STYLE: A wardrobe de-clutter and a few lessons learnt

wardobe de clutter


YESTERDAY I got down and dirty with my wardrobe and had a good ol’ sort out and boy, oh boy, did it feel good.

It’s been something I’ve been meaning to do for ages so when a small window of opportunity (and time) presented itself, I grabbed it and went wild amongst my racks.

You see recently, I’ve been getting up in the morning and looking at my wardrobe with total and utter despair. I would glance at my clothes and say to myself “I have absolutely nothing to wear!” but yet on closer inspection, and looking at it through realistic eyes, I knew this was absolutely not the case. I had a wardrobe bursting full of clothes but yet could I find a suitable outfit or pick one out easily in the blink of an eye? Could I ‘eck as like.

Does this sound familiar?

Hands up if you find getting dressed in the morning tough enough without adding wardrobe panic and despair into the midst? For me, as a mum to an active and inqusitive toddler, I can honestly say it’s a battle most mornings just to even get showered as my little lady attempts to cling to my legs like a limpet and demands that mummy plays with her, now!

And so after despairing and thinking that there had to be an easier way, I turned to a wonderful little book for help by the inspiring American glamazon and blogger  Jennifer L Scott, called Lessons From Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living In Paris’.

After spending time living in Paris as a student, Jennifer got to witness first hand the way Parisian woman live their daily lives and insists that the secret to looking as chic and pulled together as those oh so immaculate Parisian ladies, is to downsize our wardrobes. And not just a little. But a LOT.

We’re not talking about just getting rid of a few items here. No siree. Brace yourselves or sit down quick because Jennifer advocates that the key to looking good and getting ready with ease is to have a ’10 item wardrobe’. Yep folks, just 10 items for a season (with a few accessories and extra basic clothing items thrown in for good measure). Ten items. Just mull that over for a moment.

vintage shoes



Now, if like me, you absolutely LOVE your clothes and find yourself thinking “no, no, no, how can this be?!” believe me, I was totally aghast when I read this section too.

However it definitely got me thinking and I have to admit, she really does have a point. Because think about it, how much of the clothing in your wardrobe do you actually love? Or even like? How much of it is quality, made well and will last you for years? And more importantly how much of it do you even wear?!

And so, whilst for me the ’10 item wardrobe’ just isn’t do-able, I have still been inspired by Jennifer and her Parisian lesson and have got brutal, radically downsizing my wardrobe as a result.

Intrigued? Thought so. ;-)

Here’s how I did it:

Firstly, I decided that all the items in my wardrobe that I didn’t feel good in or that no longer fitted me properly had to go. Even if they were a good buy. Even if they cost me a small fortune. There’s no point hanging on to clothes that are just ‘so so’ or that made me feel ‘bleurgh’, so out they went. And, If I had to think about whether or not to keep an item, that was enough for me to decide it had to go too.

Next – and this was easy – from what was left, I simply removed all my spring and summer clothing and put them in a pile. Ideally ( in the future!) the seasonal items that I won’t be wearing for a while will go into a separate wardrobe where they can hang in their glory until the weather changes and I can go and look at them occasionally and admire their beauty (it’s not just me who likes to look at pretty clothes is it?!).  But for now they’ll be going into a storage box. The glamour ey?! I know, it makes me weep too, but still needs must.

Finally, with the clothes that were in left in my wardrobe, I sorted them into outfits. Yep, outfits. For years I have always hung my garments in groups of similar items – so all the skirts would hang together, then T-shirts, shirts etc – because you always read in style books that this is how it should be. But after realising that this hasn’t really worked for me in the past and that time is certainly of the essence these days, I thought I’d rebel and try this approach instead and guess what?

After massively downsizing my wardrobe by either getting rid of items or putting them into storage, I suddenly found it very easy to start putting outfits together. Ridiculously easy infact. It felt like finally I could actually ‘see’ my clothes and pulling outfits together started to take seconds and actually felt like fun. I’ve paired some things together that I never would have in the past and dare I say it, I got quite creative too with my efforts. This morning after my shower, I went to my wardrobe, opened the doors and picked out an outfit in seconds. Talk about stress free dressing!

Love your clothing


Jennifer has convinced me that when it comes to style and dressing quickly, it’s all about downsizing. So in a bid to sharing her wisdom, here’s what I’ve learned from getting tough and minimising my wardrobe:

De-cluttering gives you more choices NOT less

If the thought of chucking out any clothes brings you out in hives, you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. Don’t get rid of the items you love or wear a lot, but DO get rid of anything you haven’t worn for a few years (yep, even if it’s still got tags on) anything that doesn’t fit you well, all those pieces that have seen better days and everything that is just so so and doesn’t make you feel special. Put the ‘goers’ into 3 piles – charity, eBay and bin. Then split your existing clothes into seasons and remove the ones you won’t be wearing for a while and store them.

