closet clearout

My New Approach to Shopping & Fashion

[This post is a collaboration with Brabantia]

Brabantia Linn drying rack

Earlier this year, I started clearing out my closet… and I basically just never stopped.

No, seriously: barely a day goes by right now without me casting a critical eye over the contents of my wardrobe, and, more often than not, pulling something out and adding it to the ever-growing “donate” pile – or hanging it on my trusty clothes rail, if I’m not totally sure what I’m going to do with it yet . I’ve been doing this for months now, and while I’d love to be able to say that my closet is now totally streamlined as a result, the fact is that it’s still bulging at the seams: and I still feel like I have absolutely nothing to wear.

I’ve talked before about my post-partum wardrobe/identity crisis (Which actually started long before Max was even born, so I’m not sure I can really even call it that…), but it’s still going strong, and, right now, I just want to change EVERYTHING. In an ideal world, I’d just get rid of the lot and start again from scratch, but, unfortunately for me, my budget just won’t run to a whole new wardrobe – and, of course, there are still some things I want to keep – so, instead, I’ve totally changed my approach to shopping, and to clothes in general. This isn’t actually something I did on purpose – which is possibly why it’s the only time in my living memory that any of my “resolutions” have actually stuck. No, it’s really just something that kind of snuck up on me as a result of hating everything I own, and not really knowing what to replace it with. Fun, no? I still have a long way to go before I’m even remotely happy with my closet again, but, for now, I’ve been doing two things in an bid to get me closer to that goal…

Brabantia Linn Clothes dryer review

Being absolutely ruthless with the closet clear-out

… and when I say “ruthless”, I really mean it this time. Because, the fact is, I’ve had closet clear-outs before, obviously: they’re kind of a hobby of mine, in fact. (Oh shush, you all know I have no life…) Every time I’ve done this in the past, though, I’ve been pretty wishy-washy about it – even when I thought I wasn’t. Time and time again I’d make the same mistakes: keeping things I never wore just in case the opportunity one day arrived (In fairness, that’s totally the kind of thing that happens to me, though…), or because I thought I’d regret it if I got rid of them. Getting sentimental about pieces I once loved, but which aren’t really my style any more. Totally underestimating how many red carpet events I’d be invited to (Lifetime total so far: 0), and therefore how many outfits I’d need for a part of my life that doesn’t actually exist – you know the drill.

By far my biggest mistake in this respect – and it’s a really hard one to break, too – has been hanging on to things because I loved them in theory, even although I didn’t love them in reality. So, I’d pull something out of the closet, and think, “Wow, this is a BEAUTIFUL dress! I love the colour, I love the shape: no reason to throw this one out, then!” What I didn’t really stop to consider, though, was the fact that I might love the colour and the shape, but that didn’t mean they’d love me back, or that I’d feel good wearing the item, whatever it was.

And sometimes you just don’t, you know? Sometimes it doesn’t matter how great something is on paper, if it doesn’t make you FEEL great when you wear it, there’s really no point in hanging on to it. In the past, though, I’d have totally hung onto it: and, every so often, I’d pull it out, think, “Ooh! There’s that amazing dress I haven’t worn yet! Maybe today will be the day!” And then I’d put it on, and realise that it STILL didn’t look right on me, even although I really, really wanted it to, so back into the closet it would go until the next time I could make that same mistake again. Definition of insanity, right?

This year, though, it’s like something finally snapped in my brain, which means that, these days, my closet clear-outs really ARE pretty ruthless. For instance, I…

  • Only keep items I actually wear, regardless of what I think of them on the hanger.
  • Get rid of clothes that are worn out, stained, or otherwise past their best, even if they’re old favourites.
  • Keep at it: back in September, I embarked upon a mission to clear out at least one thing each day, and while I’ve slowed down a little on that schedule, I am still doing my best to make our home a little more minimal. This doesn’t just apply to clothes, obviously, but I do go through my closet almost every day, to see if there’s anything that needs to go. I’m already finding that a lot of the items I decided to keep back at the start of this project STILL haven’t been worn, so one thing I’ve learned is that it can sometimes take a few days – or even weeks – to work out how I really feel about something, which makes this style change of mine an ongoing project.

