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How to declutter your wardrobe

Clearing out your wardrobe is a wondrous thing! Not only can you avoid daily encounters with an overpacked closet (which can be overwhelming), but your clothes don’t get crumpled from being jam packed together! Also, having too many fashion options to choose from can suck up time in decision making, and who needs that? So, we at Femme Connection are here to sing praises to the occasional wardrobe cull. It can improve your life and free up time for better things!

Now, getting rid of clothes can be difficult for some people, but it doesn’t have to be. The best way to start is to get your throwback playlist of music ready and commit to a short window of time where you give the task your full attention.

Now how do you go about it—especially if you’re the type of person who struggles to part with belongings? In this article, we’ll look at some strategies to help make decluttering a lot easier. But before we go there, let’s remind ourselves why a wardrobe cull is worth doing at least yearly!

It frees up space! When your wardrobe is over-stuffed, it can be difficult to pull out the clothes you want without yanking out other items too! Clothes hook onto each other, items fall from their hangers, and ironed garments come out crumpled. Then there’s the drawers! Having jampacked drawers can make them impossible to open and close! And then there’s the time wasted rifling through layers of folded clothes in the hunt for items you actually want to wear. Sigh!

It reduces work! Did you ever think about how much time you spend tending to your clothes? There’s the washing, drying, ironing, folding, packing away, not to mention following the care instructions for every individual item. The more you can reduce your volume of clothing, the better care you can give to your clothes and the less work there is overall.

It removes distractions. When you’re selecting your clothes each day to get ready to head out, you don’t want distractions slowing you down. But when you have too many options in your drawers and wardrobe, it can be really distracting! The last thing you need is to make a lot of decisions on a daily basis, (‘Do I like this? Should I keep this? Should I wear this more often’). Every question uses up mental energy and slows you down when you actually just need to get going!

Some clothes just gotta go! There comes a time when a garment has seen better days and needs evaluation. It may be off-trend, may not fit right, may have lost its shape, or it’s just no longer you. Though it’s hard to say sayonara, sometimes you just have to give certain garments the flick!

It gives you the opportunity to buy new items! We all know we should be conservative when it comes to buying fashion. Our spending choices have an impact on our personal budgets and on the planet, after all! But that doesn’t mean we should keep a bunch of stuff that’s not serving us. It also doesn’t mean we can’t invest in some great new pieces to replace some of our worn out garments—pieces that are much more in step with the phase of life we’re now in. It just might be time to say, ‘out with the old and in with the new!’ One benefit of doing this decluttering work is that you become a whole lot more selective about what items you let in in the future!

Your clothes can get a second life! Whilst we all want to make the most of the clothes we already have, doing a wardrobe cull is no crime. The garments you’re clutching hold of may be things you will rarely, if ever, wear again. But someone else might! So make use of opportunities to donate, sell, upcycle or recycle your pre-loved clothing! (See tips on where to take your clothes at the bottom of this article).

How to declutter your wardrobe - ask these questions

Now we’ve looked at why decluttering our wardrobes is worthwhile, let’s look at how to do it. For some of us, getting rid of any item of clothing is not easy! So it helps to have a list of questions to ask yourself so you have a framework to work with. Here are some great questions to start with.

Do I even like it? It sounds like such an obvious question, but often we don’t like items in our wardrobe, but hold onto them because we once liked it, or because someone said it looked great on us, or because we spent loads of money on it, or because it’s on-trend so we should like it… the list could go on forever!

So, the first and most important question to ask about an item in your wardrobe is, ‘do I like it?’ If the answer is no, put it on the out pile.

Does it fit? It’s not unusual to hold onto things that don’t fit us anymore. It might be because our bodies have changed (after having kids for example), and we hope to return to our previous form. However, clothing not fitting comfortably is a good enough reason to let it go. Don’t deceive yourself into thinking ‘one day'. Instead, say goodbye to ill-fitting clothes, and hello to clothes you can wear at present!

Is this my style? Some of us don’t really know what our style is, but are clear on what it isn’t. So, if a garment doesn’t do wonders for your figure, if it sits funny, feels too bold (or not bold enough), does not feel like you, then give it a send off.

Do I enjoy wearing it? Guaranteed, there are items in your wardrobe or drawers you bypass daily. You think, ‘oh, not that. It’s too tight for today’. Or, ‘the fabric is a bit itchy.’ Or, ‘I don’t like the colour on me.’ Items like this are clear candidates for the out pile.

Does this item need a lot of effort to style? There’s items in your wardrobe that require extra effort. It’s the skirt that’s a little too short and only works with tights. The top with sleeves you don’t like, so you can only wear it with a jacket. The pants that sit a little funny at the waist, so you need a long sweater over the top. The jacket in a colour that doesn’t go with anything else in your wardrobe. Be honest with yourself—these clothes aren’t serving you well. Say goodbye.

Does this item need repair? Just because something has a button missing or a dropped hem, doesn’t mean you can’t mend and wear it. But will you? Think about how long that damaged garment has been sitting in your drawer or wardrobe, without you fixing it. It may be a great piece, but if you’re never going to get around to repairing it, then take the obvious next steps and say goodbye!

Would you pack it for a trip? The items you would pack for a trip away are usually the ones that are in good condition, you feel comfortable wearing to most occasions, and that flatter you. So ask yourself if you’d take your item on your next holiday, and if not, consider whether or not you really need it.

