You may have seen that decluttering has had much attention in the media in the past month thanks to Marie Kondo and her TV show on Netflix.
January was a busy month for organising with lots of people looking to restore calm after the festive period and many starting their decluttering journey. My key organising themes this month have been clothing and paperwork. Following lots of wardrobe declutters in January I wanted to give my top tips on organising your clothing.
Where to start?
This will be different for each client. Often a sign that you need to start to declutter and organise your clothes is when the clothing starts to accumulate in piles in your bedroom or elsewhere as there is no space to put things away in the storage that you have.
At this point you may be feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start. This is completely normal. Marie Kondo recommends that you collect all items of clothing from everywhere in your home and pile it on your bed. You can then work through this pile deciding which items bring you joy and those you no longer wish to keep. This process does work but if you have a lot of clothes it can take a long time and it can feel overwhelming to do it all in one go.
I find it works more effectively with my clients to sort through clothing in specific spaces (i.e. by area or room) or by category (i.e. trousers, skirts, shoes etc). We can then work through categories of clothing in each session, without creating a huge pile of items that cannot be reviewed in one session. Once all areas and categories have been streamlined, we can then organise the storage effectively.
Why do we hold onto clothing that we never wear?
There are several reasons, but the most common are:
- Emotional: An item of clothing may remind you of a special event, an amazing holiday or specific time in your life and you hold onto it as a sentimental souvenir. Or the item was a gift from someone special in your life and you feel guilty about getting rid of it.
- Financial: You may have paid a lot of money for an item of clothing which you have never worn or worn once for a special occasion. You feel guilty about letting it go because it was expensive.
- Future need: we retain items of clothing that do not fit us. They may be too small, because we aspire to fit into them in the future. Or we may hold onto clothes that we do not use, because we anticipate we may need them one day. An item of clothing may have been suitable at one point in your life but is now no longer relevant. Our wardrobes should only have clothing in them that fits us now, that we enjoy wearing and suit our current lifestyle.
Benefits of Decluttering and Organising Your Wardrobe
- Makes life easy: If you only have what you need in your wardrobe and everything is stored effectively you will save time. It will be much easier to find what you need and plan what to wear.
- Wear your full wardrobe: when our wardrobes are very crowded, we tend to reach out for the same few items to wear. A well organised wardrobe will make it easier for you to wear all your clothes.
- Easy laundry management: having a well-managed wardrobe will also have a positive effect on your laundry management.
- Purchasing behaviour: Another benefit of a well organised wardrobe is that it will change your future purchasing behaviour. You’ll avoid buying duplicate items and you’ll know the gaps in your wardrobe.
If you are working independently, I recommend that you schedule in short blocks of time in your diary (25 minutes) to audit and sort your clothing. When I work with a client, we usually work in blocks of four hours which enables us to complete a bigger area. During this time, I offer guidance and support every step of the way. I also make suggestions on what to do with the items you no longer need and most importantly not leave you in chaos at the end.
Step 1: Where do I start?
Decide on your end goal. This will be useful to help keep you motivated throughout the process.
When I work with a client, I find the following order to audit your clothing works well.
- Wardrobes: all hanging items
- Drawers: socks/tights, underwear, nightwear, sports clothing, knitwear, t-shirts
- Shoes: gather all your shoes together (under the bed, in the wardrobe and elsewhere)
- Accessories: hats, scarves, belts, jewellery and bags
Step 2: Collate like items together
Remove all items from each area and group like items together. It’s important to complete each area before moving onto the next space, to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Step 3: Keep, Donate or Sell
You need to be ready to separate the clothes that you want to keep from the items that you no longer need. I would recommend creating three piles – keep, donate and sell. If you have good quality branded items, you may consider selling these. There are so many ways to donate clothing that we no longer need. I am committed to sustainable decluttering. It reduces environmental impact as you keep stuff in circulation, rather than storing and not using it.
Step 4: Deciding What to Keep
I would highly recommend that you try clothes on to help you decide if any item is still relevant to your current lifestyle.
Our wardrobes need to reflect how we currently spend our time and our lifestyles today. You may have attended a lot of formal functions previously but find that you no longer need such a large collection of formal wear. Or you may have a large collection of suits that you no longer wear as office style has become more relaxed.
When sorting you may want to get rid of the following items
- Items that don’t fit
- Things that you haven’t worn in a year
- Good quality branded items that you’ve never worn but still have labels (sell)
- Outdated items (except special vintage pieces)
- Items that are uncomfortable to wear or difficult to maintain
- Duplicate items – once you have grouped like items together its easy to see where the duplications are in your wardrobe. Decide on how many of the same item you need to keep.
Step 5: Reorganise Your Wardrobe
Once you’ve finished auditing the items from your wardrobe you can start to think about how to rearrange and store your clothes. This will depend on the hanging space and drawer space that you have. Before you put items away, do the following
- Clean inside your storage
- Keep out any items that need to be repaired, washed or dry cleaned
- Hanger Audit – do you need to purchase new hangers?
You’re now ready to put everything back. I would recommend that you group like items together. Set yourself a challenge of wearing at least 80% of your wardrobe regularly.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your clothes Blissfully Organised can support you to audit, sort and reorganise.
Lets keep organising!
Tracy Ross, Professional Organiser