Something most of us need (and probably fail) to do once a year, something that makes us feel clean and virtuous, is a spot of closet reorganisation. And what better time is there to get your wardrobe in order than heading into a new year?
You might think yours is in a perfectly acceptable state, but if it includes teetering piles of clothes you haven’t touched in years, shoes covered in a fine layer of dust or doors that won’t close, then I’m afraid you’re mistaken. Yes, I'm pledging to make 2022 the year when the bottom of my wardrobe won’t resemble the beginnings of a car boot sale—and I think you should join me.
Keep scrolling to see how to organise your wardrobe so it will last longer than a week.
First things first, do a proper clear-out. By now, we should all be familiar with Marie Kondo's popular adage, “Does it bring me joy?” The master of decluttering, whose first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has sold five million copies and counting, says this is the question you have to ask yourself when deciding whether to get rid of something.
A vintage ruffled skirt I got some years ago that came with complimentary tea stains and jeans so tight I have to lie down to do them up definitely don’t, so why have I kept them? (A mix of laziness and the optimistic thought that I might attempt some stain removal/lose some tummy rolls.) I’ve finally accepted neither will happen, so both have been sorted into recycling and charity bags respectively.
Side note: Research has found that an estimated 235 million items of unwanted clothing in this country will end up in landfill as a result of spring cleaning. Don’t bin your garments—when you can, take them to charity shops or a Traid recycling bank.
A few other rules to follow when deciding what goes? Anything that doesn’t fit, anything you haven’t worn in two years, anything that can’t slot into at least three outfits without having to buy something else, and any badly stained or scuffed shoes must go. Doesn’t that feel better?
Now that you’ve triumphed over the detritus, it’s time to organise what’s left. This starts with getting the right gear. If you’re a few-pairs-of-shoes kind of person, start with a shoe organiser like this one from John Lewis that slips under the bed. It makes use of an otherwise empty space and means you won't be tripping over your accessories in the middle of the night. Any more than 10, and I suggest a separate shoe cupboard. Or why not repurpose a shelving unit? (Try Habitat, Made.com or Paramountfurniture.co.uk for this too.) You could also try storing away your summer shoes in winter and vice versa.
If your wardrobe is on the small side, try these special space-saving hangers. You'll thank me later. John Lewis also has a wealth of soft storage options that can sit at the bottom of your cupboard and hold all the paraphernalia that tends to collect there like scarves, belts, gloves and hats.
My mum’s trick for keeping her cupboard in shipshape come summer is to pack all her bulky jumpers into vacuum bags that you can buy for really reasonable prices from places like Lakeland and John Lewis. In winter, you should tidy away all your summer dresses, holiday kaftans, skimpy shorts, and swimsuits into plastic boxes that can slot under your bed, or perhaps dedicate space to them in a chest of drawers.
The way you arrange your clothes depends entirely on your wardrobe’s configuration and your preference. I like to hang my coats, jackets, dresses, skirts and trousers that can’t be folded by type, but some might like to organise according to colour. I have equal hanging and shelf space, so everything that can be folded is sorted in type (jeans, jumpers, T-shirts, etc.) and stacked up neatly. Though, according to Kondo, I’ve been arranging my piles wrong all my life.
She insists that folding clothes isn’t about making them compact but about communicating your affection. Watch her folding this T-shirt, and you’ll see that if it’s correctly concertinaed into thirds, it will stand up on a flat surface. Similarly, this underwear and socks video shows you how to stack everything side by side instead of on top of one another, meaning you can actually see what’s in the pile and pull things out easily. If you're a TikTok user, you've probably seen similar hacks from accounts like @thefoldinglady, or check out #wardrobeorganisation (which has over 8.5 million views) for more handy tips and tricks.