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Oh friends! Here in my northern corner of the Northern Hemisphere, it is cold. The chill hits like a ton of bricks, every year, exactly on the equinox. How does it knowwww?

Anyway, if sweatah weathah came on gradually, as I feel it should, I could be better prepared. But, no, I’m shocked and scrambling. No matter! Self-care enthusiasts can make hay in any season, so this autumnal equinox I’m doing a full wardrobe reset . . . with a twist.

Everything must go!

Equinoctial wardrobe reevaluations are nothing new. But there are only so many times you can take everything out of your closet and only so many ways you can remix the contents and feel you’ve accomplished anything at all.

Let’s do something truly different. Let’s not worry about sparking joy. Let’s not bother with separate piles called Repair, Donate and Toss. (At least not today.)

Take everything out of the closet and pile it on the bed. One four-foot-high undifferentiated mass is just fine. There are only three steps, and that’s Step One!

Step Two: Make everything fight its way back in.

There will be no rules. This is not your Type A organizer’s wardrobe reset. I got this idea from fashion YouTuber Audrey Coyne: Pretend you’ve got nothing. Pretend your whole wardrobe was lost in a fire and now you have to start from scratch. Grab pen and paper and make a list of your non-negotiable wardrobe needs for the season. No specific targets here in terms of colors or patterns or function—the only guideline is that everything on your list is a must-have.

For me, the important pieces are jeans, black dress pants, white t-shirts and tanks, a plain dress, a party skirt, a cocktail top, a leather jacket, handknits, a scarf that could double as a beach blanket, tennis shoes, and ankle boots. (Yes, I know the word for this style: I’m basic.)

Step Three: With checklist in hand, go pull what you need from that textile pile on the bed. Arrange your choices in your closet and … regard the simplicity! KonMari would be proud.

The final task is to round up everything else and put it all, still undifferentiated—unless you’re extraordinarily energized now—where it can rest comfortably until it’s time for another seasonal reset. Maybe your kid’s closet? And we’re done! Unless you need to go shopping. (It happens.)

Possibly some will not vibe with this approach. That is OK! There are many valid approaches to dressing, and infinite ways to celebrate the change of seasons. This approach is a way to have fun, if this sort of thing is actually fun to you.

You could always try this as a thought experiment! Either way, I very much want to know, “What are your equinoctial items?” Comment below.

Image credit: Dress, ca. 1857, European. The Costume Institute, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Used with permission.

About The Author

Max Daniels is a research-based life coach whose weekly emails make us laugh with recognition and rethink everything we thought we knew. Her new book is Meals at Mealtimes. What a concept!


  • I am with Neil Diamond, forever in blue jeans.

    • Oooo, as a seamstress AND knitter, this would force me to gift and otherwise rehome many precious items that could never be relegated to the pile.

  • I’m pretty good at keeping clothing-things to basics, and I don’t even need “dress-up” clothes – just the essentials in case of a funeral. But handknits! I’ve managed to give a few away (besides those actually intended as gifts) but mostly they don’t get far from the closet: sweaters, scarves, hats of many colors, socks, mittens… no matter how ugly, if I made it, the precious thing may take several equinoxes to leave this house. Not to mention afghans!! Oh, boy.

    • I feel ya on this one. Can’t part with things I have made.

  • Boots. Boots boots. Jeans: blue, Black and Tan. Sweaters, Duh. Jewelry.

    • Ditto!

  • I’m not brave enough.

  • I’ve already gotten it down to only things I love. Problem is, since March 2020, I’ve worked from home, where I’m only seen from shoulders up, so I’m wearing only a tiny fraction of it. Every change of season, as I shlep it back and forth from attic to closet, I wonder will I ever wear this again? Is it silly to keep it? (Not to mention all those cute shoes!)

  • I’ve rarely left my house in the last 2-1/2 years. Now that I’m starting to go out again, my (very dated “going out”) clothes (they were old and dated in the before times) seem wildly inappropriate but I’m thinking some of that may just be their unfamiliarity. Maybe? I seem to have forgotten how to dress for public consumption.

    • Yes, this so much!! I’ve been making a point lately of quickly (quickly, because I’m not much of a shopper…even online) flipping through the clothing website emails I get, rather than just chucking them in the trash, to see what, if anything, that’s in my closet is still in style. Luckily, so far, I have just enough in my closet to eek by on just about any occasion, unless it’s a formal one.

    • Don’t dress for public consumption!

      One of the keys to happiness is to dress to please yourself. My dresses (with more on the way!) are not fashionable, & not in this season’s colors. I don’t care, they make me happy

      • Ditto. I wear what is comfortable and pleases me.

