Twice a year, I pack up all my unseasonal items of clothing and get the more appropriate ones out of hibernation. I wrote about it back in 2015 for this blog, and have also videoed myself opening the suitcase and getting excited about things I’d forgotten I owned. As I’m currently packing for a somewhat belated honeymoon, my summer clothes have seen the light of day at a rather unusual time of year and it’s made me think about what I’ve got and how much of it I actually wear.
If this semi-regular clearout is not something you usually do, it’s actually a great thing to tackle in January when the daylight hours are short and everyone’s looking to make a fresh start at something. Now, I’m not going to suggest a Marie Kondo style declutter where you do it all at once – I think it’s a task you can do a bit at a time, whenever you have a free evening or a couple of hours at the weekend. If you’re up for the challenge, pop a reminder in your diary and follow my three step plan.
1) Take stock
Unless you have set aside an entire day or own a really small amount of clothing, pick one drawer or section of your wardrobe to work on at a time. This will help the task seem fun rather than overwhelming. Pick a surface to work on (I usually use the bed, or the floor beside my chest of drawers) and put all the clothing on it that you want to look through. Then, pick things out one at a time and see how they make you feel. Whether it’s “I really love wearing these trousers”, “if only all dresses were as amazing as this one”, “when did I last wear this?” or “I completely forgot that was in there”, each of these thoughts will help with the next stage.
2) Sort it out
Once you start looking through the garments, you can start sorting them into 4 piles – definitely keep, keep but needs mending, maybe, and stuff to get rid of. The first two piles should be easy enough to sort. Don’t ponder too hard over any in the ‘maybe’ pile, as you’re going to look through them again next. Stuff to get rid of should be anything that doesn’t fit (and can’t be altered to fit), anything that is no longer your style, and anything you’re just not going to wear again. (N.B. If you’re keeping something for sentimental value rather than because you’re going to wear it, you should pack it away carefully rather than store it with your everyday clothing.)
3) Take action
It goes without saying that the stuff you’re definitely keeping should go back in the wardrobe or drawer, hung neatly or folded carefully. Anything that needs mending before wearing again should be put somewhere that you’ll notice it – perhaps hung on the wardrobe door, or folded on the arm of the sofa – with some more time set aside in your diary to do the mending. Sewing on a button or darning a small rip is a great task to do while listening to a podcast or an audio book. If you’ve got a few sewing essentials (Hobbycraft have a great beginners kit for a mere £10!), it really doesn’t take very long at all, and there are plenty of online tutorials if you don’t know where to start.
Once you’ve put these items aside, take another look at the ‘maybe’ pile. With each item, think about what else in your wardrobe it goes with and when you last wore it. If you’re unsure, put it back in your wardrobe and ask yourself the same questions if it makes it into the maybe pile again next time. But what do you do with the pile of stuff to get rid of? If you can’t instantly think of friends who might want to give some of it a new home, there are some great suggestions in Tamsin Blanchard’s recent article for The Pool entitled ‘What do I do with my clothes when I’m finished with them?‘
Image of an extremely tidy wardrobe via jannemichels‘ Flickr photostream.