How to declutter your wardrobe

Does your wardrobe look like it’s been hit by a hurricane? Do you often have to lean your entire bodyweight against the rail of clothes to squeeze in one more thing? Do shoes regularly fall on your head when you open the closet doors? Then you need a wardrobe declutter – and we’re here to tell you how.

Vicky Silverthorn, who offers professional home organisation and decluttering services, says now is a great time to tackle an overflowing wardrobe. ‘Many of us will find our lives have changed dramatically over the last two years’ she says. For lots of people, the standard nine-to-five office uniform is no longer needed, and even if you are going into work, people may be dressing more casually than they were before the pandemic.

Even if your working life hasn’t changed, it’s always good to have a wardrobe refresh at this time of year, but where should you start? We asked Vicky for her top tips…

How to declutter your wardrobe

Get in the right mindset

If you start a wardrobe declutter in the wrong mindset, then you’re less likely to be successful. ‘Think about what you want to achieve. Is it to stop the battle with your clothes every morning that’s driving you mad? Is it that you can’t keep on top of putting everything away, and you want to solve that? Would you like that lovely feeling of hangers gliding across a rail every morning?’ asks Vicky. Once you know what your goal is, it becomes easier to let go of what’s in your wardrobe.

how to declutter your wardrobe
Getty

Take it one step at a time

‘If you try to do the whole wardrobe in one go, that’s at least a day’s work’ says Vicky. Instead, she recommends tackling your wardrobe in sections – so you might do one rail, a drawer or a shelf at a time. ‘This way you avoid pulling everything out, getting really bored halfway through and putting it all away again’ says Vicky.

Make sure you complete each section before moving onto the next – that way you’ll finish on a high, and feel motivated by the positive experience the next time to declutter an area.

Divide items into three piles

When it comes to the actual process of decluttering, the first task is to get everything out from the section of wardrobe you are tackling. ‘Put it all out without focusing on anything in particular’ says Vicky. ‘When that wardrobe or drawer is empty, give it a quick wipe over with natural cleaning products, to signify a fresh start.’

Then, you should look at one piece of clothing at a time, and choose whether to put it one in of three piles: Keep, Go or Maybe. ‘Do not look at the Maybe pile until the very end’ says Vicky. ‘For items in the Go pile, you can decide later whether to donate, recycle or resell them. Be realistic about how much time you have for reselling clothes, oherwise this will just end up being another bag of clothes that sits in your house for three years’.

how to declutter your wardrobe
Getty

Replace the items you want to keep into the wardrobe – hopefully there’ll be a few less things by now!

Then it’s time to tackle the Maybe pile. ‘I recommend trying things on, and be very honest with yourself’ says Vicky. ‘If it’s too complicated to wear, or you like it on the hanger but not on yourself, than get rid of it’. She acknowledges that many people feel guilty getting rid of clothes that still have tags on. ‘If you feel guilty, then allow yourself to have those negative feelings – it will encourage you to be more mindful when shopping in the future’ Vicky says. ‘Also, you’ll feel so much more positive when your wardrobe is less cluttered that it will make up for it.’

Organise your clothes

Vicky has some simple but effective tips for replacing items in your wardrobe. For example, when you are hanging clothes, take into consideration whether you are left or right-handed, and hang them facing the most convenient way accordingly.

‘You can choose to organise clothes completely visually – for example colour-coordinating the whole rail’ says Vicky. ‘Alternatively, you can order by category, which is more practical. For example, short sleeves with short sleeves, vests with vests. I normally dress by the weather – for example if it’s jumper or T-shirt weather, so I find this a useful way to organise.’

Make use of underbed storage

If you’re short on space, then clothing such as cotton tops, jumpers and even jeans can be stored in drawers or underbed storage. ‘You can get storage with nice wheels and covers on top now – it’s not like that dusty stuff from the 80s!’ says Vicky.

She’s slightly more hesitant about vacuum packing, which can cause some serious creasing if you choose the wrong items. ‘It works well for things like puffer coats and skiwear’ says Vicky. However, for anything you want to avoid creasing too much ‘use soft storage, like duvet cases, with a zip so it’s nice and secure. And always remember to moth-proof them’ says Vicky. Storage with space for a label is ideal; try Dunelm or John Lewis for ideas.

Be smart with shoes and bags

If you have lots of shoes, then a great way to store them is in a tall bookcase – ideally one where you can add extra shelving, such as an IKEA design. However, you can also used underbed storage for shoes, or put them on any kind of shelves that don’t have wide gaps between them.

For bags, meanwhile, Vicky advises lining them up at the top of a wardrobe. ‘It’s also useful to have a shoebox that you can empty the contents of your bag into when you’re swapping between them’ she adds.

Think carefully about hangers and baskets

‘The golden rule for buying baskets is to measure the space you have first’ says Vicky. ‘You want to use every inch of whatever cubby hole you’re putting them into.’

Baskets for shelves can be useful, as you can create the effect of a drawer. Drawer dividers are also great for sorting underwear and socks.

how to declutter your wardrobe
Getty

As for hangers, Vicky recommends non-slip rubber hangers, which you can buy from Amazon. ‘Everyone buys those velvet ones with the bar across, but if you’re under a size 10 they will stretch out the shoulders and neckline of your clothes’ she advises.

‘The one thing I never do is add quirky storage’ says Vicky. ‘You know those hangers with the circles for scarves? I’ve only ever found those gathering dust, unusued at the back of people’s wardrobes.’

Keep your wardrobe on rotation

Vicky recommends a basic seasonal rotation, for instance packing away winter coats in summer, and summer outfits when it gets too cold. ‘Anything that you only wear on holiday, keep in a holiday box – it makes it really fun when you do go away, because you can open that box and delve into all the lovely things’ says Vicky.

Pick the right decluttering partner

If you’re struggling to get rid of anything, it’s a good idea to get someone to help you. But, says Vicky, they need to be the right person – not someone who will shame you or get bored after an hour. ‘They need to be energetic, efficient and organised, and know exactly what the target is for the end of the day’ says Vicky.

READ MORE: Get your house in order with this decluttering plan