5 Habits of Highly Effective Outfit Putter-Togetherers

None of them do The Chair.

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I am convinced that the similarly titled Stephen Covey book they made us all read in seventh grade was a conspiracy the office-supply industrial complex dreamed up to get us hooked on color-coding. Obviously it failed, because have you seen my desk, but I do remember Mr. Covey's principles of, uh, being organized, starting with the outer utensils first, and never giving up?

Much of the same thinking applies to getting dressed, except the objective here isn't to give you samples of binder tabs until you've got a full-blown binder-tab addiction, then upcharge you the minute you need more binder tabs—it's to lessen the time you spend standing in front of your closet panicking because it's 7:53 a.m. and you still haven't put anything on except Kiehl's Crème de Corps.

For all the girls who've ever been late for work or conned the school nurse into sending them home so they wouldn't have to endure a lackluster outfit (caveat: it was a non-exam day), this one goes out to you.

Making a rainbow out of your clothes is fun and all, but 1) it's pretty hard to keep it that way, and 2) jumping from color to type to style might not be the best for promoting creativity. Cue Boutique and Entropy, which both sound like Instagram filters but are actually (pseudo) scientific organizational theories fashion people who aren't just me use. 

In Boutique, you treat your closet like the merchandise in one of those designer flagships that houses more marble than the Doge's palace—you curate vignettes, find themes, create stories with your Zucci (that's Zara "interpreting" Alessandro Michele.) By arranging your clothes minimalist-with-minimalist and like-with-like, you automatically cut down on scurrying from department to department because you've 96.8 percent of the work beforehand. 

Entropy, conversely, delays any actual putting-together and lets chance present your options. It works like this: Hang anything anywhere. Disregard order. In the morning, stand back and see if probability and items-may-have-shifted-during-flight have placed two pieces next to each other in a usable yet unexpected combination. Not the most reliable or good for oblivious/super-rushed people, but if nature can form nautilus shells according to the golden ratio, it can *definitely* show you the answer to "What should I pair my paisley Dries vest with?" 

Nicky Hilton probably has a normal person's too-many-clothes problem times 29,374, so she knows what she's talking about. (Plus her Valentino wedding gown is credential enough.) "I always keep a clothing rack outside my closet that holds my go-to items," she once wrote. "There are always several hangers off to the side, which...I rotate out as I wear them, so that I am not wearing the same thing over and over. "

Smart re: at least having one element of your ensemble set right away, but that last bit you can skip. Didn't you hear? Repeating is the hottest thing right now.

Similarly, if there's something you're particularly excited about at a certain moment—probably the newest items because we are all savage, old-friend-forgetting beasts—build your outfit around it. Just as cost-per-wear justifies money, ideas-per-piece justifies your having wanted it. P.S. If it's good enough for Nori...

4. Take notes for posterity

Apps such as Cloth and StyleBook keep track of particularly amazing outfits for you so you don't have to participate in the Polaroid Renaissance, Brought to You by Taylor Swift. They also have ones that pick out your clothes for you because this is the future.

5. Don't think too hard

Remember: You've got as many minutes in the day to get dressed as Jenna Lyons. This is not to say that you should be expected to throw together fabulously madcap combos in three minutes like she does, but you certainly can treat clothing yourself with the same insouciant attitude. It should be fun. It should make you feel happy and powerful. And in 24 hours or less, you get a redo. 

Besides, if it truly sucks, you could always do what I do: fake a stomachache and "go home sick."

Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at Marie Claire. She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.