Cleaning Out Your Wardrobe

The other day, I cleaned out my wardrobe. It didn’t take me long, since I already basically knew what had to go. When I was packing up my clothes to move to Australia, I was really dismayed by the amount of rubbish I’d collected… but packed it anyway, thinking that if I didn’t, I’d end up with nothing to wear.

Silly me. Obviously, at the time, I was pretty distressed (packing up my old life was hard), & I forgot about the fact that if there were items I didn’t wear at the time, I probably wouldn’t wear them in another country either. &, of course, I haven’t. They’ve been sitting in my chest of drawers, huge mounds of material, making it impossible to find the things I actually want to wear. Taking up space.

I can’t tell you how much better I feel to have done a clean-out. I’m a Virgo, & organisation totally thrills me, but I doubt the joy of the exercise is only felt by 1/12th of the population. Ideally, you should go through your wardrobe at least once a year. My mother does it twice a year — she has two closets (one in the bedroom, one in a spare room), one for autumn/winter & another for spring/summer. Twice a year she goes through, donates the old stuff to charity & switches them from room to room. Luxury. I hope to live a similar lifestyle!

The point is that while you may feel like your choices have lessened & you will look worse because of it, the opposite is true. After cleaning everything out, you are only left with the things you TRULY like; the things that actually fit, flatter you, suit you, look good. It means your outfits will consist solely of items that work. Initially, you may require a bit of experimentation (your jeans, which you love, now lack 3 average t-shirts that used to go with it), but you will find that once you change things around, you’ll have really great ensembles (your jeans can be worn with that perfect shirt!).

I have a huge bag of things to get rid of, & I have learnt a lesson from each one of them.

Lesson: Just because your friend is giving things away, you don’t need to take them.
Item: Punk style red tartan 3/4 straight-leg pants.
I don’t know what I was thinking. I barely wear red, I look awful in straight-legged pants, & they are just NOT my style. I thought I could make them work with combat boots, but they didn’t go with anything else in my wardrobe & looked awful on me. I felt bad for not wearing something that someone I adore gave me — so they just gotta go.

Lesson: Don’t buy things that come with a warning.
Item: Mint green fine-knit jersey from Ricochet.
I bought this item when I was first moving into wearing colour. I was obsessed with teal & all types of green, & when I went into Ricochet & saw this item on sale for $50, I whooped internally. When I looked at it, I noticed it had a huge tag attached to it which said something along the lines of, “BEWARE. THIS ITEM IS VERY DELICATE. DO NOT WEAR WITH JEWELLERY AS IT WILL SNAG EASILY.” I thought, oh pish posh, I can work with that. Well, it turns out… I’m not a very delicate person. I wear jewellery, I lean against walls, I hug people wearing strange, pointy outfits. The top was ruined within about a week. I kept it, because it’s so soft & lovely, but it looks like crap. Traumatic!

Lesson: Cheap does not necessarily mean good.
Item: The thousands of singlets in every colour of the rainbow.
Sure, the price is alluring. 2 for $20! Hell, I’ll have 4. But trust me, you will PAY for your scrooge tendencies. Man, am I paying. Cheap clothing is just that — cheap. It was made by a one-armed blind child in backwater nowhere for a pittance, & it looks like it. Or at least it will after a couple of washes. I promise. These plain tops are so good underneath cardigans, dresses, pretty much everything — but it’s really worth investing in good quality ones. That way you will be able to wear them next month, & even next year. Most of the inexpensive ones last about a month before stretching, fading & looking sad.

Lesson: Know when it’s time to move on.
Item: Short black with silver pinstripes ra-ra skirt from TopShop.
I loved it when I bought it. It went perfectly with the I’m-a-demented-circus-performer look I was curating at the time. It’s still cute to this very day… but it’s just not me anymore. Kiss it goodbye.

Lesson: Be careful when you buy things on Ebay.
Item: Pink & red striped knit sweater.
Points to remember: Always buy your size & for god’s sake, make sure the measurements match up. Don’t bid on it just because it’s cheap. Don’t buy it just because you are desperate to spend some money & it’s the one decent item your favourite seller has listed this week. Don’t buy it thinking that you will ‘make it work somehow’ — the truth is, you probably won’t. Think about what else you have first, & remember that clothing doesn’t change who you are!

It is so easy to make mistakes when shopping for clothing. As boring as it sounds, if you’re not sure, leave the item in the shop & think about it. Put it on hold if you’re worried someone else will buy it in your absence. If you’re still thinking about it days later, you know you really love it & you’re not just dying to spend some cash.

There are also plenty of good charities who could really use your clothing for people in need. Consider it the act of a good samaritan, as well as a smart dresser.