real life makeunder: simone’s closet

Good afternoon! I got an email last week from a Simone, of Skinny Dip. She’s a MakeunderMyLife reader and she recently completed a closet makeunder and shared the process on her blog. Of course the first thing I did was hop on over to her site and read about her new perspective on buying (it’s pretty darn similar to my own wardrobe philosophy) and then asked to share it here as well. Luckily she agreed and you can read the full process below.

Simone’s Closet Makeunder

One of my current goals is to try and live more minimally. I’ve been really inspired by Jess from Chicago’s blog Makeunder My Life. What’s a “Makeunder” you ask? You can read about here but basically it means “designing your life with intent” by subtracting things from your life that you don’t need.


Over the past year I’ve really been examining how & where I spend my money, especially when it comes to my wardrobe. I realized that when I was younger (ie my late teens, when I got my first job & really started to buy all my own clothes) my shopping style was this: I’d save up and buy one or two items every month. I didn’t have a lot of clothes, but the clothes I had I loved. Oddly enough I never felt like I had “nothing to wear”. Sometime during my twenties, my shopping style evolved into what I call “Grazing”. I’d shop really randomly which meant basically whenever I walked through a mall, which was often. I also would buy things whenever I had a bad day. I ended up with a lot of clothes that didn’t work together. However, I kept shopping because I never felt like I had anything to wear.

Now that I am moving towards my 30’s I really want to shift my shopping style back to buying less, but buying better. I want to have a cohesive style that really expresses who I am, so that when people see me wearing something they say “That’s so Simone!”.

Before I get into my Wardrobe “Makeunder Strategy” that I’ve made for myself, I’ll give you a peak into my closet. Friends who have come over can testify that my closet pretty much looks like this all the time. I blame my neat-freaky nature on my German genes & the 3 years spent living in a student Co-op that had a communist-dictatorship style cleaning regime (which seems to have stuck with me).

I’d love to have a giant clothing storage space a la Sea of Shoes, but that just isn’t realistic when you’re living in an apartment in the city. Keeping things minimal is key. So here are my new rules:

1. PURGE: Get rid of everything you don’t wear, don’t love or don’t need & send it on to a new home. When I moved into this apartment I donated about 6 garbage bags full of clothes to The Goodwill. This summer I went through my closet again and found probably another 3 garbage bags full of clothes, plus about 20 pairs of shoes that I didn’t need. Combined with some other items around the house, my boyfriend and I had a killer garage sale. I really do believe that harboring stuff you don’t use is like harboring dead energy. It felt great sending all of those things onto a new home. My closet is probably the emptiest it’s been in a while, however when I look inside it feels good to only see things I truly like or love.

*Also, if there are things in your closet that you don’t wear but you still really love, try and figure out why you don’t wear them. If its something like you feel the hem is too long, get it altered. The money you’ll spend on the alterations is cheaper (and more enviro friendly) than buying a new item. I did this with a few of my dresses this season.

2. Buy Less but Buy Better: As someone who is a reformed “Grazer” I have started planning my purchases on a monthly basis. Instead of “grazing” throughout the month via after work browsing at Forever 21 and H&M, I’ll pick one or two semi-expensive “investment” items that I’ll buy each month. For example, this March I bought a classic tan trench-coat & a really great cashmere cardigan. These are both things that I know I will wear over & over again. I don’t have the budget to buy all designer clothing however I do try and buy the best possible quality that I can afford. I also try and pay attention to what things are made of & go for natural materials (wool, cotton, silk, leather for shoes & bags) whenever possible. By going for higher quality, the product lasts longer & usually comes with better service.
*By buying investment pieces I spend more on an individual item, but I find its actually now easier for me to track where my money goes. More often than not I spend less money overall because I’m not making a bunch of $20, $30, $40 impulse buys. Those purchases add up really fast but you don’t notice because it feels like you are spending less.
*I try to not shop during the rest of the month, but this isn’t always realistic. I always leave myself a little bit of gravy in case I come across a really great bargain (I love, love, love a good bargain!). I try to limit any additional shopping I do during the month & always set myself a clear budget that I stick to. I still love going to cheap chic stores like Forever 21, however when I find something I like there I’ll ask myself “Is this something trendy that I’ll wear once or twice to a club?” (in this case I don’t buy it) OR “Is this something that I’m going to wear all season (like a great tank-top that goes with a bunch of stuff)?” (in this case I will buy it).

3. The 3-way rule: No, this is not the latest dirty theory concocted by Barney on “How I Met your Mother”. When I’m considering purchasing a clothing item, I ask myself “Can I picture myself wearing this at least 3 different ways, or with 3 different outfits?”. If the answer is “NO” I generally do not buy it. Being able to walk away from a purchase once I have decided that I truly don’t need it has given me a new sense of power.

4. I’ll always love clothes: However, to stay on track with my plan I’ve been exploring other ways to make myself feel good besides shopping. I’ve started working out more, going to the library, blogging. I also attended my first Clothing Swap this spring–it was a lot of fun & I managed to score a couple of great pieces pretty much for free.

It’s all still a work in progress. My closet is emptier but inside it are things that I really love and are excited to wear again & again. It’s a good feeling.
My “nothing to wear” syndrome has been solved.

[If you’d like to share your own personal makeunder, email me at]

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  1. Bek

    This is great! I love her “3-way rule.” I might have to adopt that.

  2. Jill

    This is awesome! I have been working on this in my own closet actually and getting ready to blog about it! Must be in the fall air…

  3. Flavia

    Great post! I recently started adopting very similar rules in my own closet. Instead of once a month as Simone does, I’ve been making lists per season, and find that this exercise not only limits the amount I purchase, but gets me to really think about what works with what I already have. I’m also starting to look for quality rather than quantity and I’m becoming much happier with my closet!

  4. I couldn’t agree more! I do closet audits for clients all the time and try to stress these four points exactly. I also try to practice what I preach, but that’s much more of a challenge! lol…

  5. pve

    I love this, and the book that I got in the mail – is great – the “pie” shape chart for charting out the type of clothing…I always think of wearing it several ways and also the fabric is very important.

  6. I’ve recently started to buy quality over quantity and it has made my clothing decisions so much simpler! Now, I’m actually happy picking almost anything from my closet.

  7. Jess

    @ All: I’m glad Simone’s new perspective on her wardrobe helps us all think a bit more about what we wear and buy. And it also sounds like many of you are already living this way as well. Bravo!

  8. Missy

    There must be something about heading into your 30’s that make you savor quality over quantity. I too recently adopted this way of life with my interiors as well. Though it looks funny at the time, I have these amazing one-of-a-kind antique pagoda lamps on my $100 Ikea desk. It feels so good to look at those lamps and know I will have them forever, and now I get to save for a new desk that is equally amazing. Thanks Jess, for this amazing “Makeunder” Series!

  9. claire

    This post is very inspiring! I need to do some seasonal cleaning right away!

  10. Jess

    @ Missy: You most certainly are welcome! Everyone is encouraged to send in their own personal makeunders, it’s so great to see how everyone approaches their own process of simplification.

    @ Claire: This is a great time to do it! I went through my fall stuff this week myself. No need to put things in my closet that I don’t think I’ll realistically wear.

    @ Alix: I am pretty sure based on the uber-organized nature of the closet that it’s the after photo.

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