Everyone Asks Me to Declutter Their Wardrobes—Here's How I Do It

Working in fashion can be a curse and a blessing: Some people freak out about what they're wearing when they meet you (and they really shouldn't—I'm probably preoccupied with how painful my new shoes are), while others are so enthused that they get you over to their houses to do a full style detox. The latter has become somewhat of a speciality of mine over the years—and it's something I secretly really enjoy. A tidy closet is a tidy mind, and I'm known as someone who's ruthless but fair. Only recently did a good friend's partner give me a big hug afterwards, thanking me for saving them both from the wild clothing avalanche taking over their house.

Photo:

Phill Taylor

So if you've gotten to a breaking point or simply want a healthy overhaul, 'tis the season. We've pinpointed the best places for you to successfully sell clothes online, but where to start? That's where I step in (virtually, of course) to guide you. Keep reading to follow my step-by-step guide on how to declutter your wardrobe…

Don't Rush; Put Time Aside

Photo:

Isabella Thordsen

This is not the kind of task you can go into on a whim. If it's going to be done properly, make sure you put at least a couple of hours aside so it's a methodical, calm process rather than a rushed job. Make a brew, reply to everyone's messages and then get stuck in.

Don't Do It on a Whim; Be Prepared With the Necessary Equipment

The main thing you need are bags big enough and strong enough to contain lots of castoffs. Make sure you've got separate containers for charity-store pieces, items you'll aim to sell, unwearables that are destined for the recycling plant and pieces that need to go into storage.

Don't Do It With Your Other Half

Photo:

@loreal_blackett

You're only asking for trouble by getting your partner involved. However, it's best to do your clear-out with someone in tow. Alone, it's all too easy to cave and keep everything as is. Select a person who's honest but sensitive, and whose style and taste you trust. Feel free to lure in the lucky candidate with wine and snacks.

If Time Permits, Organise Into Categories First

A preparatory organising stage can really help, says Byrdie UK Editorial Director Amy Lawrenson, whose wardrobe I recently helped to clear out. "I think it prompts you to identify patterns and habits early on. So I had a lot (a LOT) of tops but not many pairs of trousers!" she noted. These jumbo bulldog clips (below) are great for grouping things like vest tops and tees. You can use them afterwards on your walls to hold up pictures—a double-duty purchase indeed.

Use the 6-Month Rule

Photo:

@ruerodier

If you haven't worn something in the last six months (or it still has the price tags on and has been forgotten about), it's at the point when you should move on. If a piece holds sentimental value, by all means, keep it and store it away.

Don't Overlook the Power of Trying Things On

It may feel like such a faff to have to try on EVERYTHING in your closet, but sometimes it can really help. If you're feeling on a low ebb and something still looks good, it's 100% a keeper. I also think it's well worth taking outfit selfies for your own future use—those busy times when you can't think of what to wear can be easily supported by a secret back catalogue of ensembles saved to your phone.

However, You MUST Wear the Right Underwear for the Job

This is not the time to wear those pants that dig in or the bra that gives you four boobs. Poorly chosen underwear can ruin the best of outfits. Trying on piece after piece requires flexible, versatile, simple and flattering underwear that works with almost everything. Think of a plain T-shirt bra and basic, well-fitting thong. I'd also suggest having a basic pair of shoes on hand to style things up with too.

Be Open to Realising Certain Things Don't Suit You

Photo:

The Haute Pursuit

We all have different visions and hopes of what we look like or want to look like, but I know deep down that miniskirts aren't for me, for example. "I discovered I buy a lot of the same kinds of tricky items—so I had tons of denim shirts and furry tops (bizarre, I know). Plus, I found through doing this that I owned a lot of boxy shapes that aren't necessarily the most flattering for me," explains Amy. "I think I do it because I love shopping and tops are my comfort zone, but I need to branch out—now it's about having the confidence to know what else to go for instead."

Don't Ignore the Obvious: Find Common Threads Between Your Most-Worn Items

Photo:

@laurennicolefk

It's okay to buy excess amounts of one thing if it's part of your daily uniform, but if you're not getting the wear out of items, think about why that is. Amy found that her love of textures and prints meant that nothing actually went together easily, so she's now investing in basic pieces to maximise on the statement items she loves. "Getting dressed has become so much easier every day," she admits.

Don't Discard Winning But Worn-Out Items

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@_jeanettemadsen_

This may seem like a total chore when you're undoubtedly super busy, but Amy has reaped the rewards: "I'm glad I took the time to get it done. It cost about £60 to get all of my shoes all resoled and heeled, but it's saved me having to buy new boots this winter, which would have cost a lot more." Amy thought some of these pieces were past repair but now they're like brand-new—so don't be afraid to take items to a dry-cleaner or cobbler to ask questions.

Separate Summer and Winter Pieces

You don't want to be sidetracked by sundresses you cannot wear in the depths of winter. Make it easy for yourself and pack away the pieces that are entirely unusable. Also, invest in chic storage and you'll feel more tempted to use it…

Properly Hang and Store What You Keep

Photo:

@peonylim

Nothing upsets me more than clothes and accessories that are abused. The better you look after your purchases (don't leave things lying on the floor or piled on top of each other), the longer they'll last and the harder they'll work for your wardrobe. It's common sense, really. I'd recommend investing in velvet-finish, super-thin hangers—they stop your clothes from slipping, but they're also a real space saver. Get JVL's 50 Velvet Coat Hangers (£22) and be really smug about it.

And Finally, Don't Forget to Learn From the Process

Photo:

Fashionata

Wardrobe detoxes are for life, not just for Christmas, you know? It's something that should be considered at least once a year, but there are certain actions you'll start to naturally implement if you keep your learnings in mind. Amy's advice? "Getting soles put on shoes before you wear them, even if they're high street," she says. "I'm not a dainty person, so my shoes tend to take a real bashing; it's good to know I can extend the wear of them."

So there you have it. If you're ready to take on the challenge, get inspo from these impeccably dressed London girls.

This story was published at an earlier time and has since been updated.