One thing that’s been helping with that last point, though, is this Brabantia clothes rack I was sent a few weeks ago:

Brabantia Linn clothes RackThis normally lives in my dressing room (Which is just too small for us to be able to get decent photos in, so I had to move it downstairs for these photos!), and while it can also be used for airing or drying your clothes (Which I actually love it for: one of my pet hates is having lots of damp clothes draped over radiators in every room, so this has come in really handy, especially for things like bedsheets etc, which I don’t want to trust to the dryer, or they just come out impossibly creased!), I’ve mostly been using it to organise them.

One of the disadvantages of a bulging closet, of course, is the fact that it makes it almost impossible to know what’s actually in there. (I’d like to be able to say that this is why I own so many stripe tops, but we all know that’s not true, don’t we?) So, when I do my clear outs, I use this as a place to separate out my clothes, and store the pieces that are under consideration, so I don’t just forget about them, and leave them stuffed at the back of the wardrobe. When I’m not doing that, though, it’s just a really handy place to store the clothes I’m planning to wear over the next few days. With Max on the scene, it’s much harder to find the time to plan outfits, and my over-stuffed wardrobe doesn’t exactly help with that, so it’s good to be able to put things aside and keep them in full view, so I don’t just keep on wearing the same things over and over again.

(Oh, and of course, it helps that this clothes rack looks good, too, obviously: I’m a big fan of the foldable laundry basket which fits in the base, while the aluminium clothes hangers are also a nice touch…)

Despite all of this, however, I still pretty much AM just wearing the same things over and over again, and that’s because of the other big change I’ve made to my shopping habits, namely…

Being super-picky about shopping

Probably the biggest change of all this year (Style-wise, at least…) is the fact that, somewhere along the line, I lost the ability to shop.

Well, sort of.

I DO still shop, obviously: mostly for Max, granted (Baby clothes are just way, WAY too cute…), but there are still a lot of deliveries arriving for me every week: it’s just that, these days, most of them end up going right back where they came from. Why? Because most of the clothes I’ve been ordering lately have been fine… but I don’t really want them to be just fine any more. I have plenty of clothes that are fine, after all: and, these days, that’s just not enough. I want the clothes I buy to really wow me: I want to pull them out of the bag they came in and wear them that same day, because I love them so much I just can’t wait.

That hardly ever happens right now, though, and while, a couple of years ago, I’d have ended up keeping a lot of those clothes anyway (Because they were FINE! And you always need another sweater, right?), I really don’t want to do that any more. In fact, when I look around my closet, and think about all of the money I’ve spent over the years on clothes that were aggressively FINE, but which I hardly ever wore, it honestly makes me feel a bit sick.

So, I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to justify spending money on clothes, unless I absolutely love them – and, honestly, I think that’s probably the best approach anyway. Of course, as a (sometime) fashion blogger, I’m incredibly fortunate to be in a position where I’m occasionally gifted clothes or other items, and I have absolutely no qualms about taking full advantage of those opportunities when they come up: they allow me to try something new, without having to agonise for hours over whether or not I can really justify buying it. But even with those opportunities, if I’m going to be adding something to my closet, I really have to be sure it’ll earn its keep: and that might not be helping me get out of my current style rut… but it IS making my closet feel a lot more organised.

That has to be a good thing, right?

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books by Amber Eve
  • I am in the exact same boat! My body changed so much after Benjamin was born and even though I am the same size or sometimes even one size smaller, things just don’t look the same as they did. I’ve bee shopping and clearing out my closet and I want to only keep the things I really wear.

    xo, Rosie //Curvy Life stories

    November 2, 2018
  • I think that is really a good thing, and the fact that is an ongoing process only means that you are really sticking with it. I did a huge clearout a few years ago when we moved house and the space I had left actually went down to a third of what i had before…

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

    November 2, 2018
  • Myra


    I think the post-partum change if dressing is inevitable because with a baby in tow you need to be comfortable and you need to be able to throw your clothes in the washing machine without worrying about how they’ll come out. But the baby and toddler phase passes surprisingly quickly and you might be able to spread your wings again in fashion terms, so by all means throw out the ball gown stuff you will never water, butkeepa few special loves for a rainy day when you might want to glam up a bit.

