I’m going to a clothing swap next weekend, and the seasons are changing, which means it’s time to do a bit of a rifle through the wardrobe (okay, wardrobes) and clear out anything that is ready for a new home. The internet is full of advice about how to go about clearing out old clothes, and most of it is total nonsense. This is the Official Mode & Methodology Guide to Wardrobe Maintenance.
If you love yourself, do not take everything out at once
I am over here with an unusually large wardrobe, but even so. There’s no need to put yourself through this agony. Why on earth do you need to take out pants and tops at the same time? You are going to get so tired and have such a huge mess to clear up – you will never want to tidy up your wardrobe ever again.
If you really want to do a big clear out, take out one category at a time, work your way through that, and then put it away before you move onto the next. Or, you could…
Do a quick skim
Mate, something is better than nothing. You already know which things in your wardrobe are for the high jump, let’s be honest. You know which pants are too tight to eat pasta in (immediate disqualification) or which top you may have accidentally but permanently stained last time you wore it. Go to your wardrobe immediately and grab all of those things. Success! You just got back five coat hangers to use for things that you actually like.
Keep those uncomfortable high heels you never wear
If you have a pair of beautiful but stupid shoes in your wardrobe, congratulations, you are still optimistic despite adult life being nothing like as awesome as we all thought it would be. Most guides would tell you to throw away any shoes that hurt you, I say you need to change your life, not your shoes. It’s fine to have a pair of shoes you can’t walk in – nobody expects you to do a marathon in them! Instead of giving these up, plan a night out involving minimal walking and maximum glam and enjoy these shoes for what they are.
Throw away/burn all your crappy “doing jobs around the house” clothes
When people say to me “make sure you wear something old”, they do not understand that for me that means “wear something precious from decades past”. I don’t own crap clothes for doing labour, but then again, I live in a city apartment. I get it, from time to time you need to paint a fence and in order to do this, apparently you need to wear something that makes you look like you have forgotten how to exist in human society. You may have ONE old tshirt and ONE old pair of pants. Everything else must go. Nobody needs more than one oversized tshirt with holes in it and paint stains down the front – if you have that much DIY to do, you should buy a proper painters suit thing to wear over normal clothes.
Do not throw away that dress you haven’t worn in 3/6/12 months
I hate this stupid “rule” so much. Do not throw something away just because you haven’t worn it for an arbitrary period of time. There are many reasons why you might not have worn something, and I believe you have the higher reasoning required to make proper decisions. Maybe you just forgot about that dress, or perhaps it didn’t fit you while you recovered from a pregnancy or some kind of medical situation. Maybe you never had the right shoes to go with it and now you do. So many reasons!
Instead of nailing things in the bin indiscriminately…
Hide all your favourite things
You’d be amazed at your ability to wear new, exciting outfits if you hide the things you fall back on every week. We’ve all heard that women wear 20% of their wardrobe regularly, and while that’s supposed to make you feel bad for buying and hoarding crap you don’t wear, it should make you feel excited to hide such a small proportion of your wardrobe and get some new combos going using the other 80%. Yes, you will miss your plain black pants. You can have them back in a month.
There is one exception to this, and it’s weather based. If it’s winter, and you own one decent coat, you should not hide that from yourself for a month. Similarly, it’s summer and you own one reasonable swimsuit. Be sensible.
Keep some stuff that is just plain stupid
We seem to have this belief in our culture that everything in your wardrobe has to be “wearable” and match everything else. You know those pictures of perfectly greige wardrobes where pale pink is the only colour? Why do we think that’s aspirational?
To this I say – nope. Even if you want a minimalist wardrobe with only neutral colours, I want you to keep at least one thing that is entirely frivolous. Almost everyone has bought something on impulse that they want to believe they will wear (gold sequin pants *points at self*). Keep those things. Put them on when you are feeling annoyed about things and wear them to eat popcorn on the couch. You are a Fancy Person and you should have at least one Fancy Person thing to wear.
Destroy anything that makes you feel less than good
There have been clothes in my life that have been objectively fine. They look fine on me (maybe even good!) and they fit, they’re not uncomfortable, but I’ve thrown them into the clothing swap bag regardless. These are the clothes that you cried in, fought in, broke up in, or which just don’t jive with who you want to be. If wearing that dress makes you feel anything less than good, I really don’t want you to wear it. Your human brain is highly suggestible, and wearing something ick all day is just not a good idea. Give it to someone else to make happier memories in.
And finally, now is the time to play dress ups
Lots of articles tell you to make a Maybe pile. No, my friend, you are making a Dress Ups pile. What you want to do is imagine you are being forced to wear each of those items, and find the best possible outfit you can using what you already have. Objectively assess your outcomes and if it still looks like shiz, all good, you can donate with a happy heart. Do not put Dress Ups back into the wardrobe without doing this and, better still, write down each of these outfits so you have them at your fingertips.
Most of all - don't take it too seriously. It's okay to have more clothes than you wear, and to keep things purely for sentimental reasons. You are a human being, with a human heart and mind and you are allowed to like things that are superficial or to have Feelings about inanimate objects. Equally, you might hate all clothes and all fashion, in which case it does seem odd that you are reading this blog, but you do you. You don't have to engage with your clothes in any kind of way you don't want to. If you want to treat them as modesty skin coverings, that's all good too. I guess what I'm saying is - your life doesn't have to be a Pinterest image. Floordrobe it up, if that suits you.
Just do your best to make your wardrobe work for you (and if you do need help, just get a ruthless friend over and ply her with excessive candy. You'll be making hyper decisions like nobody's business within an hour).