Closet Rehab: Spouse Edition

A few months ago I heard the familiar cry: “I can’t find a shirt to wear!”

It was my spouse, standing in front of his closet.

He was so frustrated by the array of holey, frumpy, button-missing, baggy, and/or too-small shirts confronting him that he couldn’t get dressed.

This is exactly what a capsule wardrobe is designed to avoid; if you have in your closet only things you love to wear, dressing is a breeze–even fun! It was time to do a very quick, low stress closet rehab and return my spouse’s closet to what it should be: a source of enjoyable sartorial inspiration.


I grabbed him by the shoulders and said, “We can fix this.  Fast.  Just go with me on this and we’ll be through it in no time.”  (I should note here that my spouse does not find the same joy in culling a closet that I do.  Ahem.)

To his credit, he agreed and to my credit, I kept my promise–it was quick.  (It helped that we stuck to just one category of clothes in order to preserve sanity; I was wary of biting off more than he wanted to chew lest he sour on the experience.)

Empowering your spouse/partner/family member/friend to rehab their closet works best when you not only respect their limits re: time and volume, but you keep your own priorities and emotions out of it and focus on how to get them to a closet that makes THEM (not you) happy.  So instead of me telling him my opinions, I broke out my best Marie Kondo-ing skills (her famous question being “Does this spark joy?”) and helped him channel whether he wanted those shirts on his roster:

Me: “How do you feel about this shirt?”

Spouse: “Eh…”  (Toss.)

Me: “How about this one?”

Spouse: “Well, it’s really useful…”

Me: “But how to do you FEEL about it?”

Spouse: “It’s okay.”

Me: “Not great?”

Spouse: “Not really.”  (Toss, right?  Right.)

Me: “This one has a button missing.”

Spouse: “But I love wearing it.”

Me: “Okay, it goes in the ‘fix’ pile.  How about this one?”

Spouse: “I really like that one.”  (Save.)

Me: “This one?”

Spouse: “I really like this one too but it’s just too short.  It always comes untucked.”

Me: “So we can pass it on to someone else with a shorter torso who will love it?”*

Spouse: “Sure.” (Toss.)

You get the picture.  (A few shirts he really couldn’t decide on went into another closet, out of sight out of mind–if he hasn’t missed them in 6 months or a year, we’ll donate them without painstakingly reconsidering each one’s merits.)

After about 20 minutes, we had a donation pile like this:

And a closet like this:


And a small pile of things to fix, two of which we tackled that night:
Welcome back from the DL, Ben Sherman shirt that needed its button sewn back on–we’ve missed you!  (Definitely thrifted.)

You too, Banana Republic embroidered shirt, get back out there and hit some homers!  (Also thrifted.)
The detail on this bumps it from ho-hum to casual chic:

And now my spouse starts the day with a simple, enjoyable dressing experience where he can grab any one of several shirts, short- or long-sleeved, because he knows they will all make him feel good.  WIN.


Scroll down to tell me your closet rehab tricks and tips–particularly for working with your loved ones and friends!  And check back tomorrow to see 2 other shirts where simple sewing fixes put them back in the game.


*I find it helps me let go of clothes I love but don’t wear very often (because they’re somehow not quiiite right) to think of it as freeing them for someone else to love even more than I do.  Thanks again, Marie Kondo.

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