Declutter your wardrobe

It's time to begin the actual physical work on your wardrobe - bearing the master plan we have created before in mind.

Decluttering your wardrobe is probably the most intense and overwhelming step of the whole wardrobe building process.

Depending on your preference, you can tackle the whole thing in one go and get it done and dusted. Or you can break it down into multiple parts - such as by season or by garment category. If you have a lot of clothes to go through, this might be the better option since you will need energy to scrutinise each item properly.

Wardrobe inventory

Reviewing your wardrobe involves removing damaged, non-essential, or mis-matched items and helps create a clothes inventory to match against your ideal wardrobe master plan. This will make it easier to assess where you may have gaps or overflow in your wardrobe.

Decluttering your wardrobe doesn't mean just throwing some things out; you have to follow a method if you want to get the most out of the process.

Step 1: Empty out your wardrobe

Take absolutely everything out of your wardrobe and lay it out on your bed. Make sure you don't forget clothes that are in the wash or packed away in storage boxes. You need all the clothing you own; so don't cheat. Taking everything out will help you perform a proper audit of your wardrobe.

If you are decluttering your wardrobe in stages still take everything out, sort it into piles by season or category and put the clothes your are not decluttering today back into a designated 'to-do' section of your wardrobe.

Once you have everything you will be going through today out, group the items by garment type and then subcategories; for example trousers grouped together which may then be broken down into jeans and formal trousers.

Step 2: Try everything on

This is an important step, don't skip it! When you try on each item you can scrutinise it - see how you feel in it, if it fits you, and if it's damaged. You have to be ruthless when you're doing this. If something does not fit properly - it's too tight, too loose, too big etc. - don't throw it into the back of your wardrobe for it to rot there.

When you are trying on your clothes, use a full length mirror and have good lighting. Natural light is always best as it’s the most accurate in terms of colours and how you look.

To help you stay rational and not get too emotional with your clothes during the decluttering process, think about the following points. For each item,

Ask yourself

  • When was the last time I wore this? If you can't remember, it's time to let go.
  • Does it fit properly? Check the fit of each item by moving it it, lifting your arms, sitting down, walking, and bending over. If the item does not fit properly, can alterations be made to improve the fit?
  • Does the item make me feel confident and do I feel comfortable wearing it? Again, can alterations be made to improve the style or colour of the item?
  • Is the style flattering for my body shape?
  • Does the colour suit my skin undertone and work with my colour palette?
  • Is the item worn out? Can it be repaired? Remove any items that are worn beyond repair.

Step 3: Sort your clothes into piles

After you have tried on an item, sort it into one of four piles:

Yes Pile

These are items that meet all of your criteria. They fit you properly, the colour is right, the style flatters you, and you feel confident and comfortable in them. These are typically the items that you wear frequently and that should fit perfectly into your master plan.

Maybe Pile

This is for items that don’t fit quite right, the style does not flatter you perfectly, the colour is a little off, or they have sentimental value. You can’t put your finger on it, but you just don’t wear it, or you’re keeping it because you paid a lot for it but you don’t wear it. If you can't clearly decide yes or no put it in the maybe pile for now.

No Pile

This pile contains all the items you have been meaning to clear out, ones that are beyond repair, or don’t fit your personal style, body shape, or colour palette. Put these aside to come back to later.

Seasonal Pile

These are the seasonal items that are not relevant to the current season. If you are decluttering your wardrobe in summer you probably won't keep your winter coat right there in your wardrobe (or if you do, it's time to pack it away and put it into storage). So anything that you want to keep but is not in season right now will go in this pile.

Step 4: Assess what's left in your wardrobe

Now that you have your wardrobe decluttered and grouped into various piles it's important to take responsible action when it comes to how you treat each group. Follow these guidelines to ensure you get the most out of what you have, even if its life in your wardrobe has come to an end.

The No Pile

The most important thing when tackling the No pile is not to default straight to the rubbish bin. Remember, fabric is non-biodegradable, so do the best you can to avoid simply throwing out unwanted garments. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule - items that are too well worn or used undergarments. But other than that, items that are no longer wanted should be disposed of in the following order:

I. Clothes to sell

Selling your old clothes is a great way of both recycling them (they’ll get a new owner) and making money from something that has been collecting dust in your wardrobe. This is particularly worthwhile if the item you want to get rid of was expensive. Nowadays, there are lots of apps and marketplaces for secondhand clothing. Try them and give your clothes a second lease of life.

II. Clothes to swap

Swapping clothes with your friends or family is another great option to extend the life of your unwanted clothes. And you might even get something back that is much better than what you gave away. It's a win-win situation. Why not organise a clothing swap?

III. Clothes to donate

If you don't want to sell your clothes or they are not worth selling, consider donating them. Take these items to a charity or give them away to family, friends, or someone who can use them.

IV. Clothes to use as rags

You might not be able to donate them, but items that are broken beyond repair could still be used as rags for household cleaning. Simply cut them up and use them for as long as you can.

V. Clothes to throw away

If there is no other use for an item you will have to dispose of it. But before you throw it into the bin check if it can't be recycled through a retailer scheme. Some retailers encourage recycling clothes and will even offer you discounts on your shopping if you trade in your worn clothes.

The Maybe Pile

These items haven't quite made the cut. It's now time to re-assess whether they belong in the Yes or No pile.Examine each item. What is it about the item that is not quite right? Is it something that can be altered? Does it match against your master plan? If the answer to both questions is no, place the item in the No Pile.

If you think you can make the item work with a little improvement, create a new pile for alterations. Breathing new life into garments that may not perfectly fit into your wardrobe can be easier than you think. A small change - such as new buttons, may make an item perfectly wearable again.

Seek out your local tailor who will be able to help you understand what alterations can be made, and use their expertise to ensure you get the desired outcome. You might even be able to work yourself on simple alterations.

Bear in mind that even though it may be easier to simply move an item to the No pile, there is no point in doing so if a similar item will end up on your shopping list in future.

The Seasonal Pile

Any items that you want to keep but are not in season right now have to be checked against the master plan just the same. If they fit the bill, pack them up into boxes and put them into storage. If you have more seasonal items than necessary, make a decision whether to keep them or give them away.

The Yes Pile

The Yes pile contains the clothes that will be part of your ideal wardrobe. Tick each item off against your master plan to assess what you are missing or what you might have too much of. Where you have too much, decide if you want to keep these items or if you want to give them away


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