Detox your Wardrobe


“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

– William Morris.

Clutter is something The Lady’s Maid tries to avoid, especially within the wardrobe. Some of the wardrobes she has worked with are so large she gets lost in them and would quite like to stumble upon a Narnia-like world to escape them. Ladies that employ a Lady’s Maid are evidently in need of someone full-time to impart some order on to the chaos that can become a woman’s wardrobe. But whatever the size of your clothing collection it is still important to adopt a little organisation and appropriate decision-making to get the best out of it. A YouGov survey in 2012, commissioned by M&S revealed that there are around 2.4 billion pieces of clothing lying unworn per year in the UK, cluttering up wardrobes across the land; this equates to approx 46% of the national wardrobe. A similar survey by Weight Watchers, reported in January 2018, estimated the figure of wasted expenditure on clothing to be £10 billion, or £200 per adult, with only 55% of the clothes women own actually being worn. Clothing clutter is clearly an ongoing problem. Whilst some people may be hanging on to things for posterity, or “just in case” they need it, there is undoubtedly an accumulation and hoarding of unwanted or unnecessary clothing going on.

The often heard sartorial refrain: “I have nothing to wear” is often due to clothing clutter – it is hard to create an outfit if you can’t easily locate one. The Lady’s Maid advises performing a wardrobe detox at least twice a year to prevent overcrowding the closet. So, before you begin organising your winter wardrobe, try and have a clearout to eliminate old clothing that is no longer worn. This process is so important, especially if you regularly buy new clothing, as it will free up space for the remaining clothes and new ones, enabling you to organise them better and find specific items easily. It will also help you to identify what gaps you may have in your wardrobe – garments that you may need to purchase to get the full potential out of what you currently have. Having a thorough wardrobe audit is also very liberating – it will make you feel much more organised and in control of your clothes and your style. The ends of seasons are the best times to have a clearout, so you can do it at the same time as rotating your wardrobe and putting out-of-season-clothes into storage (see post on seasonal storage for tips on storing clothes).

When you go through your wardrobe, be realistic about the clothes that you wear day to day; hanging on to garments that you no longer wear takes up space unnecessarily, so try to adopt a ruthless sorting process. Divide into the following groups:

  1. Keep, wear regularly
  2. Keep, but need to supplement with new purchases in order to wear
  3. eBay
  4. Charity
  5. Storage (out of season)
  6. Discard/recycle

If there are any garments that are dirty or damaged or need altering deal with them before returning to the wardrobe or selling/donating to charity. If they need repairing/altering you aren’t going to wear them until they’re fixed – nothing should be in the wardrobe that isn’t ready to wear.

If garments no longer fit or you haven’t worn them in a while, try selling on eBay first or donate to a charity shop. Popular designer and high-street labels and occasion outfits/dresses tend to sell better on eBay than casual clothes, so consider sending casual clothes straight to the charity shop if they are in good condition, or to a clothing recycling bank. High end designer labels will also sell well on designer second hand clothing websites such as

Keeping organised

To keep your clothing collection at a manageable level, try to resist purchasing any unnecessary items and focus instead on filling the gaps in your wardrobe that were revealed after the clear-out – Group 2 is likely to be full of separates which only work if they have something to work with. Make a list of things you think your existing wardrobe would benefit from and focus on acquiring these items the next time you go clothes shopping. Your goal is for a complete, versatile and manageable wardrobe to fit in with your space and lifestyle. Resist the temptation to purchase new one-off garments unless you think they will complement what you already own.

Another way of keeping control of your new tidy wardrobe is to always get rid of something old every time you buy something new. Unless you have unlimited space this is the only way that you will keep the size of your wardrobe at a constant level and prevent overcrowding. By selling old items on eBay this will also make you feel more justified in making a new purchase as you have given yourself a discount tag!

Once the detox is complete your remaining wardrobe needs to be efficiently organised so that you can easily locate specific garments. Avoiding clutter creeping back in will be much easier if you have appropriate wardrobe space and storage solutions, so in the next post The Lady’s Maid will look at wardrobe organisation.



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