My Zen Closet

11 May

Once upon a time, I found a question printed on a clothing tag attached to a new purchase:  What if you loved your clothes?”

The question remained in the back of my mind.  I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like.

I was inspired to simplify my wardrobe,  to make dressing easier and to allow myself to feel comfortable and happy in my clothes.  Always.

And so…I have finally achieved a Zen Closet.

Okay, there is still a mess at the bottom, but I can honestly say that I can find something great to wear, each and every day.

This is a summary of what has worked for me. I wish for all humans to experience the joy of a Zen Closet.  No one should feel like they have “nothing to wear”, or waste time and money on clothes that don’t last, don’t mix well, don’t feel good, and don’t flatter them.

In the past, I found that I sometimes coincidentally ended up with multiple items from particular clothing makers.  I did not buy them at the same stores, or even during the same years, and did not look at the labels before purchase.  This pattern caused me to wonder, “What qualities do I appreciate in these particular clothing makers’ designs?  What drew me to them?  What made me wear them and enjoy them?” I came up with answers about colors, textures, styles and other qualities that worked for me.  I have — gradually, over years — eliminated my clothing failures, and added to my wardrobe only pieces that shared those special qualities I had discovered.

This year, I finally have it all figured out.  I know what I want to wear–and it is in my closet! I know the answer to the question. It feels like a revolution.

I have a few favorite pieces of clothing that I look forward to wearing, and always find easy to wear.

Some of my favorites have been in my wardrobe for years, and helped inspire a set a rules about what I like to wear.  Some are relatively new.  One of the older items on this list carried the curious tag leading to years of closet meditation and my eventual closet enlightenment.

These favorites, and all of my other clothes (with only a handful of exceptions), can be classified according to those special qualities I once extrapolated from my coincidental purchases.  Realizing what I love about these clothes, and what I didn’t love about some of the other clothes I have bought over the years, has brought my closet to a state of organized, blissful simplicity.  Getting dressed is easier, laundry is easier, and I’m sure shopping will be easier.  (I actually don’t feel the need to buy new items, because I am so happy with what I have.)

Favorite Items:

A “fine merino wool” sleeveless knit top  (Eileen Fisher)– medium blue

A simple “A-line”  linen skirt  (Eileen Fisher)–pale olive gray

A loose cotton “smock” blouse with details  (Eileen Fisher)–white

Four pairs textured hemp blend cargo slacks (REI)–natural shades

Two scoop-necked light cotton sweaters (Merona, for Target stores)– one magenta, one dark turquoise

A pair of  wide-leg business slacks with a sharp crease  (Sharagano)–gray/white flecked

A straight skirt with wide, tiered, fishtail layers  (Larry Levine)–dark indigo/blue stretch denim

A cashmere blend belted cardigan (Adec2)–gray

A short-sleeve, low-cut, cowl-necked knit top (August Silk)–white with black animal print

An “A-line” cotton skirt  (Jones New York)–black with white accents

A fitted leather blazer with back detail (Arleen Bowman/Chin Chin)–“weathered”  brown

A short-sleeve linen blouse with a silk ruffle  (Carole Little)–white


only bright colors near the face (makes me look younger)

solid colors (easier to mix and match)

blues, greens, dark pinks, whites, soft grays, dark denim, khaki, some black, some orange, some purple, some red

white shirts with minor black prints (there is something crisp about them)

dark jeans with a little bit of stretch


linen, merino wool, cotton, cashmere, leather, hemp

must feel good against the skin

NO delicate fabrics to *snag* on jewelry

NO clingy fabrics or static producing fabrics

NO “pilling” t-shirts

Necklines, lengths, styles, etc.:

clothes that FIT

Scoop-necks, v-necks, low cowl-necks

mainly knee-length skirts, some straight, some A-line, some longer and fuller with pleats

high-waist dresses, especially sleeveless

pants with 2-3 buttons or hooks at the waist and wide legs

coats that are fitted, and wide collared or double-breasted

sharp creases on slacks

cascading layers on dresses and skirts (smooths the figure)

classic and feminine styles

Accents, jewelry, shoes, etc. and miscellaneous:

jewelry that lasts (nothing that corrodes, tarnishes or breaks)

simple “statement” necklaces, especially coral or pearl and other single-material styles

long necklaces or chokers

light earrings (for thin ear lobes)

shoes with arch support, thick soles, low wedge heels

pashmina shawls

layers: combinations of items that work in different seasons

*May you achieve your own Zen Closet!

4 Responses to “My Zen Closet”

  1. Emily January 22, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    Can you please help me lead the way to a happier life? I’m young and always have some sort of depression in my soul. I want to set it free. Unfortunately I am not old enough to get my own place yet and i still have my parents looking after me. they may not be happy with me throwing out a lot of stuff…

    • acleansurface January 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

      Emily, I am glad you asked. I would like to help you. I think it would be more appropriate for me to reply to your email address, rather than in this comment section, so I hope you will not mind that.

  2. Emily January 23, 2011 at 4:27 am #

    of course I don’t mind ! As long as I have someone to help me and motivate me, I’m happy.


  1. Conservative? « A Clean Surface. - April 23, 2011

    […] a year ago, I wrote a post called My Zen Closet.  I have not written on the topic of clothing since then, but I feel compelled to address it once […]

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