Wardrobe Management

Clothes for Life not Landfill

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 13.27.58The Lady’s Maid loves to shop for new clothes, but she is also very savvy when it comes to keeping her wardrobe organised so that there aren’t too many items collecting dust and going unworn and unloved. But what to do with these items? One place for which they are definitely not destined is the dustbin. Clothes should be bought to last and not thrown away, but even the most seasoned and stylish shopper will end up with items of clothing that are unwanted – perhaps rash purchases bought in the Sale or garments that no longer fit properly. Throwing away worn-out clothing should be avoided as it is environmentally damaging – millions of garments end up in landfill each year. According to Oxfam, 9,513 garments are thrown into landfill in Britain every five minutes. That’s a total of one billion items a year. As well as the environmental concern resulting from this (because some textiles will emit harmful gases when they eventually biodegrade), there is a huge financial cost to landfill depositing: at £72 per tonne of landfill waste, the cost per year of throwing away clothing in the UK is over £25 million.

In this post, the Lady’s Maid suggests some ways of dealing with your unwanted clothing:

  • Selling unwanted clothing on eBay is a great way to find your unwanted garments a new home, whilst  – after all, one lady’s trash is another lady’s treasure!
  • High-end designer labels will also sell well on designer second-hand clothing websites, such as www.hardlyeverwornit.com
  • Donate clothes to Charity shops. Make sure that they are in a wearable condition and wash clothing before donating.
  • Worn-out clothing of appropriate fabric, such as cotton, can be cut into rags to use for household cleaning or shoe polishing.
  • Clothes and shoes can be recycled along with other household textiles and made into new textiles, such as household insulation or mattress filling. Some clothing will also be sold on for reuse to countries such as Africa. Check with your local council to see if they collect clothing for recycling, or look out for clothing recycle banks in supermarket car parks. Refer to the website www.recycle.com to find out what you can recycle and where.

Retailers and Recycling Initiatives

Marks & Spencer launched an initiative with Oxfam in 2012 called Schwopping to encourage people to recycle their unwanted clothes. Customers were invited to bring along an M&S labelled item of clothing that they no longer wore to a participating store where they would be rewarded with a £5 M&S voucher in return. M&S then donated the clothes to Oxfam, who resell the garments online, in their stores or in international markets. Clothing that cannot be resold can be used to make new fabric for things like loft insulation. Since the initiative was launched, 7.8 million garments have been “schwopped”, which is worth an estimated £5.5 million to the charity. If initiatives such as these are adopted by more retailers, it will significantly reduce the amount of clothes sent to landfill each year. See their website for more details and participating M&S stores.

Other stores that run similar schemes include H&M, &Other Stories and Levis.

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Jigsaw launched an advertising campaign in 2015 to encourage the idea of clothing being for Life and not for Landfill. Their ads featured clothes from their current collection worn with vintage pieces to promote the idea that fashion doesn’t have to be all about the new and that quality clothing can be classic and bought to last for decades, with the new complementing the old and vice versa.

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So before discarding even that worn-out old bra to the dustbin, have a think about the lasting damage to the environment to which you are contributing, and recycle!

 

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Storage, Wardrobe Management

Pack like a Pro

“I get ideas about what’s essential when packing my suitcase.”

– Diane von Furstenberg.

The Lady’s Maid is a seasoned pro when it comes to packing – she has been known to pack 10 suitcases in the time it takes for her boss to have breakfast whilst also being afflicted with jet lag and recovering from the after effects of a mild electric shock in Bangkok. But if the thought of packing sends you into a cold sweat, worry not: follow the Lady’s Maid’s practical packing advice below to ease pre-travel stress and ensure that your clothes are kept in tip-top condition in transit and on arrival at your destination.

