How to declutter your life: wardrobe edition
October 1, 2018 / Productivity / Greg Atkinson
Many of us stand in front of our fully-stocked wardrobe every morning and discover to our dismay that we have nothing to wear. Interestingly, the problem isn’t (as most of us think) because we don’t have enough clothes, it’s actually that we have too many clothes. Turns out, the trick is not to have clothes for every occasion, but rather to have clothes that can be adapted for any occasion. In this post, we discuss 3 decluttering strategies for your wardrobe, to keep you well-dressed and less stressed.
1) Declutter Trick 1: Make a uniform
This is a great favourite of super successful people like former US president Barack Obama and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. You might have noticed that both men have a uniform of sorts (blue and grey suits for the former, and grey t-shirt for the latter), which they rarely deviate from in their everyday lives. That’s because they have plenty of important decisions to make throughout the day, and don’t want to expend valuable time and energy on relatively trivial matters like their outfit. This trick tries to combat what psychologists call ‘decision fatigue’ – exhaustion brought on by too many decisions. Wasting your time and brain power on lots of small matters saps you of the time and brain power to deal effectively with big matters.
If you want to try this method, you can adopt a ‘uniform’ of your own. If you know a certain cut or colour works for you, stick to this. Or you can pre-pair items together beforehand. If a top works well with a particular pair of bottoms, memorise this combination, so you won’t have to spend 15 minutes trying out different pairings. If you want to be super efficient about this, you can even hang the paired items together on the same hanger, or fold them on top of each other in a set in the cupboard. That way, every time you reach into your wardrobe, you’ll emerge with a complete outfit. Any clothes that don’t pair well should be discarded.
2) Declutter Trick 2: Create a capsule wardrobe
First coined in the 1970s by a London boutique, the idea of a capsule wardrobe is to have a few staple pieces that never go out of style, which can be mixed and matched with seasonal pieces to create infinite pairings. Done properly, a capsule wardrobe means you don’t need many items, but will always look fresh and stylish.
To create a capsule wardrobe, you’ll first need your anchor pieces, the base of your outfits. For many people, this will be a pair of black, blue, or grey bottoms. A few neutral tops (white, grey, cream) are also essential. Now add in something warm, like a jersey or coat. Finally, have a pair of go-to shoes. Because these items will serve as the base of a variety of outfits, you’ll want to go for good quality materials that will stand a few seasons of wear. You should also go for classic cuts and patterns that won’t go in and out of fashion. Once you have your base collection down, you can add the additional pieces which you change out seasonally.
Remember that your capsule collection includes everything you wear from top to bottom (hats to shoes) throughout the year (bathing suits to snow suits). So, when you’re assembling your base pieces, consider having a summer version and a winter version e.g. lighter shirt for summer, thicker material for winter.
3) Declutter Trick 3: One In, One Out
Many of us pick up new clothes on the go, while window shopping or browsing online. These are generally impulse purchases we make without considering the things we already own. It’s why many of us end up with a huge collection of clothes, a healthy portion of which we rarely or ever wear. In fact, research has shown that people are typically only wearing 10%-30% of their wardrobe!
The One In, One Out rule helps to keep your spontaneous shopping under control by only allowing a new item in to replace an old one. You replace an old item if it’s no longer serving its purpose (getting you to wear it). This could be because it’s uncomfortable (it itches, scratches, pinches or smells weird), or it makes you uncomfortable (it’s too short, too low-cut, too tight, too loose). Certain items would fit better with tailoring, so you’ll have to decide if something is worth the effort and expense of that, or if it’s a lost cause. Once you’ve decided that something needs to go, replace it with something of good quality that serves the same purpose in your life. With One In, One Out, you shouldn’t have a closet full of useless clothes, because each item would have been curated to serve a specific purpose.
As we’ve seen, there are different options for decluttering your closet, from adopting a uniform, to assembling a capsule collection, to eliminating extra items. Once you’ve chosen your preferred method, you’ll probably want to do an immediate closet cleanup. Donate or sell any usable items, and relegate unusable items to dishrags if need be. Then try to institute a seasonal or at least annual cleanup, to keep things in check going forward.
Once you’ve assembled your ultimately stylish and uncluttered wardrobe, you’ll want to show it off, so why not find a few new (or old) friends on Kalido, and head out for a catch-up!