It’s a daunting prospect, isn’t it… decluttering your wardrobe. You open the door, see an overwhelming amount of things and immediately close it again.
Are either of these familiar?
• You’re drowning in stuff but it’s hard to throw things out. Your clothes represent memories. You have an emotional attachment to them.
• You’re desperate for that perfect capsule wardrobe, but don’t know how to do it.
Don’t worry. We have some practical tips for achieving the ideal wardrobe – a small but perfectly formed mix of clothing that provides everything you need, every day.
The toolkit wardrobe
The secret to successful wardrobe decluttering is to see your wardrobe as a top quality toolkit. You take out the best tool for the job, use it, then put it back again.
To be honest, it’s not always easy – especially if you have an emotional attachment to specific clothes. But there’s no need to chuck everything out. It’s perfectly natural that you’ll want to keep certain things. However, if they’re not being worn, the wardrobe isn’t the place for them.
One way to find out the things you aren’t wearing is to put all of your hangers around the same way and then when you take something out to wear it, put it back into the wardrobe with the hanger around the other way. Then after a few months take a look at which clothes don’t have the hanger reversed to start to see the things you don’t wear. Obviously you may want to do this for summer and winter clothes as two separate exercises.
So for those clothes that you aren’t wearing, start by taking out the clothes that mean something special to you. Then write down on a card what each item represents. It could be a great memory – a wedding, an anniversary, a present from someone special. Wrap those special items up in tissue paper with the card and put them in a trunk. They’re available if you need them, but they no longer take up space in your wardrobe.
Now it’s time to tackle the rest of your wardrobe...
Empty the closet
Allow yourself a couple of hours for the next stage. Or longer, if your wardrobe is particularly huge. You may need some large boxes or (don’t panic) bin bags to hand.
Take everything out of your wardrobe and lay it out on the bed. Sort your clothes into categories – tops, trousers, dresses, skirts – and into colours.
It’s an incredibly helpful exercise because one of the first things you’ll notice is your repeat buying patterns.
Choose your favourite repeats
We all do it…. those things we buy over and over again. It could be a dozen red cardigans, 15 pairs of black work trousers or an unfeasible number of flowery shirts.
Once you’ve spotted your repeat items, choose two or three of the best – the ones that always look good, no matter what. It’s better to have a few items that work brilliantly, rather than lots which are just OK. Put the `OKs’ in a box or bin bag. We’ll be coming back to these later. Once you spot your repeat items, have a quick laugh at yourself and make a mental note not to repeat buy again into the future. If you can bring yourself to weed out your repeats into your very best ones, that will bring real focus to your wardrobe.
Now that you’ve pruned your repeat items, it’s time to start sorting your clothes into different outfits.
There will be things you wear for work, clothes for going out and special occasions, stuff for relaxing at home and for hobbies. Once you’ve laid everything out, you can get going on putting together different outfits for each part of your lifestyle.
Have fun mixing and matching. Some of your clothes will comfortably cross over into different lifestyle areas, and you’ll find new ways to wear a few things.
You’ll probably spot wardrobe gaps at this point. It could be several things, or just a single key piece that will pull different outfits together. These gaps will form the basis of your next shopping trip.
In the process, you’ll also spot clothes that you just don’t wear. Here’s the tricky bit…
If that item doesn’t make you feel happy and confident, it doesn’t deserve a place in your wardrobe. Now’s the time to bite the bullet. Put it in that box or bin bag - and if you’re really struggling, into the memory trunk.
What to do with the black bags
Your boxes and bin bags may be overflowing by now. So what’s the best thing to do with them?
Those unloved clothes don’t have to go in the bin. Give them to your local charity shop, or pop into M&S. They’ll donate your old M&S clothes to Oxfam and give you £5 off your next purchase. Vintage shops and eBay are good options if you want to sell things - or how about inviting some friends round for a clothes swap.
How to organise your wardrobe
- When it comes to putting your clothes back, keep the toolkit wardrobe in mind. Your wardrobe layout needs to work for you personally – but practically, it’s helpful to group clothes into categories eg skirts, tops, jeans etc rather than colours. It’s the easiest way to ‘grab and go’ when you are after an outfit in a hurry because all your colours will go together anyway.
Put your frequently worn items in the most accessible part of your wardrobe. For example, if you’re right-handed, you can save precious time in the morning by hanging them on the right hand side.
There are a number of low-cost ways to add additional storage, if you need it. Hooks on the door will work well for scarves and accessories, or you could add a shelf above or below the hanging space for T-shirts and jumpers. If you have lots of hanging items, an additional rail halfway down is a great way to double the space. Think about investing in some good quality, slimline hangers (Throw away all the wire hangers you get sent back from the dry cleaners!). They allow more space in your wardrobe, and it’s easier to see everything at a glance.
… and if you need some help
It’s perfectly OK to get some help with wardrobe decluttering - especially if you’re having a tough time deciding what to let go of, or you’re struggling to put stunning outfits together.
To make sure your wardrobe decluttering is focussed on your best style, just get in touch with your local House of Colour stylist and ask for a women’s style class. You’ll get a fresh perspective on your own clothes and some expert advice on how to get that perfect capsule wardrobe.
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