  • Don’t overpack. You might be going on holiday, going away for the weekend, or on a business trip – you’re not moving home, so be selective when packing clothing for trips. Think about what you’re going to be doing on the trip and what the weather will be like and pack accordingly. Plan outfits in advance – bring a selection of clothing out of your wardrobe and think about what will work together for the trip. Separates that can me mixed and matched are a good idea in order to maximise outfit opportunities.
  • If you are packing delicate, beaded or crease-prone garments, use tissue paper to protect the fabric and minimise the risk of creasing. Pack heavier items at the bottom of the case (shoes, bags) and lighter clothing items at the top.
  • Try to fold garments along natural seam lines as much as possible to minimise creasing. Avoid vertical folds as these do not fall out as naturally.
  • Pack trousers by folding the trouser leg half in the case and half out and then continue to pack clothing before folding the outer part of the trouser in once the case is full. This will prevent you from having to fold the trouser leg on itself which would create a crease.
  • Lingerie/laundry bags are a good way of keeping underwear together in the suitcase.
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Cath Kidston – Set of 2 Provence Rose Travel Laundry Bags – £10

  • Dustbags for shoes and bags are also worth using to protect the contents and the surrounding clothes. More expensive shoes usually come with a dust bag but you can buy them separately like this one from Cath Kidston or you could even make your own.
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Cath Kidston – Provence Rose Shoe Bag – £7

  • If you travel regularly, it is well worth keeping a travel toiletry bag separate from your main home toiletries so that you don’t have the extra bother of having to constantly pack these every time you travel. Pack liquids in zip-lock bags before placing in toiletry bags for added security – if there is any leakage your clothing will be protected. Travel hanging toiletry bags with transparent pockets for makeup are also great for travel as you can hang them straight up and easily locate their contents.
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De Jouy Toiletry Wash Bag – M&S – £15

  • Check the weight of your bag before leaving for the airport with a hand held weighing scale – find out the weight limits of your airline to ensure that you won’t be lumbered with an excess baggage fee when you get to the airport.

Bon Voyage!

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Wardrobe Management

Dress Like Downton!

The dress style of the 1920s is often revived due to influences from current productions in the arts, such as the recent The Great Gatsby film and, of course, Downton Abbey. 1920s’ fashion is characterised by loose tailoring rather than a fitted bodice and skirt; the fringed flapper dress, or shift dresses with dropped waists epitomise the style. Fabrics of evening dresses tend to be satin or silk in pastel, black or metallic colours, often heavily adorned with beads and strewn with sequins. Long stranded pearls or beaded necklaces and Art Deco inspired jewellery and bags complete the look. In this post The Lady’s Maid shares her top five picks so that you can dress like the ladies of Downton and swish and sway those 1920s’ hemlines throughout the Christmas and New Year party season!

1. Miss Selfridge: Premium Collection Danielle Drop Back Dress, Black. £69.30

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2. Ariella Tara sequin short dress, Gold. £149.

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3. Chesca beaded flapper dress, powder pink. £295

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4. French Connection La Boheme Embellished Tunic Dress. £92.50

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5. Phase Eight Gatsby beaded dress. £225

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Merry Christmas!

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Wardrobe Management

Wardrobe Organisation

Convert Clothing Chaos into Calm: follow The Lady’s Maid’s guide to Wardrobe Organisation.

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Organising your Wardrobe

Organisation is key to keeping a tidy and accessible wardrobe and prevent chaos from creeping into your clothing collection. There are many different constituent parts you have to bring together to create an outfit, so the process of dressing and creating outfits will be made a lot quicker and easier if your wardrobe is kept in a tidy orderly way at all times. Once you have a system for organising and storing your clothes you will begin to value the things you do have and want to get the full potential out of each garment, rather than resorting to buying something new when you’re looking for a new outfit to wear.

