New Year Wardrobe Detox

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Many readers of my book Wardrobe Wisdom have commented on how the second section – Wardrobe Organisation – has really motivated them to have a proper wardrobe detox and declutter their clothing collection. This is a process that seems daunting initially but once completed is really transformative – to your wardrobe and to your mind. I’m not a neat freak and am not keen on rooms that are overly minimal – but I know which image below makes me feel calm and which gives me anxiety!

If your wardrobe is chaotic then it will make the process of dressing much more difficult each day – sometimes the feeling of not having anything to wear is because you can’t easily locate what you have. 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 survey in 2017 by Weight Watchers estimated that the figure of wasted expenditure on clothing was £10 billion, with only 55% of the clothes women own actually being worn. 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. And if you don’t have the luxury of wall-to-wall walk-in wardrobes to store mountains of clothing, then a periodic clothing cull is a necessity for most people.

So, if you have had a post-Christmas sales splurge and need to free up space for your new winter additions, why not release your inner “Marie Kondo”, ditch the New Year diet and detox your wardrobe instead!

Cleanse your Closet

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. I had a clothing clear-out just before Christmas and donated to The British Heart Foundation – they will collect the bags of clothing from your door (see the BHF website for details). You could also support charities like Smart Works, who accept quality second-hand workwear donations, which they then offer to women seeking employment.

High-end designer labels will also sell well on designer second-hand clothing websites, such as Vestiare Collective. Head over to my Recycle blog post where I have listed some other places where you can recycle your clothing.

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. Check out Wardrobe Wisdom for more tips on effective wardrobe organisation.

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Recycle Week

Recycle Week

This week (24-30 September) is Recycle Week so I’m encouraging people to help lower the amount of clothes that end up in landfill each year by recycling or donating their unwanted clothing. According to Wrap it is estimated that £140 million worth of clothes end up in landfill each year. Oxfam estimates that 9,513 garments are thrown into landfill every five minutes. These are really shocking statistics that can easily be reduced by recycling or donating your unwanted clothing.

Retailers and Recycling Initiatives

Marks & Spencer launched an initiative with Oxfam in 2012 called Schwopping to encourage people to recycle their unwanted clothes. You can bring along any unwanted clothes (not just those that are from M&S) and put them into one of their “Shwop Drop” bins in exchange for Sparks points. M&S then donate the clothes to Oxfam, who resell the garments online, in their stores or in international markets. Alternatively, you can go to an Oxfam store where you’ll receive a £5 M&S voucher if there’s an M&S item in your donation. 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 now run similar schemes include:

H&M (all brands of clothing in any condition welcome).

&Other Stories (all brands of clothing welcome).

Levis (all brands of clothing welcome).

John Lewis & Partners is currently trialling a scheme which will enable them to buy back clothes from customers through an app in exchange for an e-giftcard to use online.

You can also donate unwanted clothing to:

T K Max in partnership with Cancer Research UK

Zara (currently only available at selected stores). If you live in Spain they will also collect clothes from you if you have made an online purchase.

Donating to Charity

As well as regular high street charity shops, there are a few charities that specifically accept donations of work appropriate clothing which they then offer to unemployed people, to help them dress to impress at interviews. They also provide styling advice and interview tips which is a great way of helping people that may have been out of work for a long time.

Smart Works (Branches in London, Manchester, Reading, Birmingham, Newcastle and Edinburgh)

Dress for Success (London)

Suited for Success (Birmingham)

Designer resale sites

If you have designer clothing that you don’t wear anymore, there are many designer clothing resale sites where they can find a new home. Vestiare Collective based in France is the most popular one for use worldwide. There’s also Hardly Every Worn It and Cudoni based in London.

Recycling worn clothing

Damaged clothes and shoes that are beyond repair can be recycled along with other household textiles and made into new textiles, such as household insulation or mattress filling. 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.

Love Not Landfill is a new campaign set up to encourage young people in London to dispose of old clothing responsibly. They have distributed textile banks across London where you can drop off unwanted clothes.

Love Not Landfill
Image: Love Not Landfill

 

Remember: no textiles need to be thrown away – even your old bras, socks and pants can be recycled!

 

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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.

Here are a few ways of dealing with your unwanted clothing without resorting to the dustbin:

  • 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!
  • Local 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.

schwopping

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.

jigsaw

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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