Your Wardrobe Declutter
What you’ll need:
Before we start on the wardrobe declutter, I want to give you some food for thought and double-check you have the fundamentals for success in place.
I’ve used the ‘retro wardrobe’ image, not only because the colours fit my overall design, but also as a reminder that, until relatively recently our wardrobes had space in them. Cluttered wardrobes are a new phenomenon, bought about by the mass production of clothing at ‘affordable’ prices, where sadly quality has been sacrificed for quantity.
The food for thought is to be aware that, in the case of clothing as with so many material things, less can definitely be more. Please keep this in mind as you go through the wardrobe declutter: embrace the concept of space.
1. Mindset: are you feeling ready and committed to making a change? If you need inspiration, check out Graham Hill’s TED Talk (recommended viewing for everyone)
2. Time –You will need uninterrupted time to make an impact on your wardrobe. I recommend working in bursts of 60-90 minutes. If your wardrobe hasn’t had an overhaul in a while, you will probably need a few of these sessions.
3. Focus – It’s essential to stay in the room you are decluttering, or in your bedroom and wardrobe area if you have a combined ensuite. Have a drink bottle and a high energy snack with you and make yourself unavailable to others during this time.
4. Environment – Create some energy by putting on your favourite music at a decent volume, or if you are feeling stressed and need soothing, some classical music can help you feel more at ease and keep you company.
5. Comfort – Comfy clothes that you can move in easily will help you deal with the physical aspects of this cleanout.
6. Resources –strong bags are essential for moving your unwanted clothing. You’ll soon discover how physically heavy your clothing is, so don’t over-fill bags that you’re going to need to lift. We’re aiming to remove the clutter from your house, not just move it around your home, so you need to think ahead about what you can physically manage. If you need more hangers for your wardrobe, have these ready.
Step One: The First Edit
So we know exactly what we are dealing with, we start by pulling all the clothes you own out of your wardrobe and placing them on your bed.
Take a minute to look at and think about the pile of clothes in front of you. Looking at this mountain of clothing is confronting for people; most are horrified or overwhelmed by the quantity of clothing they own.
Food for thought:
When you consider the piles, if not miny-mountains of clothes before you, what are the chances you’d ever be able to wear them all? Most people realise there aren’t enough days in the week or occasions, to justify keeping all those clothes.
How many items still have tags on them? Were they impulse buys? This is something you can learn from. If you bought items and haven’t worn them, you wanted them but didn’t need them.
Finally, seeing the contents of your wardrobe before you, does it make you feel good? As I said, most people don’t feel good when confronted with the mass of items they’ve accumulated.
Keep your responses in mind as you work through your mass of clothing, shoes and accessories.
We’re aiming to create a wardrobe that meets your needs and makes you feel good when you look inside. Your wardrobe should reflect who you are now, with every item making you look and feel good, either because it fits and you feel comfortable or because ‘it’s you’ and you feel fabulous.
My Mantra: Clothes are for wearing – if I don’t wear it, I can’t keep it.
This works on two levels. It reminds me that my clothes must serve a practical purpose.
Just as importantly it makes me vary the clothes I wear; I wear more than 20% of my wardrobe 80% of the time, because I know if I don’t I can’t keep them.
Knowing all this, let’s begin
1. Discard clothes that have reached the end of their life.
Be strict with yourself – there are only so many ‘painting’ or ‘gardening’ outfits a person needs or cleaning rags you can use. Check your t-shirts and tops for those annoying holes caused by seatbelts and your woollens for silverfish activity. Don’t forget the underwear drawer, either! This should be the easiest pile to get rid of, especially if you have had good use out of the clothes. Don’t be tempted to keep items for fixing ‘later’ – in my experience later rarely arrives!
2. Donate clothing that you don’t want but is in good condition and suitable for re-gifting or donating.
Good reasons for putting clothes in this pile are:
- Wrong size; colour or shape didn’t suit you
- The item felt uncomfortable
- You don’t have anywhere to wear this style, or the fashion is out of date or doesn’t suit your style.
- Any other reason that has made you place this item back in your wardrobe unworn more times than you’ve worn it.
But What About ‘Waste Not Want Not?’
The donate, or let go pile causes the most grief for my clients – especially if some of the items still have tags on them!
Many of us have been brought up to ‘waste not – want not’ and feel too guilty to rid their wardrobe of clothing that hasn’t been worn. I want to tell you that if an item is sitting there unworn, it’s already wasted and would be better off with someone who might be able to use it.
As long as it remains in your wardrobe, it’s taking up physical and mental space, and often causes feelings of guilt.
Now consider this pile. Is there a pattern?
- Have you discarded synthetics or vibrantly patterned items?
- Are these items you purchased when you needed a reward or late at night on impulse?
- How much money does this pile of clothes represent?
- What purchasing decisions would you make differently next time? This is the moment you want to remember next time you are tempted to shop to fill a void.
3. Decide and choose clothing and accessories that you need and want to keep
The third pile is for clothes that you want to keep or that you’re not quite sure about right now. We’ll deal with these a second.
