:). But the ribbon method, or the hanger turning method, is a really great alternative.
    Recently I had to restrict my wardrobe to about a 3rd of the original size when moving cross Europe. I was a little sad to leave so many clothes behind, but being back in my homeland for the holidays made me realize I really didn’t miss the ones I left here, and I’m actually missing the ones I took with me. Sometimes forcing yourself to downsize can be a really good thing.

    Good luck with keeping your closet full of clothes you love!

  • I guess I kinda do a version of the ribbon idea. I’m kinda OCD when it comes to dividing clothes (sleeveless, short sleeves, long sleeves, sweaters, etc). So what I do is hang everything by sleeve length and as I wear it I move it to the front of the pack (still by category, again with my OCD). About three times a year, or whenever the bug hits, I take out items from the back of the pile that I haven’t worn and donate them. If I get anything new, it goes to the back of the pack and follows the same rules. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it needs to stay, let’s face it, sometimes impulse buys are not great.
    With the change in seasons, I try on items and decide if they’re still right for my body or not and donate the nos.
    It helps me keep my closet free of sentimental items…

  • This is a great idea! I’ve been sitting here this evening trying to work out what I should wear to my friends birthday because ‘I have nothing to wear’. You’ve inspired me to look a little deeper and not buy anything new because perhaps there’s a little something I’ve not worn for a while or that I’d never think to wear. Happy 2015!

    Laura |

  • I’ve tried methods like this before, but, for me, I tend to hold onto certain items that I love even while knowing they won’t get a lot of wear and I’m fine with that. I also keep things that work as layering pieces for transitional weather, even if that means I wear them once or twice a season. I do think it’s important to find ways to let go of all the stuff, but often it doesn’t seem so clear cut.

  • Thanks, Emma for posting about this. Many of us are mindless consumers and we could all do with thinking more carefully about our purchases. Bravo for doing this. I am curious, though, about a related topic and what you and Elsie think of it. I think we all know by now that some clothing is manufactured by unethical companies, who allow clothing to be made in sweatshops and factories with unsafe working conditions. Sometimes the workers are children or others who are there against their will. It seems that part of being mindful in what we purchase is being careful whom we support. I agree it is not wrong to go shopping and pick out a pair of jeans or shoes, but we should all think about where those jeans or shoes come from before purchasing them. If we all supported ethical companies and refused to support those that aren’t, we could change the industry. I’m sure you and Elsie have thought about this before, but I’d be delighted to hear you both talk about it, since you have so many followers and your voice could really make a difference. Keep up the awesome work!

  • If I ever go too long without doing laundry (ha! I say this like it’s unusual or something -it’s not), I take a look in my closet of things left hanging and do mini-clean-outs to declutter periodically. Obviously, the clothes I enjoy wearing and rewearing at that point are in my laundry-mound, and it’s easier to maneuver my less stuffed closet to find and toss the pieces that probably won’t get much wear. I’d rather free up the space and find them a happy home. 🙂

  • I have never heard of this method before! I should really join you on this challenge because I have so much stuff that I never wear and I should or I should donate it so someone else can enjoy it.

    Thanks for keeping us inspired Emma! I definitely want to give this a try.

  • This is a lovely post. I LOVE the ribbon idea, and I think I’ll implement something similar (except maybe with a clothes pin, as that would take less time than tying a ribbon. 🙂 I think it also presents a sort of challenge to be creative with my wardrobe in ways I’ve never thought before. This is going to be fun!

  • I love this post. I’ve never heard of the ribbon method, but it sounds like it would be really helpful. I haven’t been lately but, for a while, I was buying a lot of clothes simply because they were on sale. Most of the time, those items would end up in the closet or a drawer with the tags still on them and I’d inevitably donate them. But that’s how you learn! You can have a closet full of clothes, but if you bought most of it for small prices just because, then you probably don’t really LOVE the clothing.

