How To Streamline Your Wardrobe
Illustration by Mr Adam Nickel
De-cluttering your closet could be the answer to a better-dressed and more organised you. Here are the top tips from the experts.
While fun to read about, such extravagance is rather impractical, especially if your main residence isn’t the Hôtel Lambert. Even if it were, psychologists have discovered that too much choice can lead to indecision and anxiety, something that’s been called “the paradox of choice”. We say: it’s time to clear out your wardrobe. If nothing else, your health depends on it.
“Ironically, the less you have, the easier it’ll be to get dressed,” says style consultant Ms Anna Berkeley, who has de-cluttered clothes collections of fashion editors and businessmen alike. “Conversely, you’ll have more options and outfits because nice items won’t languish in the back of your wardrobe.”
So just how many pairs of bespoke opera slippers does a chap really need? Or pairs of jeans? Or shirts? How can you streamline your collection and transcend to the highest state of sartorial zen? We asked the experts and discovered that the art of wardrobe maintenance needn’t be difficult. Here is the ultimate guide on how to clean out your closet.
DON’T BE EMOTIONAL
Whether it’s moving to a new area or getting a new job, our lifestyles change over time, and this will mean certain clothes won’t work anymore – despite their fond associations. “Men tend to be less emotional than women,” says Ms Berkeley, “but that doesn’t stop them keeping the tatty T-shirts they had at university to remind them of a more carefree time.” The reality is, of course, that those days are over. Photographs are for memories; clothes, really, have to be for wearing. “Everything has to be fit for purpose,” says Ms Berkeley, adding that clearing out can itself be something of a positive emotional journey. “A wardrobe clear-out is a cathartic experience,” she says. “It’s about letting go.”
SORT YOUR CLOTHES INTO PILES
According to Ms Berkeley, we should separate clothes according to the season we’re in, and then sort them into six piles, under two categories – this will help make it easier to distinguish what you need and what you don’t.
· Items for your job
· Items for leisure and weekends (think about your lifestyle here)
· Special occasion items – eg, for weddings or evening functions
· Items you have not worn for two years
· Items that are too big, too small, or worn out
· Items that don’t fit your lifestyle any more
Group B, of course, contains the pieces that you should really consider losing, though a slightly softer severance option for pieces that might fit after a diet is to pack them away.
KEEP AND INVEST IN THE RIGHT PIECES
Hand lasted shoes, if cared for properly, can last decades, looking as good, if not better, than when brand new. Likewise, the canvassing in a well-tailored jacket will gently mould to your body’s shape with each successive wear. Proper cashmere and wool retains its colour, texture and shape. Invest in quality and versatility, and look for these attributes when you’re deciding what to keep. A good coat or pair of shoes will make much more efficient use of your wardrobe space than many other items.
“The things to really spend money on are shoes, jackets, coats and jumpers,” says Ms Romaine Lowery, the founder of stylish home storage emporium The Organised Home and professional organising service The Clutter Clinic. “You can really see the difference in a pair of beautifully made shoes, a tailored jacket and a gorgeous cashmere jumper; shirts, T-shirts and jeans, less so.” Which brings us to our final point:
BEWARE: SHIRTS, T-SHIRTS AND JEANS
While Japanese selvedge denim jeans and button-down shirts are great, do you really need to have so many? Excessive amounts will take up valuable space, meaning less room for the pieces that can really transform your appearance.
“Most men have too many shirts, T-shirts and jeans,” says Ms Lowery. “I think a man should have no more than seven T-shirts, seven shirts, five pairs of trousers, five pairs of jeans, and five jumpers at any one time. T-shirts and shirts are perishable items, so it’s better to invest in fewer but better pieces, and then throw them away once they’re worn out.”