A 2016 Cleanse | Creating a Core Wardrobe

project cleanse2

You may have thought I was crazy when I mentioned last week that I’m going on a clothing freeze in 2016. Sometimes I wonder what I’m thinking too, but the truth is, I rarely buy things for a legitimate reason. It’s usually because it’s on sale or I’m buying for a hypothetical situation I someday may encounter. I’m hoping this experiment will change my attitude towards my wardrobe and help in creating a decision process for buying new items. It’s all part of being more intentional.The next step after completely purging your closest, is to do a quick inventory of what’s left. It may look like a hodge podge mess and that’s ok. You may have gotten rid of the skirt that went perfectly with that top and have some holes to fill. Figure out a way to organize your wardrobe to see what you have and where you need to get. Your ultimate goal is to identify your style preferences and have your wardrobe truly reflect those choices. Here are a few tips for completing an inventory and achieving your core wardrobe:

Continue to Work in Piles: To avoid getting overwhelmed, start with what is currently in season. You may have to do this process again come next season, but it’s all about making the project more manageable. So, with my Winter items, I organized into two pile systems: work and weekend (if it could go in both, default to weekend). Working with each pile individually, I sorted out first into clothes type (skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans, leggings, tshirts, collared tops, etc.) then into color. This will show you things like I have five pairs of dark skinny jeans, but only one pair of light wash jeans. And, I have four tops that are nearly the exact same – stop buying striped things.

Identify your Colors: I’m totally guilty of this. I’ll buy a bright orange top because, “well one day I might be in Florida and I just might need it…” No. Stop. Get a sense of what colors are in your wardrobe. I noticed I tend to stick mostly with neutrals and basic colors, but with the occasional pop of green, pink and red. This will help when you’re out shopping to know that for one, you don’t have anything to coordinate with that color and two, is that color really a sustainable choice?

Identify your Motive: Realize your reality and embrace it. I am an (almost) thirty year old momma. I need most of my clothes to be able to withstand many situations and be of little effort. Do you have time to iron a shirt four times before you wear it? Is that honestly comfortable when your standing and kneeling twenty times a day? Again, remembering your reality will help with the shopping temptations.

Keep a Little Notebook: This is whatever suites your organizational style. You could get pictures involved or it could be as simple as writing down what you have. This cleansing process is one of the few times you’ll have all your clothes strewn about the room, so it’s the best time to jot down outfit ideas. Just being completely aware of what is in your closet helps SO much when trying to think of things to wear and avoid similar purchases when you’re at the store.

Achieve a Core Wardrobe: The ultimate goal with this process is coming up with a core wardrobe. A wardrobe that totally fits you and your lifestyle. After a major cleanse, you may notice you have to fill in a few spots like basic tshirts or a pair of dark skinnies. It’s ok to fill in these holes, just make sure you’re sticking to your clothing outline above. Here is what I would consider a great core wardrobe:

Core Wardrobe_Sahl + White

A Good Pair of Skinny Jeans – I’m talking a pair that fits you like a glove, but are comfortable just the same. A mid, distressed wash is my favorite and you really can’t beat the Loft denim.

Some Gold Jewelry – Madewell has an excellent selection of versatile, yet fun accessories. They’re basic without being boring.

Leggings – What started out as my workout leggings, these compression leggings, have quickly become my go to’s. I have 3 pairs. They’re meant for the gym, but I wear them for every day and love them. Being compression, they’re also a little warmer and thicker than your every day, cheap leggings and with a high waist, help hold everything into place.

Black Jeans – Flattering and acceptable when leggings maybe aren’t so much.

Silk Top – A top with a fancy texture adds a lot to an outfit while being versatile.

Lightweight Jacket – Because Layers.

Something with Stripes  – Stripes are fun in a very structured way.

Heels – As much as I hate them, every girl needs a pair and I’ve been rockin’ Nine West since 2005.

Long Cardigan – Again: Layers, Layers, Layers. Must think in layers. Can be “bulked up” with an added chunky scarf or “bulked down” with a silk tank or tee.

Loafers – Wear with anything in any season.

Sneakers – This style happens to be my favorite.

A Cozy Scarf – Anything that doubles as a blanket is a necessity in my book. Plus this is an easy way to add trend to an outfit.

So there you have it. That’s a glimpse into what I’m working with from now until 2017! Note this is not my entire wardrobe – not even close! I have seasonal, statement, dressy and basic pieces that I also rotate based on occasion and time of year. I’m totally not advocating a minimal wardrobe; I could never keep up with those rules. I am however a fan of being confident in what you wear, buying things for a purpose, and not having excess.

Have you cleansed your closet recently? What are a few of your tips?


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Project Cleanse | Easy Ways to Work with the Wardrobe you Have – Sahl and White
    January 20, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    […] end of 2015, I made a resolution to go on a clothing freeze, purged my closet, worked on steps to identify my core wardrobe, and now begin the next phase, “show me what you’re working […]

  • Reply
    Lara elizabeth
    January 22, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Thank you for this!! Amazing advice that touches on the practical (if it fits both, default to weekend) as well as the psychological aspects of crazy clothes hoarding (which, really, isn’t that basically what it is, when we hold onto things – as you mentioned- that are not inline w our reality/ the what if life changes?!). Brilliant. I’m so inspired.

  • Leave a Reply