When you’ve completed the first edit, move the first and second piles into bags and place them outside the bedroom so you can’t see them. We’ll return to these at the end of the day.
Mary and Her Mojo
Mary had an overabundance of clothes but ‘nothing to wear’, or not much that she felt good in.
When we met, Mary told me she was a frequent shopper, buying something every payday as a treat. The end result was enough clothing to fill her wardrobe many times over. Not only was the clothing clogging-up her bedroom; it was also weighing heavy on her mind; her response had been to try to shop her way through her funk.
Together we spent a day working through her clothing, in the first edit we selected more than 100 items for donation – more than half still had the tags on them.
By the time we were done another 100 had been added to the donate pile. Although Mary began the process feeling guilty about the quantity of clothing amassed and discarding clothes, by the time we’d finished, she felt liberated.
Taking a good hard look at her buying habits and decisions was tough, but Mary knew she couldn’t go on the way she had been and was ready for change.
Since we completed Mary’s declutter she has stopped her habitual clothes buying and is much clearer about what she looks and feels good in. Mary got back her mojo and now makes the most of the clothes she has, saving herself time and money.
Step Two: Refresh
Take the chance while your wardrobe is empty to wipe down any shelves and cleanse the space (a drop of your favourite essential oil in water is a nice touch.
Now return all of your retained clothing items on hangers to the wardrobe – but here’s the trick…place your hangers around the wrong way (hooked from the back instead of the front). I’ll explain why in a minute.
While you are rehanging, group your items. It’s up to you exactly how you do this, but here are some ideas:
You could separate your work clothes from your leisure clothes.
If, like me, you have a small wardrobe, organise your clothes by season. Store out-of-season clothes in containers on shelving in your wardrobe so that they don’t take up valuable hanging on storage space.
I know where it is!
Think of visibility and accessibility when you organise your clothes, hang or store like-with-like.
• long-sleeved tees and knits
• short-sleeved tops and tees
• jackets and coats
To make things easier, within categories, I like to colour block the separates, so placing all blacks and darks together, all whites and creams, and other major colour groups or prints.
This will help you put together an outfit that looks good!
At this stage, you discover how many white t-shirts or blue jeans you actually own…consider whether you can remove some of the duplicate items to the donate group.
Once everything is back in the wardrobe, I expect you’ll be feeling pretty tired – you’ve put in a magnificent effort! Before you reward yourself with a well-deserved glass of wine or a cuppa, there are a few more things to take care of.
Step Three: Tidy Up
A.K.A. Exit Strategy!
Remember those bags we left outside the door? It’s vital to get rid of these as quickly as you can.
Either take them to a charity shop or other recycling centre immediately (remember most charities cannot use worn-out clothes and discarding them costs them money) or plan to remove them within the week (before our next decluttering stage).
It is psychologically essential to complete the job of decluttering your wardrobe by removing these items from your home once you have decided you no longer need them.
Now, relax and enjoy your new decluttered, refreshed and organised wardrobe until it’s time to action The Final Edit!
Step Four: The Final Edit
The Reversed Hangars
Remember how I asked you to turn around those hangers? Each time you wear and return an item to your wardrobe, reverse the hanger so that it is hanging the right way.
In 4-6 weeks (set a calendar reminder if you like) check how many unturned hangers are left – those are the items you haven’t worn.
Re-evaluate the unworn clothing items to check if you are holding onto these items for sentimental or other reasons; continue to cull un-worn items from your wardrobe.
You’ll find it gets easier each time you do it and remember my mantra: “If I don’t wear it, I can’t keep it!’ You’ll either start wearing more clothes in your wardrobe or realise, as much as you thought you would, it’s unlikely you ever will wear that jacket, top or those pants and it’s time to let them go.
A Seasonal Approach
This reverse hanger method is a great way to keep the clothes in your wardrobe relevant and under control. As the seasons change, check-in on your hangars, what haven’t you worn? Ask yourself why? And then decide what you’re going to do – keep it, ot let it go.
If you are left looking at a wardrobe that still doesn’t have items you love in it, it’s worth considering the services of a stylist.
A good stylist can assess what you already have and help you choose a few key additions or accessories that can tie everything together to create a look that is truly ‘you’.
If you are based in Perth, I recommend a visit to Spotted in Bassendean – they specialise in ethical recycled fashion, offer styling advice and a personal shopping service to revitalise your wardrobe.
How Do You Feel?
Now that you have tackled one of the most personal areas of the home and freed it from clutter so you can easily order and select clothes that make you feel good each day, take a minute to observe how you feel. I’m sure ‘tired’ is one of the words that come to mind!
But in addition to this, you should be feeling more in control and more satisfied with the items that you own. Knowing the clothes that made the cut are the ones that really suit you and make you feel good should also improve your confidence and make you far more selective about future buying decisions.
Now, imagine if you felt this good about every space in your home.
If you find that, having read this through, it all seems too much – or you’ve tried and failed to do this on your own you need to know the following: