The Dangers of Pre-made Outfits


Over the summer, I worked with several clients who chose to organize their closets into complete outfits. They’d hang a cardigan, tank, and skirt together, or a sweater and coordinating pants, or a dress with a blazer and scarf. Since most of us have experienced Morning Wardrobe Panic – you’ve got 10 minutes to get dressed, swing open the closet doors, and experience brain freeze – this tactic may sound incredibly appealing. And if you’re in possession of a smallish wardrobe and aren’t a frequent shopper, it can be very valuable. But in other cases, it can be somewhat counterproductive. And here’s why:

It’s harder to see what you’ve got

If you hang a blazer over a blouse, all you’ll see is the blazer. In a large closet, that blouse may be totally forgotten. And since many outfits are born when we see various garments hanging near each other and creating visual pairings, masking garments can force you to lose out on remixing options. It generally helps to be able to SEE as much of your wardrobe as possible. Hanging completed outfits makes this difficult.

It encourages single-outfit thinking

When we buy complete outfits from the store, it can sometimes be hard to remember that those pieces can be worn separately with other clothes from our closets. Something similar happens when you hang outfits: You group those items together mentally, and it becomes increasingly difficult to imagine them working in other ways.

It may cause you to shop more often and less effectively

This ties into the visibility issue, of course, but deserves its own moment in the spotlight. If you can’t see that black-and-white houndstooth silk shell hanging in your closet because it’s hidden under a cardigan, you may end up buying a different black-and-white printed sleeveless top that essentially fills the same spot. Even a mindful shopper who limits her purchases to holes in her current wardrobe may end up doubling up when she can’t see and easily access what she’s already got.

If you hang pre-made outfits in your closet and love this system, there’s an easy way to avoid these pitfalls: Once the outfit has been worn twice, break it apart. In most cases, completed outfits are born when we wear items in combination and love them together. So, wear them together on discovery, wear again after they’ve been hung grouped, and THEN separate the items so they’re part of the general pool again.

Another option that can help those who don’t want to lose great outfit ideas after two wears? Photograph your outfits and keep the photos printed in your closet or easily accessible on your phone. So after an outfit has gotten its two wears and a couple of months have passed, you can find and revive it again.

Who out there hangs completed outfits? Do you feel like these limitations apply to your own system? Other workarounds to suggest so that hanging grouped outfits is more efficient? Let us know in the comments!

Image courtesy Emily May

Originally posted 2014-10-14 06:25:19.

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6 Responses to “The Dangers of Pre-made Outfits”

  1. Sonja

    Wow, I had read the suggestion of hanging your clothes together in outfits, but I did not actually think that anybody would do that. You know, personally I have been working hard on my clothes during the last five years, unifiying them style- and colourwise to get a mix-and-match wardrobe. I started to actively use Gochicorgohome two years ago and during those two years I’ve given away a lot of stuff and I’ve shopped less than I used to. Gochicorgohome shows me that I still have not worn all the possible combinations of my clothes by far, even if I just took the garments I already owned two years ago. And I’m not talking about outfits that are possible but not wearable, I talk about combinations that I would love to wear.
    So I have a hard time imagining why anyone would want to limit themselves this way, except maybe for someone who wants to be presentable but isn’t interested in (the creative aspects of) fashion/style, or people who don’t trust themselves to create outfits by their own and buy complete ones from a shop or ask for help and then rewear these combinations again and again.
    Hm, but when I think about it now, it occurs to me that this system could be helpful in combination with others. If I had the discipline and storage-space, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to create seven outfits for the week on Sunday afternoon and hang them together, in order to avoid the dreaded wardrobe morning panic. Because yes, I know that, too, and usually the garment that I had mentally based my outfit around while in the shower has disappeared in the chaos of my wardrobe,.

  2. April S

    I sort my closet between sweaters and non-sweaters and each by sleeve length and color. I do pull out some garments on Sundays and make enough outfits for the week. After being worn and washed they get put away individually so I can make new outfits for the next week.

  3. Wockyjabber

    I did not know people did this. I do not. I’m a big mixer and matcher so this would put a serious curtailment on that practice.

  4. Lisa Wong

    I don’t think this is workable as a long-term storage/organization solution, but I can certainly see the appeal of hanging up one’s work outfit the night before, or even a week’s worth of office ensembles on Sunday night. There are so many mornings when I press the snooze alarm repeatedly and then default to wearing whatever isn’t wrinkled or doesn’t need ironing because I’m in a rush! Cognizant planning would help me utilize everything I own more fully.

  5. Cynthia

    I have certain things that just pair really well with each other and I tend to group them together in my closet. Not on one hanger, but nearby each other because why not? I’ve discovered I’d actually rather have about three weeks worth of really killer outfits and wear them the same way every time, than think about a whole lot of awkward mixy-matchy every time I open the closet. Not that the stuff I have can’t be mixed and matched to some extent, but I could live without remixing ever and be perfectly happy if the outfits I do have are great.

  6. Shannon

    I have organized part of my closet into outfits before as a way to combine/layer garments more creatively on the fly and find uses for closet orphans. These weren’t permanent pairings; wear it once and recycle everything into different outfits. Plus, I had these organized on a garment rack just outside my closet, so I think I avoided the visibility and getting-in-a-rut problems you pointed out.