As someone who spends 80 per cent of my waking hours stalking around the house, picking up Lego bricks, errant cornflakes and hairbands, while screeching, “TIDY UP YOUR MESS!” at my children, I admit it seems odd to advocate yet MORE clearing-up. But, last Sunday, I passed several hours tidying up my own mess – aka my wardrobe – and it felt wonderful – cathartic and calming. And I think you should do yours, too (but let’s call it a wardrobe edit, as that sounds more cool and fashion-y). Here’s how.
STEP 1: Shove the summer stuff under the bed
First, I weeded out all the high-summer stuff – flip-flops, bikinis – boxed it up and put it away, and unpacked all the winter big guns – the parka, the hats, the chunky jumpers. Marks & Spencer has some lovely shallow baskets, but if under the bed isn’t an option, then Habitat’s storage trunks fit lots and look lovely.
With summer stuff out of sight, I don’t have to rummage through a million pairs of shorts while hunting for gloves on the first frosty morning of autumn. For this reason, it makes sense to do an edit twice yearly – now and in April – as the seasons change.
STEP 2: Chuck everything on the floor, then re-hang it
Next, I got everything – and I mean everything – out of the wardrobe and dumped it on my bed. This is important – actually pull it all out, rather than flicking through the hangers. There are several reasons for this: 1) If you don’t empty it out entirely, you’ll miss things that have fallen off hangers; 2) the Everest-sized pile makes you realise that, yes, you do actually have something to wear; 3) this is my favourite bit – you are going to rehang it all in a different order.
We tend to hang clothes (roughly) according to piece. For example, my wardrobe typically runs, from the left: tops, shirts, jumpers, jackets, skirts/culottes, dresses/jumpsuits (and, if I’m feeling especially neat-freaky, sorted by colour within each of those sections). On an average morning, I gravitate towards the left of my wardrobe when I open the doors, which means I’m far more likely to grab a top, then a pair of jeans (from the shelf underneath). But by mixing up that running order – my dresses, jumpsuits, skirts and culottes are now far more grabbable on the left-hand side – I’ve worn more of those pieces in the last week than I have in the last six months. It’s a teeny change, but it’s kicked me out of the rut of wearing the same boring outfit over and over.
STEP 3: Try things on
Marie Kondo would be furious, but I didn’t actually throw much out – only the obviously stained/stretched/tatty things. Once you’re in the habit of doing an edit twice a year, you don’t need to chuck out bin bags of stuff. But what I did do was try on everything and experiment with new combinations of pieces. This is key – how often do you buy something new and bung it in your closet without working out what it will go with? And then wonder why you barely wear it? This week, I’ve premiered my cobalt pleated midi skirt – despite buying it a year ago. Only now do I see that it works with a cream top and trench coat. And I had a realisation about my olive green leather dress that I adore, but only wear for parties. Turns out I can wear it for daytime too with a sloppy black jumper and black ankle boots. The upshot is that you feel like you’re shopping, but in your own wardrobe and without spending any money.
STEP 4: Write a list
That said, a good edit does illuminate any gaps – which enabled me to write a laser-focused shopping list. I’m not talking be-still-my-beating-heart whimsical buys – I mean the outfit-completing bits which, once acquired, will help daily life proceed slightly more smoothly. For me, that’s a pair of classic black stiletto heels (my 10-year-old Cos ones have finally died), plain crew-neck T-shirts (Whistles do these well), a huge pack of sports socks (supplies currently so low I have to frantically scan the laundry basket before my morning run) and a new black biker jacket (after my husband stretched my old one while dressing up as Freddie Mercury for a party. I wish I was joking).
STEP 5: Get excited over hangers
But never mind the clothes, what I’m most excited about are my new – *nerd voice* – storage solutions. I bought these drawer organisers for my underwear – I’ll spare you the photo of my pants, but they’ve bought a new level of Zen to my smalls. I also invested in these space-saving hangers, which are quite frankly revolutionary. The slim design mean you can cram a lot more in, without it creasing, and they’re made of nice velvety material – so that slinky or wide-necked tops don’t slip off. And, next time I tread on another painful piece of Lego (I give it five minutes), I could always stroke them until I calm down.