words Ciara Loane
In this current climate, it feels as if you’re going back to the same three items in your wardrobe in a loungewear-themed Groundhog Day. When staring wistfully at your summer wardrobe and party outfits, it can feel agonisingly painful to reminisce about all those times you left the house.
Yet, your wardrobe might be in need of some TLC right now, even as much as you. Just because you’re not putting it to full use and rotating your sports leggings, leggings and jeggings on repeat, the rest of your clothes are in need of sorting out.
Why? Well, the current face of fashion has evolved considerably over the past few years, from being fast fashion orientated to more focused on the ‘buy less, wear more’ school of thinking. These days, it’s about getting the most out of your outfits and individual garments of clothing, which is why it’s pertinent that you have a reliable, steady wardrobe with good quality garments that express your personality, no matter what clique you fall into. If enough people realise that fashion sustainability is better for the environment, and themselves, than it could potentially change the fashion industry forever.
For one, having an easy to access wardrobe is therapeutic, and makes mornings easier when getting dressed for the day. By re-arranging and re-organising it, as well as getting rid of the bits that aren’t really ‘you’ as much as they were when you were 16, you can create more outfits with less, and wear more of your wardrobe. You also save money in the long run; by wearing more and wearing better, you spend less.
In this day and age where so many of us are living with limited storage and every cm2 of your wardrobe counts, every pair of knickers, every hat and every t-shirt needs to earn its spot. And, on top of that, it’ll save you cash in the long-run by making you cherish and appreciate what you have and getting your money’s worth of everything, down to every single sock. Also, you might make a quick quid too. Now more than ever people are using second-hand websites like Depop and Ebay to sell and buy clothes. One persons’ trash is another person’s preloved bargain.
So, it’s out with the old and its time to re-vamp and de-clutter your wardrobe. Now is not a time to be sentimental- grab your bin bags, your mothballs and its time to get tidy. Think of it as a therapeutic form of self-care. You’ll be feeling refreshed and more organised with a wardrobe to be proud of.
It’s best to go through it in sections, and you’ve probably already organised your entire clothing collection into this- think; drawers, hung up, stuffed in the corner. Separate the wardrobe and all other bits of storage by section in your mind, either type or location. Then, work your way through, bit by bit.
Don’t be scared and work your way up to the main even though, edging your way delicately through hair accessories, shoes and jewellery when the multi-doored final enemy is sitting watching you, waiting. Start with what you’re dreading most (usually the wardrobe) and from then on every section after that will seem easy to defeat.
Go through every single item, from the most loved t-shirts to pairs of socks left over from college and decide to yourself, do I really need it? Do I wear it? Do I love it? You’ll find the garment in question answers all three of those questions with a yes, it’s a keeper. If it only answers yes to two, it goes into a maybe pile to be looked through at the end when you’ve collected your thoughts and mostly finished; that way you can really establish whether it’s needed, or whether a similar piece of clothing or accessory has replaced it.
Some other questions to keep in mind when going through every item;
Have you worn it in the last 9 months?
If you haven’t worn it in the last 9 months and the piece isn’t extraordinary (a well-loved coat that belonged to your grandma or wedding dress for example) you are likely to not wear it again.
Can you wear it in 3+ outfits?
This is a classic question to also ask yourself when buying clothes to limit unnecessary purchases. If you can wear it in 3+ outfits, it’s a keeper. When it comes to one-pieces like dresses or jumpsuits, the question is more along the lines of ‘can I style it in 3 different ways, for three different occasions?’ If not, it goes into the no or maybe piles of clothing, which by now are hopefully becoming mountains on your bedroom floor/bed.
Have you worn it to death?
Is it so old you can see through the fabric in areas? If so, it’s time to say adieu.
Is it from a bygone era?
Fad fashions come and go and we’ve all been victim, but the end goal of this is refining your wardrobe’s contents to make it immune to the passing trends and make it last for years to come. If the piece in question would’ve been out of fashion some time in 2012, it’s probably time to say goodbye. Some pieces to consider could be- low-rise jeans, llama/moustache printed clothing or shutter shades. On the other hand, does it no longer align itself your unique style? Everyone’s individual tastes changes over time, and evolves to incorporate wider trends, weather, new brands and many other external influences. Just because you loved it five years ago does not mean you will wear it now.
A good thing to remember is not to be sentimental, to an extent. There are obviously some pieces that could be understandably kept or put into storage if you don’t wear them regularly (as I mentioned above, a wedding dress or a family heirloom) but try not to get sentimental over the silly stuff. For example, if you wore something to a successful job interview that you think is hideous now, there’s no love lost if it gets donated to charity. Your ex’s hoodie from 5 years ago? Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Maintaining your wardrobe
Now you’ve done the hardest task of all and de-cluttered it, it’s time to re-organise your wardrobe to make it not only more aesthetically pleasing (can I say, even Instagram ready?) but easy to access and to make the most of your space, however limited it may be.
