The Ultimate Wardrobe Declutter and Organisation Guide
Love From: The Ebony Style Squad
Let's be honest, a good wardrobe can be tough to master! No matter how many pieces you own, it's easy to feel like you never have anything to wear. That's why it's so important to dedicate some time (a perfect activity for now - while you have plenty of it!) to going through the clothes have hanging up or stuffed in the back of drawers, or in storage, and see what you actually use.
You might be lucky enough to rediscover items you totally forgot about, which is always exciting. Alternatively, time can also make you wonder why you ever kept some items at all!
After sorting through what you own, and throwing out/donating/selling what you don't want to keep, the most rewarding part can be looking at your newly refreshed wardrobe, with less clutter, more cohesion, and more room for the clothes you love and keep.
Let's Get Started!
Most women have a signature look, essentially what they look good in and like to wear. But they’re hanging onto extra clothes for their “fantasy self”. So the best way of building a carefully-edited capsule collection of your signature pieces, is to remove some of those items. If you are not confident in what your signature style is try and find a style icon to inspire you, but be realistic in adapting their style to your own look and body shape.
Your capsule wardrobe should ideally be pieces of clothing, accessories and footwear that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of outfits. Always remembering that for outfits which happen to mean more black, or navy than anything else, that you will need to accessorise with colour. That could be done with accessories or makeup, with a bold scarf, lip colour, or nail polish.
Tips and Tricks
Cleaning out your closet alone can be tough as your brain sneakily tries to convince you to just keep everything. So why not have a Style squad member help you get out of your head? They can also help see potential outfit combo’s you may not have seen yourself, to make old items feel like something brand new! Or show you a new twist or tuck that really finishes off a look.
Utilise the closet door or a blank wall space by installing hooks and hanging your most-worn jewellery and scarves and hats at eye-level. Consider adding inexpensive shelving if your closet doesn't already have it, or use hanging drawers and shoe organisers to make the most of your space.
Separate the Seasons
Divide your things into summer and winter clothing, and keep the other season packed up out of the way. The more space you have the cleaner it looks, and the easier it is to see what you have that is right for the season.
Store everything in the right way and place
Keep knitwear folded, clean, dry and flat in an airtight bag or container (but not too compressed). Refer to our Ebony Merino guide for other storage tips!
I like using matching hangers and baskets, because then you're not distracted by them, and you also want good hangers that items will not easily fall off or get damaged by.
Use boxes, baskets, or drawer inserts to keep shelves and drawers organised. This is especially great for smaller items. Be realistic with the space you have to work with, a walk in wardrobe will allow you more flexibility, where with a smaller closet you will need to be a little more innovative with your space.
If items are bulky, or have significant sentimental value, consider putting those items in storage, or utilising storage space under your bed or in other areas of the house.
Don't forget your shoes
If you have a lot of shoes in boxes, tape pictures of the shoes to the outside of the box, so you know what’s inside without having to open each one up. Boxes are ideal because they prevent dust, allow for stacking, and cardboard works well because then they can breathe. Or look at the option of a shoe rack for the floor or wall.
Folding Techniques for Drawers
One of my favourite techniques is the Konmari method, perfected by Marie Kondo herself!
Start by creating four piles labelled with: 'SELL/DONATE', 'MAYBE', 'CUSTOMISE' and 'TOSS'. Clothes are then sorted into these piles according to these rules.
TOSS: Throw anything that is ripped or stained, dirty or worn to give away into a rubbish bag.
SELL/DONATE: Put items that you don't want to keep that are still in a good enough condition to sell or donate in a box.
MAYBE: If an item fits and is in a good condition but you simply can’t decide if you like it or not, put it here. Then, put the box away somewhere hidden and if you ever miss any of the items you can retrieve them, if not you can feel happier getting rid of them for good.
CUSTOMISE: If you have clothes that you really like, that are too big, items with buttons missing or that maybe need minor alterations, pop them in this box. But be brutally honest with yourself about whether you will ever get around to doing this and if the cost involved is worthwhile.
Then everything else should go back into your wardrobe, organised by 'category' i.e. dresses, tops, jumpers, skirts, and then by colour and or length. Consider carefully too if you need to change the ratios of long/short hanging areas, and flat storage to maximise your space.
If you want to end up with a truly tidy and cohesive closet afterwards, take everything you are keeping out, and really examine each item. Try anything on that you need to, and sort into the boxes/piles as you go.
- Does it fit?
- Have I worn it in the last year? Because if you haven't, chances are you'll probably never wear it again. Excluding occasion wear of course.
- Does it have a history or special meaning? Find a place outside of your wardrobe to store it, where it won’t get dusty or damaged.
- Does it project the image or style I want to project?
- Is this a representation of my ‘fantasy self’? Or will I actually wear it?
- How did I feel the last time I wore this?
- Does it go with other things in my wardrobe?
- Is it in good condition? If not, can it easily be fixed or will you actually take it to get fixed? Is it stained, mouldy or smelly?
- Is upkeep for this piece a pain? (I.e. do I have to iron this every time I wear it, does it easily show wear and tear, and is it dry clean only? Is all of the hassle worth it?)
- Is it annoying or uncomfortable to wear? Does it pinch, rub, itch or scratch?
Number 4 – “Does it project the image or style I want to project?” is the real “eye opener” or “light bulb" question for many people. Even if you love it, do you feel comfortable wearing it in front of other people? Be brutal with your criticism. If necessary, enlist a friend or one of the Ebony Style Squad to help you figure out if something is wrong for you. Closet space is limited, so don't waste your prime real estate on something you're not wild about.
In a lot of cases you will quickly realise that you have lots of versions of the same thing; Jumpers, light blue jeans, and leggings. Which can be perfectly fine, but it depends on how often you use each type of item. However you also may find you only have one 'going out' top and zero pairs of dark blue jeans. Make sure your wardrobe is not missing some of the more 'classic' staples. We suggest you refer to our body shape guide for basic capsule items perfectly suited to each body type.
Having someone else look through your wardrobe can be a great idea as it really brings a fresh perspective on your shopping habits too. I find myself being much more honest about items when confronted by the thought of showing something to someone else.
Write a list of all the 'staples' your wardrobe seems to be missing, so when you do get a shopping urge, it'll be really adding to the overall value of your wardrobe. Remember these really are the backbone of a great wardrobe! You’ll get great cost per wear out of them, so choose pieces that are of good quality, versatile, easily combinable, so they’ll last you longer.
Buy into seasonal trends with easy to combine and less pricey pieces. Love a new trend? Don't splash out lots of money on an item you'll wear for one season and then throw away. Instead, look for cheaper alternatives.
Consider how it adds to your wardrobe before you buy, think of ways to combine the new piece with existing things in your wardrobe, or how new pieces work together.
Enjoy your new colour-coded, decluttered heaven of a wardrobe!!
Hopefully you will notice that you’re wearing clothes you haven't worn in ages. Keeping a tidy wardrobe and drawers will help you see what you have, what you need, and make getting dressed a lot easier.