How to Hack Your Closet for Joy

hack your closet

I’ve been thinking about mindsets lately and specifically about our mindset as it’s connected with fashion and shopping and how we get dressed. If you follow me on Instagram,  you know that I like to post #LOTD (or, look of the day) shots because honestly, I love seeing other people’s looks- they inspire me to be more creative and they give me ideas for new ways of wearing things.

I’ve always loved getting dressed and when I was younger (especially during my teen years of freedom and part-time job money) I spent a good chunk of my time combing the local thrift stores looking for sartorial gems. When I think about those days, I miss the sense of exploration, like treasure hunting in your own hometown. Getting dressed was all about *fun* and about expressing what I was thinking or feeling in that moment- not about trends or what was expected of me from any outside source.

Anyways, back to our mindset when we get dressed/want to go shopping/feel a surge of NEEDTHAT from fashion ads or social media posts. I’m considering how we feel things like loneliness or fear and instead of stopping long enough to mine out the whys behind the emotion, we just distract ourselves. Or purchase to ease the pain. Or shop because we are bored and we have disposable income. And we are oblivious if we don’t recognize that we are in a position of privilege to even have that option- to shop because we are bored. For a brief thrill. Even when I had next to nothing- or actually nothing, less than nothing, because I was in debt- I still used shopping as a momentary escape from reality (double latte and a 2lb issue of Vogue, anyone?)

I say all of this not to heap guilt on you, dear reader, but just to assess reality with eyes wide open. We often buy because we want, not because we need. Or because of some unspoken checklist of what we “should” have or whatever. And I’m coming to terms with my own spending habits and I want to do better. I want to take my actual need, my spiritual poverty, to the Lord for a deep drink of his water, not fill up another virtual cart. I need my mind rewired, my mindset renewed.

But as I’ve shared before, this journey we are walking is a long one. We are growing in small ways everyday and this is just one of them. I can begin by allowing the Spirit of God to break bad cycles of thinking and coping…and then also recognize that we are spiritual beings housed in a physical body and we still have to get dressed (it’s the law! I think?) 😉

Now on to some practical steps towards living in this world and this materialistic culture and yet still celebrating things of beauty and having freedom to create. If you are interested in some really challenging and beautiful thoughts on slow fashion, read Erin’s post here.

  • Shop your closet. Have you heard this one already? If so, sorry, but it’s good enough to repeat. Think about what you already have and approach it with gratitude. Look at all of this beautiful potential! But how? Read on…
  • Take care of what you have.
    • Wash your items with care (does this fabric need a gentle cycle? Set it aside and do your gentles once a week. It’s not any different than the regular cycle in terms of your own effort but it might save a silk blend dress.)
    • Pay attention to the care labels when you do buy. Lay that certain sweater out to dry instead of shrinking it. One of those fabric de-fuzzing devices works magic on heavier fabrics (and sofas!) to bring them back to life.
    • Iron. I’m serious- save your ironing for once a week and then make those button-ups look amazing! Nobody ever felt good in a wrinkly oxford.
    • Dust your shoe shelves. Take a damp cloth over your leather shoes or a lint roller over your fabric ones. Give them a little shine and smile.
    • And while you’re at it, do the same for your jewelry! Spiff them up, rearrange, bring some order to what you have and it’ll all feel like new.
  • Rearrange and do it often. This is one of my best tips. I will often spontaneously rearrange my closet to help me “see” things with new eyes. For some reason, if a dress or shirt stays in the same place for months on end and I never reach for it, it’s because my brain has been trained to look it over. But when I do a quick rearrange (handfuls of hangers moving around, not too precious or meticulous) than I am able to pick out that same dress and pair it with a cardigan and boots and it feels new.
    • Ways I like to arrange- by season, by weight (sweaters to the left, then long sleeves, then t-shirts, etc.), by color, by occasion (formal/business to the right, everyday items in the middle, fun/date night looks to the left) and so on.
  • Try it on! We’re pretty good about this before we buy and that’s obvious (especially jeans, people! You gotta try on jeans) but this also applies to things that already live in your closet. Do you have an idea to pair a dress over leggings and then topped with a crop top? Try it on before you talk yourself out of it! Which brings me to…
  • Follow your impulse! The more you do it, the easier it gets. If you have a fleeting idea for putting an outfit together, just take the 30 seconds to actually put it on your body and see if it works! And if not, no big deal. Move on. But the more you actually follow these creative impulses with the items you already have, the better you get at seeing the possibility for something beautiful. Tell your inner-critic to sit down and shut up and choose to have some fun with your wardrobe!
  • Another benefit of trying on looks and actually making use of what you have is that you become familiar with every piece and are then able to make better judgements about when it is time to retire an item or time to purchase. You avoid the mistake of somehow ending up with 10 gray t-shirts (because you simply couldn’t remember what you already had!)
  • Capitalize on creativity. I know that there are days when the last thing on your mind is fashion or style and that is totally okay, totally normal. Life is exhausting. But there are also moments when you’ll get a flash of creative inspiration (maybe it was an idea from Pinterest, or something you saw someone else wear at church, or a look styled in a store) and you need to capitalize on those moments and make them work for you later! When you get that little spark, go to your closet and put together two or three looks. Just go ahead and try them on and if you like what you see (look at how brilliant of a stylist you are!) then put the pieces together on a hanger for later, when you’ll need it. And that’s how you hack your closet– when that spontaneous date night pops up, you’ll have a few looks pulled together, ready to go, that you know 1.) fit well 2.) look and feel great and 3.) live in your closet already.

The joy comes not from a perfectly curated wardrobe of trendy clothing but from a newfound freedom of mind- the freedom to say thank you for what we already have and to see the world with new eyes. We face a lot of hard things in this life, but getting dressed shouldn’t be one of them. ❤️️

Published by Sara Beth Longenecker

Sara Beth Longenecker is a writer and blogger based in Nashville, TN. She helps women sort through the noise of our culture by bringing them truth, beauty, and everyday theology.

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