How to organise your wardrobe - as quickly as possible
A while back I shared a video on Facebook with info on how to go about clearing your wardrobe out as quickly as possible. If you haven’t gotten around to that wardrobe declutter you promised yourself and still want to have a go, this blog post is for you! And it is still stinking hot outside and the cicadas are currently deafening (secretly I love you ya noisy little buggers!), so doing it as quickly as possible definitely still makes sense. Here is what you will learn in this blog post:
The tools you will need to do the job;
The three criteria to help you decide if a garment stays or goes;
How to systematically go through your wardrobe, as quick as lightening.
Before we get to the nitty gritty though, there are a couple more things I should cover off. First of all, I am assuming you have a small to medium sized wardrobe for the following process to work well. If you have a large wardrobe (and I would define large as a clothing/shoe collection that spills beyond one wardrobe - for example, into your partner’s space, or into another room, or into another closet elsewhere in the house) then you’ll need to do things slightly differently. The reason is purely space - you probably aren’t going to have a big enough bed to be able to pile things up without becoming overwhelmed. So - if you have a large wardrobe, pay attention to the note in italics; it will help you through this process.
Before you start, make sure the laundry basket is empty! Because we are going to look at every stitch of clothing you own, it is no good if there is stuff hiding in the laundry basket, washing machine, gym bag etc. Get it all out, washed and ready to go before you start.
Now we are ready to learn the secret ingredients to a lightning-quick wardrobe declutter!
You don’t need much! When I work with my clients, I start with three large bags:
One bag is for RESALE - use this bag for garments that are in excellent condition that a reseller like The Recycle Boutique would be able to sell on your behalf.
One bag is for DONATING - use this bag for garments that are in excellent condition that someone else would be able to wear and enjoy, but that you don’t expect to make any money from.
One bag is for DISPOSAL - use this bag for garments that have holes, are stained, pulled out of shape or are smelly. These clothes will most likely end up in landfill so please use this bag sparingly.
You’ll also need somewhere you can put clothes that you aren’t sure about. I take a hanging ladder with me on client projects - it keeps things separate and easy to see. A dining chair works just as well - simply drape any clothes you’re not sure about over the chair. More on that later!
Finally, make sure you have a good stock of coat hangers that are suitable for hanging your clothes. You don’t need to rush out and purchase new hangers, unless yours are bent out of shape, broken or you don’t have enough. These are the three varieties that I use, and where you can purchase from:
Now that you have the tools and you’re all set up to start the work, let’s look at the systematic process I use to blitz through my clients’ wardrobes as quickly as possible. I’ve bullet-pointed to make this very instructional and easy to follow!
Pull all of your clothes out of the wardrobe and create piles on your bed of each category. For example, a pile of jackets, of jumpers, of tops, of shorts, skirts, dresses, pants/jeans, shoes, bras, knickers, socks, tights, scarves, etc. Large wardrobe people: I recommend pulling out one category at a time and creating the pile. Work your way through that pile in its entirety first, then pull out another category and repeat until the job is done. This way, if you don’t finish the declutter in one day, you’ll still be able to literally sleep at night!
Choose a pile to start with - let’s say jumpers. Pick up a jumper and work through the 3 criteria (more information below). You will get faster at this as you progress through the piles. The goal is to rattle through the criteria like BOOM BOOM BOOM.
If the garment gets 3 x “Hell yes!” then it gets to stay. Hang it or fold it and put it back in your wardrobe, keeping the categories together.
If the garment gets even 1 x no, it needs to go into one of the 3 bags. Drop it in - don’t waste time trying to fold things nicely.
If the garment gets even 1 x unsure, set it aside quickly (on the back of the chair, remember?) and move on to the next piece.
Work your way through the pile as quickly as you can. By the time you reach the bottom of the final pile, you should have a nicely organised wardrobe, filled only with garments that meet the three criteria.
Once all the garments are back in your wardrobe, give everything one final assessment. Look for multiples - for example, you may have an abundance of plain grey t-shirts. Some of those could be added to your RESELL or DONATE bags to free up space in your wardrobe. You may also notice you are missing wardrobe staples - let this process inform your next shopping trip, instead of gravitating towards yet more plain grey t-shirts!
I have purposely left the three assessment criteria till last - I think it is important for you to understand the process you’ll be working through first, before you get to the criteria. And without further ado….
The magic 3 criteria
You need to get a “hell yes!” for every one of these criteria for the garment to stay in your wardrobe. So what are they, and what might the common pitfalls for them be?
Does it fit?
This is the hardest criteria (read: potential to take way longer than necessary) because there may genuinely be a number of garments you are unsure about. But don’t waste time trying things on at this stage.
If it is a Hell Yes! to fitting your body, move onto the next criteria.
If it is a Hell no! to fitting your body, put it into one of the bags to RESELL, DISPOSE, or DONATE.
If you’re not sure if it fits, run through the next two criteria - if you get 2 x Hell yes! then set it aside quickly (on the back of the chair!) and move onto the next garment.
Do you love it?
If you answered yes to the fit question, it’s time to consider whether or not this garment makes you swoon. My bet is there is a bunch of stuff that is just “OK” in your wardrobe. Maybe even stuff that makes you feel “meh”. That’s the stuff that we want to weed out here. If it doesn’t make you feel like the goddamn queen of the world, then I reckon that’s a Hell no! Onward to the final criteria….
Do you have somewhere to wear it? Life changes, people change, and yet often our wardrobe stays the same. For example, you might have been a high level executive before making the decision to stay at home with your children. You no longer need the corporate wardrobe, but haven’t let it go. If you aren’t going to wear something in the next 6 months (and I say 6 months, because otherwise you’re going to be reading this blog post again in 12 months time), it’s a Hell no! my dear. Same goes for formal evening wear, party dresses, stiletto heels etc. Let them go. Put these items in the RESELL bag; you may be able to earn some extra cash for the pleasure of releasing them for someone who will fit them, love them AND wear them.
So those are the three magic criteria. They are simple yet powerful questions to ask yourself as you handle each and every garment. It will feel cumbersome and slow and more than likely quite uncomfortable when you first start out, but I promise if you follow that process you will become faster and more confident as you make your way through your categories.
A final note about potential pitfalls
The reason we don’t stop and try things on during the process is because it breaks the flow of what your’e doing. When you repeat the same action over and over again - for example, picking up a garment, running through the magic three criteria quickly, then putting the garment aside/away/down - your body finds a rhythm and you become a processing machine. Your body instinctively knows what you need it to do and you can begin to operate on auto-pilot - you’re no longer using much of your brain to control your body, leaving it free to make the critical assessment about each garment. You’re in flow, baby! Now imagine that you interrupt that flow by introducing a new set of bodily movements - undressing, redressing, looking in a mirror, turning, thinking. You’ve broken the flow and your brain is distracted. Now you pick up your phone, now you sit down and check Insta…. You get it. Every time you break flow, it takes your brain a minute to grind back into the zone of those repetitive movements - this is how these jobs end up taking a whole lot longer than they should.
Wow… that turned into quite a blog post. I’m nothing if not thorough! If it all seems a little overwhelming, rest assured that it can be easier with assistance and I absolutely love working on wardrobe declutter projects with my clients. Get in touch and we can make a plan to have your wardrobe whipped into shape in no time.