  • I am doing the exact same thing with all of my seasonal decorations. I have an embarrassing amount of Halloween and fall decor (we are not even going to discuss Christmas today) and my youngest is 30 for Pete’s sake. I can no longer blame this urge to place witchy boots and her broom beside the front door on their young imaginations. It is ALL me and it is an illness that needs to be managed. So. Today. Today is the day that I pull it all out of the attic and decorate my home as perfectly as if Martha Stewart herself visited and placed it all just so. And…whatever is left in the bins…whatever is not deemed good enough to be put out today is outta here! No maybe next year. No maybe one of the boys will want it. No. Just no. Get it out. Now.

    • But what if there are grandkids? i went out and bought even MORE stuff!

    • You go girl!!

    • Monica, I like this approach and feel your memories. It’s hard to get rid of things they loved as kids! But I’ve also learned my young adult kids don’t want it, so if I’m not using said decorations, out it goes! (I gave a bunch of Halloween decorations to my young neighbors and enjoy seeing the bones etc in their yard!!)

  • Shortly after I retired a year ago I did just this: pulled everything out of my closets and dumped it on the bed. I then pulled what I thought I needed as retirement wardrobe and bundled up the rest and donated it all to charity. I kept jeans and tops, one pair of black dress pants, a black dress, and a couple other dresses. This was a great experience — very cathartic!

  • Thank you Max! I may try that method. I’m fortunate to have a non-profit thrift shop right down the street, so I donate regularly. My closet rules are – if something goes in, something comes out, evaluate anything not worn in a year, does it still have sentimental value, will I REALLY ever be that size again? Finally – a small closet are easier to manage.

    • You and I seem to operate the same way – all my clothes stay where they are all year, no shifting for seasons, and if something new comes in, something old goes out. My only dilemma is the shrinking shelf space for my ever-growing hand-knit sweaters

      • Psst- add another shelf! ;-D

        • Gotta happen soon!

  • This is just the motivation I need! I have so many things in my closet that I like, but just don’t wear. Thankfully, I can justify a wardrobe re-do because I’ve managed to lose a bit of weight (yay!).

  • Man, my dressing style is the opposite – to satisfy my creative energy, I need lots of different colors and patterns, and to satisfy my need to look put-together, I need things that match or go with but are quieter than those loud things. So I will never have a really small closet, but my bigger closet makes me happy! I do like this suggestion though. I can see where I would get rid of things that I’m not wearing much with this strategy. My endless question is: if it looks good on me and is different from everything else and I like it, but I only wear it rarely, keep or toss?

    • Thanks for articulating my approach to dressing. Capsule wardrobes sound like a good idea, but I like more variety, and want an ever-changing “uniform”. Dressing myself is a creative outlet for me.

    • While I aim for simplicity, if it looks good and you like a piece yet rarely wear it, keep it—at least for now. You might change your mind in the future, and then reevaluate.

      • Yes!

  • I read somewhere to take everything out of your closet but things you absolutely love. Then, figure out what it is you love about those clothes and use that to assess everything else. Also, the percentage of time you spend in a particular type of clothing (work, casual) is the percentage it should take up in your wardrobe.

    • Ooo- that’s really smart!

    • Oh! I like that approach.

  • I would freeze Max. Your list has me shivering. I need tights and under layers, thick socks and piles of hats and cowls – no cold is creeping in to nip at my neck.
    I do like the idea of a closet toss. All my summer dresses are looking a little forlorn at the moment.

  • I am in the process of moving to a new home after 30 years. I have been doing this with everything but clothes since August. Now in the process of going through clothes and sorting Fall/winter and Spring/summer. Will take the ones I need now and go from there.

  • Ponte slim pants in black and navy – I have 3 in each color – they work for morning walks as well as for dress-up – bought them easily 10 years ago – they go in the washer and I hang them to dry – they are still like the day I bought them.

    • you are my spirit animal

  • What’s this you speak of? A chill in the air???? It’s still sweat weather in Texas. No sweater needed. But maybe someday . . .

    • That’s the truth! In Dallas we had a ‘cool snap’ a few of days where long pants were bearable to walk the dog. . . not today!

      This is the hardest part of ‘wardrobe-ing” myself. The seasons between the seasons – white shoes and some summery things seem inappropriate after Labor Day . . . but “second summer” is still here. . . I’ve decided linen is okay anytime, regardless of what anyone thinks!

    • Feeling the same in California.

  • I live in SW Florida. Easy-peasy for my wardrobe: I wear shorts 6 days a week & dress up for church on Sunday. I wear a robe on chilly mornings to let the dogs out & ditch it when the temp rises. I have my handknit sweaters & vests from my former life in Minnesota that I won’t part with, but I really can’t wear them. And instead of a complete, spare winter outfit, I carry a sweatshirt in my car. That pretty much sums it up.

  • I am so inspired by Max story and impressed by all the replies so far. I am finally ready to clean my closet. I have for years said, “I’ll fit into this next year” sometime have, but mostly not. As we age our bodies change. So this year it will. Thank you to all for the great suggestions. I will start this today.