Minimising your wardrobe highlights everything –  the good, the bad and the ugly.

Having less in your wardrobe makes you look at it with fresh eyes. You’ll be forced to rediscover the beauty of items you may have forgotten about or that were hidden away, notice the clothes that have become a bit shabby or need a visit to the dry cleaners and won’t be able to avoid the fact that you are missing some basic style items. All of this is SO refreshing.

Because instead of thinking you have nothing to wear (when you actually probably have too much) you’ll soon begin to realise that you have no end of choices. You’ll recognise that that gorgeous beaded skirt which you’ve never worn just needs a simple classic white shirt to go with it and will start to pair pieces together that you may never have previously considered. Essentially, you’ll start to think about your style and your wardrobe much more carefully, which means savvier choices, less impulse buys and a more pulled together look.

Grouping clothes together as outfits, not separates, will make your life easier.

I know it goes against the style grain, as our wardrobes are supposed to be colour coded, item grouped heaven. However, all I will say is this, sometimes you need to break the ‘rules’ to find something that works.

So if like me, hanging your clothes in the way you’re supposed to isn’t working for you or if you are tired of battling through your stuffed wardrobe to try and put some creative ensemble together in the morning, just try this. I honestly cannot believe how much easier I found it to get ready this morning or how quickly I managed to put outfits together yesterday as I sorted my wardrobe out. Grouping clothes by outfits works! It’s easy, it’s fun and will make your life a whole lot easier I promise you. Sounds good right?

I’ll keep you all posted how I get on with my new smaller wardrobe, but in the meantime next time you’re rummaging about in your racks and battling with hangers, remember this golden rule – less is most definitely more.

Oh…and don’t forget to give Jennifer’s fabulous book a gander too if you get the chance. It really is a splendid little book full of wisdom.

Till the next time,





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8 Discussions on
“STYLE: A wardrobe de-clutter and a few lessons learnt”
  • Gorgeous post, love that pic and your wardrobe, those shoes too are DIVINE! I’m actually so pleased with myself as I’m ruthless with my wardrobe and clothes are always sorted our seasonally so Spring/Summer are packed away as soon as the leaves turn. I do think sometimes I’m a little too ruthless and discard clothes I later wish I hadn’t but generally I think you need to get rid of the stuff you haven’t worn for at least a year. Thanks for making me feel better. Maybe this means I should move to Paris ;) xxx

    • Thank you Vicki! And well done you for being ruthless.

      I really do think as our needs, body shapes and desires change, so too do our wardrobes and there is honestly nothing better than a good clear out to make you feel refreshed. I too have been a little too ruthless throwing things out in the past – such as my purple sequinned Biba shorts from years ago!! Oh how I weep -but on the whole I like to think it makes me a snappier dresser! x

      P.S And yes, move to Paris! As Samantha once said to Carrie in SATC, “your fabulousness will translate” :) (Just know that if you DO move, I expect to visit. Often!) x

  • I read Jennifer’s book last Spring and my first thoughts mirrored yours exactly! Then I took a summer job at a garden center and spent my entire summer in trail shorts, tee shirts and Muck shoes. Three months later, I discovered I had lived without all those clothes I felt I couldn’t live without. I then purged my closet to see how that felt and oddly enough, I survived!

    I have since read Ann Barone’s books on Paris Chic and have focused on two basic colors from which to work. For me, with my coloring, they are navy and camel. These two options have helped me spend less and purchase more wisely. I am definitely going to rearrange my closet by outfits. That is brilliant!!!

    • Thank you so much Laurie Ann for your comment. It’s interesting to hear that you had exactly the same thoughts and that minimising your wardrobe has worked for you too! I’m delighted to hear that you’re going to rearrange your closet by outfits. Let me know what you think and how you get on. I’d love to hear! x

      P.S Thanks also for mentioning Ann Barone’s books too -which I haven’t heard of- I will definitely be checking them out!

  • I have to say I cringed when I read Jennifer’s book at the section on the 10-item wardrobe, although reading the book it isn’t quite as draconian as it sounds, as you get to have some peripheral stuff around it. I think it’s definitely worth going through your wardrobe from time to time and also making a shopping list of some of the basics you need to make outfits work hards – a basic white shirt, good-fitting tshirts (chuck out the mishapen ones), blazer, cashmere jumper etc etc. I try to pack away the seasonal stuff, although in this country the seasons seem to drag and mould into each other, till I suddenly realise it’s February and I’m still wearing summer dresses with tights and boots! My rule for 2013 however has been “one-in-one-out” for shopping, and for 2014 I am attempting “one-in-2-out”, watch this space! I have already reserved all the 3-year old maternity clothes I can get rid of using that rule!

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