    I know you said that you’re not tackling the whole budget idea or limited idea, but I think you have to do what works for you. Some people can buy new pieces each season…I can’t really do that. Sometimes, you don’t even have to. One thing I have learned, though, is patience in buying things. I worked at Old Navy for a while and, though I love their clothing, I was able to keep a handle on things. The more I looked at an item, the less I realized I “needed” it. I usually trust my gut. If I really like something, it’s easy to change up, and it fits, I will often make the purchase. But if I’m not sure or the price isn’t really in my budget, I sit on it for a little while. Often times, I totally forget about the item…obviously, I didn’t need it! But other times, I can’t stop thinking about it and that’s how I know it’s a piece that belongs in my wardrobe! 🙂

  • This sounds like a great idea! I know what you mean about feeling content, I must make sure I take time to think and remember how lucky I am! Great post xx

  • Woah! I need to do the ribbon thing ASAP!
    I’m always like “but what if?” but maybe that ribbon marker will truly show me how much I’m using my clothing. (My fiance needs to do this too!)

  • Hi Emma,

    Through your posts, you come across as a very smart, caring, and humorous person–and also someone who is interested in growth and improvement. So, I have a challenge for you: eliminate the self-deprecating statements in your posts. Many of your posts have 1 or 2 sentences in them in which you refer to YOURself as “boring” or “silly” or “dorky”.

    Would you ever refer to your readers or friends as boring (b/c their resolutions aren’t extreme enough) or silly or dorky? Of course not. So why not extend the same courtesy to yourself?

    Another reason to consider ceasing with the self-directed name calling: when you’re a student and your teacher uses negative adjectives to describe herself, she isn’t exuding confidence, and you doubt her. As a blog writer, you’re very much in the teacher position, and when you insult yourself (even under the guise of “kidding” or being a playful writer), It comes across like you’re trying to call yourself these labels before the readers can. If you want your readers to have confidence in you and what you’re sharing, leave out the self-doubt. You even said it yourself in your reflection on Amy Poehler’s Yes Please:

    “The other thing was Poehler spends a bit too much time talking about how hard it is to write a book at first. Which, I appreciate the honesty, but that’s not exactly a vote of confidence from an author. I mean, is this book going to be any good if the author is out of the gate saying how difficult this was to write and how long it took, etc.”

    I know you’re probably going for a casual and approachable tone, but I think you’re doing yourself and your readers a disservice. You can certainly seem casual and approachable and relatable and funny without insulting yourself. I encourage you to try!

    Best wishes in 2015 and always!

  • I actually adore how SIMPLE this is. My husband cracks up at me because for two years I said “I’m gong to wear EVERYTHING, and take a photo of it whilst doing it!” Um…that always lasts about 10 days total. The ribbon is simple, easy, and I can start doing it NOW. Well, in two months from now once I finally start moving out of maternity clothing;) Gotta get this baby out first!

  • I actually gave up shopping for an entire year! My year ends in about two weeks, and it was seriously one of the best decisions I have made. I didn’t have a problem with shopping (I don’t enjoy it that much), but I wanted to be content with what I had and make more meaningful purchases. So no shopping seemed like the best idea (for me).

    During the past year, I have plucked more items out of my closet (to donate) more times than I ever have before. It’s really allowed me to concentrate on the pieces I love and I know will wear. I’m doing one final purge at the end of month and then creating a shopping list to concentrate on quality staple items I can constantly rotate.

    Happy new year!

  • This is a simple and neat idea! Since I recently came back from studying abroad, I learned that living simple is fine, so I purged my closet when I came home. I may try this to further clear out my closet!

  • I love this idea! My goal is to not buy anything for myself all year. Coffee on the run, clothing (although I was going to go use the rest of my thrift store credit, and be done). Anything that isn’t essential to my comfort, or basic needs all year. My goal was to at the end of the year (this will probably be broken when I go to Europe, and on my birthday) my goal was to get a tattoo I really wanted at the end of the year– while being content with what I have, living intentionally. I’m glad I’m not alone.

  • I am wanting to shrink my wardrobe down, and this little ribbon idea is a great trick. I have some goals set to declutter and to live more minimal and not requiring, or feeling I need as much. Great advice.

