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Into the Boomer Babe's Closet

by Lynne Cavanaugh

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It was a rare, relaxed evening and this boomer babe was cozily browsing through an assortment of last month's style magazines. Curled up at her feet, the family canine stretched and settled into his evening nap. Quite suddenly, the silence was shattered by raucous laughter. This boomer babe was reading wardrobe advice for the newest fashion season. The "must haves" looked like nothing functional for anyone over thirty and the advice to "toss anything you haven't worn in six months" was far too harsh for the thrifty (or the sane). These fashion "words of wisdom" were about as useful as the home improvement TV program that demonstrated how a budget of $50,000 could transform the family kitchen into a high tech, chef's delight!

On one point, though, we do agree: cleaning and organizing closets is enormously helpful in making the best use of what you already have and easing your morning routine as you reach for clothing suitable for the day's activities. It is helpful to designate areas in your closet for categories useful to you, such as "Workplace," "Working at Home," "Better Casual" (for an evening with friends or a child's school program), "Bedtime," "Dirty Work" (for yard work or home improvement projects) and "Serious" (perhaps a wedding or a funeral). In this boomer babe's world, this latter category has the fewest number of selections and "Working at Home" has the greatest.

You may find that an outfit that has served you well in "Better Casual" needs to be re-purposed as "Working at Home," replacing an article now ready for a transfer to "Dirty Work." Finally, that worn and stained tee shirt in "Dirty Work" can (and should) be cut into pieces for the rag bag.

When reviewing your closet contents, you may discover a surplus of, say, sweatshirts. Coordinating pajama bottoms culled from a clearance rack may be all that would be needed to create attractive and comfortable sets of pajamas. You may discover an unworn article of clothing that needs only a button or other minor mending to be returned to service. This boomer babe discovered a winter coat once worn occasionally by a teenage daughter and in great condition. By removing the shoulder pads and tacking down the shoulder pleats, the coat was updated to the more tailored look that is fashionable today.

Perhaps there are items for which you have no coordinating pieces. Would the addition of a neutral pair of slacks, for example, blend with the orphaned tops? Ask yourself, "Am I truly in need of new shoes or do I have appropriate shoes that I have just never gotten in the habit of wearing?" When you are unhurried, it is much easier to coordinate outfits. Later when you are time pressed, you will appreciate knowing which jacket blends with which skirt and which necklace adds just the right finishing touch.

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When you have finished your work, you will have re-purposed some clothing from one category to another and repairs will have been made where necessary. You may well have some still serviceable clothing ready to be passed along to others (yard sale, Goodwill, etc.) and you will have a clearer picture of your clothing needs. Doing the organizing and research before we shop helps us focus on what we need and avoid distractions. Then, with our list in hand, we can head to our favorite shopping haunts assured of filling the gaps of our truly functional wardrobes.

Reviewed June 2017

Take the Next Step:

  • Want to make the best use of what's already in your closet? Cleaning and organizing your clothes closet is the place to start.
  • Get more tips for reorganizing your wardrobe and then take these steps to an organized closet.
  • An organized home can save you quite a bit. The Dollar Stretcher's Guide to an Organized Home can help you save both time and money getting organized and staying organized.
  • Subscribe to After 50 Finances. You've learned how to work smarter, not harder. This weekly newsletter is dedicated to people just like you. Subscribers get a FREE copy of our After 50 Finances Pre-Retirement Checklist, a list of everything you need to do to be ready for retirement.

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