January is the time when we generally take stock and aim to get straight again after the Christmas festivities, and wardrobe decluttering is often part of this. It’s a fact that we generally wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time and research suggests that the average woman spends nearly a year of her life deciding what to wear, so a wardrobe sort out can save you valuable time and money!
If you’ve been watching the news lately, you’ll have seen the significant adverse impact the clothing industry has on the environment, so before you declutter I’d urge you to take a second look at your clothes and ask yourself whether you could keep the items you have and maybe upcycle them (change the buttons, make a dress into a top and/or skirt etc) or simply create new outfits options by combining items to wear them differently. Buying things from charity shops, buying and selling preloved items and generally keeping hold of your clothes for longer are all trends set to increase over the next few years. I love charity shop shopping myself so would wholly endorse these trends.
I personally find it very therapeutic to have a good wardrobe sort out, so whether you’re doing so in order to think about how to keep your clothes and wear them differently, or you want to reduce the number of clothes you have, here are my 10 top tips on what to do:
First and foremost, make sure that you’ve set aside enough time to allow you to complete the task. There’s nothing more frustrating than half finishing something, especially a wardrobe clear out, which could leave you surrounded in a sea of clothes littered all over the bed or bedroom floor before you’re finished!
- Your Signature Style:
Next, be really honest with yourself and think about how you like to look and feel in your clothes. Are there 3 to 5 words that describe how you would like to be thought of and how you want to feel in your clothes? This is the most important part of the process in my opinion – we all have to get up and dressed each day, so choosing to wear clothes that are really ‘you’ and that you enjoy wearing can make a world of difference to how you feel. Write your words down on post-it notes and get ready to pin them up where you can see them. Here are a few ideas but please don’t let this list limit your thinking. It’s so important that your clothes tell your story and make you feel great, so don’t choose words that aren’t really you.
Stylish Comfortable Creative Unique Trustworthy Professional Friendly Confident Efficient Fun Fashionable Different Co-ordinated Elegant Sophisticated Effortless Chic Feminine Classic Current Expensive Well put together Quirky Caring Tidy Smart Relaxed Approachable Polished Bold Authoritative Neat Timeless Colourful Trendy Positive Vibrant Practical Artistic Inconspicuous
- Post-its for your key words:
Stick your post-it notes near your wardrobe where you can clearly see them and as you go through your clothes one by one ask yourself whether that item makes you feel and look like the words you have chosen. If it doesn’t and you can’t combine it with something else to make it work, then maybe now is the time to let it go. You really only want things left hanging in your wardrobe that you feel good in.
- Colour, Style, Fit, & Function:
Once you’re happy that your clothes really express your personality and bring a smile to your face, you can then get into the more analytical side of things and do a further sift based on their colour, style, condition and fit:-
– Do the colours suit you and enhance your features or are some of them draining the colour from your face or perhaps overwhelming your gentle colouring by being too vibrant? It’s you we should notice not the colours you wear! (Here are details of my colour consultations if you’d like some help).
– Do the styles flatter your body shape, height, scale and proportions? Do you look your best or do you look in the mirror and see a reflection you’re not so keen on? Often times it’s simply a matter of the neckline not being right, or the fabric being too starchy, or a pattern being too big or small or the shape not sitting right on you. There’s a reason for all of these things and it will be to do with your shape, height, scale and/or proportions. (Again if you’re not sure a Style Consultation could take all the mystery out of it).
– Do they tick the 3 F’s – Fit? Flatter? Function? If they are in colours and styles that suit you then you’ve probably ticked the ‘fit’ and ‘flatter’ boxes, but do they also ‘function’ (ie work for your lifestyle)? As a rough guideline the percentage of clothes in your wardrobe suitable for each different activity should match the percentage of time you spend doing that activity. So if you spend 10% of your time walking your dog, then it’s perfectly acceptable to find 10% of your wardrobe full of dog walking attire. Check too if your clothes function for your role at work? A lot of places have a ‘smart casual’ or ‘business casual’ dress code – just check that you are adhering to these guidelines and haven’t slipped into the ‘too casual’ category if you’re wanting to appear ‘polished’, for example. Another common mistake is to save clothes for ‘best’ – in reality they often rarely/never get worn, so be ruthless and think whether you need them all, or if you can maybe move some of these items in your everyday wardrobe.
– Are they in good condition? If things are past their best, frayed, bobbly (and a fabric shaver can’t rescue them), misshapen, marked and generally looking a bit tatty, then maybe it’s time to let them go?
- Sorting Process:
Make piles as you go through:
a/ Keep – these simply stay in your wardrobe
b/ Repair/Alter/Upcycle – things that you can dye, mend or alter into something else (e.g. a dress into a skirt, jeans into denim shorts etc.)
c/ Unsure – you can review these at the end to see if you need them and if so, how you can combine them with other things to make them work (e.g. if you have a top in a colour that doesn’t really suit you, could you wear it with a cardigan in one of your best colours, or a scarf or some jewellery to dilute/reduce the expanse of the less flattering colour?)
d/ Donate – your pile to donate to charity, gift to a friend, swap at a clothes swishing party etc. (Remember that many charities collect clothes that you might consider to be beyond repair as they can claim funds based on the weight – not condition – of the items donated).
Order the things in your wardrobe into groups, e.g. hang all your skirts together, and then in colour order so that you can easily see what you have.
- Drawer Storage Ideas:
If you have things in drawers apply the same process and then think about how you store these things. Rolling, rather than folding, can be a great solution for things like camisoles, or scarves (as per the picture) – you can actually see what you have got at a glance rather than having to riffle through a pile and tip everything out in the process!
- Outfit Creation:
If you find it a challenge to choose what to wear each day, then take the time now to create outfits, lay them on your bed or floor and take pictures of them. Try new combinations and add accessories too – it’s amazing what a difference they make to an outfit. I love creating personal ‘look books’ for clients in this way. You can honestly make so many different outfits from just a few items. Here’s an example from a Wardrobe Edit consultation I did recently, just taking one skirt. (Please excuse my poor photography skills!).
- The Hanger Challenge:
To check how much you really wear your clothes do the ‘hanger challenge’ over the next few months. Make sure all of your hangers face the same way to start with and then turn them round the other way once you’ve worn something. It’s a great way to see instantly what you wear and, more importantly, what you’re not wearing. Is there a reason why the unworn things aren’t getting an airing? The cost per wear of this item will be high so maybe it’s time to critically review whether it’s really earning it’s place in your wardrobe.
Sit back and enjoy the feeling of having an organised wardrobe full of clothes that you love to wear!
Of course, if you’d like any help I’d love to come and edit your wardrobe with you. I’m offering 30% off of all wardrobe edit consultations booked in January’19 – simply click here to buy and use the code ‘wardrobe’ at the checkout.