The Elastic Wardrobe (Part 3): Decluttering Your Closet & Shopping Smarter

by | Clothing Essentials: What to Wear | 0 comments

In Part 1 of the series, I explained how an elastic wardrobe (as I call this solution to closet madness) can be the key to a mom’s closet sanity. In Part 2 I covered how to begin the closet renovation process by first identifying your own personal style and color palette. See both of those posts here:

The Elastic Wardrobe (Part 1): The Mom’s Key to Closet Sanity

The Elastic Wardrobe (Part 2): Your Style & Color Palette

Now in Part 3, I want to wrap it up with my tips for analyzing your existing wardrobe and creating a master plan to fill in the holes.

Put Your Closet to the Test

Now that you’ve filled out your style sheet and have a color palette in mind, it’s time to pull your clothes out, section by section, to see if they pass some tests. You’ll be revisiting your tops, pants, skirts, dresses, cardigans, blazers, jackets, shoes, and even your accessories like jewelry and scarves. The goal: decluttering and narrowing your choices down to the best. If it sounds like a lot of work, trust me, it’s SO worth it! You’ll feel more lighthearted just after this step, and you won’t have spent a dime!

As you pull out each piece, put your favorites in one pile. These are the tops/pants/sweaters you go back to time and time again. If something doesn’t make it to the “favorite” pile, ask yourself why. It could be because it doesn’t fit right or you hate the color/pattern, you’ve had it for too long, or you’re just not sure what to wear it with. If it’s either of the first two reasons, fold it up and place it in a box for consignment (or donation). If you’re not ready to get rid of it (perhaps you’re expecting to fit into it as soon as you lose a couple of pounds) place it on temporary “hold,”–a bin or an extra closet. 

If it’s not a favorite because you just need some inspiration, put it on a second pile beside the favorites—your “need inspiration” pile. Later, spend a few minutes browsing Pinterest for ideas on how to wear these pieces.

If something is merely a favorite because it’s comfortable but has no visual appeal, doesn’t flatter your body, or is threadbare, I recommend putting those items into a separate drawer of “comfy” clothes. You can pull these out on lazy days, Sunday afternoons, or when you’re sick. Every mom needs these “comfort clothes.” But keeping them grouped with your nicer clothes will only clutter your options for awesome outfits during the week.

FAQ: Should I be removing items that don’t fall within my color palette? I’d recommend you filter by fit and “love it” value rather than by color. We’re trying to create a flexible wardrobe for you using much of what you already have. If you have the extra money to replace half your wardrobe with new items, feel free to get rid of as much as you’d like. But if it’s already in your closet, even if it doesn’t fall within your color palette, it will still work in several outfits and you will likely continue to wear it because you love it. The color palette becomes especially important when you add items to your wardrobe—these should only be from your color palette so that moving forward you are only adding ultimate flexibility and value.

Define the Holes in Your Wardrobe

On the back of your style sheet or on your phone, make a list of the items left on your “favorites” and “need inspiration” piles. Break it down into the following categories: Tops, Dresses, Pants, Shorts, Skirts, Completer Pieces, Accessories, and Shoes. As an example, this is a list of my maternity capsule wardrobe for Spring/Summer:

Tops   Dresses   Completer Pieces
3 Neutral Tees   2 Solid Color Maxis   1 Dark Wash Denim Jacket
2 Accent Color Tees   1 Patterned Maxi   1 White Denim Jacket
2 Patterned Tees   3 Patterned Day Dresses   1 Vest
4 Dressy Tops (church,
special events)
      1 Leather Jacket
Pants   Shorts   Skirts
1 Skinny Jeans   1 Denim Short   1 Patterned Maxi
1 Accent Color
  1 White Short   1 Solid Maxi
1 White Pants   1 Accent Color or Pattern Short   1 Solid Knee-length
        1 Patterned Knee-length
    2 White/Beige Camis    
    2 Black/Navy Camis    
    1-2 Accent Color Camis    
    1 Pair Leggings    

Now either use my Mom’s Wardrobe Basics Series or my free wardrobe plans for moms to discover new wardrobe pieces. You can use these lists to get ideas on what might be missing in your wardrobe. When you have the basics suggested on these lists, you can expand the number of outfit combinations in your wardrobe instantly.

