First off, I must say the deepest of thank you’s for my Back to Basics’s post yesterday - I have said it so many times before, but I truly am so honoured and incredibly flattered to have such a wonderful and supportive readership. Thank you.
One of the things that has been the hardest for me to sift through since last year, has been my stuff. 11 years worth of memories, clothing, items, art, photos, furniture and homewares - all of the things that make up your life with someone else. Up until last year, I held a deep attachment to our belongings, now things that meant the world to me have very little meaning. And the scary realisation is that it’s just stuff - yes beautiful stuff that you created a life with, but in the end it’s just something to carry with you, sort, organise or throw out. And every time I had to move one of our belongings I would fall apart, I hated that I had to find a new place for something that already had a home. So I decided to have the biggest clean out I could handle. I haven’t been able to look at the boxes that holds all of our, now my, belongings that Mum and I packed away. That will come in time. But what I have been able to muster the glorious courage of is sort out my wardrobe. I mentioned it a little in this post here, but I thought I would share a lot more of how I actually went through all of my clothes and created a beautiful, and elegant wardrobe - one that I think reflects my style more, and in turn has lowered my stress levels. Plus the best part is, I don’t miss anything that I got rid of.
I feel like I need to add in a little disclaimer here - the clean out that I had, was rather extreme. My normal very sentimental self became slightly cold and very calculated, even my Mum was shocked at how much I was able to throw out, give to friends or donate to charity. As I mentioned I hold deep sentiment to my clothing, I remember where I wore it, who I was with, what the occasion was, etc. My clothing, and it’s the same for almost everyone, hold a story. Now, my story had changed so drastically that I couldn’t handle seeing those reminders hanging in my wardrobe. But it wasn’t just about getting rid of stuff for the sake of it, I wanted to really look at each piece, see it if still had staying power, or if it was time to get rid of it and start fresh. Plus at the time it was the only thing I had any real control over. So just before I flew I Munich and with the help from my Mum, I had a huge and incredibly therapeutic clean out - which then allowed me to do some serious retail therapy in Munich and Paris.
And since my big clean out, I have learnt that with less clothing to choose from you oddly have more choice, and the stress that comes with choosing what to wear just disappears. Gone are the days of trying to make this work, or desperately fit into that for what ever reason. I know that every piece in my wardrobe fits, works with another piece, is for a certain occasion and best of all, I know what I have. So I can now in a way ‘walk through’ my wardrobe from my memory and put together an outfit while I’m doing my hair and makeup. It’s perfect.
I’m not saying you need to go to the length that I did, but if some of these tips below help you create a fresh start with your wardrobe, then that’s so lovely. And of course, I’d love to hear how you get on. Have a peek below for my tips for deep cleaning your wardrobe, and as I’m not one for taking photos of myself in outfits and sharing them, there aren’t any photos of me and my cloths - that might change in time (and I have a few different ideas for sharing my wardrobe with you). But for now, it’s just a how too on how to have a very big clean out and create a beautiful and organised wardrobe - and get a little inspiration from one of my all time favourite walk in wardrobes. x
It might sound obvious, but set aside a decent about of time before you start this. You don’t want to have too many distractions getting in the way.
If you have council bags that you’re able to donate cloths too, collect them. Otherwise get a roll of big garbage bags that once filled, you’re able to then donate to your local charity shop, give to friends or throw out. Just make sure you remember to label what is to be thrown out, gifted or donated.
Get someone you trust to help you - don’t get your friend who loves everything you have, get the one who will tell you honestly that something looks awful on you, but will also sympathise with you when you can’t part with that worn through dress or shirt. And even then trust them when they tell you to get rid of it.
Create three (possibly four) areas - one for keeping, throwing out, donating and one for storage for those pieces that you just can’t part with.
Get dressed - there is absolutely no point in going through your wardrobe when you don’t look or feel nice. I did my hair and makeup as though I was actually going to be wearing my clothes in public, then poured myself a gin and tonic and started.