    Rebekah |

  • Thank you so much Dija. Gratitude (with whatever you have) is the goal and too easy for me to forget sometimes. Looking forward to being more thankful in 2015. 🙂


  • I’m the same way. I basically love everything I own, I just neglect to wear it because I get comfy wearing the same thing all the time. Which isn’t terrible, but it would probably be a better exercise to either wear everything I own or own a little less. Whatever path I just want to be more thankful for everything I have. 🙂


  • I actually tried the “don’t buy any new clothes for a full year” thing a few years ago. To my surprise, I actually lasted the entire year and found that by the next year, I was a lot more intentional about what I did buy. It was a great creative challenge, as I got to push the clothes I already owned to their limits, got to enjoy lots of clothes swaps with close friends, and even tried my hand at making my own pair of pants from scratch (it was actually a success!). But beyond just stretching myself creatively, I was able to save a fair amount of money and learn to be content with what I have. It’s easy to get sucked into the new and trendy, but what I found is that I actually enjoyed my style a lot more that year because it felt consistently like me. Thanks for sharing your method, it was definitely a pleasure to read!

  • i love this idea! I’m pregnant and have a small collection of maternity clothing. I’m able to mix in my wrap sweaters and some cardigans from my “regular” wardrobe… but I’m realizing that i have entirely too much clothing. Clothing that I didn’t wear when not pregnant! After I give birth I will be able to slowly start incorporating my regular wardrobe back in and think its a perfect time to really filter out what i don’t wear and what really works with my lifestyle. This ribbon idea will be perfect.

  • I’ve been working on this for a while. Since I’m a student who also really likes to travel, I hold onto that: whenever I’m on a shop and see something that catches my eye, I first ask myself if I really need it, and then if I’d rather spend on it or save for my next trip. That way whatever I buy, I end up really using it, because it turns out it was something my closet was really lacking! Last thing I bought was a vintage-looking blazer, and it’s lovely, and I really needed it because I have a lot of comfortable clothes but not so many fancy ones.

    I didn’t know about the ribbon idea, though. Never thought of it. I will do it. I’m already thinking of trying to resell a couple of items I’ve got (resell and not donate because I’m a student in need of cash to go to Japan), maybe there’s more that I really don’t use nor need that I could do without! Lovely idea, thanks for sharing!

  • so inspired! I have been in a closet lull so I think this will really refresh it without spending the extra $$.

  • My bf is a true minimalist and when I met him I was so far from that with my wardrobe. I found that deleting most of the fashion blogs I was following and canceling my fashion magazine subscriptions helped me WANT less. I wasn’t in the constant state of wanting the new cool thing (which probably looked like three things I already owned anyway). I have sold a ton (I had 9 pairs of black ankle boots all pretty much the same!) and now save so much $$$ I can afford more trips! Way more fun then a closet full of clothes!


  • I love this idea! There are way too many clothing items in my closet that do not get worn. I’ll have to try this method as soon as possible. 🙂

  • This is a great post about being more thoughtful when consuming! I’m doing the same thing this year. I have some set goals : Get rid of one thing every day for the month of January and don’t add anything new to my apartment this month. I can get necessities like soap and whatnot but not a new eyeshadow for example. I’m excited to try it out! Good luck with your simplification goals 🙂

  • Emma – thanks so much for this post! Loved it. Love the ribbon idea too (I’m going to cull my wardrobe this month and was wondering how to do it, as I need to be ruthless…..this is the answer!)…..I know it’s a way away but ENJOY the day with your Grandmother….what a wonderful gift (of time) she offers you (and you offer her – as I’m sure she looks forward to it immensely, too!)

  • Great idea Emma! (and Elsie 😉 ) I’ll try this for the next season!

    BTW, I’d love to see a home tour of your house Emma, it’s been a long time since we saw it for the last time, and I’m sure it has changed a lot!


  • I’ve never heard of the ribbon idea but i’ll be sure to try it, it sounds so simple yet an effected thing to do!

  • I find it really tricky to keep track of what I have and haven’t worn, since most of my clothes are stuffed in a rickety old chest of drawers. Maybe my new year’s resolution will be to sort out a better clothing storage solution!

