The Dreaded Wardrobe Purge

This is my definitive how to guide for cleaning out your wardrobe, dealing with the stuff you don’t need and organizing the stuff that you do.

In The Beginning…

First of all, you will need to empty your entire wardrobe.  Put on some upbeat music and get to work.  Take everything off hangers and dump it in the middle of the room.  Empty every drawer, every cupboard and every rack.  You should now have a very bare cupboard and a teetering mound of clothing on the floor. 

Before you start sorting, vaccuum out your wardrobe and drawers.  Replace any drawer liners and wipe out any areas that are looking a bit dusty.  Now it’s time to get down to business.

Pile it up

You will need to go through your clothes one item at a time.  This will take ages and you might need to have a few breaks before you get through it all.  Put on some catchy tunes and pour yourself a glass of wine to fortify you.  Now, sort the items into two piles.  The first pile is “stuff i wear“.  All your favorite items go in this pile.  If there is something you wear on a regular basis, automatically chuck it here.  You don’t need to get rid of these.  The other pile is the “stuff I don’t wear” pile.  If you have even the slightest hesitation about an item, throw it on this pile, and scrutinize it later.

Get organized

The “stuff I wear” pile goes straight back in the closet.  However, before you start putting things away, take a good look at your closet space, and think about how you could best set things out so that things are neat, organized and easy to find.

Here are a few tips:

– store like items together.  All your short-sleeved tops together, all your skirts together, all your shoes together etcetera. 

-fold t-shirts and jumpers carefully and stack them, so that you can see each item in the pile.

– Don’t use wire hangers!  They stretch clothes out of shape and poke holes in delicate items.  Instead, invest in some thick wooden or plastic hangers, or padded hangers if you are feeling rich. 

– think about clever ways to use your space.  Use tie hangers to store scarves or necklaces or ice-cube trays to keep earrings.

– some people like to colour-code their wardrobe. I once tried this, but i have so many clothes that are in bright, multi-coloured prints that i didn’t think it was helpful.  If you want to try this, you can, but I generally don’t bother with it.

Time to get selective…

Ok now, you need to carefully examine each item in the “stuff I don’t wear” pile and sort it into a few small piles. 

The first pile is made up of the stuff that doesn’t fit you.  If you have outgrown something, or your body shape has changed, you might find that some of your old clobber doesn’t hang so well any more.  Try each of these items on and look carefully at yourself.  If something is too long or too short, or a little tight, there might be hope that you could have it altered. If so, put it aside.  If you have lost weight and are finding that some items are too big, you could try experimenting with scarves and belts to pull things in.  Anything that is dramatically ill fitting should go in the “getting rid of” pile.  Don’t hang onto things in the hope that you will one day fit into them again.  It is a waste of space.

The second pile is for items that you would wear, but that need repairing.  Put it somewhere prominent so you can’t ignore it, and either spend an evening doing some running repairs, or take them to a tailor ASAP for some TLC.  It seems like a hassle, but just think of how much wear you can get out of these clothes once they have been restored to their former glory.

Pile number three is for items that are just worn out.  This pile features items such as holey socks, floppy t-shirts, saggy bras and undies that are only being held together by their stubborn under-stains.  Comfy and sentimental as they may be, this stuff is just rubbish, and should be binned immediately.  See it as a jumping off point for buying more cute stuff to replace it!

The final pile is the most challenging and the most fun.  It’s for items that you like, and would like to wear, but you aren’t sure how to wear them.  These are often impulse buys that you liked in the store, but in the harsh light of day, you just aren’t sure that they are ‘you’.  Look at each item carefully, and ask yourself why you don’t wear it.  Try it on, and play around with the rest of your wardrobe to see what you already have that you could wear with it.  I like to keep a ‘inspiration box’ of stuff that I haven’t worn in a while. Each day, I take an item from this box and build an outfit around it.  You could do this if you want.  If you feel that an item is too revealing, try layering it with other items to cover up any exposed flesh.  If it’s too bright, try wearing it as a pop of colour with an otherwise all-black outfit.  If you just can’t figure out what to do with it, get rid of it. 

Dealing with the fallout…

So now you have a wonderfully tidy wardrobe full of clothes that you wear, a pile of injured clothes that have been repaired and a stack of rejects.  What do you do with the misfits?

There are a number of options.

– there are some things, like socks and underwear, that you should just bin.

– if your clothes are in really good condition, or are a particularly interesting piece, you could try selling it on ebay. 

– Do you have a friend who would like an item?  You could even hold a clothes-swapping party to get rid of your unwanted gear.  Your trash could be another person’s treasure.

– if all else fails, bundle it all up and give it to a charity shop. Your generosity will be greatly appreciated.

 Taking care

Finally, make it your mission to take good care of the items that you already own.  Repair things as soon as they get ripped or broken.  keep storing things using the system you have devised.  Don’t revert back to your old habits.

Wash things carefully.  Any delicate items such as bras, stockings, lace, wool, silk or beading should be carefully handwashed and hung out of direct sunlight to dry.  If you don’t like handwashing, don’t buy delicate items that will get shredded by your washing machine. 

Good luck and take care


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