A Style Mantra to Live By

Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful


This quote is by William Morris, and although he was talking about houses, I actually think the philosophy can just as easily be applied to closets (which are part of your home, after all), and I also happen to think it’s a pretty good style mantra to live by, too. Going by this “rule”, there are just two types of clothing you should have in your closet:


In the past, I’ve talked about only buying clothes that make you feel amazing: about how every purchase should generate that “I MUST have it!” feeling, and that if it doesn’t make you feel like that, you should probably just put it back on the rail.

I’m not going back on that advice entirely, here: what I’d add to it, however, is the fact that it only really applies IF you already have everything you really NEED in your closet. If you’ve got the basics sorted, and are really just shopping for those added extras, then sure: every single extra item you purchase should be amazing. It’s hard to apply that philosophy to your closet as a whole, though, because if you were to go and get rid of everything that DIDN’T make you squeal with excitement the second you laid eyes on it, where would that leave you? Probably with a closet full of amazing dresses – but nothing to wear to work, to walk the dog, or when you’re crashing in front of Netflix on a Friday night. (Er, speaking totally for myself here, you understand.)

So you need to keep the things that are USEFUL: even if they don’t exactly set the world on fire. But that doesn’t mean you get rid of everything else, though, because this brings us neatly to the second thing your closet need:


When you read advice about how to clear out your closet, one of the things you’ll hear most often is that if you haven’t worn a particular garment in a certain time frame (the past year is the most common one, although some people articles allow you to keep things a little bit longer), you should throw it on the “donate” pile – or throw it in the bin, depending on the garment. This, however, doesn’t really work either, especially in the case of those “special occasion” items that aren’t necessarily in constant rotation.

It’s fine if we’re taking about everyday basics, obviously: if you have some of those which you haven’t worn in a long time, it’s probably a good idea to get rid of them – sure. Well, it’s not like you’re ever going to wear them again, is it? But what about those beautiful evening shoes, which you bought for a wedding three years ago, and haven’t worn since? You still love them, they still fit, they’re still in perfect condition… but according to the style “rules” we’re all given, you should definitely get rid of them – because “if you haven’t worn it them in the past year, you never will!”

That’s just not true, though, is it? Just because no one’s gotten married, or invited you to some other kind of special event lately, it doesn’t mean you’ll never go to one again. Or, at least, I hope not. Deciding to donate a pair of shoes that you still love, and would still wear if the occasion presented itself, doesn’t make much sense, does it? (It’s also a really easy way to guarantee that the second you drop those shoes off at the charity shop, you’ll immediately be invited to the PERFECT place to wear them…) So we also keep the things we believe to be beautiful – and to this we’d add the caveat that “as long as they still fit, are still presentable, and are still something you can imagine wearing, if the right occasion presents itself. ”

So, the things you wear all the time, and the things you really can’t live without: what you DO need to get rid of (or just not buy in the first place, ideally) is all of the “just good enough” things: the ones you don’t really NEED, and which don’t make you feel like you just can’t live without them … but which you end up buying anyway, because they were on sale, you thought they might come in handy at some point, or you needed a particular item for something, and didn’t have the time and/or patience to shop around for one that was perfect.

Those are the things you get rid of.



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