Decluttering your wardrobe 101
Turns out Marie Kondo is on to something.
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You’ve probably been meaning to get around to organising for a while now, so why not use some of your extra time at home to whip your wardrobe into shape? We’re not talking a few neater shelves here – we mean really getting your wardrobe to the most organised place it’s ever been. To help you out, we enlisted the advice of our stylists, who in addition to being well dressed, are also incredibly well organised. And as a bonus, most of their tips can be applied in a single afternoon. Because the next episode of “Tiger King” can wait – but not that long.
Before you start folding and hanging, you’ll want to take stock of your clothes and assess if everything is worth keeping. Thread stylist Alexander McCalla swears by a tactic he calls ‘the one-year rule’. “I’ve been applying this rule for 10 years now, as I’ve found it annoying lugging around clothing that I’ve never worn from house to house,” he says. “The trick is to be brutal and get rid of anything in your wardrobe you haven’t worn in a year. I tend to review my wardrobe twice a year during transitional seasons: spring and autumn. Let's say it's spring (because it is apparently). You take everything out of his autumn-winter wardrobe and put them into piles:
Keep in wardrobe: any evergreen pieces
Keep but store: pieces that are too warm for spring
Repair: anything that needs to be patched or sewn
Donate: anything I no longer need
You then do the same with your spring-summer wardrobe." For anything you’re unsure of, Alexander recommends trying to incorporate it into your wardrobe and reevaluate it in a few months to see how much wear you’ve gotten out of it. When doing this, he also suggests taking time to make sure the pieces you’re keeping work well together, so you can make the most of them. He also advises against clinging to special occasion attire just because you may have spent more on it. You should always try it on to make sure it still fits and consider replacing it if it doesn’t. Ideally, clearing out your wardrobe will help you keep the hardest-working pieces, and help you from buying pieces with a shorter shelf life. It’s a win for your wardrobe – and the environment.
When it comes to storing off-season clothing, you should assess the space you have available, and tailor your storing method to it. If you don't have an attic or a spacious storage room, then there are a few clever techniques that will help you maximise on space. Stylist Millie Rich uses containers that can be tucked under the bed, while stylist Artemis Crowley vacuum packs clothes before storing them. To optimise on space even more, use the folding methods outlined in the next section.
Not all folding methods are created equal. Millie swears by the Marie Kondo method, which involves folding them so that they stand vertically (instead of stacking them) so you can see everything you own and maximise on space. Win, win. “If you have limited wardrobe space like me, this will be life-changing,” Millie says.
Stylist Toby Standing is also a Marie Kondo method evangelist. His photos, taken in step-by-step order above, show how to create the perfect rectangular shape with the garment that will enable it to stand on it's own (a sign that you've done it correctly). And once your clothes are folded, make sure you keep similar items together. “I organise my drawers by categories, like jeans and wool trouser, and make sure to hang anything fragile in my wardrobe,” Millie says.
Millie also recommends storing any shoes you don’t wear often – or any that are a bit more expensive – in their original shoe boxes to keep them fresh and clean and create more space in your wardrobe. “Stuffing them with tissues is an easy way to ensure they keep their shape,” she adds. If you don’t have your boxes, our stylist Luke recommends investing in shoe bags and shoe trees. “For any smart shoes that you're not wearing much (or those that you are), shoe trees help them keep their shape and absorb moisture that accrues from sweat,” he says. “You ideally want wooden shoe trees – cedar is especially good as it's naturally antibacterial). The shoe bag will stop dust from damaging the leather of the shoe if you are storing them for an extended period of time.”
Be discerning about which garments you hang and which you fold. For example, stylist Freddie Kemp suggests never hanging knitwear, jersey, or jeans. “Jeans mostly for space reasons, but jersey and knitwear to avoid the annoying shoulder lumps,” he says. “Hangers are saved for shirts, coats, suits, and formal trousers. Although for the latter, you’ll need trouser hangers, as you want to avoid folding your trousers over.” If you’re limited on hanging space, stylist Izzy Harvey recommends magic space-saving hangers, which can be found on Amazon. One set can hold up to 50 garments and they can be hung vertically or horizontally to optimise on space.
To protect your knitwear against pesky moths, Luke suggests buying scented sachets. “They have a really strong smell, and you can squeeze them to get lavender dust in your knits to keep them safe,” he says. “Cedar blocks work too (though you have to sand them regularly) or blocks infused with essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender, or cedar.” And as an added bonus, they smell really nice.
Words: Allison Pavlick
Photography: Thread stylists
Illustration: Calum Heath