1) Purge Before You Splurge
Closet cleansing time is upon us. New year, new you. Before you cash in all those gift cards to your favorite boutiques, it’s prudent to take inventory of your current wardrobe. It’s a necessary evil that should happen seasonally but at the very least once a year. No better time than the present! I just helped my Mom edit her wardrobe. Asking for help and carving out the time are the first steps. And an impartial party to help is a must. A friend recently showed me a favorite worn-in pair of black mules and asked if she should have the torn soles repaired. My answer was an emphatic no! She obviously had an attachment to these shoes that only she could love. An outsider’s rationale had to step in. She could replace these shoes with an updated version for the same price or less than investing in new soles. Try pairing down to the 25% you actually wear and give away 75% (easier said than done but worth a try!). Consider saving your gently worn business attire for a worthy organization called Dress for Success NC which helps outfit disadvantaged women who are returning to or entering the workforce. Check out The Fashion Plate’s May 2011 article on Closet Cleansing for a refresher course from start to finish.

2) Swap & Save
Once you’ve done a thorough inventory of your wardrobe you may have created a pile that needs its own category….Not new enough for a consignment shop but too expensive or sentimental for donating to the thrift store. How about a boutique swap with a dozen plus of your closest friends? This would be ideal on a seasonal basis or right before the party-packed holidays. Decide if you want to make it a true swap or charge a nominal fee. Make it easy and charge the same flat rate for every item. All proceeds can go to your charity of collective choice. Now that’s a win-win for everyone!

3) Treat Yourself
You’ve cleaned out and leaned down your wardrobe; now it’s time for a treat. Look through your stack of dog-eared catalogues and make a splurge on that dress or pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing. It’s likely these items are now on sale, as January is traditionally one of the slowest retail months of the year. Just remember my general rule, one new item in means one old item out.

4) Try New Things
Afraid of certain colors? Don’t own any polka dots? Think you’re too old or the wrong shape for a style you love or the latest trend? I dare ya! Don’t be afraid to step outside your fashion comfort zone and try something new and different. You might just surprise yourself and look fabulous in the process.

5) Accessorize
We all seem to be on a budget these days. An excellent way to infuse the latest trend into your wardrobe or add a pop of color is with accessories. From jewelry to purses to scarves to shoes… you can complete your fashion story without breaking the bank! (Steer clear of high end designer accessories to get the most bang for your buck.) Hats, especially in winter, are a fun way to add new life to an outfit and show your playful side. It’s easy to overlook your jewelry, shoes and belts when weeding out your wardrobe. I challenge you to take inventory of accessories you already own first, and donate or consign what you don’t wear. Then have fun accessorizing throughout the seasons.

Wow, I have work to do! Time to follow my own closet cleansing advice and start purging and donating. Happy New Year!

These are some of my New Year’s style resolutions. Share yours below.