  • My clothes never leave the closet unless I’m wearing them. I’m like Michael Finnigan so I shop my closet for sizes at different times of the year

  • You’re not asking us to get rid of whatever is still left in the pile, necessarily, right? Just put it somewhere else? This sounds so freeing, because while whittling down my closet to the things I want most, I can still find something I realize I want to wear after all, in my son’s closet (or where ever). Perfect for us empty nesters who are getting reacquainted with their leaving the house wardrobe. Thanks for the idea!

  • What a super great method! I think I might be able to actually do this. I hate “decluttering” or whatever we are calling this now, but maybe I could do this “process.”

  • I am in the midst of doing this. The bed is heaped, the drawers are empty, and the closet rack is bare. Military life was a good excuse to purge every 2-3 years before my dh’s retirement. Now that we are more permanently settled, things have started to creep in or stay hidden in the shadowy storage places. All that business attire is headed out the door and just comfy, make-me-happy clothes are staying.

  • Losing over 100 lbs, and then moving cross country helped me to pair it down. Most of my hand knits no longer fit, so pretty much everything got donated to the homeless. Very cathartic, and now I get to start over on making new sweaters for myself, without feeling guilty that I already have too much. Jeans, joggers, tees, a few dresses. Sneakers, boots.

    • What a fabulous achievement. And what fun you can have restocking the knits. Enjoy!

    • Wow, Bonnie, congratulations on your weight loss! Hope you’re feeling great – Knit on!

  • Any ideas on how I can get my husband to do this? Any volunteers?

  • I like this idea and am going to try it. I hope I can pare the current fall/winter wardrobe down to the level I had it the first year I retired 12 years ago: blue jeans, black jeans, black t-shirts, white t-shirts, black blazer, black cashmere sweater, black boots and my workout clothes. We moved and I became engaged in different activities that required a more varied wardrobe. From there I went crazy and became compulsive about adding color, texture, prints, and shoes. I also added weight so now I have these things in a couple of sizes and the closet is full. Time for a change. My local thrift shop will be pleased. Of course there is now a pile of shawls and sweaters that I have knit since retiring and they aren’t going anywhere. They will probably get more use since they won’t have so much competition.

  • I like this idea a LOT. It’s brutal enough to make a ton of sense. The only problem I have is imagining the look on my husband’s face when he walks in and looks at the bed. Maybe I could do it in closet segments?

  • I did this! Almost accidentally. I adore my clothes but I was getting bored with them. I had to ask myself several questions, though. Where do I go? What am I willing to be seen in by the public? What will stand up to my grandkids sticky peanut butter fingers? Why am I reading all those books on Japanese costume? I have to say, my wardrobe became a lot more interesting after the cleanout/restock!

  • Jeans, joggers, dress pants navy and black, tees for those pants, sweaters for over those tees(winter is coming) tanks for under those tees, under those sweaters(winter is coming) hooded sweatshirt. Long underwear(see above) wool socks, short socks. Scarf summer, scarves, gloves, hats winter, hat summer, no shorts( summer real short here). Winter coat, summer rain jacket, winter boots. I’m tired already just thinking about this!

  • My closet, along with my whole house, is in desperate need of decluttering. While I’m still working on a solution to the rest of the house, I’ve come up with a pretty good one for the closet. Everyone seems to say that if you haven’t worn it in six months or a year, toss it or give it away. It’s true I do have clothes I haven’t worn in about 2 1/2 years. Hello, COVID! Are y’all tossing clothes after a year or do some clothes get a pass cuz you haven’t been anywhere in over 2 years?? I vote pass, but that’s just me. Opinions wanted.

  • Jeans, work trousers in a plain dark colour (I’m trying to move away from jeans for work so that I have some purely “weekend” clothes), leggings, jersey tops and tunics, handknit sweaters and cardigans, a pinafore dress, an A-line skirt, knee-high boots and trainers. I’m feeling the urge for some ankle boots and a soft jacket but we’ll see how that pans out.

  • I love this and have been gearing up to achieve the simplicity you describe. I have a few dressy tees to go with my black pants that would stay, but otherwise we dress like twins.

  • Well here’s the thing. I live in a place where it can be 45 degrees in the morning, warm up to 76 by 4:00, then drop down to 42 by bedtime. Or a nice 67 degree day can drop 30 degrees in less than an hour when a front blows through the mountains. Love the idea though. ( oh, and any place i could possibly let the rest “rest” is already overflowing with yarn).

  • Pamela said it well: forever in blue jeans. T-shirts: long sleeved/short sleeved for the seasons. Art vests I put together from denim shirts. A pair of black slacks and designer silk tops (when we had a clothes designer in our gallery – lucky me!) on the rare party occasion. Comfort and quirky in the gallery is me at 72.

  • You have a very nice layout for your blog, i want it to use on my site too “    

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