Declutter and rediscover your wardrobe

08 January 2019

Finding your style could be as easy as decluttering your wardrobe as Under The Cloth founder and wardrobe expert Jannine Newman explains...



It’s 2019, and time for new beginnings. Let’s talk about wardrobes - and the possibility that every time you open your wardrobe door you feel overwhelmed, slightly alarmed and totally confused by the legion of clothes squeezed in there. So overwhelmed, in fact, that you decide you can’t find anything to wear and go out shopping.

You aren’t alone. Over the past few years the price of clothes has hit rock bottom and as a society, we have been purchasing clothes at an alarming rate, accumulating more stuff than we can handle.

I remember reading a study a few years back that suggested the amount of time the average woman would spend throughout her life (up to the age of 60) deciding what to wear, was one year. A whole year! And then assuming you still care about your style after the age of 60 (and I have every reason to hope you do) what could you do with that much extra time? Travel the world, write a novel, set up a business… there is certainly something to be said for simplifying your life so if you want a clear head to face the future and the rest of 2019, I believe you should begin with your wardrobe.


Rediscover your style

You might envy women who look effortlessly put together and stylish every time they leave the house, and wonder how they manage it – well, it’s probably because they have whittled down their wardrobe to the point where everything is there for a reason, and that reason is because it makes them look and feel good.

There are a few ways to declutter your wardrobe

1. Take a leaf out of Marie Kondo’s books ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’  or ‘Spark Joy’ , which advocate that when you sort out your house, you should always start with your clothes and end with your sentimental items because by the time you get to the end of your tidying, you will be so in tune with what sparks joy for you, the sentimental stuff will be a breeze – well, it should be a little bit easier, anyway.

2. It’s a good idea to gather ALL your clothes together from all over the house; your winter and summer clothes, the too-small and too-big clothes you have stashed away, and I’d suggest you wash everything before the big sorting day, so that everything you own is in the same place. Have a good look at that big pile that you’ve thrown onto the bed. You are going to feel mortified (do I really have that much?) reflective (why did I buy so much?) guilty (I spent so much!) and fear (how can I sort through this much?). Well, you can. It might take a while, but trust me, you can do this.

3. Take each item and assess your gut reaction to it. Love it or throw it; I don’t think there is anything in between. The difficulty with being indifferent to something is that you probably won’t be reaching for that item so you might as well move on. Keep only the things you love, the things you enjoy the feel of and the things you will always reach for. These are the things that make you feel good.

5 fashion items we hope are gone for good

4. As you sort, bear in mind the following - as I believe these are some key factors as to why it’s so hard to part with certain clothes.

(a) The amount of money you’ve spent. This is a hard one. The money you spent on these clothes has gone. It’s a painful lesson you need to go through but it means you will shop differently and more mindfully in the future. Accept it and move on.

(b) We fear giving away things we might need in the future. It’s highly unlikely you will need something later down the line if you have no need for it at the moment; the worst that could happen is that you’d have to buy another one.

(c) We need very little. There are only seven days in a week; the chances are you have enough clothes to last you for the rest of your natural life. It would take an awfully long time to actually wear out our wardrobes. What I’m saying is, you don’t need so many clothes because you can’t possibly wear them all. Keep only the ones you love.

(d) Don’t keep thin clothes. If you lose that weight you probably won’t want to wear the old dress - it will be time to invest in a new piece. And if you’ve lost weight, move out the larger clothes. You are not going to be using them again.

(e) Don’t keep clothes for the fantasy life you don’t and never will live. You may have clothes for the holidays you never take, the glamorous cocktail parties you never attend and the job you don’t have. Move them on and live a real life.

Once you’ve done this, take those ‘moved on’ clothes straight to the charity shop. The temptation, if they hang around, will be to get them out the bags and slot them back into your wardrobe. Don’t undo all your hard work.

Once you’ve had a declutter, you can reassess what you have and return your loved clothes to the wardrobe, and if you are still using wire hangers, upgrade to some slimline ones which won’t ruin your clothes. A quick visit to TK Maxx will sort out your hanger needs very nicely, or you can buy hangers online from Amazon.

Get professional decluttering help

If you need help, and more of us do as we’re all drowning in consumables, there are people you can turn to. APDO is the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers and they have a directory of organisers who cover all areas of the country.

My company Under The Cloth is a member of APDO and offers The Wardrobe Edit, which I designed as an affordable, friendly and completely non-judgemental service tailored to help you declutter your wardrobe, organise and restyle your clothes. I will help you to assess your lifestyle and clothing needs and help you part ways with clothes which don't fit, can't be mended and need to be moved on. If you've lost your confidence, I will work with you to build it back and if you aren't sure what suits you we can find your style. I will work with what you already have and help you identify the gaps, advising you where and how you can build and curate a more coherent and sustainable wardrobe.

I take a mindful and slow fashion approach, working with what you have, looking not for fast fashion fixes but for solutions which have longevity and which are kind and fair to people and nature in both process and ethos. 

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.