New Year, New Wardrobe

Hang on to your Christmas spirit a little longer and cleanse your closet instead.

If you are anything like The Lady’s Maid, the last thing you want to do in the midst of January is adopt the customary New Year post-Christmas detox, diet or that strange phenomenon of recent years: “dry January” (why make the bleakest month of the year any worse by depriving yourself of a warming tipple). As the first month of the year, it is natural that the arrival of January prompts people to assess their lifestyles and want to improve, in an effort to “start as you mean to go on”. Still, The Lady’s Maid prefers to bask in the glory of Christmas until at least Candlemas. So, instead of depriving yourself of food and drink’s winter-warming sustenance, The Lady’s Maid suggests you turn your attention to a “wardrobe detox” instead.

If you have had a January Sales splurge and need to free up space for your new winter additions, then January is a perfect time to de-clutter your closet and release your inner “Marie Kondo”. Most ladies, at one time or another, have uttered the panic-stricken words “I have nothing to wear”. It is never usually true and often a result of clothing clutter – it is hard to create an outfit if you can’t easily locate one. Clearing out clothing clutter 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 the clothes you currently have, enabling you to create outfits with ease and take the stress out of dressing.

A YouGov survey in 2012 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 in 2017 by Weight Watchers 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 may need it/fit in to it one day, there is undoubtedly a hoarding of unworn or unnecessary clothing going on.

With this in mind, 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/re-sell
  4. Charity
  5. Storage (out of season)
  6. Discard/recycle

If garments no longer fit or you haven’t worn them in a while, try selling them on eBay first or donate to a charity shop. Popular designer and high-street labels and occasion outfits/dresses tend to sell better than casual clothes on eBay, 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  www.hardlyeverwornit.com or http://www.cudoni.com.

 Keeping organised

To keep your clothing collection at a manageable level with a wardrobe that is accessible and wearable, try to resist purchasing any unnecessary items; focus instead on filling the gaps in your wardrobe that were revealed after the clear-out. Group 2 (things that you are keeping but need to supplement with new purchases in order to wear) 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 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.

Once the detox is complete, your remaining wardrobe needs to be efficiently organised so that you can easily locate specific garments. It will be much easier to avoid clutter creeping back in if everything is suitable stored.

Here are The Lady’s Maid’s Top Tips for Organising your Wardrobe:

  • The best way to organise your clothing in your wardrobe is to divide it into sections, such as: work wear, casual wear, evening wear, sportswear. Within these sections organise garments by type (skirts/trousers/tops), and then by colour, darks to lights.
  • If you want your wardrobe to look neat and streamlined, discard shop hangers that came with your garments as these will vary in size and add bulk to the wardrobe space. If you adopt slim velour-covered plastic hangers, or slim rubber hangers throughout the rail you will keep the clothes hanging at an even level and achieve a streamlined visual effect as well as saving space.

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  • Keep woollen knitwear folded to protect the natural fibres which will stretch if hung on a clothes hanger. Box-folding and arranging by colour is the best way of organising knitwear – keep different types together i.e. high-necks, V-necks, crew-necks etc for ease of location and then organise each type by colour, darks to lights. You can use a shirt-folding template to help achieve a uniform shape, or a plastic chopping board works just as well!

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  • Hanging shoe organisers are a great space saver for flat footwear. These can be hung over a hanging rail to allow you to store multiple pairs of shoes. You can also store other small accessories here, such as scarfs, belts and gloves.

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  • Out-of-season clothing can be stored on top of the wardrobe or under the bed, to free up space for clothing in wear during the current season. Be sure that any storage boxes and bags that you use are appropriate for clothing – they should be made of breathable cotton or canvas material, not plastic. And if woollen knitwear is present, add a lavender sachet to ward off the pesky moth. Delicate garments should be folded with acid-free tissue paper to protect them from creasing.

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  • Drawer organisers are useful for keeping different types of underwear separate, and preventing you from having a top drawer full of jumbled smalls. If you don’t have drawers, then you could arrange underwear in open shoeboxes on shelves, or in similar shaped boxes.

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  • Acrylic drawers and stackable trays are a good way of storing costume jewellery and sunglasses to protect them from dust; the transparent plastic makes it easy to view the contents.

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This article also features on The Lady magazine website: www.lady.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Detox your Wardrobe

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“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 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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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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