Cleaning out your wardrobe is one of the most satisfying ways you can spend a Saturday afternoon — but it’s not always easy and it can be an emotionally draining process!
With a few expert tips to help you along, however, you can cut through the clutter and edit your wardrobe down to a collection of threads you’ll be proud of.
Step 1: Gather reinforcements
Culling your wardrobe is always more successful with a trusted friend or family member by your side. They can give you a second opinion on clothes you’re “on the fence” about and they also don’t have the same sentimental attachment that you have — meaning, they can offer an objective opinion.
Real life tip: Make sure the helper you recruit is blatantly honest. “I did a wardrobe spring clean with my husband once, and he was worse than me,” says Michelle, 28. “He kept telling me everything looked fantastic and even encouraged me to move things back from the ‘donate’ pile. Hopeless!”
Step 2: Empty your closets and drawers
It may seem intimidating to see all of your garments stacked on your bed, but the only way to genuinely start fresh is to start with an empty wardrobe. “You need to pull everything out; I’m a cracked record on this one,” says Nikki Parkinson from StylingYou.com.au. “There’s seriously no point in flicking through the racks, offering only a cursory glance at that floral top you bought three years ago — that still has its tags on.”
Real life tip: Look at your empty wardrobe and consider the best use of that space. “One client I’ve worked with is ultra corporate during the week and surf lifesaving all weekend,” Parkinson says. “We were able to split her wardrobe into two so that Monday to Friday she opened one section; on the weekends and holidays, another.”
Step 3: Stack like with like
“There is no way you can see what you own if you have shirts scattered amongst skirts and pants and so on,” explains Debra Dane from HomeLifeSimplified.com.au. “Pull it all out and group shirts together with other skirts, and so on.” This allows you to see exactly what you’re working with. For instance, you might see that you own five plain black pairs of pants. “Consider: Do all five pairs fit you perfectly and make you feel fabulous, or do you really only wear your two favourites?” Dane says.
Real life tip: If you have multiples of one type, keep only the best of the bunch. “When I stacked all of my maxi dresses together, I realised I had 13 strapless maxis!” says Zara, 32. “Some of them were too small, others too big — one still had tags on. I trimmed back to four and gave the rest away.”
Step 4: Set boundaries for yourself
The golden rule to building a great wardrobe is to only keep items that make you feel fabulous. Helen Butler, an AAPO Accredited Expert Professional Organiser and blogger at ClutterRescue.com.au, says you “should only have clothes that suit you, that you like — or even better, love! — and that are beautiful and practical at the same time.” You can achieve this by setting boundaries around the old clothes you keep. “If you honestly believe that you will fit into your Year 12 formal dress again, and that it’s the perfect colour and style for you, and the cut is still in fashion then, yes, keep it. If not, it has to go.”
Real life tip: Store sentimental pieces — especially the ones that no longer fit, or that remind you of a younger lifestyle you no longer enjoy — out of site. “Otherwise, they will only make you feel like crap every time you see them,” Parkinson says.
Step 5: Sort in piles and replenish your wardrobe
Clothing should be sorted as follows:
- Keepers are re-hung or refolded and stacked in their new home
- Donations are placed in one pile
- Garments to sell are placed in another pile
- Items you wish to keep but that need repairing are placed in another pile
- And lastly, clothes that are ripped, stained or pilled beyond repair are placed in another pile
Real life tip: “Any clothes that need repairing should be put in a plastic bag and placed in your car immediately,” suggests Shae, 25. “That way, next time you head out you can drop them to a seamstress for repair.”