Who is looking at their wardrobe every morning and promising to declutter and organise during our enforced downtime? But who can't quite get started?
As someone who used to declutter wardrobes for a living I can both sympathise and also offer some words of advice and encouragement. Why not opt for something productive and enjoyable - I promise – and have a ‘proper’ good clear out. Organise, reshuffle and discover. Because every time we declutter, we find a forgotten treasure as well as something that now deserves another home!
If you really can't bear to do it alone or just want some help along the way, just email me on email@example.com. We can sort out a time when we can connect online (HouseParty decluttering anyone?) and I can help.
So lets dive in....
Be Prepared for The Worst
And by this, I mean it’s going to get worse before it gets better. So don't start in the evening. Inevitably it will mean going to bed in chaos and you will wake up to a nightmare. So after a decent breakfast (or brunch) either keep your pjs on or wear some yoga kit (you're going to be doing a lot of trying on so no point in getting properly dressed), make a large coffee and get started.
So begin by taking everything out and away from your wardrobe. Just re-read that sentence and take a deep breath before you go any further. It is this bit that tends to cause a lot of stress and overwhelm – there’s stuff everywhere! Bear this in mind and remember, it will all turn out ok. By starting like this you can thoroughly clean out the entire space before even starting to think about putting things back.
Get In The Right Mindset
When you’re clearing out, you’ll be removing things from your wardrobe to send elsewhere - either recycling, the charity shop, ebay/depop or Shonamac (hopefully). So make sure you have large bags ready to go. It’s much more effective that making "piles" on the floor as it will make you feel more organised from the start. It will also discourage you from dipping back into those piles as you progress!
This is a job worth spending time on. Once you’ve emptied your wardrobe, start categorising your clothing. Work out the categories that apply to you – workwear, eveningwear, daytime dresses, casual, etc. As lots of my workwear is also eveningwear (and sometimes casual!) then my categories are very broad. I have "posh" eveningwear, coats, workout stuff, out-of-season pieces, and everything else. Work out what categories you need your clothes to sit in to make life simpler for you. Just make sure your categories don't overlap too much.
While you’re categorising, you’re being forced to look at each individual item that you’ve pulled from your wardrobe. Does it still fit (put it on if you need to)? When did you last wear it? Is it really you? What do you have that goes with it? I have a rule of thumb that each piece must earn it's place by being a part of at least three different outfits. Do you need a similar rule? So does it stay or go?
If the piece stays in your wardrobe then give yourself a pat on the back for making a wise investment. If it's to go, then wish it all the best in it's new home and put it in the right bag.
Don’t Just Discard
It’s easy to slip into a throw-away spiral. But remember, not everything that’s showing signs of wear needs to go. Shoes, boots, bags and belts could be repaired and made new again. And a dry-clean and de-bobble can work wonders on knitwear and coats.
Have another bag that is for dry-cleaning, pieces that need debobbling, knitwear that needs darning, hemlines that need restitching, pieces that need altering, shoes and boots that need resoling and/or heeling. Have all your shoes polished and your trainers cleaned. A new pair of laces can work wonders.
But How To Put It All Back??
So then how to put the rescued pieces back? Keep everything in it's category (so I keep my coats, "posh" eveningwear and out of season items hung separately). But beyond that there is no hard and fast rule. Some clients feel far more comfortable having proven outfits hanging together. So when we had worked out what went with what, they wanted a constant reminder of that every time they got dressed. This doesn't really work if someone else puts your clothes away for you! The other way to do it is to take photos of outfit combinations and have them to hand - perhaps stuck on the inside of the wardrobe doors - or as a folder of photos on your phone.
My own wardrobe (and how I always encouraged my clients to do it) is by colour as that is how I construct outfits. It also means I am constantly reminded that I REALLY don't need another pair of black trousers. So I keep all my tops in a separate section grouped by colour (knitwear and shirts). Alongside them I have jackets and trousers/skirts grouped by colour. This only really works if you have a strong idea of what colours work for you, how to put them together and how to work prints into that equation. I'm happy to help if you need some guidance on that.
Hang & Store Like A Pro
For a true declutter, you want to put everything back in your wardrobe in the most organised way. To do this, make sure you’ve got the right supplies. Slimline hangers help to hang more in a smaller space but wooden and padded hangers are the best for your clothes.
I recommend www.clothes-doctor.com or www.totalwardrobecare.co.uk for wardrobe products, though John Lewis also have a great selection.
Clear acetate boxes are the perfect way to store folded items neatly - Muji and Ikea are the best! If you stack your folded items horizontally, you’ll be able to easily see everything in your pile at a glance, causing less rummaging and mess later. Or do it like Marie Kondo and roll everything up - I do this with my tee shirts but draw the line there. Clear boxes are also fab for underwear, costume jewellery, belts, sunglasses, etc.
Getting Rid Responsibly
Now you have a beautifully organised wardrobe and several bags on your bedroom floor. Let us know if you have any items that may be suitable for resale. Anything that we can't take can have it's time on Ebay or Depop (ask your teenager!). Can I suggest you take out anything that looks like "work clothes" for www.smartworks.org.uk? They have various DropPoints or a post/courier service - details on their website.
Other items can then be donated to your favourite charity shops (once they are open again) and anything not suitable for charity should be taken to textile recycling points.
There is no right or wrong answer to decluttering. It is a never-ending job that should be done every six months as above - with a mini-fix inbetween times. The key to "getting it more right than wrong" is to have a very clear idea at the outset what your personal style is, what styles suit you and what colours work well for you. If you need help with any of those thorny issues then please email me. But best of luck - you never know when you might have this much time at home again - so make the most of it!