  • I made a resolution a few years ago to not buy clothes for an entire year (except for something i absolutely needed for work or bras and undies). It was challenging, but really great for me! I got rid of a lot of things I didn’t need, saved a lot of money, and developed a pickier eye when shopping. My boyfriend and I are saving to buy a house right now, so I am currently in the middle of another year of no shopping. I think I’ll try the capsule wardrobe next!

    Thanks for sharing, Emma!

  • This is a really awesome concept. I’m always complaining I don’t have enough clothes because I get bored easily and I’m always changing up my style. I’ll try to think of ways to make these concepts work for me and hopefully re-discover my clothes again. Thanks

  • I love this idea! The way I’ve heard it before was turning all the hangers backward and putting them the right way when you wear them. Happy new year!

  • This ribbon method is great! I am kind of OCD with my closet and I have labels dictating where dresses and tops go etc., so I think I need to simplify this! I don’t even wear half of the things in my closet (I feel so spoiled and evil about it!) so I am definitely having a clean out tomorrow. xx
    Thanks for the lovely advice! x

  • I’m moving towards a capsule wardrobe and feels pretty good. I’m saving a lot of money this way, and even getting a little back by selling things off. rather than use the ribbon idea though, I simply hang everything with the clothes hangers facing one way, and then after using something, I put the hanger up the other way.

  • Simply awesome! I live in NYC, so space is at a premium. I had planned to do a closet clean out this weekend, so maybe I’ll do that and then implement this ribbon idea moving forward. I’m so bad at hanging onto stuff for too long.

  • I think that the capsule closet it a cool idea but I can’t imagine doing it I literally have so many clothes in my closet and it continues to grow. Maybe if I try that ribbon method I can decrease the clutter.

  • Thanks for sharing, Emma! I certainly have too much and just reading your post and the accompanying article were relaxing. I think it’s time to clean out my closet and simplify. This reminds me of my time spent studying abroad–I lived out of two suitcases for five months and didn’t buy any clothes and I was so content!

  • I did the backward hanger thing, when you turn all the hangers in your closet backwards then after you wear an item you put it back the correct way. I originally wanted to do this to help me downsize but all I did was look at all the backwards hangers and wear them so I didn’t have to donate/get rid of them. I guess it did push me to wear everything and get creative but as far as my original downsizing goal I totally failed.

  • Oh Dear! My fingers flipped out on the keyboard before I’d finished my comment… and I think it may have posted? Whoopsie! I don’t even think I had the chance to put my name or anything…

    Just thought I’d let you know that I’m Megan and I was just saying how much this post meant to me and how wonderful this blog is 🙂 So Thank You!

    Also, I’m sure you’re super busy and may not have much time to check it out – which is ok! But if you ever did want to – I’m blogging about my capsule wardrobe experience on the address it’s nothing flash but it’s my real and ordinary life.

  • Great method! My method is to only have in the closet, at hand, only things I really love and would want to wear every day. Anything else was put away or donated. I was amazed how good I felt dressing only with things I loved: for the first time I felt the pleasure of dressing since before I was only dressing for practicality. It also help better identify my style.
    I wish you a lot of fun with your methods!… I’s sure you will discover many other things to do during this journey.
    Kind regards!

  • There is an easier way than using ribbon. Put the hangers in backwards and when you wear something put the hanger back the right way. In 6 months – a year, if you haven’t turned the hanger, it goes.

  • I truly appreciate your heart in this matter! Thanks for sharing your perspective and fresh approach…kudos and keep on! I also LOVE that you are approaching the whole thing with grace rather than rules…enjoy the trip to the mall with your Grandmother! xo

  • Thanks for this post Emma. I have been doing the same recently. When I started sewing my own clothes a few years ago I became more and more aware of what I actually need in my wardrobe. And also how long it takes to make a garment and what this meant in terms of what people get paid who make the shop bought stuff. This is a whole other story but in short it made me appreciate my clothes much more and I now only buy stuff I truly love and need.