Create a few rules/questions for each piece - mine were; does it fit, has it lost its shape, do I feel good in it, is it too hard to wear (we all have pieces that you have to struggle with to wear) would I buy it today and does it hold a memory too hard to hold on too. If I answered yes to any of those questions, it would go into a donate, throw out pile. It might sound a little ruthless, but it made getting rid of everything so so easy.
Try everything on - there is no way you’re going to know if something still works just by looking at it, especially if you haven’t worn it in a while. I ended up getting rid of so many pieces that when I looked at them they were still beautiful, but when I tried them on, they either didn’t fit as I remembered, had worn out a little, etc. My goal was to get rid of anything that didn’t make me feel and look good - so those pieces where thrown out or donated. But of course, if it’s worn out but you need that style. Throw it out and replace it.
Start small - don’t try and tackle your whole wardrobe at once. That’s far too daunting. Instead, start with your one draw at a time, take everything out of the draw, and go through your list of questions about if you want it or not any more. Then work your way through every draw and then your wardrobe. This also includes your shoes! Don’t forget to play loud music, and if you need that second gin and tonic, go for it!
Fold, hang and display properly - once you have cleaned out the pieces that you no longer want. Neatly fold, hang and put everything back to where it belongs - or find a new place for it. I’m a little OCD and organise pieces that hang by style and then colour. So my skirts, dresses, shirts and pants are all together, but then they’re hung by lightest to darkest. Find a system that works best for you when re sorting your wardrobe. Also, don’t be afraid to display your favourite shoes, watches, jewellery, perfume, etc alongside books and candles in your room if you have the space.
Jewellery - this was a really really hard part of my wardrobe to go through, some pieces were easy to get rid of, some weren’t. Over the years I had been gifted some truly beautiful pieces by Ben, and including my wedding and engagement rings. These have long come off. But I have no idea what to do with them. If you’re in a similar position, don’t do anything just yet. Put all of the pieces that once meant something to you in a box and safely store them away, one day you’ll know what to do with them.
Once finished, treat yourself to a bouquet of your favourite flowers. Or something really really special, for me it was a pair of Christian Louboutians - I have wanted a pair of his icon red sole pumps for as long as I can remember, so that was my reward. And of course, once the dust has settled make a list of pieces that you’d like to replace, or pieces that you’ve always wanted to add to your wardrobe but never have because you thought you had too much stuff. Then go shopping with the girlfriend that helped you sort through your wardrobe, and update it a little here and there. I have absolutely no doubt that you will feel so much better after having a good clean out of your clothing.
For me, I wanted to create a very clean and minimal wardrobe, but one that is able to be expanded on again over the coming years - you can get a little idea of my style from my pinterest boards. I wanted to shed a lot of layers that made me sad, and make way for new pieces that would make me feel good and in turn look good. The best part about updating/cleaning out your wardrobe is that is doesn’t have to be a expensive experience You might also find that once you have finished your big clean out that you don’t actually want to buy anything new - that you’ve found pieces you long forgot the you had and are happy to style them in a new way now. Oh and something I learnt, you actually can’t shop when you’re sad, it doesn’t work. You can clean when you’re sad, but you (well I) can’t shop when sad. I always ended up end up buying something that I didn’t need - and ended up in my donate pile. But in Paris, I was happy, and my gosh did I shop. But I also shopped with a really clear vision, I knew what I had (or didn’t) have hanging in my wardrobe, so I then built it back up - H&M and Zara were my go to’s while in Europe. I also now focus on classic cuts and shapes that I know will last and work with my body, plus colours that I know really work with my skin tone, for me it’s blush, navy, sometimes black, deep emerald and soft cream/white. Once you know what works for you, it’s so much easier to shop.
So with all of the above in mind, I’d love to hear how you get on if you update/clean out your wardrobe. Plus of course any tips and tricks that you think would also be helpful to add - either way, I don’t think you have to wait until Spring to have a clean out and enjoy a fresh start. x