As the holiday season is just about to wrap up, I’ve realised I’ve done the same thing I do at the end of every year, which is to thrash around at home in my pyjamas, throwing things out in an obsessive 10-day purge.
I spend the beginning of December enthusiastically saying to everyone, “We should get together a picnic over Christmas,” or, “Let’s go see a movie!”.
Instead, I find myself standing amidst piles of dusty, unwanted and now resented possessions, wondering why I decided I ever needed them in the first place.
I love to clear, but one thing I have learned about a wardrobe clean-out is, much like beauty maintenance, it is endless.
By the time you’ve dropped the last lot at your local Vinnies, three more things from Uniqlo, something on sale at Matches, two new pairs of jeans and a shopping basket from Bali have snuck in to replace them.
Over the years, and through many and varied idiotic purchases, I have come to finally realise a few facts about having the ultimate, functional and manageable wardrobe. And here they are…
1. You need far, far less than you think
When a fashion editor friend of mine moved from Australia to New York, she decided to sell or give away all her clothes, and kept just 20 items, including shoes and bags, (all black). She said she never felt more liberated and as a result, better dressed, as she knew everything she reached for was already perfectly edited.
2. Shoes do not ‘keep’
Designer shoes, despite the fact that they can cost close to a gobsmacking $1000 or more, are not a long term investment. Once worn, they mildew, crease and crack even when they are just put away on a shelf. There is no good financial or indeed fashion sense in having dozens of barely worn shoes.
Buy one or two fab new pairs per season (which will instantly update your whole look) wear them consistently and then throw them out and replace. Any accessories you no longer wear regularly will be happily received by organisations such as Dressed For Success, a charity that improves the employability of women in need by providing professional clothing.
3. The ‘make three piles’ rule
The first pile is for throwing out – anything stained, torn, or discoloured. The second pile is for things that you no longer like, that are not flattering or that simply don’t fit anymore . Be ruthless. They won’t fit you again. Well, yes, you may lose the five kilos preventing you from doing them up, but if you do, odds are you will be going out to buy new clothes to celebrate anyway.
The very best of pile two can be put aside to sell, or donated to charities like the aforementioned Dress for Success; the less corporate pieces can be donated to local thrift stores like the Salvos.
The third pile is yours to keep, all the items you really love, and wear often. Edit this collection once more (have you worn it in the past two years?). You should now have a tightly and concisely edited wardrobe, which means everything you reach for in the morning makes you happy – and looks great.
4. Shop your own wardrobe
Now your wardrobe is edited down to the very best pieces, ask a more fashionable friend to come over and give you some tips on new ways to wear what you have. Sometimes it needs someone else’s eye to show you how to mix up things you already own (a dress with a flat brogue, an evening dress with a leather jacket, mismatched earrings with a denim shirt).
The answer to a fab new fashion year has probably been in your wardrobe all along. You just have the clear some space to see it.