How to De-clutter Your Wardrobe

My talk on de-cluttering and upcycling your clothes, at the WiRE Network meeting in January was very popular with the ladies, so I thought it deseved a blog post.  The wintery weather is providing us all with the opportunity to get some de-cluttering done.  I look forward to your comments telling me how you got on de-cluttering your own wardrobe.

Why de-clutter:

If your wardrobe is crammed with clothes that you don’t wear, how can you find what you do want to wear?  The outfits that would make you look and feel great are probably getting creased and crumpled and hidden from sight.

Wouldn’t you prefer to open the wardrobe door in the morning and immediately see the outfits you WANT to wear and have a wardrobe that makes you smile?  There is also the environmental impact of buying more clothes in the bid to find SOMETHING to wear.  You’ll save money, time and damage to the environment by sorting out what you have already.


How to De-clutter Your Wardrobe

You will need:

A couple of hours (depending on how bad it’s got)

A clear space (the floor and the bed)

A full length mirror

Some bin bags

An honest friend (or you can employ someone like me, who will not only help you de-clutter, but give advice on the styles that suit you and your life style)

Start by making three piles:

  1. I wear that
  2. Need to try it on
  3. I really don’t want that (for recycling)

Give the wardrobe a quick vacuum and a dust.

(If you have run out of time already, at least you can get rid of the stuff you really don’t want, and come back to the rest later)

  1. Consider the things you currently wear, is this the image you want to convey?  Or are you ready for a change?  If you feel ready for a change or aren’t really sure what suits you, I can help, or ask a trusted friend (but not the one you went shopping with when you bought the stuff that’s sitting in your wardrobe unworn) You can also find websites that will help you to consider your body shape and the styles that will suit you best.

Basic guides for dressing for your shape

Caryn Franklin’s comprehensive guides for dressing for your shape

Having decided what is staying, check what needs mending, hemming or having a button sewn back on. Start a mending pile.

  1. Now the ‘Need to try it on’ pile

Why don’t you wear it?

If it needs mending – add to the mending pile.

If the shape or style doesn’t suit you – could it be altered?

If the colour doesn’t suit you – into the recycling pile

If it doesn’t go with anything else – could it be that you need something else in your wardrobe to make it work?  Is it something you want to make work?  Would that new item work with other things in your wardrobe?

  1. Recycling

Take the really good stuff, anything with the labels still on maybe, or lightly worn, good quality clothes to a Swishing Event.  You can find more information at

Take it to a charity shop – even the not good enough stuff goes to the ‘rag man’, who gives the charity cash for it and it stands a good chance of being recycled.

Take it to a Clothing Bank – (as above)

Be wary of charity bags through your door – read the small print as often the charity will just get a small donation.

Avoid putting any textiles in the bin.  In landfill the natural fibres will rot and produce methane and the polyester will just stay in the ground for hundreds of years, when it could so easily be recycled.

Now to tidy up

Put the things you are sure you will wear back in the wardrobe in some kind of order.                  (that’s another blog post)

Find somewhere to put the stuff you are not sure about (come back to these clothes in a few weeks, if you haven’t missed it, do you need it?)Image

The mending pile

More posts will follow about altering clothes and tackling the mending.  You could find a sewing club or sewing class locally if you need help with sewing skills.

2014 update:

Joelle is based in North Lincolnshire and is planning sewing workshops for 2014 in Brigg and Barton upon Humber.  You can book a wardrobe decluttering session with her by emailing or have a chat with Joelle first 07913 995564

Take a look at the website and see what workshops Joelle is currently offering.

6 thoughts on “How to De-clutter Your Wardrobe

  1. I can personally vouch for Joelle’s decluttering skills as she recently restored order from chaos in my daughter’s wardrobe.
    This blog post gives you some great advice if you want to do it yourself – but I think it’s invaluable to have an unbiased and honest (but tactful) second opinion on the clothes you can’t decide whether you should recycle or keep. In that case – I think Joelle’s the woman to call.

  2. Great blog post – v informative. I’ve had an attempt at this myself and my wardrobe was much improved for a while but I think its a process I need to repeat largely because i did it myself and I think the objectivity of another person would make the difference

    1. Yes, I think it really does help having someone objective to help. Regular de-cluttering is good, each time you go back to it, you will be more able to see what is and isn’t working for you.

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