Here are some of The Lady’s Maids tips for keeping the perfect wardrobe:

  • Sort through your wardrobe as outlined in the previous post Detox your Wardrobe. Before rearranging the clothes give the wardrobe space a thorough clean – vacuum inside and clean the sides and base with a damp cloth. Leave to dry thoroughly before placing clothes back inside.
  • Re-line drawers with lining paper or drawer liners – preferably lavender or cedarwood scented to ward of moths.
  • The best way to organise your clothing is to divide it into sections such as: business/formal wear, casual wear, evening wear, outdoor wear. Within these sections organise garments by garment type (e.g. skirts/tops/trousers) and then by colour within these types, from darks to lights. Group together patterned and multi-coloured pieces.
  • Don’t pack things in the wardrobe too tightly – clothes need space to air and hang freely to allow creases to fall out.
  • Evening dresses with very delicate fabrics and clothes that are only worn occasionally should be protected from dust with garment bags. Use breathable calico bags. Short plastic shoulder covers can be used to protect the tops of dresses if you have lots of them and want to be able to view them all in your wardrobe.
  • Very heavily beaded dresses should be laid in drawers rather than hung as hanging them will cause the fabric to sag and stretch.
  • If you want your wardrobe to look professionally arranged and organised use matching hangers for all clothing within the wardrobe. This will keep the clothes hanging at an even level and make them look more streamlined on the rail. Slim wooden or non-slip rubber hangers are the most space-efficient.
  • Sort knitwear into groups such as: V-necks, High-Necks, T-shirts, Cardigans, and then into colour order: dark-light. Thick woollen knitwear is best kept folded in drawers or stacked on shelves to prevent the delicate fibres from stretching on hangers. Thinner knitwear can be hung but be sure to use appropriate hangers to support the vulnerable shoulder area, such as these ones from John Lewis.

Buy John Lewis Non-Slip Knitwear Hanger, Set of 3, White Online at johnlewis.com

  • If placing shoes at the bottom of the wardrobe below the clothing, order them in a way that corresponds with the clothing above. This will look better visually and will also enable you to match up the shoes with appropriate outfits.

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Storage solutions

There are many clothing storage solutions available that will help supplement your main wardrobe and help impart a little calm amidst the chaos:

  • Portable hanging rails are practical and economical if you need extra hanging space in a spare room, and also very useful for planning travel wardrobes. The downside of these are that your clothing will be exposed to dust, so make sure you only use clothing rails for everyday clothing that is worn and washed regularly.

Single Pole Garment Rail

  • Shoe hanging bags can be fixed over a hanging rail to allow you to store multiple pairs of shoes and are particularly good for flat and casual shoes.

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  • A multi-hook rail fixed over the back of doors for hanging coats and bags.
  • Baskets or stackable trays could be placed on shelves within the wardrobe to keep together bulkier accessories that are awkward to store elsewhere.

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  • Draw dividers – good for organising underwear or accessories such as belts within drawers.

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Wardrobe Management

Detox your Wardrobe

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“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

– Leonardo da Vinci.


Clutter is something The Lady’s Maid tries to avoid, especially within the wardrobe. Some of the wardrobes that the Lady’s Maid 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 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.* 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. The detox process will be easier for you if you have a portable garment rail to place clothing on while you are sorting through your garments. Divide into the following groups:

  1. Keep, wear regularly
  2. Keep, but need to supplement with new purchases in order to wear
  3. Washing/ironing/mending
  4. eBay
  5. Charity
  6. Storage (out of season)
  7. 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 www.hardlyeverwornit.com

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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* YouGov report commissioned by Marks & Spencer in April 2012.

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Wardrobe Management

Seasonal Storage

As the days start to draw in and the temperature drops autumn/winter brings not only the very welcome start of a new series of Downton Abbey (about which the Lady’s Maid is naturally very excited) but the need for a seasonal wardrobe change. Now is a perfect time to pack away your summer clothing and bring out the winter woollens. With that in mind the Lady’s Maid thought it fitting to use her inaugural post to offer tips and guidance on how best to store clothing when it is out of season.

‘ “This must be a simply enormous wardrobe!” thought Lucy, going still further in and pushing the soft folds of the coats aside to make room for her. Then she noticed that there was something crunching under her feet. “I wonder is that more mothballs?” she thought, stooping down to feel it with her hand. But instead of feeling the hard, smooth wood of the floor of the wardrobe, she felt something soft and powdery and extremely cold. “This is very queer,” she said, and went on a step or two further.’

