You may have been putting wardrobe clean out time off for weeks, months or years. Many of us keep clothes and accessories that we no longer wear for a whole variety of reasons.
Now, armed with knowledge about your best colors and styles it's the perfect time to do a wardrobe clearout. Clear out the old, unflattering, worn-out or never worn items to make way for a more functional wardrobe.
There are several approaches to wardrobe cleaning. The one you favor will depend upon the amount of time you have put aside, how strong your motivation, how many closets you have to clear out and how much you agonize over each item.
If you don't know your best colors and styles yet first take a look at how to determine your best color and then look at how to determine your body shape and face shape to work out your best colors and styles and then return here.
I suggest the following approach because it allows you to stop the process at any time and resume at another time, with the least amount of wasted effort. This way if you need to stop the process for some reason you should at least have identified some garments to cull. So you can use this approach for a one session clearout or for a multi-phase one.
In the first pass you will quickly go through each item in your wardrobe placing it into one of 6 categories (more on what these are below)...
In the second pass you re-visit the maybes and do a more detailed assessment of each item.
2 hours for an "average" sized wardrobe. Although this will depend upon how side-tracked you get with memories and trying on.
Ideally every fashion season, that is twice a year. At the beginning of the Spring/Summer season and the beginning of the Fall/Winter season. At least every two years.
It's good to feel prepared for the new season and to understand how you will achieve or incorporate any of the new season's looks you wish to adopt.
The more frequently you do a clearout the faster and easier it will become.
In the first pass remove items one at a time from your closet and quickly assess each one. Don't spend too long doing this. Don't try anything on in this pass, for instance. Just do a quick pass through your wardrobe clothes and accessories and place in one of the 6 piles as described below.Anything that isn't a wardrobe item should be removed and put in a pile to be re-located to a more appropriate storage location at the end of the session.
Items to assess
Remember to review all your wardrobe clothes and accessories in all the closets and storage locations you may have. This includes...
If you do have more than one closet start with the one you currently wear the most clothes from.
Assess each item by asking yourself these questions...
Is it flattering on my body shape? -- Is it's silhouette flattering for my vertical and horizontal body types? Are there any internal design lines or patterns that make it less flattering for you? For example, trousers and skirts with a border print have an "eyes-down" effect. This is not ideal for short people or if you want to look taller and slimmer.
How well does it fit? -- Is it too tight or too baggy? Is it worth altering?
Is it in good condition? -- Is this a much loved and worn item that has seen better days? If it has started to look faded or baggy it belongs in the throwaways pile. However, it may also be a candidate for copying. If it is, don't put it back in your closet. Put it in an action pile. However, if you don't copy it within a month you're probably unlikely to do so, so throw it out.
Is it in my color? -- This is particularly important for garments in the "vital V" -- the V-shaped area formed between your shoulders and the center of your chest. For items outside this area you will have more mix-and-match choices if they are in your color range. However, if the garment is flattering for your body shape and in good condition then it's a keeper.
What should you do if a garment is not in your color or style, but it is in good condition and you can't currently afford to replace it?
If it's the color that's wrong you may be able to minimise the wrong color in the "vital V" area. For example, wear a scarf in your color over a coat, jacket or blouse.
However, it's best not to compromise on an unflattering style. If it can't be altered to be more flattering. Can you swap it with a friend for a similar, more flattering item? Can you sell it to fund the re-purchase of the same type of item in a better style for you?
Categorize each item as one these 6 categories...
Place these in one of the bags with the To be Mended or Altered label.
Don't put these items back into your closet
until they have been altered or repaired. Otherwise it may never happen
and you may as well sell them or give them away since they will be
Place these items in the maybes pile. Since this is likely to be one of the larger piles and you will be re-visiting it, there's no need to put into a bag, unless it helps you keep the pile separate from the others.
If there's something that should be in the throw out pile that you absolutely can't bear to part with put it in the maybes pile in this first pass.
Place these items in a bag by the sell label.
Remember to do this 1st pass assessment on your underwear, shoes, bags, jewellery, belts etc as well as your clothes.
Now clean your closet!
When you've finished the 1st pass assessment of each item and your closet is entirely empty dust, polish and vacuum the space all ready to accept your neatly organized keepers.
In the second pass re-visit the...
Hide clothes you cannot bear to let go of, but
should not wear. Put them in a bag with a sticker on with a date 6
months in the future. Put the date in your diary. On the date take them
to a charity store or throw the bag away without opening it.
If it's still a keeper and it's suitable for the current season put it back into your now clean closet.
Organize your clothes by garment type. That is, put all coats together, all jackets together, all pants together and so on. Within each garment type group by color. This will come in useful in the next step of auditing your wardrobe and planning your mix-and-match items.
Put off-season clothes in another closet or
other storage, such as a garment box or old suitcase. This gives you a
clearer view of what you have to wear this season and gives more space
for remaining clothes, allowing them to breathe and get less crushed.
Some garments are more definitely only one season, such as heavy coats
and light summer dresses. Leave trans-seasonal clothing readily
accessible in your current closet.
Keepers, need mending or altering -- try on and mark what needs altering or mending with safety pins. Make sure you mend them or take them for alterations this week otherwise it may never happen!
Sell and/or giveaway -- make sure these bags don't make it back into your closet. Put up for sale or give-away these garments in the next week!
Throwaways -- Put the throwaway bag or bags in the trash now!
Phew! Well done!
You're now ready for the next step... after wardrobe cleanout time comes auditing and planning in preparation for shopping.
If you're like many of my clients, you're not good at shopping! Some signs of a poor shopper include...
These types of problems occur when you don't have a wardrobe or shopping plan.
Jill Chivers, of Shop Your Wardrobe, shows you how to take control of your shopping. Sign up to her blog and receive her free ebooks: "Are you Addicted to Shopping?" and "12 Keys to Conscious Shopping".
If you need help finding your best colors and styles you will find help here...
The Wardrobe Magic ebook by Diana Pemberton-Sikes brings together all the elements of how to dress well.