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Whether your closet is jumbo or teeny-tiny, I think we’ve all felt that pang of dread as our clothes begin to overtake the limited space we’ve allocated for them. 

I’m sure many of you can relate, but pre-clearout-phase I’d noticed that I had a bad habit of going shopping when I needed to zap myself out of a certain state of mind. Don’t be too hard on yourself for indulging in some retail therapy every once in a while, but I think it’s important to take note of any impulsive habits as well as the intention behind them. 

After this realisation, I’ve since managed to nip it in the bud by creating enforced shopping ‘fasts’ and focusing my attention on seeking more quality, long-lasting pieces, thereby serendipitously curating my own personal capsule. I’ve actually managed to refrain from buying clothes for the majority of 2020 and 2021, and I have to say it really feels quite liberating. Now I find that my wardrobe actually complements the life I lead (not the one I think I have, or fantasise over), instead of being ridden with pieces I’ll never wear but refrain from getting rid of just in case “I might need it one day” (I won’t).

So it’s all fine and dandy talking about minimalism and clear-outs, but how should we actually go about it? Here are some useful steps to a more refined, stress-free and practical wardrobe. 

STEP 1: THE CLEAR-OUT 

Ironically, I’m ruthless when it comes to my decluttering sessions. If it’s not sparking joy, as the clear-out queen Mari Kondo preaches, it’s out! I recently did a huge summer clear-out and cut my wardrobe by 50%, resulting in 1 bag for the bin and 7 bags for charity. It may feel like an impulsive moment of madness at the time, but I don’t actually miss anything afterwards, which tells me all I need to know.

Standing in front of your wardrobe and doing some light rejigging won’t do the trick. You have to take everything out, dump it all onto your bed, and then go through each item one by one, creating 3 (or 4) piles as you go: throw, donate, keep (or store for next season).

As far as where to donate, Clubhouse, The Kishin Alwani Foundation Charity Shop and Father Charlie are only a few of many.

STEP 2: RE-EVALUATING

This step goes hand in hand with step 1. As I go clearing out, I like to really consider how each piece I’ve decided to keep fits in with my work and lifestyle, and how easy it is to style with other pieces I own. This is often the phase of the process where I discover old items that have been relegated to the murky depths of my wardrobe, and prepare to give them a new lease of life.

Mini backpack in olive, Rains, £69.00
Rectangular Backpack, Zara, £49.99
721 high rise skinny in washed black, Levi’s, £95.00
Lash Extra High Mom Jeans, Weekday, £40.00

STEP 3: ORGANISING

You’ll either love or loathe this part, but if you really want to get the most out of the process, commit and avoid having to do it again until the next seasonal clear-out. I personally like to hang the majority of my clothing, and so have them organised in the following sections (by season and colour): long dresses, short dresses, coats & jackets, tops, shirts, cardigans, trousers, skirts & shorts. 

The sections I prefer having folded and organised on open shelves are: T-shirts, jeans, knitwear and gym clothes. It makes life so much easier once you know exactly where everything is and can reach for any item with no headache.

Faux leather belted jacket in khaki, Topshop, £49.99
Faux Leather Jacket, Zara, £49.99
Mock Neck Sweater, & Other Stories, £35.00
Striped Knit Sweater, Zara, £29.99

STEP 3: CONSIDER INVESTMENTS

Instead of buying new clothes immediately, give yourself some breathing room and live with your ‘new’ wardrobe for a month until you start to consider what may be lacking. It honestly feels good to live without an overwhelming onslaught of options. You can even introduce a 1-in-1-out policy; for every new item you introduce, you have to donate another.

The concept of a capsule – a compact wardrobe made up of a few must-have, fail-safe items that you can build the rest of your outfits around – is an idea that has gained a great deal more traction over the past few years as we all aim to collectively cut down on our consumption. I’ll happily invest a little more money in certain items that offer me quality, versatility and long-lasting wearability. 

Sustainable Stan Smith trainers in white with green tab, adidas, £74.95
Koki trainers in white, Whistles, £99.00
Leather look trench coat in brown, ASOS DESIGN, £70.00
Oversized Alpaca Blend Coat, & Other Stories, £175.00

The following is my personal checklist that makes up the backbone of my autumn wardrobe:

  • A great pair of neutral boots
  • A comfy pair of white trainers
  • Some quality basic tees
  • A few failsafe pairs of jeans
  • A checked blazer 
  • A few neutral knits
  • A (faux) leather jacket
  • A trenchcoat or longline coat
  • A neutral everyday backpack

This is all I really need, but of course, I build around this capsule and items come and go over the years, as do trends. Once you make a habit out of this entire process, you’ll be gladly taking on the challenge at the turn of each season. You won’t regret it! 

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