Do you dread opening your wardrobe in case it all falls out?  Here are a few tips to help you sort out your stuff, basically wardrobe editing for beginners. To summarise: Go through your clothes a section at a time so it’s not too overwhelming. Make lists, then make piles. Be ruthless but realistic. Find suitable storage for keepsakes. Identify mistakes and successes. Try and recognise gaps that need filling. Buy good hangers.

Don’t attempt to sort everything in one go

Your wardrobe didn’t become dysfunctional or get congested overnight so it is unrealistic to think it can be sorted in that time frame. Prioritise the important areas, the easiest or the hardest areas and start there. Have you lost track of how many pairs of shoes you own? Is your underwear drawer spilling out or have you got too many handbags on a shelf. It really doesn’t matter where you start as long as you do. Take your time to really look through the area you chose. Much better to do one section a week thoroughly than do everything in one afternoon, badly.

Make lists and then make piles

Your list is your list so it can be whatever you want. What do YOU need in your wardrobe? Work clothes, sports kit, exotic evening wear. Think about where you go and what you do, and write it down. Are you continually searching for the right outfit for an after work event but have 5 ball-gowns filling half of your space. Do you go to the gym every evening but always wear the same thing because you can never find anything in your wardrobe? You get the picture, list where you go and what you need.

When you finally get round to looking through your clothes you now have some idea of the piles that you need to put them in. All sports stuff in one place, all evening wear in another etc.

Be ruthless but realistic

When carrying out a wardrobe edit, I would never suggest that you throw out favourite, iconic, memorable clothes. These things are special to you for a reason and it really makes absolutely no difference what that reason is, it’s your reason and that’s good enough!

However do you need 5 tracksuit bottoms that are saggy and baggy? How many slightly grey, white T- shirts do you actually wear? Are you ever going to wear those scuffed court shoes again?

Enlist a friend, some loud music and a bottle of wine and go through things. You don’t need to be perfect, just have a go. Once you’ve got the hang of it, the next time will be so much easier. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water but do try and find the bath!

Find storage for ‘keepsakes’

If your space is bunged up with ‘keepsakes’….for want of a better word…there is both no room to see what you’ve got but also what you haven’t got. Invest in a couple of big plastic clip boxes (Staples or other DIY stores) or the much advertised vacuum storage bags and put your ‘keepsakes’ somewhere else for safekeeping.

Doing this shouldn’t be difficult as you do not have to make any drastic decisions about ‘should it stay or should it go’, you’re just removing things from immediate sight. Store them like Christmas decorations; you know where they are, you just don’t need to push past them every day before you do anything else.

Identify mistakes and successes

Progress has been made, the light is at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully the good has been kept, and the bad and the ugly have been donated, recycled or binned. Now you’ve got a better idea of what you actually have left, you should be able to identify your triumphs and your disasters.

With regards to the mistakes. We have all made them, we will all continue to make them, that is just the way it is. Accept it! However, with the knowledge you now have, you should be able to keep them to a minimum. Did you really think that tiered skirt would hide your hips? Don’t buy another pair of gold stilettos if you were crippled by the pair you donated to your best friend. Mistakes are only bad if you keep making them!

Now your successes. I have a pair of jeans that I should have bought in every colour, as I wear and wear them. They now look sad but can I find them again? No. A pity, but at least I know what to look for when I’m shopping. You will have things that you love and that make you feel good. These are the things to repeat and replace. Things that work with your body and with each other to give you a functional wardrobe.

Recognise where the gaps are

Now you have fewer clothes and you can see them, you can start to recognise where you may have gaps in your wardrobe. Lots of  pretty tops but only one decent pair of trousers. Are all your skirts blue and you only have black shoes? You get the idea. What is needed now is a plan. Make another list and pin it to the inside of your wardrobe. You don’t have to rush out and spend a fortune, but if you are shopping or someone wants to buy you a present, you know what you want.

BUY GOOD HANGERS

I can’t emphasise this enough. Bad hangers can ruin good clothes. Your jackets aren’t supported, silk  and knitted items can be snagged, you end up with strange pokey shapes around the shoulders, need I go on? They don’t need to be expensive, just a decent shape and solid. Look in supermarkets, ikea, Matalan etc as they all stock this sort of thing. It never ceases to amaze me when someone has a £500 dress hanging, squashed up, on a dry cleaning hanger. Better than on the floor, but not much.

In conclusion

Once the editing has finished, you may find that the ideal set of clothes were there all the time, just camouflaged by the rest of the stuff.  Or you may find that you could still open a shop and need to have another sort out next season. Perhaps you found so many special occasion outfits that you could become a professional wedding attendee, but you have little to wear in everyday life that isn’t based around jeans and sweatshirts. What you need are clothes that fit your lifestyle NOW!

All it takes is a bit of vision, some initial dedication and an ongoing plan. It won’t ever be finished, and it certainly will never be perfect, but I can honestly say it will give you a real sense of accomplishment. By following the wardrobe editing for beginners tips you will have, more order, more space and more opportunity to look the best you possibly can.