Broken record alert, but: it has been my mission for the past couple of months to clear out my wardrobe. And yes, it has really taken me that long. I’m not a ‘do it all in one fell swoop’ kind of person (unless that is the only physical way to go about a task), especially when it’d take a solid couple of hours to work through everything I have. I’ve watched countless decluttering videos, I’ve read Marie Kondo’s tidying guides, I’ve tried a variety of methods to work out what it is I’m wearing and what I’m not.
And it’s not been easy.
Some methods have worked better than others, some were a great place to start, but became irrelevant once the process got going. So if you’re struggling to start, have hit a plateau and know you can cut more, then hopefully this may help.
the ‘hanger’ method:
how it works: take everything out of your wardrobe and hang it back up, but with the hangers ‘backwards’ – as in, the curved edge faces away from you, towards the back of your wardrobe. Give yourself a timeframe to work in – every time you wear an item, you turn the hanger back to the usual way you’d hang clothes. After the period of time is up, those items with the hangers the way you put them in to start (curved side facing the back of your wardrobe) are the items that you’re not wearing, so cut them.
good for?: working out what you wear often
not so great for: sorting out seasonal pieces, formal wear.
I found this useful to work out the sort of styles of things I gravitate towards most often in my wardrobe, and especially useful after moving into/out of uni accommodation (mostly because you can just hang things up straight away rather than having to take everything out and rehang). It definitely showed me that I generally prefer skirts and dresses to jeans, and that I like plain or striped tops.
For timeframes, I’d suggest a period of a year for this method, as with anything less you might be very frequently cutting items that you haven’t had a chance to wear yet. This is especially true in countries with very distinct seasons, as you won’t necessarily be wearing all your winter wear in summer, or the lighter summer pieces in winter. But I guess you could combat this by doing the method season-specifically…
It also isn’t the best for tackling items like formal wear, as, unless you go to a lot of events where the dress code is pretty fancy, those items might be sitting with the hangers in the ‘cull’ side even though you’ll be wearing them in the future.
Overall, it’s a good method to get started, as it pretty brutally shows you what you are and aren’t wearing.
how it works: take everything out of your wardrobe and place it in a pile, get all the clothes you have in one place. Item by item, hold it up and if it doesn’t make you feel happy (like, genuinely, happy or joyful), place it in either a ‘no’ pile, or a ‘maybe’ pile. If it does, it’s for keeps and goes in that pile. It’s important to remember you’re not choosing what to discard but what to keep, and we’re only looking at keeping things that genuinely make you happy. (Or are needed/practical.) Once you’ve sorted everything, go through the ‘maybe’ pile and see what is useful, needed or practical, because although they don’t necessarily make your heart sing, they still serve a purpose.
good for?: seeing the sheer volume of how much you have (can be quite overwhelming or distressing, if I’m honest), asking yourself if you truly like things that you buy, or if you’re doing it for some other reason – such as buying for the sake of buying, or trend hopping. Really good for decluttering.
not so good for?: If you’re not committed to being brutally honest with yourself about pieces in your wardrobe, it’s not going to work. If you’re short on time or locations to discard of unwanted items, then it might also not be as effective, since part of the konmari method is to get rid asap so that the clutter doesn’t return. Also, don’t get rid of seriously sentimental items. This method is known to cause some regrets.
I found the KonMari method quite useful once I started being brutally honest with myself about what made me happy in my collection of clothes and shoes. I found I was buying a lot for trends, fleeting instances of lust, rather than love, with items that I thought I’d like months down the line. I also found I had a lot of items that were quite sentimental, but never made it into the rotation of usual outfits simply because: I’d outgrown the style, they were well worn from years of love (I haven’t really grown since I was 12…), or someone had bought it for me but it wasn’t something I’d ever wear.
It didn’t work so well in the fact that a lot of the clothes I don’t wear anymore I was intending to sell if in great condition, donate if slightly more worn, or send to recycling if beyond help, which takes a lot of time to sort out. And I haven’t exactly been the most time-rich as of late. Most of the ‘to sell’ items are stored in boxes in my sisters room, the donation bags are tied and ready to go, but haven’t quite made it there yet… the only ones that have reached a destination are the things to be recycled! It’s odd to change the clutter of an overfilled wardrobe to the clutter of boxes, and although I knew that I had to get rid of things, I was definitely putting it off.
It’s a great method if you have a solid block of time dedicated to decluttering, discarding, and re-hanging, as it’s definitely best to do it all in one sitting. I had to go through a few rounds before I’d cleared the bulk, and I don’t feel it was quite as effective.
By far the absolute most successful method for cleaning out those final bits that I’m entirely not sure about, was asking myself whether or not I wanted to take it with me to Korea. A 2 suitcase at 23kilos limit meant that I had to slim down my wardrobe further than I’ve ever really had to do before, as even though I can ask my parents to ship things to me, the cost of it isn’t ideal if I’m just going to end up not wearing it.
So, I had to take the essentials: winter wear, sweaters, work clothes & shoes, things I’d need immediately; but the rest of my clothing was things I really, truly loved and would be sad not to have with me.
Honestly, it works wonders when you’re trying to work out what to take when you’re suitcase is teetering on overweight. There are a couple of items (shoes, mostly) that I couldn’t fit and will be shipped out to me once I have my address, but all of the items I’ve bought are things that I genuinely love, will wear, and am really happy to have. There isn’t one item that came that doesn’t make me happy to put on – even the ‘practical’ bits.
Even if you’re not moving countries, I think this method could work really well if you’re having a wardrobe crisis. Again, you’d probably have to take everything out of your wardrobe, but the reason it works, especially for me, is that you have a limit. Something that is physically stopping you going too far over a specific amount you can have at that point. So set yourself some limitations – how much in your current wardrobe do you want to keep? The key is that it’s not a permanent limit, you can fill the gaps with new items later in a more conscious manner, but the initial restrictions help you narrow down the things you kinda sorta maybe like, and the things you definitely, definitely, do.
I hope this has been somewhat useful! Decluttering wardrobes is honestly such a hard thing to do if you’ve never done it before – knowing what to keep and what to discard can be a really daunting thing to start, so I’d really suggest doing what I did and scour youtube for a bit, or read some books/articles/blog posts on how other people go about the act, and then try a couple of methods if the first (or second… or third) doesn’t work too well for you. Remember that it’s a process.
Do you have any tips on how you successfully declutter or clear out your wardrobe?