A WARDROBE REFRESH - THE CLEAN OUT
For a lot of people the renewing spirit of Spring is a catalyst for decluttering, be it in a spiritual way or in the more tangible manifestation of getting rid of physical belongings. We are no different in that respect and this year in particular, due to major upcoming changes in our lives, both Santhya and I felt the need to really assess our belongings and hone in on what role the things we own play in our everyday lives.
In this new series, we specifically want to focus on how to declutter, renew and build the perfect wardrobe. In sharing what has helped us, we hope to provide you with inspiration and techniques to start you on the journey to cultivate and curate a wardrobe that matches YOUR personal style and life.
Grounded in Less, the overarching vision for how we want to live our lives, also finds its expression in how we approach a wardrobe declutter and refresh. Before we dive into the techniques that helped us streamline our closets, let us briefly highlight the four pillars or principles we used as our guiding lights.
Quality over Quantity
Quality doesn‘t always have to mean expensive. Beside fabric and craftsmanship, look for clothing items in your wardrobe which are reliable and appropriate to your life, ones to come back to time and time again: enduring pieces.
Keep in mind the potential versatility of a piece of clothing, whereby it gives you the individuality and creativity to play around with your style. Look out for those adaptable items when you declutter your wardrobe and you can make them feel like “new” again.
Aesthetics are important, of course, however, you should actually be able to “live” in your clothes. The pieces in your wardrobe should allow you to work, run, celebrate and all the other things that your particular lifestyle encompasses.
Don’t let yourself be shoehorned into magazine-like fashion stereotypes like “girly” or “boho”. Instead, trust, nurture and evolve your own unique style aesthetic.
Before you start your wardrobe declutter (or indeed any project), it is important to ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you attempting a total wardrobe overhaul or more of a gentle refresh? Are you already quite settled in your personal style and only want to look at certain parts of your wardrobe that are missing something? Do you want to update your wardrobe to better match your current lifestyle? None of these reasons are more or less “valid” or “right” than the others, the important thing is that you know your “why” when you approach a wardrobe declutter - it will greatly help you keep your focus and momentum in the process.
Wardrobe Clean Out Techniques
The Complete Clean Out
If you are aiming for a total wardrobe overhaul it’s worth investing energy to clear out everything first. Remove all clothing from your wardrobe including any hanging pieces and collect all the clothes you have anywhere else in the house. Pile them up in one place and sort them by clothing types (e.g pants, dresses, etc). An empty closet will help you to start completely fresh and gives you a joyful feeling and motivation to cultivate your wardrobe from scratch.
The Quick Pre-Selection
A quick pre-selection in each category helps to shrink your massive pile by putting your non-negotiable items (e.g. the jumper you wear five times a week) back into your wardrobe, and eliminating those which have been sitting at the back of your closet for a long time, taking up valuable space (e.g. the stuff you know for certain you will not wear again). Put those directly in the “To Go” basket - see step 3 below.
Once you have placed your must-keep things back in your closet, you will see that it is slowly coming back to life. Looking at what you already have and more importantly love, can really help you to get guidance for sorting through the rest of your pile of clothing.
The Two Essential Baskets
To keep it clear and efficient from the beginning, get two baskets/boxes or just make two piles labeled “To Keep” and “To Go”. The fewer options you have the more effective it will be.
The Main Selection
Focus now on the remaining garments and follow these principles to be efficient and ruthless in choosing what goes onto the “To Go” and “To Keep” stack.
“The One Year Rule”
Have I worn this in the last year? If not: Move on to the next principle:
“The Spark Joy Rule”
Does it still feel precious and spark joy even if you didn’t wear it last year?
A wisdom by Marie Kondo, the author of bestselling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.
The “To Keep” Basket - Questionnaire
Once you have finished the main selection, it’s time to focus on your “To Keep” basket. Start with your favorite clothing category and try on each item. It can be challenging to choose what to leave behind. Therefore we recommend you to take your time and ask yourself these essential questions before you make your final call:
Does it fit properly?
Can you move comfortably? Does the material feel itchy?
If it doesn’t fit properly, can you use it as a layering piece? This could definitely add interest and texture to an outfit.
Does it make me feel great and confident?
This is a very personal question but the bottom line is, if you don’t feel good in what you are wearing, than you are not going to wear it.
Does it still reflect my personal style?
If it represents your previous life, a very different life from the one you are currently living then you should get rid of it.
Is it versatile?
Can I combine it with other basic or non-essential items and create new, different looks?
Do I have similar items but in different fabrics?
We tend to buy impulsively and might end up finding a better version later on. Check all similar items you have and go for quality over quantity.
Does it have sentimental value?
Again, the answer to this question and how it influences your decluttering choices is going to be very personal. You may choose to keep an item even if you are never going to wear it again if it has great sentimental value (e.g. a wedding dress or a garment that reminds you of a loved one). With this being such a personal category, regardless of whether you are protective of or ruthless with your sentimental items, embrace your choice and don’t feel guilty about it.
The “To Go” Basket
It's always so easy to get rid of things and throw them away mindlessly with the next trash collection. But even for stuff we decide to leave behind - it's on us to create its own new journey and passing it on to find a purpose again.
During Santhya’s own process of decluttering the whole apartment (moving overseas!) she mainly donated and gifted superfluous clothing items among family, relatives and circle of closest friends, as she knows their style and taste. It’s just a great feeling to know that your item found its purpose again and made someone happy. Everything that was left and still in a good shape was donated.
Things that are not in good enough shape to be worn can often be cut up for use as household cloths.
We hope that these techniques and tips will be a catalyst for your own wardrobe decluttering journey. It is important to start right, so give yourself space to honestly answer why you are overhauling your closet and schedule enough time to go through the process.
The next post in this series will focus on organising your newly streamlined wardrobe and how to take care of your clothes to prolong their lifespan and wearability. Because grounded in less also means proper stewardship of the things you own. Who knows, you might just be curating the next generation heirloom!