  • I move some of my clothes that I suspect I do not wear into another closet and see which ones make it back to my main closet wardrobe. In three months, off to Goodwill it goes

  • In America we accumulate so many clothes! I usually wear mine until they are worn out. So I hang on to what I have and replace needed items from a stash of clothes in my attic. No, they aren’t brand new and stylish, but they are better made with higher quality fabric than anything I could afford now. Shoes wear out and I do have to buy new ones, but I seldom buy new clothes and on the rare occasion that I do it is a real treat.

  • Hi Emma!

    I know this might be way more drastic, but if you (or any lovely ABM reader :D) want an even more thoughtful wardrobe try the Wardrobe Architect by Sarai (

    She released the series on early 2014 and me along the sewing community were super excited to try it out and plan a wardrobe in line with our personal style. It includes exercises and worksheets for you to rethink and reflect the exact way you want to show your personality through clothing.

    Hope you find it useful 😉



  • This is a brilliant idea! My wardrobe is probably too teeny for the ribbon method – if everything isn’t in length order, I start losing clothes!

  • That’s so interesting and I think it’s exactly what I need! I know for a fact that there are a lot of things in my closet that I really don’t wear. I definitely want to try the ribbon method – thanks for the tip!

  • This is great post! Starting a few years back, I made the decision to try not and buy anything unless I really love it. If it doesn’t make me smile when I look in the mirror and I don’t get excited to wear it, it’s not worth it. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t make a mistake every now and then, but it definitely makes shopping easier on my wallet, and makes my closet more enjoyable 🙂

  • I love the idea with the ribbon! I have done an overall closet-clearing right before Christmas and have donated everything that I hadn’t worn in 6 months. I’m such a creature of habit and always wear the same ol’ jumpers and jeans so I thought why not!
    My “buying new clothes” resolution on the other hand is to cut down on my black staples…bring a little more colour into 2015 🙂

    Ilia from Ilia’s Cup of Tea

  • I spent so much money on clothes in 2014 and want to start saving more. I’m on a plan to lose 25 pounds this year so it doesn’t make sense to invest in more clothes until I need to. In September I had started something similar to this, just starting at the first item in my closet and working my way down. If I skip over an item, or it’s too loose, it gets put into a pile to donate. It’s made me rediscover so many pieces I love, and also do more with styling items. I’m going to be starting this again soon :).

  • i just moved 2 weeks ago, and thru this i realized that i have more clothes than i can handle. i already knew this deep down, but since i had it so perfectly packed into my previous closet, i was in denial. i would have to wear 3 outfits a day to wear everything in my summer wardrobe! i am giving a huge bag of shoes and clothes away and i still have a boatload. it’s VERY hard for me to let go of clothes, it’s like i collect them. i have at least 5 favorite dresses that i honestly just want to die with, like literally, i want to be buried in one of them for sure. & i am actually a very normal girl but yet i have already decided this! anyway, i am going to try really really hard to part with more clothes. every time i see some sort of movie where the girl packs up her things and it all fits in a friggen satchel! i mean what is that? i want to be more like that. i don’t think i’ve ever seen a movie where the girl decides to run off and she is packing for 3 days. it takes me 3 days because i literally start trying on different outfits in the midst of packing. so yes, i will let go of more. thanks for this!

  • This is less extreme than the capsule wardrobe, I may try this first! =)

  • I have heard of methods where you turn the hanger the other way. But this one is so much simpler and being the ribbon lover that I am I might just have to try it. Thanks so much for the tip! Hope you enjoy every moment of living in the moment!

  • I moved into my first apartment in June last year and started trying a new method to control my wardrobe – I bought 50 wooden coat hangers and 15 pants hangers – the rule is that all my clothes have to fit on the available hangers.
    Made me better about retiring clothes I was no longer wearing and has forced me to pack autumn/winter clothes away so that spring/summer will fit. Eventually hope to not have to pack anything away for change of seasons.

  • This is so simple but sounds so effective! My only issue is not all my clothes are on a rack 😛 !

    I’m instead making myself thing sustainably about fashion this year, and only buy things from thrift shops or handmade businesses! It’s a whole challenge that I wrote out exceptions to, like underwear (cuz… duh) haha. It’s gonna be fun!