First of all, and this seems like a no-brainer reading it but is very hard to maintain, is to keep it organised. It’s very hard to do so, with quick changes from day-to-night leaving clothes strewn everywhere (we all do it) to being too tired in the evening to put it all away. But, the future you will be thankful, as it means getting dressed and adding more clothes in the future will be so easy to do.
Keep clear sections in hanging space- coats and jackets are grouped together, formal clothing in one section and casual wear in another. Keep your work stuff together to make it easy to access in the morning when you’re half-asleep (but, getting your outfit ready for work the night before makes your life a whole lot easier, and gives you an extra few minutes of shut-eye in the morning).
Designate drawers for specific purposes; tops, bottoms and underwear, not just randomly shoved in (again, it seems like a no-brainer but again, we’ve all been victims of exhaustion in the evenings).
By putting what you wear most (everyone has their favourites!) at the back of your wardrobe or at the bottom of drawers, you find yourself wearing more items that wouldn’t have necessarily been your first choice- this way, you get more wear out of more of your wardrobe.
Create two distinct capsule collections within your wardrobe for the two seasons- Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. Light, summery pieces for one and thicker knitted pieces for the other. When it’s one season, store the other pieces away to be opened in a few months’ time, thus creating more accessible wardrobe space. Be sure to leave out a couple of pieces that can be worn year-round though, like a light jacket or jumper for warmer months when it could get chilly in the evenings and t-shirts in winter for layering.
And, for the future, figure out what you really love and what is just using up space by putting all of your hangers facing one way, then when you’ve worn and washed it, return it on a hanger facing the opposite direction. In a few months’ time you’ll have an accurate picture of your go-to pieces and those which you might have fallen out of love with.
Create more outfits out of what you have
It’s already been mentioned that the key to owning and operating a powerful, more refined wardrobe is maximising what you own and combining more pieces into different outfits. To do this, you need to experiment with the pieces you have left in order to see what works with what.
Don’t be afraid to clash patterns and colours. When pairing new tops and bottoms together, if you’re into clashing, a good thing to remember is pair colours with either complimentary colours (opposites on the colour wheel i.e. orange and blue) or a similar tone of the same colour (navy with pastel blue). Otherwise with patterns, generally a busy print is most complimented by a pattern that is less exaggerated. Only you can make the decision as to what goes together in your wardrobe but hopefully this will lead to some new discoveries!
Another way to discover new combinations is to swap out a loved item in an outfit for one that you haven’t worn in a while; pairing a top with a different colour of jeans that you’d usually wear, for example, or a skirt instead of trousers.
Don’t underestimate the power of accessories either- you can transform an outfit for any season by swapping out the appropriate shoes, layers or outerwear. It also means you can wear clothes for more than one occasion- a dress can be dressed up or down depending on the shoes to go with it, and a mini skirt could be worn in winter with tights. Outerwear wise, for summer you could wear a light denim jacket or blazer for work and in the winter a thick coat, all with the same base pieces of clothing. Keep your accessories in an easy to access location, on display so you don’t forget about them and fall into the trap of wearing the same two pairs of shoes for a long time.
In the future…
Now we have a compacter version of your previous wardrobe with lots of new outfits to wear, it’s important to invest in key or statement pieces that slot into the wardrobe- remember the ‘can I wear it with 3 things?’ rule. This way, you’ll always have many, many outfits to choose from, and get your monies worth from pieces you spend your hard-earned cash on.
Try, if you can, to not observe micro-trends which only last for one season or even a few months. We’ve seen many in the past, and it can mean spending your money on something you might not wear after a couple of months. Of course, there are trends that stand the test of time and last for years, such as skinny jeans, but by buying these instead of micro-trends, your pieces are more likely to last longer in your wardrobe and you’re more likely to wear them again and again.
You should also take care of what clothing you own- it’s not indestructible and sometimes each piece needs some care and love. Invest in a stain remover to have handy after an unfortunate incident with some chilli con carne, instead of throwing it in a corner in your bedroom and never wearing it again. Buy some vacuum bags to keep your alternate season’s wardrobe in (they’re cheap, save you a lot of space, are extremely satisfying to use and protect your clothes from dust and moths) and buy mothballs if you need them to stop sometimes irreparable holes from appearing. It’s also great to get friendly with either a needle and thread or your local tailor, to fix a missing button or a small tear in the seam of clothing to make them last longer. All of this means the clothes you already own will have a long lifespan and you’ll get more out of them.
Not only is re-organising and de-cluttering your wardrobe an effective use of your time (especially if you’ve found yourself with a lot spare in recent weeks) it’s also an incredibly soothing and calming activity to do; by cleaning out the old and re-organising your clothes it can put a big part of your life, and you in order. Your clothes are how you express yourself to the world and by discovering new combinations of your favourite bits and doing away with things that don’t make you smile, it can be incredibly refreshing.
You can read more from Ciara Loane at www.ciaraisaloane.com