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A step-by-step guide on how to have a successful wardrobe clear-out

By Bekki Ramsay

Here’s a thought: Why not utilise this time of self-isolation to tick off the tasks you’ve been putting off for far longer than you’d like to admit? Such, as decluttering that dreaded wardrobe of yours. Not only is now a fitting time but if you take into account that we’re currently in-between seasons, then it’s all the more of an excuse to get your wardrobe prepped for the sunnier months.

Plus, I’ve made the whole process as easy as possible by putting together a step-by-step guide below. So, without much further ado – this is (in my eyes) the most efficient way of clearing your wardrobe clutter:

What you need:

There’s that age-old saying that ‘being unprepared sets you up for failure’ and I especially stand by that phrase when having a wardrobe declutter. So, to take part in this task, you will need:

  • One or two bin bags
  • A full-length mirror
  • Your phone to take photos
  • Some feel-good music
  • Snacks
  • Most importantly – some stamina!

All done? OK, brilliant. Now turn on that music of yours, chuck on your favourite underwear that makes you feel sexy but also, works with most outfits, and then we can begin.

Firstly, Tip your wardrobe out onto your bed

Yep, I really want you to take every single item of your wardrobe, drawers and chair-drobe if you have one, and make a large pile onto your bed. Make sure that everywhere that you currently store clothes is clear. I’ll be honest – this a lengthy (but rewarding) process which may take up a full afternoon, so it’s best to do it properly the first time.

Next, assess every item

Now, I want you to pick up every single item – one at a time – and assess how you feel about it.  Your decision will decide its fate. And luckily for you, I’ve had enough wardrobe clear-outs in my time to know that there are seven possible fates for each item of clothing – all of which I have listed below.

Now, when you decide the clothing items fate, place it into a pile. Each ‘fate’ should have its own pile.

For pieces that you don’t wear:

Good news – you don’t need to try any of these items on. You already know the fate of this item of clothing just by looking at it, however, you still create the three following piles:

The ‘Recycle Bin’ Pile

If something is stained, ripped beyond repair or just generally looking nasty, place it in this pile, which will end up in the recycle bin. This is also the pile for done-with underwear and odd socks.

The ‘Charity/ eBay’ Pile

This clothing pile should be dedicated to clothes that are in good condition but, unfortunately, no longer reflect your personal style or make you feel good about yourself. Also, please, please, please put any items with ‘potential’ here. You know what I mean – the “I will wear this when I buy [insert any item that deep down, you know you are unlikely to buy]” or “I need to lose a bit of weight before I wear this” item. They are just taking up (wasteful) space in your wardrobe and could be loved by someone else.

 The ‘Keepsake’ Pile

Have you picked up your graduation dress? Or the first designer bag you bought which is now, unfortunately, outdated? Or even your hareem elephant pants you purchased whilst travelling around Thailand? Now, this is a hard one as they’re all pieces which hold sentimental value however, you don’t wear them on a regular basis. The good news is that you don’t have to get rid of them (if you don’t want to) but all I ask is that you store them outside of your everyday wardrobe. Instead, place them in the loft or in a random spare cupboard. Your wardrobe should only contain items that you wear regularly. Please, no clutter – even if it’s a keepsake.

Pieces that you’re unsure about:

Now, every person owns items of clothing that leave them on the fence. However, whenever you stumble across one of these items, I suggest that you try it on and see how it fits. Now, look at yourself in the mirror. How does it make you feel? Can you make at least three outfits out of this item? (This is my general clothing rule.) This should make your decision easier but if it still doesn’t, then there are the following undecided piles:

The ‘Out of Sight, Possibly Out of Mind’ Pile

Still not sure about a particular item? Another way to see how you really feel about a clothing item is to keep it out of your wardrobe, maybe under a bed or in a drawer. If when choosing an outfit, you think of it – you’ll go and retrieve it, but if you don’t – it confirms that it’s time to get rid by donating it to charity or selling it on. Give yourself a month to see if you miss it. 

The ‘Needs Altered or Fixed’ Pile

We all have items like this in our wardrobe – the jeans that need to be hemmed, a skirt with a zip that needs to be fixed or a dress that needs the hemline shortened. Now, these are good ‘potentials’ – they’re pieces that we know we will love once they have been altered to fit us perfectly. So, once you’ve finished this wardrobe declutter, please find some time looking for a good local tailor. And if you haven’t after a month, chances are that you’re not going to so consider donating these pieces to charity or selling them on eBay.

Pieces that you love:

And finally, the best part of having a wardrobe declutter – discovering your favourite pieces! Even though you love these items, I would still suggest trying them on and looking at yourself in the mirror. Really analyse what it is about this item that you love. Is it the silhouette? Colour? Or the styling of it? Make a note and keep it in mind for next time you’re shopping.

Oh, and even though you love these items – you should still have two positive piles:

 The ‘I Love but It’s Not Right for This Season’ Pile

Whilst this stage is optional and solely depends on storage availability in your house, I would definitely recommend doing it. Every year around April time, I head into the loft and bring down a suitcase full of summer clothes. Then whilst these clothes are in the washing machine, I start putting my thick knits and winter coats into the suitcase and place it back in the loft until September. Then I do the switch again. And every time I make the switch, I get excited over the pieces that I bring down. Despite owning most of the pieces for years, they feel brand-new as after not seeing them for months, I forgot what I had. It’s exciting, and also ensures that my wardrobe only contains items that are wearable.

The ‘This is 100% Me’ Pile

Quite simply, this is a pile for clothes that fit your style and the current season. These items go straight back into your wardrobe.

 …and there you have it! My step-by-by step guide on how to have a successful wardrobe clear-out. So, are you feeling inspired? Or scared of the task ahead? If you do decide to declutter, remember to tag #MyHLN on social to show us how you got on!

 

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