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Friday, September 28, 2012

Training the Monster

"The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves."  ~Steven Covey

Ah, back to the closet monster. Or rather, the monster I call the closet. 

One (boring) aspect of looking your best is wardrobe maintenance.  If you keep up with it it's not hard, and the payoff is well worth making it part of your routine.  If you've spent time and effort picking a wardrobe designed to make you happy and look your very best, then respect that effort by taking the small amount of time required to keep it in good condition.  For the most part your clothing will last longer, too- which means in the long run you'll save $$.  

If regular wardrobe maintenance is something you really loathe or just don't have time or maybe discipline for, then the first step to take  is back when you're buying your clothes. Check the label for care instructions- if it requires doing things that you're not going to want to do, then don't buy it. And only buy the best quality you can afford. In the end poor quality requires more fussing over and doesn't last as long, and thus winds up costing you more time and $$. Unless you have the time and budget for that, of course. In which case, waste and fritter away to your hearts content. 

So how does one 'do' wardrobe maintenance? A little investment of time and focus is required up front. First determine what needs to be done.  If you have a great deal of dry-clean-only items then you probably need to make frequent trips to the dry cleaners. Shoes need regular upkeep. If you have a large shoe collection, it will probably require more attention. Other accessories too- scarves need dry-cleaning or washing, purses need polishing and repair, etc. Jewelry also needs to be kept in good repair.  For washables you'll do best to schedule a regular time for laundry, and also time for ironing or mending if needed. Even if you have the most minimal of wardrobes you still need to do this in order to keep yourself looking your best.

Next you have to decide how often these things need doing. If you wear a lot of suits or other dry-clean-only garments, then maybe you'll need to visit the dry cleaners once a week or every 2 weeks. Shoe repair could be done every month, or every season. Don't forget to include any scarves or other accessories that need dry cleaning when making that trip. Take any purses, leather belts or briefcases in for repair and polishing when going for shoe repair. If you have your laundry done elsewhere, determine how often you should schedule this.

Now you need to schedule these regular trips in.  Set reminders for yourself in a paper or electronic tickler file- or, if you're old-fashioned like me, write it in your filofax. Write it in as many months in advance as possible- every single time it needs doing. It may sound silly to do this, but it's important. I don't know about you, but if I don't write it down I just don't think about going to my shoe repair guy until I put on that pair of shoes that needed to have it's heels redone like, 6 weeks ago. Also, be sure to have a checklist to go through each time so you won't forget anything.  It's a good idea to include alterations in this as well- no point in giving closet space to things that don't fit properly, right? 

So- you've thought about your wardrobe, and decided what needs to be done, then narrowed down how often it needs doing, and spent a whole 10 minutes max scheduling this regular maintenance in your calendar. Great! You're on your way.

Go to your closet and designate a spot to put all the items that need repair or cleaning- whether by you or professionally.  That way, as your month goes on you can set aside these things to be ready for your trip to the dry cleaners, jewelers or shoe repair shop. Also write down what needs to go in for repairs so you won't forget anything- including the things that you can't set aside because they've been in constant use. Don't forget to put things that need mending and ironing in your designated spot, too.  You can hang the list of things going out for repair/cleaning from one of the hangers, or in your filofax, or on your computer- just as long as you'll refer to it before you go.

Part of regular wardrobe maintenance is also regular re-assessment of your wardrobe. Try to weed out things that you never wear as you go along- if it's because it needs alterations, then set it aside to be taken in at the scheduled time. Also schedule in a general reassessment of your wardrobe once or twice a year. I know, yuk. But if you've been paying a little bit of attention to this each time you do your regularly scheduled wardrobe maintenance, then this won't be a big deal. And be sure to give yourself a reward for finishing this task.  Makes it easier to get through. 

A little bit of time spent every month will pay off in a better looking, more organized wardrobe- which makes you look better, and probably feel much better, too.

Happy Dressing!