Define the holes in your wardrobe using these tools and then begin writing a list of “essential additions” to your wardrobe. This is your shopping list (download the free printable below!). Use specifics to describe exactly what you’ll be looking for. Refer to your style sheet to direct the colors and styles you’re shooting for. Rather than writing “2 Tops,” write “Plaid button down, gray tones” and “Patterned tunic, blue or green tones.” You can refer to my shopping list for more examples.

Now you can return the clothes that made it to the the “favorites” and “need inspiration” piles back to your closet/drawers. While you’re at it, make things look neat and organized. Keep tops together, pants together, skirts together, etc. and arrange them roughly by color.

How to Fill the Holes with Smart Shopping

You now have a de-cluttered wardrobe making it easier to locate what you’ll wear each new day. You’ve also created a well-planned shopping list that will direct your shopping. Yay you!

But we’re not going shopping yet. Let’s continue to do this in order, ladies! Besides having a carefully planned shopping list (see the printable below), the next key to smart shopping is having a budget. Whether it means looking at your finances or talking with your hubby, you need a monthly budget to work with. Why monthly? As opposed to a one-time spending amount, a monthly budget can be quite small and build on itself over time. It gives you the freedom to take your time looking for the right items and will insure you have the capacity to keep your wardrobe fresh a year or two from now.

Read more about how to create a budget here.

Adding truly valuable items to your wardrobe will likely not be the work of one shopping trip. Shop at your leisure, working away at your list as you have the opportunity (whether that’s online or at the mall).

Here are some of my favorite places to shop on a budget.

If you feel tied to the house with kids, plan a babysitting swap with a friend or family member. Use the few hours to hit some of your favorite stores and cross some items off your list.

Or shop online. Here are the key strategies I use to save tons of money when I shop online. 

I recommend focusing on finding your foundation pieces first and accessories last. But if you are shopping thrift store or consignment where it’s more hit and miss, be sure to check for all the categories on each visit.

Finally, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, only buy items that check off on the four criteria I talked about in Part 1:

  1. Falls within your color palette

  2. Fits you correctly

  3. Can combine with at least 4 or 5 other items in your wardrobe (the more the better!)

  4. You love it (you don’t just kind of think it’s cute)

FAQ: What if I want to change my color palette? As you’re going through your wardrobe, you may see a pattern that you missed before and decide that “navy” or “coral” should really be on your color palette. As you’re browsing online you may realize you are constantly drawn to a certain color you hadn’t considered before. For me, that was pink. I also realized that though I love the jade/turquoise shade, it is pretty rare to find in stores. A pure  turquoise better represented what I already owned and what I would likely buy moving forward. So I modified my color palette accordingly. This strengthen your palette and insure it really reflects you!

Mama, you’ve just completed the steps for an elastic wardrobe! We’ve:

  1. Established your style

  2. Decided on a color palette

  3. De-cluttered your existing wardrobe

  4. Created a shopping list

  5. Defined a monthly clothing budget

You’re now ready to move forward with confidence that you know what you’re shopping for, you have the funds set aside for it, and everything you buy will be adding tons of value and ease to your wardrobe! That’s a major score for a busy mom. 

Now THAT you can do, Mama!

Get organized with this free Shopping List Printable



Get Printable 


If you’re already a subscriber, you can head here and use the password at the bottom of the last newsletter.



It's possible for busy moms to dress better, and still be casually comfortable. It just takes a plan for what to have in your closet. Stop feeling like you have nothing to wear! This blog shows you how to create a mom wardrobe that is flexible (think postpartum or nursing) while being budget friendly!  Helps you find your style, clean up/declutter, and create a smarter shopping list.