– C. S. Lewis, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe

If you don’t have an enormous wardrobe extending onto a further magical world like Narnia you will need to pack away clothing after summer has passed to maximise the space available for winter wear, which is likely to be much bulkier (especially if like lucky Lucy your wardrobe is full of furs).

Clothes are at the greatest risk of damage when in storage if they are not protected properly, so ensure that you take the correct steps to protect your garments. If you have a spare room, put a rail or wardrobe in there for clothes you want to keep on hangers, otherwise most clothes can be folded and put in clothing storage bags or boxes and placed on top of wardrobes or under beds.

1. Firstly, ensure that everything going into storage is washed, clean and thoroughly dry. Surface dirt and dust will become more ingrained over time and cause damage to the clothing fibres. Dirty clothes will also attract bugs and pests – any natural protein fibre clothing with old food stains or perspiration will attract moths and carpet beetles which cause damage to the clothing fibres. Some stains are colourless, so even if the clothes aren’t visibly dirty it is best to wash/dry-clean them first before storing. Moths attack only natural protein fibres (silk, cashmere, wool) so your winter wear is more susceptible than summer wear but other bugs could still be attracted to any dirty or dusty clothing.
2. If there are any clothes that need mending make sure they are fixed before storing.
3. Never store clothing in polythene bags or plastic garment bags, especially if the garments are made of natural fibres which need to breathe. In plastic bags condensation will form and could cause mould or yellowing of fabrics, leading to permanent staining.
4. Garment bags should be made of a breathable material, like calico, and large enough to hold each garment. Do not pack too many garments in one bag as the fabric needs space to breathe and to hang naturally to prevent creasing.

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clothing storage box: The Holding Company

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garment bag: The Holding Company

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        clothing storage bag: Cath Kidston

   5. If storing garments in boxes, fold and wrap clothing with acid-free tissue paper to provide further protection and prevent creasing. Use breathable boxes or bags specifically for storing clothing. Acid-free tissue paper is available from specialist stationers or some dry cleaners e.g. Jeeves of Belgravia. Garment bags and boxes can be bought from department stores and specialist storage companies such as The Holding Company or http://www.aplaceforeverything.co.uk. For added protection you could seperate precious knitwear from  other clothing and place in special cashmere storage bags such as these ones from The White Company.
6. Place an anti-moth lavender sachet or cedar wood block at the top of each storage box or hanging on the garment bag to protect from moths and other pests.
7. Place the storage containers in a cool damp-free area away from direct sunlight and heat. Above wardrobes or under beds are the most obvious places, or in spare rooms. Attics are not the best place for storing clothes as they are likely to become quite hot in summer and possibly damp in winter. They are also likely to be very dusty places as, unless you are the most devoted of housekeepers, it is unlikely that you regularly dust your attic. These conditions combine to make them the ideal home for bugs, and conversely the worst home for your clothing. Clothing stored in attics is also susceptible to damage from rodents looking for bedding material to make nests.
8. Try and inspect clothing that is in storage every now and then – moths are crafty creatures and even if you have taken all of the above precautionary measures, the odd one could slip through. In the event that this occurs you will want to be able to deal with any damage caused as soon as possible.
9. If you are likely to go on holiday to sunnier climates during the winter, it would be a good idea to keep holiday clothes together in one storage box so that they will be easy to locate when it comes to packing for your holiday.
10. When bringing clothes out of storage brush them down with a clothing brush and give them a steam or press to freshen them up. Wash if necessary or refresh with a scented linen spray.
11. If your wardrobe overwhelms you and you are prepared to pay to store clothing off-site companies such as The Wardrobe Curator will catalogue your wardrobe and store out of season clothing until you need it again.

In the next entry The Lady’s Maid will look at what you should do if your knits have suffered that most calamitous of clothing crises – the moth attack.

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