Given my annual January tradition to organise areas of my life that have become rather cluttered during the previous year, countless hours the past few weekends have been spent ankle deep in piles of clothes, shoes and accessories as I sort through my whole wardrobe. My current wardrobe is so tiny that I had quite literally run out of space, and with thoughts now turning to all the fun clothes I want for Spring/Summer, I knew something had to give. And so, the great wardrobe overhaul is underway. Here are my tips for getting your own in order (do these seasonally or annually for best results):
1. Take everything out. Literally take everything out of your wardrobe, drawers and wherever else you store clothes/accessories. Give the whole space a clean with a damp cloth (so it’s free of dirt and dust) and throw in some scented sachets, bars of gorgeous-scented soap (my mother’s tip for keeping moths away and making everything smell lovely: I love orange blossom soap I bought in Morocco) and some drawer liners to protect your clothes and keep everything fresh.
2. Categorise. Start sorting through all the piles of stuff you’ve taken out (do this in sections to avoid getting overwhelmed). Sort into three categories for now: ‘definitely keep’, ‘questionable’, ‘definitely get rid of’ (anything worn out beyond repaid, too big/small, and anything unflattering that makes you miserable to wear).
3. Organise. With the things you’re ‘definitely keeping’, check that everything is clean and in good repair, then start putting them back in your wardrobe in the most organised way you can manage; that means grouping like with like, and storing things where you can find them. I stack all my shoe boxes at the bottom, sort hanging clothes by type and then colour, fold jeans, sweaters on shelves and everything else in drawers. Buy good hangers to protect your clothes (padded hangers for silk or wool items, wooden or slim plastic – never wire – for everything else).
4. Declutter. Start sorting the two remaining piles (‘questionable’ and ‘get rid of’). Go through the ‘questionable’ pile piece by piece and ask: Do you actually love it? Do you wear it (if you love it but don’t wear it, start now)? Does it honestly still fit your style/lifestyle/body? Do you feel great when you put it on? If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these, move it to the ‘get rid of’ pile. Sometimes it feels great to be ruthless (call in an honest friend for help if you have trouble letting go). If anything needs to be repaired or cleaned, do it that week. Add whatever makes the cut back into your (now) organised wardrobe.
5. Purge. With the last pile, either sell or donate anything that is still in good condition to a charity or a friend you know will appreciate it. Toss or recycle anything that is worn out (no one wants your holey tshirt, no matter how much you loved it). Again, do this the same week so the piles don’t lurk in your house.
6. Maintain. You’ve got everything in order, so try your best to keep it that way (it takes the stress out of getting dressed each day). Only put things back in your wardrobe that are clean, in good condition, and that make you feel great. If you’re short on space, store clean out of season clothes in airtight tubs or suitcases until you need them again.