Vogue’s Ultimate Guide To A New Year Wardrobe Clear-Out

A topic at most recent girlfriend coffee catch-ups has been ... I'm decluttering or I want to declutter! So I went looking for the best guide... This one by Alice Cary in British Vogue was the best. Obviously not for the faint hearted and best tip is to give yourself some time.

Image above by Tim Walker for British Vogue.

If you never get round to organising your closet during the early stages of the pandemic, what better time to do a proper wardrobe clear-out than at the start of a new year? Whether you’ve suddenly discovered you’ve splurged on too many tracksuits (although, we wouldn’t automatically dismiss them right now) or want to shake-up your style, you’ve got to first take stock of what you’ve already got.

Think of it like a juice cleanse: nobody wants to do it, but once it’s over, you’ll be glad you did. Below, a step-by-step guide to refreshing your closet.

1. Set dedicated time aside

A proper wardrobe overhaul is no mean feat, so don’t rush it. It’s best to carve out a dedicated time slot – a weekend, say – to complete your mission. Set aside at least a day, even if you’re naturally organised. A thorough detox is guaranteed to take longer than you think.

2. Scope out an idea of what you want from your wardrobe

“Spend time mood-boarding your dream style and exploring your vision for your own wardrobe,” says Charlie Collins, wardrobe guru and founder of Creative Wardrobe. “This can be really fruitful before a wardrobe cleanse to gain clarity and inspiration.” Focus on things you do and don’t like about your style and elements you’d like to retain or change. Having clarity before embarking upon a cleanse is key.

3. Organised chaos

Once you’ve freed up your diary, embrace the hot mess that your bedroom will inevitably become. It’s only temporary. Remove everything from your wardrobe, organise the items into piles that make sense, and start the cull. Keep a supply of large bags (not bin bags, they could split) to hand, so that you can set aside any unwanted items to be transported to their new destination.

4. Do you really need it?

You think you need the cream jumper, but do you actually wear the cream jumper? Covid-19 has turned our approach to getting dressed on its head. Many of the the things you own likely went many months without an outing. But what about before that? If you hadn’t worn the jumper for more than six months in the Before Times, you’re highly unlikely to wear it now. Be brutal. Anything you no longer wear goes on the “no” pile.

5. No, really…

For some, it’s not easy to bid farewell to staples that are sentimental somehow. If you’re wavering, get a second opinion from a friend who will be honest with you. Share WhatsApp snaps of the items in your “maybe” pile and get a final decision from someone who can be objective.

6. There’s a new life out there

Whether it’s giving your items to local charity shop, a friend or relative, or an organisation like Smart Works – which provides women with quality workwear, skills and employment confidence – donating is a fulfilling prospect. Or, of course, there’s resale: a smart way to make the most of your pre-loved pieces (never regard them as “unwanted”). Sites like Depop, Vinted, Vestiaire Collective and Hewi provide all the tools you need to shift your goods for cash – they’re wonderfully user-friendly. Rental, too, is an option (see below).

7. See what you can monetise

If you’re not quite ready to permanently part ways with a piece, try renting it out instead via peer-to-peer lending platforms like By Rotation or Hurr Collective, where – bonus! – you can also browse the wardrobes of fellow fashion fans. Rotaro, Cocoon Club, Hardly Ever Worn It, Onloan and MyWardrobeHQ are other rental sites worth surfing.

8. Replenish responsibly

“Invest in pieces that will stand the test of time and are made well,” stresses Collins. Whether it’s scouring the resale offerings of the aforementioned sites, vintage treasure hunting, or investing in forever pieces that you can see yourself wearing for many years to come, ensure that you’re broaching new additions with a conscious mindset. “There are lots of brands that hold their value really well in the world of resale so if you shop thoughtfully, you should always be able to reclaim some of your item’s value,” she adds.

9. Don’t overlook anything

A wardrobe detox must take in gym gear, nightwear and lingerie. Tackle these elements after your everyday wear, but before those tricky sentimental pieces. No one is putting a gun to your head, so don’t feel obliged to purge your wardrobe of things you genuinely don’t want to live without in the name of space-saving. Do consider investing in some neat storage containers, though.

10. Tag on means time to go

Save for the odd lockdown purchase that still needs a real-life road-test, it goes without saying that anything that has been gathering dust in your wardrobe with the tag still attached should not survive the detox. Pieces that are BNWT (Gen-Z speak for “brand new with tags”), are more attractive on resale sites, so get snapping and uploading.

11. Rehang with gusto

Now for the fun bit. You’ve worked hard to move on from outdated denim, taken a trip down memory lane, and managed to separate your emotions from the process. Now you can breathe, curate and rehang. Invest in smart wooden clothes hangers (no wire or plastic hangers), and if you’re short on space, some additional storage. John Lewis’s shoe storage bench is a two-in-one solution; intelligent racks and rails from storage specialist The Holding Company come with the experts’ seal of approval, and stylish canvas boxes from Mangata will keep bedlam at bay.

12. To hang or to fold?

“When it comes to organising our aim is to make it look like a boutique,” remarks Danijela Coha of Wardrobe Fairy. “Everything is organised by colour, category, season and folded to perfection.” We recommend organising your clothes by fabric. Delicate, crease-prone materials, like silk, lace, chiffon or satin, should be hung. Linen garments, too, are best hung-up to prevent wrinkles (if you’re short on space and need to fold, some suggest turning linen inside out). Stretchier pieces that could deform if they’re suspended for too long should be folded. Weightier pieces, including knitwear, should be carefully packed away, too.

Dresses (except knitted or stretchy designs), blouses and dress trousers should all be in your wardrobe, while jeans, jumpers and T-shirts will all live happily in drawers.

13. No moths, no problem

You can find wardrobe ornaments with insect-repelling properties. If moths have had their wicked way with your cashmere in the past, cedar wood is the answer. Sturdy hangers deodorise your rail, and all while warding off unwelcome guests.

14. Are you dressing seasonally?

Shout-out to the capsule wardrobe crew. Seasonal dressers – those who rotate the contents of their wardrobe come spring, summer, autumn and winter – should explore under-bed storage options and even vacuum packing. You don’t want to be rifling through chunky jumpers to reach your tees in a heatwave.

15. Let’s get digital

Take advantage of the fact that all the clothing you own is out of your wardrobe, by taking a few pictures that you can refer to when outfit planning. Fashion insiders use the Whering app, which enables you to digitise your entire wardrobe. Cher Horowitz would approve.

16. Wave goodbye to hoarder habits

Now that you’ve come this far, don’t use the freed-up space in your wardrobe as an excuse to splurge. Try to stick to a one-in-one-out policy. This will to keep your newly-organised closet neat and tidy, and encourage you to think long and hard about which pieces really deserve a spot in your wardrobe. Remember the cardinal rule: buy less, buy better.

17. Don’t forget TLC

After-care is essential. It’s important that you keep your cherished pieces in good nick, as Collins affirms: “Tend to your wardrobe – give it thought, attention and time. Assess it, move things around, fix and restore items that need some TLC or resell the odd piece you aren’t wearing – it makes for a happy and vibrant wardrobe.” Look to companies like The Restory – that specialises in breathing new life into items – or sustainable dry-cleaning service Oxwash to revive your wardrobe.

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Comments 5

  1. Great post, I tackle this job with Gusto, a ruthless warrior, huge piles of discarded only to feel remorse like a bad hangover where piece by piece slowly makes it back in with apologies like…I will fit back into that this year. Lol

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