I have to confess: I'm not naturally the tidiest person. I feel like this statement should be accompanied by the caveat that I'm very clean, but tidiness doesn't come naturally to me it's something I've had to work at.
Anything that is brought home to the one bedroom apartment I share with my partner needs to be assigned a specific place, and when it comes to clothing this involves being savvy about how I store things.
Being the “messy one” in the relationship, coupled with having a career in fashion, could be a recipe for disaster given my wardrobe is a very small one-door affair.
Most of my hangers are double, triple and sometimes quadruple stacked, and I have three shelves for underwear, miscellaneous bits and pieces (if you own headbands, how do you store them? Enquiring minds would love to know), tops, trousers, jumpers, shoes, bags and scarves.
Pandemic or no, the march of the seasons continues and it’s getting colder, so over Easter weekend I decided to reorganise my wardrobe to make space for winter knits, jackets and coats that I had unpacked from storage, making space for summery dresses and skirts I’m unlikely to wear for the next few months to go into storage in their stead.
I also took the opportunity to cull any unwanted clothing although charity shops are closed and clothing donations have been disallowed during this time in order to combat the spread of Covid-19, lockdown is as good a time as any to have a clear out while you might have extra time on your hands.
I’ve tucked the folded the ‘to-go’ items into a canvas bag for the time being, and will donate or drop into a consignment store as soon as it’s allowed.
If you're keen to have a clean out, here are some guidelines I used to determine what to keep, and what could go.
The three month test
Use your common sense with this one seasonal pieces like coats and jumpers won't have been worn recently if you're coming out of summer, and special occasion items are saved for just that, but three months is a good timeframe to judge whether something is an integral part of your rotation. If not, take a good hard look at it to decide whether you're keen to keep it or not.
Wear in wear out
I'm the type of person to wear a beloved garment until it falls apart, which I actually would say is a positive trait for sustainable dressing, but sometimes I can take it too far and wear something for longer than I should have.
Two items are especially noticeable when they start to get ratty: knitwear, and shoes.
If you have a jumper or cardigan that you love but it’s started getting pilling and accumulating holes, first consider a fabric de-piller, and learning to mend. Chances are you’ll be even more attached to it after sewing up a tear or putting a button back on.
Likewise, assess whether your favourite pair of shoes can be re-soled, or could have the material they’re made of spruced up.
If it’s beyond saving, or simply beyond you to try, it’s time to say goodbye.
Things I tend to chuck more readily include worn-out or uncomfortable underwear (yes, even that “sexy” pair I’ve been saving if I haven’t worn them in recent memory), holey socks and ratty t-shirts.
Some materials age better than others, and recently I've come to realise I'm simply not a fan of overly synthetic material particularly in anything that's tight-fitting on the body.
I find it sweaty and uncomfortable to wear, so while I went through a period of snapping up fun mesh, polyester and nylon tops from secondhand stores, I’ve since phased them out of my wardrobe again thanks to one too many times wondering if anyone could smell me from a distance.
If there’s a piece that you like in theory but every time you wear it, don’t feel good in it, consider that it could be the fabric composition.
Like a version
Sometimes we find something we like, and we want to have it in all the colours of the rainbow. That's fine, but if you're working with tight space like me, culling double (or triple) ups could be the answer to organised bliss.
I often find if I have a couple of versions of something, there’s always one I like and wear more anyway.
About the size of it
That too-small top, pair of trousers, skirt or dress you've been saving in the hopes of fitting into one day? Chances are it's not making you feel great whenever you see it, so if that's the case then get rid of it.
Same thing with an item that’s too big either commit to getting it altered as soon as you can, or pass it on. I used to buy dresses and tops that were too big in a moment of misguided faith in my sewing skills, only for them to sit in my wardrobe unworn. Let someone else enjoy it!
Another way I've optimised my wardrobe space is being savvy with how I store things. If you're after some inspiration for a pleasingly organised closet, try these tips:
It doesn't have to be exact, but grouping similar coloured pieces together on the hanger is both pleasing to the eye and makes it easy to find whatever you're looking for.
Hang it up
I don't know how everyone else does things, but previously I would have all my trousers and skirts folded while other items took precedence on the hangers. After one too many times putting on a particular pair of easily-creased trousers, I realised there were no rules and I could hang some of them up.
Now, I use clip hangers to hang any thicker or stiffer trousers that crease easily (usually two to a hanger) and leave the softer, stretchier styles folded.
Same with skirts I’ve managed to squeeze five miniskirts onto the same clip hanger, which will save me from having any crease issues and opens up space on my shelf which is more limited. I also tend to hang cardigans but fold jumpers.
I used to have my silk scarves and sarong folded at the back of my underwear shelf but they were usually the first thing to get messed up when I was trying to find something, so hanging them all over one hanger is a much better way to store them.
Handbags, depending on the bulk and length of the strap, can also be slung onto one hanger.
A teacher named Vernon Howard apparently once said “You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.”
That’s a nice sentiment, but if, like me, you're not about to stop buying certain pieces for the love of them, I hope these tips helped you at least get them organised.