How To Build An Adult Wardobe While You're Spring Cleaning Out Your Closet

Now that April is here, it's the perfect time to spring clean your closet. It's an important chore to tackle at least once a year, but if you don't have a goal in mind it can be a confusing, stressful, and ultimately pointless endeavor. So this spring, make it your mission to create a more adult wardrobe when you clean out your closet. The way you dress truly does impact how others perceive and treat you, whether it's your boss, your landlord, or your date. Nobody wants to come across as immature or childish — especially in the workplace. 

Of course, everyone's personal style is different and it's equally important to be able to express yourself the way you want through your clothes. If you love to shop in Target's children's section (and let's be real, who doesn't?) and you have an unabashed love of One Direction t-shirts, then you do you. But if you feel like you're not being taken seriously at school or work and you want to present a more sophisticated side of yourself to the world, that's what this list is for. Here are ten suggestions for making your wardrobe more grown-up as you spring clean your closet.

1. Get rid of anything with rips or stains. 

This is an important albeit obvious one, so it's first on the list. Of course, your favorite ripped boyfriend jeans don't count — but you should save those for weekends only. 

Seriously, stop telling yourself you're going to patch up that hole or take that stained shirt to get dry-cleaned. We all know deep inside that it's not going to happen. Ever. 

2. Think about when you last wore it. 

People change and grow; it's OK to admit that you're not the same person you were in high school or college. You don't have the same taste and you don't need the same wardrobe. If you haven't worn something in years but have an emotional attachment to it, take a picture of it before you get rid of it — it'll take up less space but you'll still have the memories. 

Also think about how likely you are to wear it again. For example: I haven't worn my prom dress (above) in over seven years and I'm unlikely to ever wear it again. It doesn't need to be taking up precious closet space. If your parents don't want to keep your prom dress (or other treasured article of clothing) as a keepsake or for a younger sibling, then donate it. 

3. Reconsider your footwear. 

Is the bottom of your closet littered with beat-up sneakers or your old favorite combat boots from high school or heels that hurt too much to ever wear? If so, it's time to make room for shoes that will serve your needs in the workplace.

Find a pair of heels that don't hurt to walk in all day (they exist, promise) or if you just can't wear heels, get a nice pair of flats. Structured ballet flats, penny loafers, oxfords, and knee-high boots are all good options for making an outfit look grown-up. 

4. Let go of childish prints. 

Everyone has a few goofy items of clothing that they bought out of nostalgia or for a good laugh. If you want to be taken seriously as an adult, however, consider saving the kitty-print pullover for the pajama drawer... which is where this Forever 21 tank top of mine resides.

You could also express your interests through more subtle prints: This Asos dress is a good example because the cat print looks abstract from far away. The sophisticated color and cut also keep it free of a childish vibe.

5. Consider fabric quality. 

It can be hard finding clothes made out of quality fabric these days even if you're not on a budget. Still, nothing makes a wardrobe look more expensive and sophisticated than it really is than good fabric quality. If you don't have a lot to spend on clothes, silk dresses, wool blazers, and cashmere sweaters can be found in gently-used condition at thrift stores. I found this 100 percent silk top for a couple bucks at my local Salvation Army.

Just make sure to get rid of any clothes that make you sweat or itch; you need to be comfortable in your clothes in order to look confident. 

6. Keep only items that have impeccable fit. 

It can be hard to get rid of items that once fit and may fit again one day, especially if they're expensive or much-loved. But if you want to have an adult wardrobe, everything needs to fit well. 

This means no sagging pants, no button-downs that gape at the chest (as seen above) no dragging hemlines, and no too-small blazers. 

7. Switch out the hoodies for more sophisticated outerwear. 

Hoodies are fine for weekends and working out, but even if you live in LA you should have some appropriate outerwear options. This is one thing you should splurge on. My Zara coat was on the pricey side for me but it's gotten me through two winters and dresses up every outfit.

So a really nice winter coat is a must for those in colder climates, but a trench coat is a no-fail option for warmer weather. 

8. Stick to a cohesive color scheme. 

If your closet is a jumble of loud colors and prints, it might be time to streamline things a little. A color scheme ensures that everything in your wardrobe goes together and helps you to get ready faster in the morning (and packing for a trip becomes much easier, too). It also saves room; my closet is tiny but everything fits because there are only about five main colors.

Pick a majority of neutrals, such as black, tan and white, and one or two pops of color such as red and navy. These should be the colors you like the most. Then get rid of anything that falls way outside of color scheme. Sure, keep your favorite mustard-colored dress, but get rid of the orange, purple, and lime green ones that you rarely wear. 

9. Get some grown-up pants. 

Leggings and sweatpants are fine for weekends, but they shouldn't make up the bulk of your wardrobe. Remember that skinny jeans are a step up from leggings, dark wash jeans are a step up from that, and a pair of black cigarette pants is the height of adult chic. 

(These jeans are the literal opposite of grown-up, since they're from Target's Annie collection, but I love them anyway.)

10. Don't forget the accessories. 

You can be wearing the most put-together, sophisticated outfit and you'll still be treated like a child if you're carrying a child's accessories. 

Put down the bedazzled Hello Kitty phone case, switch out the mini backpack for a real purse, and, just like Blair Waldorf had to do eventually, rethink the bow headbands. Now you're on your way to dressing like a grown-up.

Images: utkamandarinka/Fotolia; Kelly Dougher

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