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An easy guide to clearing out your wardrobe

Kimberly Houser

Although the cold and grey days may be making you feel sluggish and lazy, spring is just around the corner. Get a jump start on spring cleaning and make room for a new wardrobe by clearing out your cupboards. We have some simple tips to make the job easy and maybe even fun.

You can be sure that trends will come back time and again; one only has to think of the (albeit brief) return of the acid wash in early 2010 (whilst trying not to shudder.) But that doesn’t mean you should hang on to something just because it might come back someday. By the time it does, the cut or execution will probably be very different.

Be careful not to clear out your wardrobe if you’re feeling particularly emotional. Purging whilst aggravated, agitated or just plain old angry is never wise. Hasty decisions will no doubt ensue. Take serious, contemplative stock before you toss anything for good. Follow our tips below to help you sort through what you have.

Does it fit?

A genuinely great reason to get rid of something. But you must be honest about the size of the item, the size of your body and whether either one of them is going to change. No, of course the original size of said item won’t change but there’s always the possibility to shorten or re-work it in some way. Be — and this is the hard part — brutally realistic about whether or not the size of your body will. It’s a good idea to hang on to your favourite tight T-shirt if you’re a new mum but not if you bought it in 1998 and it is only just long enough to skim your belly button.

Is it still your style?

This is a bit more difficult to predict, especially because it can be so subjective. The most important thing

is to be sure to be you. Reflect on why you bought a particular piece and spend some time mixing and matching it with the rest of your clothes to see if you can view it in a new, freshly-fashionable way. If nothing inspires you, you know what to do.

Does it fit your current lifestyle?

This is a big one and to use this tip to its full potential, you have to (again) be brutally realistic — clearing out your wardrobe, though necessary, is not for the faint of heart. Even if you hope that one day your bank account bulges or your regional climate becomes more flip-flop friendly, remind yourself of where you are right now, today. Proceed with caution and don’t overdo it. There will always be holidays, promotions (hopefully) and changes of season in your future, no matter what your circumstances, so make conscious choices. Also make sure you don’t throw the boots out with the bath water.

Can you give the piece new life?

Can you give old pieces that have by now landed in the “toss” pile a new fashion life? Kate Moss was once quoted as saying that she can make a sundress out of a scarf. Know thyself and, more importantly, thy sewing/tailoring abilities. And if you’ve got it, please flaunt it. As mentioned above, under “Does it fit,” tailoring, dyeing and re-working are all marvellous options for re-inventing what’s already hanging in your wardrobe if you have the skills — and time — to do it.

Use the buddy system

The entire process goes much, much better with a friend, for many reasons: it’s essential to have another pair of eyes checking your wardrobe and someone to give you fresh ideas on what it contains. If your pal is game, ask her to try on a few pieces so you can look at them from all angles (the pieces, not your friend!) Entice them with wine and/or first choice from the “toss” pile. Though, once you’ve finished, you might want to re-name it the “doesn’t work for me but looks great on you” pile.

Stay strong

When clearing out your wardrobe you want to be strong, tough and discriminating. If the item in question belongs in at least three of the above categories, you really have no choice. Take a moment and say your goodbyes. Then don’t look back, or at least try not to. Not only is it okay to let these things go, it’s essential and extremely liberating. You may have to battle with some “but, there’s nothing really wrong with it” thoughts, and the guilt of throwing out something that may still be in perfectly good condition, but donate it to a good cause or pass it on to someone and those thoughts will quickly disappear. Plus, you’ll get to rediscover some pieces that may have been languishing in your wardrobe, sad and unworn.

After it’s all over, take a hot bath and reflect on a wardrobe clear-out well done. Or, if a bath isn’t your thing (or you don’t have one,) celebrate with a big glass of wine and simultaneously survey the damage done and the beauty of a wardrobe that, maybe for the first time, has space to breathe.

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