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7 Pieces to Purge from Your Wardrobe Before Going Back to Work

Your closet is likely housing some old office standbys that just don’t make sense anymore. It’s time to swap them for something new.

By Madeleine Kim

This story was originally published in June, 2021 and updated in June, 2022 to include new style recommendations.

Last week, I wrote a story on how to refresh your back-to-work wardrobe on any budget. But there’s one important aspect of your closet overhaul that I didn’t mention: identifying and getting rid of the pieces that are no longer serving you. As the country navigates the return to work, it’s worth taking a step back, rethinking old norms, and using this opportunity to rewrite the rules of how we think about—and dress for—work

Maybe you’ve discovered that you’re way more productive when you’re wearing stretchy pants and want to trade your trousers for office-appropriate leggings. Or perhaps you’ve learned that you only really feel like yourself in a full-on suit. We say suit yourself. Whatever the case, your closet is likely housing some old office standbys that just don’t make sense anymore. Purging those pieces will save you closet space—and free up mental space, giving you the clarity to focus on the clothes that fit right, feel good, and make sense for your lifestyle.

But what to do with the pieces you no longer need? If you’re saying goodbye to M.M. items, sell them on our resale site, Second Act, and redeem your earnings as cash or store credit. Then, send any non-M.M. items to our partners at thredUP, who sell consignment-worthy items and donate or recycle the rest. 

Everyone’s clothing needs are a little different, but there are some pieces you need to get rid of before you can call your wardrobe refresh complete. Here are seven styles you should purge today—plus, what to wear instead.

The Polished Work Dress...That Sat in Your Dry-Cleaning Pile for 6 Months

It doesn’t matter how good it looks—if you’re only wearing a dress twice a year because you keep putting off that trip to the dry cleaner, it’s not worth owning. Cost per wear aside, wouldn’t you rather use that closet space on something machine-washable that can be part of your regular rotation? If you love full-length sleeves, try the Regina dress, which has unique pleating at the cuffs. Or, opt for the A-line, asymmetrical Lara dress, and pair it with everything from sneakers to slingbacks. The Maaza dress would also be an excellent choice if the dress you’re looking to replace is one of those ultra-versatile, goes-with everything pieces.

The Chic Pants...That Only Look Good with One Pair of Shoes

You’ve tried them on with all your shoes, and then tried them again just to make sure you didn’t miss something. And they just aren’t working. You and these pants were not meant to be—and that’s okay. The Zhou culottes are as chic as anything else you’ll find, and believe it or not, they also look good with every pair of shoes we’ve tried. If you like more classic trousers, go for the equally versatile Mejia pants. Prefer skinny pants? Even your 15-year-old niece will have nothing but compliments when you show up in the Sammataro jeans.

The Fun Earrings...That Are So Heavy They Hurt Your Ears

I’ve tried wearing cute-but-uncomfortable earrings in the past, and without fail, they end up off my ears and in my purse before lunchtime. The new rules I’m living by don’t have room for anything uncomfortable. Luckily, we have some splashy statement earrings that are way lighter than they look. My personal favorites are the pearl Etel earrings, which can be worn with the hoop in front or in back. You could also go for the geometric Mardy earrings or the unexpected Noemi earrings, which add a bit of color to your outfit.

The Versatile Top...That’s Just a Liiiittle Too Tight in the Shoulders

We’ve all done that thing where we hold onto a piece that doesn’t quite fit—and then we never wear it. No more of that! Give your top a better life with someone who will use it, and replace it with something that allows you to move around with ease, like the Alina T-shirt in our bold new navy-and-ivory stripe. The stretchy Mori henley would also be an excellent choice, and in our beautiful dark sage color, it’s an ideal pairing for light summer neutrals like ivory and fawn. If you like full sleeves, go for the Chiara top—easy, machine-washable, and just a bit more casual than a button-down.

The Sleek Skirt...That Rides up the Second You Start Walking

Sure, it looks great when you’re standing completely still, but the moment you head out the door, your skirt gets a mind of its own. The Rowley skirt, on the other hand, has a fitted waist with room through the hips, which means it won’t ride up when you walk. For something with a touch of drama, try the flowy Orchard skirt or the ultra chic Cobble Hill skirt. Or maybe you’ve decided that you’re just not a skirt person, and that’s great, too.

The Lightweight Sweater...That’s So Itchy You Need a Long-Sleeved Shirt Underneath

The beauty of a lightweight summer sweater is that you can wear it on hot days without fear of overheating—so a sweater that requires layers kind of defeats the purpose. In contrast, the versatile Samara sweater is made from airy knit linen that will keep you cool and comfortable. Or, try the breezy Chadwick sweater (our CEO’s favorite!), made using a special 3D knitting process that reduces waste. If you’re more into sweatshirts, go for the Tyler, recently released in our best-selling jewel tone, deep sea.

The Sharp Blazer...That Never Looks Quite Right

You love it on the hanger, but when you put it on, it never quite feels like you. Don’t worry—you’ve got options. If you’ve never tried the Merritt jardigan, that would be an excellent place to start. Stretchy yet structured, this jacket-cardigan combo has been a customer favorite for years. If you like a more classic look, the Moreland jacket has the appearance of a tailored blazer with the feel of a lightweight track jacket (plus, it’s machine-washable). Or, just go all out and get the Porter jacket—statement-making, stretchy, and shirt-optional. What more could you ask for?

Written By

Madeleine Kim

Madeleine Kim is the Senior Brand Manager at M.M.LaFleur, where she started out as a stylist. She loves developing styling-focused content and creating newsletters that bring the M.M. community together.

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