  • Love the ribbon method! I also heard of a variation for people like me (small, shared closet) is to put a little dot sticker on each of your clothes hangers, and to peel it off when you wear that item. at the end of the season, anything that didn’t get worn will still have a sticker on it… and gets boxed up and sold or donated. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Emma, I’m so glad you wrote that post and talked about your goal of being content with the present and what you have. I’m struggeling with this problem for quite some time now and always trying to remember myself to enjoy time and every little thing of today, but odfen it’s really really hard and then I have these moments where I think that I always aim at a goal, and when I get there, there’s always the next goal waiting (what is good, otherweise life would be rally boring ;)), but what I forget to often is to appreciate the time betwen these goals. In Germany, we have this saying “Der Weg ist das Ziel” which my dictionnary translates as “The journey is its own reward.”, but I’m not sure whether this translation gets the right interpretation of its the German meaning. It says that it’s not the goal that matters, but the way leading to that goal.
    Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for this post! I’m going to try the ribbon idea, never heard of it but I think it’s really great idea!

  • The ribbon idea is a great idea even if you DO wear all of your clothes, because it can help you not wear the same thing too often. Great idea!

  • I have never heard about the ribbon method but only few days ago I decided to end the year “lighter” and I gave to a local charity organisation something like EIGHT big bags of clothing. I was ruthless, and I think I got rid of at least half of what I owned. And yet, once I returned home, I thought about not having given enough. But there is always time to fix. In the meantime, I’m enjoying a neater closet and a feeling of lightness and …freedom. So, hooray for good resolutions and let’s all give thanks for what we already have.

  • I don’t know if you’ve heard of The Minimalists, but they recently (2014) published a book in which they talk how they had a packing party. Basically, they packed up ALL of their belongings, and only took out the items that they used on a daily basis. If you did that with clothing, I’m sure it would definitely help you see what you do and don’t wear regularly! It’s a really interesting idea…

  • It’s funny that I’m reading this tonight as I have just done a similar thing today. We moved about 9 months ago and I still had some clothes in boxes or bags around the house. Although some of these clothes were much loved, not wearing for over 9 months was a sign to move them on. I am also going to use the ribbon method to go through the rest of my wardrobe as my style has changed and need to show myself what I no longer wear.

  • This is my second season “capsule wardrobing” and it’s been really great so far. I think the ribbon method is also a cool idea, and I think the whole point is just to become more purposeful of your clothes and aware of what you actually are wearing/not wearing. I love seeing what I reach for over and over, even within a smaller amount of choices. Good for you for becoming more mindful of your closet!

  • This is a great idea and something I’ve been slowly trying but haven’t fully implemented (without the ribbon). It definitely does make you become more creative in your outfit choices instead of wearing the same few things over and over.

  • I love that you are so honest!! when you started this post I thought ‘whoa is she really going to do the capsule???’ I totally don’t see you being happy with that b/c you dress so fun (or at least for your photo shoots you do ;)) THanks for keeping it REAL!!

  • I have been trying to come up with something to sort through my closet. I’m going to have to try this!

  • The ribbon method! Simple yet potentially VERY effective.
    I’m so going to try it out! 🙂

    X, Carina
    Running White Horses

  • I love your ribbon method. I think it’s a great way to appreciate what I have everyday. Thanks for sharing! Happy New Year!!!

  • This ribbon idea is so simple, yet I can totally imagine it working! But, umm, what about those items I’ll DEFINITELY wear when I lose a few pounds? 😀

    Lately I’ve been into decluttering, and I’ve been making some radical decisions considering my clothes (i.e. toss, toss, toss). It was difficult, because I usually never get rid of anything, but if I’m not using it, hey, why should I be bothered. However, I do have a major goal now, and it’s not buying any clothes until June 30th (one pair of jeans allowed), but that’s more of a saving goal, because I want to save for my first trip to the US (I’m from Europe). 🙂

    Wandering Polka Dot

  • I feel the same way about trying to be aware of the things I have — including the things in my closet. Over the summer, I went through a 30-Day Wardrobe Challenge where I had to wear a different outfit each day for a month. Sounds a lot like your ribbon method! I’ve just kicked off a 30-Day Winter Wardrobe Challenge yesterday, in fact, after reaching the same conclusion with my cold weather clothes:

  • I like this idea, I’ve been doing the turn hanger thing. This year I’m doing the wear what I have and under my sweater or blouse a cotton shirt I can workout in when I get home and use with my sweats. I walk my dogs then workout in my basement.

