Three Top Tips To Effectively Declutter Your Wardrobe

Three Top Tips To Effectively Declutter Your Wardrobe

Barring a few exceptions, when it comes to decluttering, ‘clothes’ always occupies one of the top two types of possessions that people want to declutter. There’s always an excited squeal or happy dance when it comes to the Clothes Unit in my 1-2-1 programme and it is by far the most common reason people call me to help.

Here are a few top tips to help you declutter your wardrobe effectively for a big impact and help you uncover the habits that cause the overload in the first place.

1 Stay in the present

As we’re sorting through clothes, it is so easy to get caught up in reminiscing about how cute your youngest used to look in toddler dungarees when they’re a teenager. Or how we used to love wearing this top when we went clubbing. I don’t know about you but at the ripe old age of 44, my idea of a good night out is going to a lovely restaurant. or catching up with a good friend and chatting into the small hours over a bottle or two of wine.

I loved that part of my life but it’s not part of my present life, so unless there’s some really powerful reason why you’re going to return to a past way of life (like, say, emerging out of lockdown and your favourite activity is now opening up again – then fair enough!) why are you holding onto it?

Equally, projecting ‘what if’ into the future – I’ll give you an example from my life: I held onto a business suit for years (the really formal sort you’d wear to an interview or court). I haven’t needed to dress up that smartly for any reason in over 20 years so there’s no point in it gathering dust and taking up space in my wardrobe – I teach yoga, organise yoga events and help people declutter – I just don’t need a smart suit.

Trying to future-proof is nigh on impossible.

Can you predict what eventualities you might experience? How do you know what your body shape is going to be like even if you do lose those two stone you’re hoping for? Focus on managing your wardrobe for the here and now.

2 Ask yourself key questions

Whenever I declutter with people there is always a burst of energetic enthusiasm and the ‘out’ pile grows quickly. And in order to make the most out of this activity, I always advise people to have a holding pile for anything they are finding difficult to decide on. I’ve found it to be the most effective way of decluttering

That way, you get through the biggest volume in the shortest space of time and can then return to the ‘don’t know’ pile for a bit of consideration. But in order to declutter effectively, and have the wardrobe that you want, this second tip helps you deal with those difficult to decide items of clothing.

Just pick up each item one at a time and ask yourself as many strategic question as you need to until it becomes abundantly clear which pile they belong in. Here are some of my favourites:

If I get rid of this and then need it at some point in the future, what would I do?
So, for example if you got rid of a cocktail dress and then got asked to a fancy drinks do with work.

Well, if you have numerous cocktail dresses, is there one that you’d naturally choose first any way? In which case you don’t need it.

If it’s your only one and it’s now gone, would you enjoy buying a new one to mark the occasion? Could you borrow one from a friend, or rent one? Can you think of a back up plan? In which case you don’t need it.

Imagine yourself in the scenario and walk through what you would do. If it turns out that you’d rue the day you sent that dress to the charity shop or sold it, then for goodness sake, hold onto it. But if you can think of one or more ways that you’d be happy with, then free up the space and get rid.

Would I rather have the item or the space?

I spend my life trying to create space to enjoy the possessions I do have so I’m ruthless about what stays and what goes but I haven’t always found it easy. However, it does get easier each time you do it.

Now, If I don’t love, need or value it in some way, then that jacket that doesn’t fit, is the wrong colour and doesn’t go with anything else in my wardrobe is outta here! Nothing feels better than a great big bag of clothes going to the charity shop, selling a few and passing some onto friends. Except, perhaps, opening up your wardrobe to see only clothes that you love and use all the time – with space around them.

Why am I reluctant to let this go?

When I’m working with people, helping them to declutter their homes and possessions effectively so they can live a simpler life, we talk a lot and we get to know each other.

I hear people talk about how they miss their ‘old’ life no matter how happy they are in the current one. They can’t bear to move on from those memories, despite having no intention of living that lifestyle again. So keep one item to mark that stage in your life, or go ahead and experience it all again and see how it makes you feel. Take photos and use those to remind you. Keep one to pass onto your children when they reach that stage and they’ll love having something vintage that you used to wear!

People feel the weight of guilt even considering parting with something someone gave them – they know they don’t want it but feel frozen when it comes to putting it in the ‘out’ pile.

Let me tell you, if I ever give you a present that you didn’t like and you are thinking about stashing at the back of your wardrobe, then you have my permission to get rid of it – pass it onto someone who will love it, sell it and buy something you do like or give it to charity. I’m with Marie Kondo on this one – the gesture of love is in the act of giving the present.

Once it’s in your hands, you do what makes you happy.

Would that person be happy knowing that you’re holding onto it out of guilt? I doubt it. And how does it make you feel every time you see it – does it annoy you because it’s always in the way or falls off the hanger when you try to get to something else? Do you feel a pang inside because you wish they knew you a little better to get you something you really did like? None of that is useful – free yourself from it.

And tons of people are thwarted by how much money it cost and how wasteful it is to just throw it out.

If you’ve spent, say £100 on a dress that you don’t wear, whether you keep it or get rid of it, it still cost you £100 and you still don’t wear it.

The waste of money happened when you handed over your card and bought it, not in the subsequent three years that it’s been hanging in your wardrobe. So, learn from it, don’t make the same mistake again – step away from the sale rail if the colour/cut/length isn’t absolutely right. Only buy clothes for the life you have, not the life you had or even someone else’s life. If youv’e got clothes in your wardrobe that still have tags on, ask yourself if you’re ever going to wear them.

Sell it and put the money towards something more considered that you love.

3 Consider how life could be improved if you let it go

This one is so important – I can say that honestly, with hand on heart, the less possessions I have, the happier I am.

In the years and years of decluttering my own possessions (getting on for 35, eek!), I have only ever regretted getting rid of one item. Want to know what it was? A charging cable for my glue gun. I’d had a clear out and couldn’t identify it (because it hadn’t gone back where it belonged!) and recycled it along with 3-4 other random cables.

I decided that if it turned out to be important I’d get another one. Low and behold, a year or so later I needed it. And that mistake cost me the princely sum of a few pounds to replace.

Think about the space around you and how that could change for the better.

Maybe it would allow you to see the clothes that you actually wear and enjoy them without having to hold back an overflowing rail to reach what you want. Could you can sell enough to treat yourself to something much-needed or a well-deserved treat? Maybe, you’ll feel lighter and free of burden.

So there you have it, I’d love to know if you found it useful or helped you let go of more next time you declutter.

I help mums who are sick of the sheer amount of physical stuff in their lives and the impact it’s having on their mental well-being. Women who want to create a resilient calm space inside them. Mothers who want to explore things they enjoy without feeling guilty that something else isn’t getting done.

That’s what my 1-2-1 programme is all about – creating a physical environment that supports your wellbeing, and approaching your time with the objective of opportunity to bring life to your life as opposed to scarcity that leads to neglect.

The Simple Life is for women who are ready to make changes to live an easier, more intentional life. We use the philosophies of yoga to make meaningful changes that last – find harmonious flow in your home, time in your day and balance inside of you.

Come join us in my free Facebook group for hints, tips and advice on how to live a simpler, more intentional life.