the witch in the wardrobe

We addressed the thorny issue of how to declutter books and cupboards a week or so ago.  Today we are going to tackle the wardrobe.  The place which can date you as accurately as a slice through a tree trunk.

Once again I do not advocate the “a little at a time” approach.  Get it all out.  I mean ALL of it.  I don’t care if you have to spread it over three rooms, the hallway and the downstairs loo.  Get it all out.  Look at it.  Scary isn’t it?  And I bet you only emptied the wardrobe, the bit with hangers.  What about your drawers?  I’m not suggesting that you empty all of them right now as well (even I have limits) but bear in mind that the wardrobe itself is not the only repository of your clothes.

Okay, so now you are swimming in a sea of clothes that range in size from Kylie Minogue to P Diddy.  What next?

Start with the easy job.

Remove everything you don’t like

Really, I mean it.  We all have them, clothes we bought or were given but have never worn because actually we really don’t like them.  Remember the guilt word?  If you are only keeping it because you feel guilty about getting rid of it.  Get rid of it.  Every time you wear it (if you ever do) you will feel like a pile of poo.  Do you want to feel like a pile of poo?  Out it goes.  Somebody else will love it.  Make them happy.

Remove everything that is broken or you can’t be bothered to repair

Just as before.  If you can’t be bothered to sew on a button or replace a zip – or even take them to somebody else who can, then are you really ever going to wear them again?  The pair of trousers your bought and intended to take in to fit around the waist.  How long have you had them?  Have you missed not being able to wear them?  Clearly not if they have been hanging around for more than a month.  Get rid of them.

Start trying on what is left

This is quite revealing.  You will be surprised how much doesn’t fit (if you are lucky it will be too big, in my case they are usually too small….)  When you have a massive wardrobe of clothes you rarely wear most of it because it is too much trouble to think of something new.  You fall back on old favourites.  You fall back on things that fit  When you have a clear out you return to the wardrobe whole swathes of clothes that you think you can still fit into but because you have never actually worn them …. you don’t know.

You have to be ruthless.  Unless you are already on a weight loss/gain programme, are moving along according to plan and know you are going to stick to it.  DO NOT KEEP CLOTHES THAT DO NOT FIT.  I’ll say that again just in case you misheard me. DO NOT KEEP CLOTHES THAT DO NOT FIT.

There is a whole other post here about coming to terms with your size and shape which I am not going to go into.  But keeping clothes that do not make you feel great, do not make you want to skip out of the door or at the very least do not make you feel as if you have a bum the size of the old Eastern Bloc and a waist that went down river along with Livingstone and Stanley is not going to make you feel good.  And feeling good can’t be bad.

Once you have eliminated anything that you feel makes you look like Gollum on a bad day you can start to work through what is left.

I have a bit of a jacket problem.  I love jackets, they make my heart sing.  There is one problem.  I rarely wear them.  I wear cardigans.  So I have a choice, live dangerously and wear a jacket or two or twenty.  Or get rid of the jackets and live the rest of my life in a twinset.

I have opted slip on a jacket and have discovered my inner Audrey Heburn 😉

What do you buy but not wear?  Are you going to start challenging yourself  or decide to stick to what you know and love?  Either is absolutely fine.  BUT if you have twenty pairs of linen trousers but only ever wear jeans either wear the linen or get rid of it.

There is no such thing as “just for best”

Granted you are a rare bird if you wear a ball gown to do the grocery shopping.  But how many items of clothing do you have carefully stored away and never worn because you are saving them “for best”.  How many “best” occasions do you have?  What is the ratio of best clothes to best occasions?  Quite.    You have bought clothes that you love, that make you look gorgeous and  you never wear them.  Is there something a bit wrong there?

Mix it all up

Now you have got over the idea of wearing that cashmere jumper with the ripped denim skirt think about what else you might wear with it.  Do you have a drawer full of scarves?  Do you wear them?  If you do great.  If not then grab some now.  Play with them.  Wrap them round a messy bun, use them as a belt, a necklace, a hair band. Play with your accessories.  If you can’t use them or don’t feel comfortable then get rid of them.  Mix up textures and styles, play dressing up.  Try a that gold lame tee shirt you last wore to a black tie dinner  with a pair of jeans and a leather jacket.  Be wild and imaginative.  Some of your outfits will look like a dog’s dinner but who cares?  Who else is going to see? Until you start to experiment you have no idea of the endless possibilitiesl

This summer I took part in Project 333, 33 items of clothing and accessories (with some allowed exceptions) for 3 months.  It was remarkably easy.  But the most exciting part was discovering the multitude of different ways I could wear a small number of items.  You don’t have to go quite so hardcore… but let yourself be surprised.

If you really really can’t bear to part with some items then pack them up in a box or bag and put them somewhere where you can’t get at them.  Then three months later open the box and ask yourself again if you really need them or if you could pass them on to somebody who does.

I don’t agree with the “if you haven’t worn it for a year get rid of it”  because for most people they don’t wear most of their clothes because it is too much effort to work their way through their wardrobe and find a new combination of items.  But once you eliminate what you don’t like, what is worn out, what you hate to wear, then you can play around with what you have left and that skirt that hasn’t see the light of day for 6 months suddenly shows itself to be a key item in your wardrobe.

Good luck and have fun 🙂


12 thoughts on “the witch in the wardrobe

  1. I just recently cleared all my Mother’s closets – 4 of them – all huge and it took over 20 boxes ( BIG boxes – heavy enough hubby grunted at the weight). She had beautiful clothes – some of them from back when I was in school (45 years ago). She took excellent care of them. But the last three years were spent in about six sets. I sent the works to charity – someone will love those clothes – but we should all do the people we love a big favor and not put them thru the agony of disposing our stuff!

    1. Congratulations on letting go. It is hard enough to part with our own belongings, when we are faced with those of those we have loved it is so easy to hold on.

  2. I am down to four skirts, one dress, one petticoat, 10 long sleeve t-shirts, 3 sweaters, 3 cardigans, two knitted tunics. So far, I am surviving just fine … the rest is in storage 🙂 m.

  3. I love reading about your all or nothing approach, but I know I can find this terribly overwhelming, and often just pack it back and return to my ‘one thing at a time’ approach.

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