Helping clear out clients closets is one of my hands down favourite things to do. The satisfaction at the end of having a beautiful rail of nicely hung clothes that are all loved by their owner brings me great joy.
But it takes time.
Typically I spend at least two or three hours with a client sorting their wardrobe, and that's after they've had an initial purge. And depending on the volume of clothes we are dealing with, it can take far longer. So, if you're short on time, what can you do to sort, organise and de-clutter your wardrobe without dedicating an entire weekend to the task? Here's my 5 top tips:
1. Move what you're not wearing out of sight.
So many times I have been to a clients home, to find they are fighting their way through summer dresses in the middle of November, or pushing past winter jumpers in July. Take all the things that are not of this current season and move them out of your main wardrobe. You might have another wardrobe or drawer in the house you could move them to, or you might decide to put them at one end of the wardrobe, or if like me you have a small wardrobe, you might fold them all up, put them in an air suction storage bag and keep them under the bed. This frees up space in the closet, space in your head, and at the start of the next season when you get these clothes out again, it feels like a whole new wardrobe, so it's a really good way to stop getting bored of your clothes. Similarly, things you don't wear often (like evening wear or ski wear for example) need to come out of your wardrobe and go somewhere where you won't forget it, but it's not in the way of choosing what to wear today.
2. Flick through for the quick wins.
You already know what has seen better days, what doesn't fit well and what items you've simply fallen out of love with. Flicking through the rails to take out these 'easy' to get rid of items is a good way to get the process started. It's the things you have no real emotional attachment to, the ones you can say "yep, I should have got rid of this ages ago", or "this is older than Noah, this can go", and it will help you get started without having to deliberate too much on whether to keep it or not.
3. Put any repairs to one side.
Have another run through and commit to dealing with anything that has a hole in it, or a button missing. Perhaps there's a funny mark on that top that just needs sorting, or a broken hem on those trousers. Put them in a pile or to one side, so that you can deal with them and joyfully hang them back in the wardrobe when they're done.
4. Hang items by type and in colour order.
You should now have enough space on the rail to hang your clothes one item per hanger. This way you won't forget about anything and can see all the options you have available when you get dressed each morning. Put all your trousers together, all your skirts, all your tops etc. This will help you see what you have, where the gaps might be, and it will also help you to be more creative getting dressed in the mornings. Many clients tell me "this top goes with this skirt, so I hang them together" and by separating the habit outfits, it might open up the idea that this top might also go with those trousers, or under that jumper. Hang in colour order from darkest to lightest in each of your categories. Not only is it visually very pleasing, but it's much easier to mix and match your colours and dress from a fun and creative start point.
5. Set up a marker so you can see what you're wearing.
Get one of your other half's old ties (or an old belt or shoelace, anything really) and tie it on your rail at the end (either the left or the right side, you choose). Now, every time you wear something, put it back on the OTHER side of your tie marker. Over time, you'll then be able to see everything you've been wearing and everything you haven't because they are sitting either side of your marker. Throughout the season then, you'll be able to regularly and quickly purge the "haven't worn it yet" side of the marker to see if there is anything in there that can be passed on. In my Club V members club, we use this system to challenge ourselves to create new outfits from things on the "haven't worn" side of the marker. It's a great way to keep track of your favourite items and to try experimenting with those that are not so often worn.
Whatever you decide to get rid of from your wardrobe, there are a number of things you can do with what you no longer want on your rail. Almost all textiles can be recycled, so there are lots of things you can do to extend the life of your unwanted clothing:
1. Pass it on to a friend or family member or even invite the girls round and have a clothes swapping party - great fun!
2. Sell it, on eBay or other secondhand websites or via a local dress agency.
3. Refashion it into something else, or if you want to change the colour you can try dyeing it. Look at www.loveyourclothes.org.uk or www.pinterest.co.uk for some great up cycling ideas.
4. Bag it up and donate it to your local charity shop. Check with the shop because many will take all clothes, even things that are unwearable, broken, ripped or stained because the charity will still get money back for recycling these items.
5. Pop it in a textile recycling bank
6. Bag it up and put it out with your kerbside recycling (check your scheme locally as areas vary). My local council will collect bags of textiles as long as it's in a waterproof bag and is clearly labelled as textile.