Is it a double up? Sometimes we buy more than one of the same thing, especially if it’s a favourite item we think it might sell out down the track. But if your original becomes bedraggled, perhaps it’s time to get rid of it. You have a replacement after all!

Would you have an event to wear this to? You bought a great dress for a party and looked fabulous in it! Would you have occasion to wear that dress again? (Think bridesmaid and party dresses.) If the answer’s ‘probably not’, then let it go.

As you pare back and get to fewer garments, you might find the task becomes more challenging. Remind yourself you don’t need to get rid of everything! Even if you downsize by a few pieces, the reduction you make will be noticeable.

What to keep

Heard of a capsule wardrobe? This is where you select a limited collection of wardrobe pieces you can put together in different ways, but that all work well together. Usually you include at least one of each type of garment you like to wear.

Those who opt for a capsule wardrobe find they spend less time making decisions about outfits each day, as they’ve planned for everything to work together. And when you think about the choices you end up making when you put your daily outfits together, you’ll probably find that you mostly wear the same things on repeat anyway. So, ditch the rest and you have yourself a capsule wardrobe!

What to include in your capsule wardrobe

You don’t need to go extreme, and you certainly don’t have to whittle it all down to only the basics. But if you want to head in the direction of a capsule wardrobe, here are some great basic pieces to include.

Basic tees and long sleeved tops: Make sure they fit well and are in good condition. Select colours that go well with your complexion, and/or neutral colours like black and white.

Blouses: Blouses work well for work and weekend outings, and definitely have a place in a capsule wardrobe. If there’s anything you can upgrade according to seasonal prints, without changing the rest of your capsule wardrobe, it’s blouses.

Pants: Whether you prefer slim-fit pants or more tailored cuts, a few pairs of quality pants in your style, that fit comfortably, are a must-have.

Blazer: A smart, tailored blazer easily adds a dose of sophistication to an outfit and is guaranteed to make you feel that little bit more professional (and powerful)!

Little black dress: This is a classic and instantly elevates your look. A black dress works on almost everyone. If you’re not into black, try navy or cream.

Dresses and skirts: Investing in some gorgeous dresses and skirts you can wear with your jackets, cardigans and blazer is a good idea. Neutral colours are definitely adaptable to more outfits, but let yourself have a little fun too, with the option of buying new styles on a seasonal basis, but ensuring they work with your other capsule choices.

Shoes: Strappy nude sandals, a pair of evening heels, neutral runners, and leather or faux leather boots tend to be the standard shoe options you’ll see in a capsule wardrobe. They can work with most items, without putting a lot of thought into it.

Notes on capsule wardrobes: There’s no one type of capsule wardrobe and there are plenty of amazing capsule collections out there! Every fashion magazine and website will offer suggestions of capsule wardrobes, according to age, colour scheme, lifestyle, and other factors. Search online for ideas! And have a read of our blog on Building a Capsule Wardrobe.

Hot decluttering tips!

Cull after a holiday!
Getting a break away from your stuff can really help you lose the sense of attachment to your items. After being away from your clothes, you often find that when you get back home, it’s easy to decide on what you want and what you don’t.

Pack it away for a season!
If you’re struggling to say goodbye to certain garments, (and you have the storage space), try packing your ‘ditch’ pile away for a season. See if you miss it! If you don’t notice it’s gone, then you didn’t really need it, and you can send it off for good.

Get a friend to help!
A friend who understands what you’re trying to achieve and won’t let you back down on tough decisions can really help with your decluttering effort. Just make sure you show them the criteria you’re working with, so they know when to show tough love, and when to be more flexible. And remember, it won’t be easy for your mate, so shout them a coffee for their efforts and a treat for all your goodbyes!

Employ a professional organiser!
There are professionals who do this exact thing! If you can afford it, why not spend a little on getting someone impartial (who has no memory of you rocking that amazing pair of floral flares at that 70’s party) to look at your clothes and help make those difficult decisions efficiently? Whilst it costs money, it may be worth the time you save.

Employ a stylist!
Hiring a personal stylist can help you work out what kind of clothes work best on your body and suit your personal style. They can help with fabric choices, colour matching, and styling pieces you already own. Again, stylists cost money, but a good session with a stylist might just give you all the answers you need when it comes to what to keep and what to ditch.

Give your items a second life
Your discarded clothes needn’t go to waste! Op shops, recycled fashion boutiques, charities, and thread recycling businesses might all have a use for your pre-loved clothes. Just remember—before donating to op shops and charities, make sure the items are in good condition!

Selling your stuff might not be easy
It’s common to bag up discarded clothes with a plan to sell them online or at a market. Whilst selling items can help you recoup a little of what you spent, it’s a time-consuming process, plus you need to have space to store those unwanted items until they sell. There’s also the risk the items find their way back into your wardrobe, and you’re back to square one!

So if you plan to sell clothes, take immediate steps to make it happen and give yourself a cut-off date for when items need to be gone by. If they haven’t gone by then, donate them!

Dealing with resistance

It can be hard to say goodbye to clothes. Items may have sentimental value, may have been gifted to you by someone you love, or you may have worked hard to make the money to buy them. Whatever your reason for withholding, go easy on yourself! If it takes more time, do your wardrobe declutter in stages. Every effort helps!

And if parting with personal items brings up a lot of feelings for you, there are helpful books, Facebook groups, and counsellors who can offer support.