Moving house a couple of months ago brought home to me one simple truth: I have waaay too much stuff. Too many gadgets/glasses/knick knacks in my kitchen, too many books and DVDs in my living room, and definitely way too many clothes in my wardrobe.
So in order to fit into Kings Drive, we have had to aggressively declutter. And over the course of the last few weeks I’ve done a great deal of decluttering from my wardrobe. Having to think about what to do with each item and how I ended up in this predicament meant that by the end of the process, I was definitely getting clear messages from my wardrobe about the cause of its total overflow situation. I’ll share them here in case you’re looking to cut down to a classic capsule wardrobe or at least get to the point where you feel like you do always have something to wear!
10 things my wardrobe told me:
You shop too much.
I can’t even argue with this one. Before pregnancy I’d go shopping most weekends.. Now, with two kids, who has the time or money for that?! Of course, there’s still online shopping, but I think my strategy now is to try to avoid temptation in the first place – don’t go to the shopping centre/high street/West End. Just don’t do it to yourself. If you have to go for a legitimate reason, try to time it so you arrive near closing time and therefore don’t have time to deviate from your shopping list. Or take a strict friend who can keep you honest! And unsubscribe from all those tempting emails from your favourite stores.. Forget about your FOMO – is your life going to be ruined if you miss out on the latest bag/dress/pair of killer heels? I think not. And let’s face it, they’re not emailing you out of the kindness of their hearts – they just want your money.
- You didn’t consider your personal style. Many of the items I gave away in this clear out were items I thought were gorgeous.. But I never actually wore them because they weren’t actually my style. I have learned that not everything that catches my eye is for me, and that I can see a beautiful top or outfit and appreciate it without needing to take it home! In particular, I love my sister’s style and have been guilty of buying things that are more her style than mine in a subconscious effort to be cool like her. But I’m a bit too preppy/prim to carry off cool capes or bold prints so next time, if I buy one, it’ll be for her and not myself!
- When you find something you like, you buy it in more than one colour. I don’t even know what I can say in my defence. I’m guilty. I’ve done it with shoes, tops, jeans.. But now I’m very conscious of it so hopefully won’t do it again. Except for basics like camisoles/tees, maybe – that’s ok right?!
- When you order online, you’re lazy about doing returns. I had so many items that I knew were a bad fit for me and had meant to return but never got around to sending off. All that happens is they sit around with the label on until my next big clear out, and then I give them away. Enough is enough, woman! I’m going to try to keep on top of my returns and not procrastinate to the point that I miss the cutoff date any more.
- You will not put on/lose weight to fit into the item. So if it doesn’t fit, don’t buy it. If it’s not your size, don’t buy it.
- You do not follow up on getting alterations done. If you find yourself thinking “but I can just get the hem taken up / waist taken in” and you know deep down that you will never actually do that.. Don’t buy it!
- You don’t wear what you can’t see. This is a common saying and with good reason – it’s true! Unpacking my clothes after the move was like a mini shopping spree. I rediscovered so many clothes/shoes/bags that I’d forgotten about! So I need to better organise my wardrobe.. To this end I have started using the Stylebook app, and I have to say, I love it! You can upload your wardrobe contents, play around with looks, itemise things, note on each item its current status (“at dry cleaners”, “in storage”, “available” etc) and filter by those tags. You can, if you have the time and energy, easily mark up when you wear each outfit, and get stats on the price per wear/true economy of your wardrobe items. That’s pretty advanced for me, but I do like being able to flick through my clothes for ideas without having to take them out of my wardrobe and make a big pile of reject outfits when looking for something to wear. That said, I haven’t uploaded much, just items as I wear them, because there’s just too much to do otherwise!
- “It was expensive” is not an excuse to buy it.. As they say, if you wouldn’t buy it full price, don’t buy it just because it’s an expensive (overpriced??) item on sale. And don’t buy an “investment piece” you’re not in love with.
- … Or to keep it. I’m sorry, does it pay rent? Are you somehow going to get your money back by keeping it lying unworn and unloved in your wardrobe? You blew it, and that money isn’t coming back, my friend. Reclaim some space in your wardrobe, and some dignity, rather than letting it sit in your wardrobe and mock you. And hey, if it was expensive and good quality, maybe you can sell it and recoup a little of your expenditure!
- Just don’t buy it if you don’t love it. I went shopping with my best friend once, and she had tried on a dress that I thought looked great on her (although pretty much anything would!).. She shrugged her shoulders and asked “what is it doing for me?”.. And decided not to get it. And she’s right – if you’re going to buy something, make it something that does something for you – be that bringing out the colour of your eyes or showing off your curves or giving you the silhouette you want. Imagine if every single item in your wardrobe was one you loved and felt fantastic in!
I’m hoping that having learned these lessons will help me to sort out my wardrobe. I don’t want a really drastic capsule wardrobe setup (“20 item capsule wardrobe”?!?) but I’d love to have a wardrobe with a modest number of items that I genuinely love, that I can mix and match to my heart’s content. And each of those items should fit me perfectly and suit my style, lifestyle and budget. That’s the dream, anyway, we’ll see how I get on!
Penny for your thoughts: please tell me I’m not alone! Does this ring a bell? Do share..