I'm a total morning person. It's a trait I get from my mom, who wakes up naturally at 3:30 AM -- that's how excited is she to get the morning party started. I love my coffee, I love "Morning Edition" on NPR and I love the renewed possibility of each new day.
But lately I absolutely hate getting dressed. It's a complicated process, made more difficult by the cooler weather. Like most people, I need something that feels appropriate for morning and night because I usually don't have time to go home in between work and dinner out with friends. I need something suitable for different temperatures -- sometimes it's hot outside and freezing in my office; sometimes exactly the opposite. I need an outfit that feels equally appropriate in Brooklyn (where I live) and Manhattan (where I work). And because any sort of unnecessary pain and suffering just makes me cranky, I need something comfortable.
The other problem is that I am incredibly bored with my clothes. And I know I'm not alone. I'm sure you've heard the statistic that we wear 20 percent of our wardrobe 80 percent of the time. Which means that most of us conveniently repress what's in our closet, and fool ourselves into thinking we have to buy something new when a special occasion presents itself, thus creating undue pressure (most of us are good at that, right?). Meanwhile, the perfect outfit is probably already in our closets. It's kind of like a romantic comedy where the perfect man has been waiting in the wings all along.
So I invited Tara Muscarella, former star of the Bravo show "Fashion Hunters" (R.I.P.) and manager of the consignment store Second Time Around in SoHo, where I met her when I recently tried to consign my first designer purchase ever, a Betsey Johnson peplum blazer from the '90s (it didn't sell). I needed outside help to put the spark back in my relationship with my clothes.
First, she gave me a little pep talk about getting dressed in the morning. We talked about the tyranny of choice, and how there is freedom to be found in uniforms (something our senior beauty editor Simone Kitchens just discussed in a poignant essay).
Tara agreed that "less is more when it comes to what's in one's closet, but many of us hold on to sentimental pieces, items we think 'we'll get back into again one day,' or maybe we think something will be good for a Halloween costume. Whatever it is, always remember the necessary process of weeding out your closet."
"A good rule of thumb is, if you haven't worn the item in over a year, recycle it. That could mean donating it, consigning it [a good time to go, according to Tara, is early in the week and during the day, when the staff is fresh and not burnt-out] or repurposing it with a few tailored tucks. Or in some cases you just need a fresh set of eyes to help 'cleanse your closet' to help find new ways to style items you've never worn. We tend to think we need to shop more, when quite frankly we have more options than we think we do within what we already own."
I had recently weeded out my closet (on a particularly energetic Saturday morning, of course), and there were still some sentimental pieces sitting in my closet, which I nevertheless called "problem pieces" because I didn't know how to wear them. Tara to the rescue. Below, meet the pieces of my wardrobe that will no longer be trapped in the closet (and hopefully you'll pick up some tips for your own under-loved clothes).