Declutter your closet for good and curated the streamlined closet of your dreams with our guide to the ultimate wardrobe detox.
Is your wardrobe bursting at the seams? Worse still, has it spilled out in a jumble heap onto the chair? You’re not alone. New research by SpareRoom shows that the average Brit buys over 20,000 items of clothing during their lifetime, needing a wardrobe over three times the length of Tower Bridge to house it all. If you’re living in a tiny flat every inch of space matters, and reclaiming your bedroom starts by clearing your wardrobe.
Imagine a wardrobe where every piece of clothing reflects the way you want to express yourself. A wardrobe where everything gets regularly worn, where you can create the perfect outfit for the day ahead in a single glance. Nothing in there is redundant, no forgotten pairs of trousers are to be found crumpled in a heap at the back. No garment makes you feel ”meh”. If your current wardrobe falls short of this sartorial utopia then the time has come for a serious clothes clear out.
Letting go of clothes is not as easy as it sounds. Some things have sentimental value, others feel like pound notes dangling from hangers, and as we remember the cash we parted with to pay for them, we feel guilty at the thought of kicking them out of our closet. Don’t put it off for another week, as our thoughts turn to packing away our winter coats and jumpers of another year, now is the perfect time for a full refresh.
Follow our eleven tips for cleaning out your wardrobe, and build a functional closet that will put the joy back in getting dressed.
Find your ‘why?’
The first step to detoxing your wardrobe starts with setting your intention. Don’t think of decluttering as a chore or as a form of self-punishment for all your post purchases, instead frame it as a gift that you’re giving to yourself. Whether that gift is making getting dressed faster and less stressful, creating space in your home or having a wardrobe that wills you with joy when you open it, focus on what you’re gaining from a wardrobe clear out. As you decide what it is that’s motivating you to complete this detox, take time to visualise the positive effects of completing the process and, if the clear out becomes overwhelming, check back in with your intention and focus on what you’re gaining in your life, not what you’re removing from your wardrobe.
Does it give you feelings of guilt or joy?
Clothes elicit a deeply emotional response. Though we may think that the value of clothes is rooted in how they look, the true value of any item is how it makes us feel. Begin the decluttering process by removing every item from your wardrobe and trying each item on in front of a mirror. As you do, begin by asking yourself one simple question “does this give me feelings of guilt or joy?”. One of the major reasons that we hoard clothes is because of their financial value, and the feelings of guilt that we may associate with that price tag. Picking that dress off its hanger and remembering how much you spent on it can be reason enough to put it straight back into your wardrobe, even if you haven’t worn it in years. But guilt should play no part in building your dream wardrobe, whatever the price you paid, if the item doesn’t fill you with joy it’s time to part ways. Give it a new lease of life (and relinquish any feelings of guilt you might have) by selling it online or through your local consignment store.
Does this garment have a purpose?
Hey, it’s okay to buy the odd hypothetical garment. Maybe it was the flowing white crochet kimono that would be perfect for that fantasy holiday. Or perhaps it’s a hypothetical scenario that’s kept you hanging on to some well-worn items that should have long since made it to recycling? If you have hoarded a collection of shapeless sweatshirts and frayed T-shirts for when you start painting/pottery/that DIY project, don’t worry – you’re not alone. As you try on each garment, be realistic about its purpose. Does it have an active role to play in your wardrobe, or are you hanging on ‘just in case’. If your answer is the latter, then it’s got to go.
Does it fit me?
When it comes to curating a wardrobe of pieces that make you feel confident, fit is everything. Are you comfortable with the cut, or do you find yourself pulling the waistband up or the collar down? Is it uncomfortably tight or does it feel too loose? Does it give you feelings of shame about your body – do you feel like you need to lose or gain weight to make this piece work? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then it’s time to eject that piece from your wardrobe immediately. Remember: your clothes need to work for your body, your body doesn’t need to work for your clothes.
Does it fit my lifestyle?
It’s time to be honest with yourself – how often do you really wear that top? It’s easy to forget that the dress that wore on heavy rotation in 2014 now fails to make an appearance for months on end, so be realistic and ask yourself have you worn this item in the past year? Don’t feel guilty for not wearing all your clothes, it’s healthy to let the pieces that defined a period of your life slip out of wear as your lifestyle changes. If your Saturday nights are now more dinner and theatre than a 90s pop night, it’s time to let those body-con dresses go. If you’re now wearing sleek suits on the 9-5, then those black shirts from your old hospitality job need to find a new home. Don’t be afraid to let go of the pieces that defined the old you and make space for the woman you are now to shine through.
Does it represent what I want my style to be?
The power of habit is not to be underestimated, even if you are wearing an item on heavy rotation, that doesn’t automatically mean you should keep it. Take a moment to step back and visualize your style, what is the look that you want your clothes to project? Do you dream of looking classic and chic or bold and bohemian? Try and picture this as clearly as you can; imagine how you want to look and feel when you step outside every morning. Now, with that image in place, examine your wardrobe failsafes again. Do they reflect your vision of your personal style? If the answer isn’t an immediate yes, then it’s time to say goodbye.
How does it make you feel?
No matter how practical the garment, our attachment to our clothes is entirely intuitive. Contrary to popular belief it’s how that make us feel that is more crucial than how they look. You can find the dress that looks stunning and check all the right style boxes, but how does it make you feel when you wear it? The oldest, most care-worn sweater can make you feel ready to conquer the room if it fills you with confidence, but do you feel that same excitement about that must-have new season trend? Even if that top is the sell-out style that you’re seeing all over Instagram, if you don’t feel incredible when you wear it, it’s got to go.
Is the item stained or broken beyond repair?
I’ll wager that every woman is guilty of hoarding at least one item that she can’t wear because it’s stained or broken (this fashion writer will admit that it’s the gold silk skirt that had a tragic encounter with a pot of coffee). Bad things happen to good clothes, and if you can’t get that heel fixed or shoe re-soled, it’s time to bid these pieces a fond farewell, no matter how beautiful they are.
Does it still have the tags on?
Impulse buys, they happen to the best of us. Whether it’s a moment of madness in the sales or an online shopping splurge, we’ve all found ourselves reaching for our cards to buy the piece that never got worn. Instead of holding on to it for another year, be realistic that this piece doesn’t have a place in your forever wardrobe. List it on an online reselling site such as eBay or Depop (or donate to your local charity shop) and let it find a new lease of life elsewhere.
Do I have other pieces to wear this with?
The perfect fit, the statement sleeves you love, the bold colour you can’t resist – this piece has it all. Except that you can’t wear it with anything you own. That banana print bowling shirt might be everything you wanted and more on the Prada catwalk, but does it really work with any of the other clothes in your wardrobe? No matter how much you love it, if you can’t style this statement piece with multiple outfits in your closet then it will just be gathering dust for years to come.
Does it spark a memory?
Never underestimate the importance of sentimental value. If a garment truly triggers an emotional response or allows you to relive a memory, then resist the urge to ditch it. Instead of leaving these nostalgic pieces languishing in a dusty drawer, give them the recognition they deserve. Wrap them in tissue and house them in a separate chest or even a decorative box, that you can revisit whenever you want take a trip back in time. Not only will this add significance to these special pieces, but it will simplify your closet by separating them from what you actually wear.
Mission wardrobe clear-out complete? If you’re left with a stack of pieces in perfect condition that no longer work for you, help them find a new forever home with these sites re-selling vintage.
Images: courtesy of Getty & Instagram