  • Never heard of the ribbon method before. I put the hanger reversed on the rod . When I wear the item I turn hanger back to normal side.

  • I’ve recently started doing something similar but I hung all my hangers backwards so that the hook is coming towards me and when I wear them I put them back normally.

  • I love your message. Great idea.
    I turn hangers backwards to accomplish the same 🙂 Turn regular-facing after you wear an item.
    See which ones are still backward facing at the end of a season.

    Happy New Year, chica!

  • Since starting my daily Instagram #ootd with my daughter about 2 years ago (@lifeasallison), I’ve found that I hold myself more accountable for wearing things in my closet that I may have hesitated to wear the past. I find out pretty quickly if it’s cute based on the honest feedback my amazing Instagram friends give. I really don’t shop much, so I’ve also gotten better at mixing and matching the same pieces with different accessories to look different. Lastly, since I just moved, I had the chance to purge clothes. I knew exactly what I wear and don’t wear, and it felt great to bring less into my new closet.

  • I love this post! I just purged my closet this morning because of this. Thanks, Emma! XO

  • Awesome idea! I learned another great trick from a book called “Sink Reflections” by Marla Cilley. The book is wonderful for anyone feeling overwhelmed by their “stuff”. The tip is: ever time you buy something new, you should get rid of a similar item. For example, if you purchase a new pair of running shoes, get rid of an old pair. It works great!!

  • i’m about to start doing the hanger thing, and at the end of the winter/early spring season…i’ll take the items out of my closet and donate them instead of packing them away and wasting space in my attic!

  • Thank you very much for the reminder that we don’t need a lot to be content. 🙂 Breath of fresh air.

  • First time reader at your blog and loving it! I’ve been to Caroline’s un-fancy blog before and love it, total inspiration. This article resonated as I too am trying to be more content in the present moment and learning to live with less stuff. Enjoyed, thx!

  • I’m definitely a clothes clinger. Even though I’m on a big weight loss journey, I still have a load of clothes which I can’t bring myself to get rid of. I know I should, because I do want to let go of the old me and move past all of those huge clothes, but I think I’m probably afraid that I’ll put the weight back on and have nothing to wear! Maybe I’ll use this method to think realistically about what I wear and don’t/won’t wear anymore 🙂

    Amy xx

  • This is exactly what I’m doing! As a traveler, I realized that I didn’t actually need a lot of my clothes, and could get by on fewer items. You just have to know what basics you need. Thanks for sharing!

  • I think this is a pretty spectacular idea! It’s so stupidly simple, too. I already make it a goal to clear out my closet once a month but this might be a great trick to try to help make those clean-outs go faster. Thank you!

  • I always try to cycle through my closet from one side to the other, but this method would really help visualize what items I’m just not wearing. Love it!

  • LovE it Emma! Thanks for sharing. I’m inspired to try the ribbon method. I have so many clothes I love but wonder what I actually wear the most. Sadly, since I’m a beautiful plus size I will sometimes buy items I think are beautiful and would love to wear but am not able to or don’t feel comfortable in so I end up enjoying looking at them. Allow that makes me smile to see them, I do believe my money can be spent better or more wisely. Maybe it would mean I could purchase a higher quality item that I need instead of being a lot of cheaper little things that I can’t always wear. Thanks for the inspiration! Have a beautiful day in the middle of the “Beautiful Mess”.

  • Funny, but one of my goals this year is to buy myself more clothes. I always feel guilty when I go shopping and end up with things I don’t really like that I bought because they were cheap and sort of an emergency. I’m important, too. I work hard. I can have one or two nice things without the world coming to an end. But I already do something similar to the ribbon method, and it works well.

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