    November 2, 2018
  • Maria


    I think that it’s normal to change style every now and then: fashion changes, our eyes become accustomed to different silhouettes, our life changes and we need clothes that fit our routines. That’s what’s been going on for me lately…
    If I had to sum it up, I’d say: less buying, more thinking, better quality, less shyness in wearing what I like, less guilt for not dressing like a Real Woman™️ all the time, more knowledge of what I truly like vs what I love on others but personally I’d never wear.
    But I think that the “wow” technique could help me even more: I should really start buying only things that, like you said, I can’t wait to wear right away. No sense in buying things that are beautiful but that for some reason would just languish in my closet, unworn. These kind of clothes are often the most “boring” ones though: the right pair of black jeans, the basic sweater that goes with everything, the sneaker that is just the right color and super comfy. My approach to this kind of clothes has changed too: before I found them boring and just bought another “eccentric” and “unique” piece instead, convinced that it was the best way to have an interesting personal style. Now I’m more like “I want all the basics, love them!!!”, lol.

    November 2, 2018
  • Miss Kitty


    Having a closet clean out is on my to-do list as well. I need to start packing away my jackets and getting out my summer clothing. But before I do that, I want to have a good look at my winter wardrobe, see what I actually wore, and if there’s anything I didn’t wear, or only wore once or twice, I need to have a think about whether I actually need to keep it. Sometimes it’s not easy! I have plenty of clothes that I love, too, but never actually wear. It’s so hard making that decision to part with them! My consolation will be that I can buy more clothes I actually will wear.

    November 2, 2018
  • Sharon


    ” I loved them in theory, even although I didn’t love them in reality.” This really struck a chord with me. I’ve got a few bags for the charity shop at the door but my wardrobe is still bursting. I’ve also made a list of items that I think would make quite a bit of money on ebay but I’ve kept them for this exact reason. Today I’m being ruthless. I mean I can’t see all the clothes I do wear because of the ones I’m keeping for god knows what reason.

    November 3, 2018
  • Selina


    I’ve been using the wow reason combined with factoring in how it will fit in my wardrobe with other pieces and do I have something similar already. Reduced my consumption drastically, even when I go to swap events. It’s been a wallet saver and although I occasionally slip up, it’s much less than before

    November 3, 2018
  • I’ve been going through a “style crisis” as well (though to be fair I never had a concrete personal style to begin with), and my most recent closet clear out surprised me of the stuff I got rid of, stuff that had survived past clear outs. I just don’t want anything in my closet that I don’t wear for whatever reasons no matter how cute it is. So I totally relate to this post!!!

    November 4, 2018
  • I really, really need to have a big clear out of my wardrobe. Shopping in charity shops is my downfall. I see something cute & super cheap so buy it then never end up wearing it or totally forgetting about it & end up donating it back! I can not wait until we redesign our bedroom & actually have some proper storage so I can see what I actually have

    November 4, 2018
  • Luc


    I love everything about this post! I think probably all of our readers LOVE clothes – otherwise we wouldn’t be here. But it’s also good to keep a bit of perspective. Not settling for “fine” or “okay” is the best starting point.

    November 5, 2018
  • Frida


    Same here. My body changed just a little bit post-partum (up a size) but it’s not just that.. Now I want clothes that of course fit me well, but which make me feel good and comfortable. Things I throw on and are ok with no further thinking, that I can mix & match in the morning when I am on a hurry! I no longer have time (nor I want) to try on tons of clothes and make the perfect match. Matches should come alone by themselves lol! I remember the struggle right after my baby was born, I was able to wear lots of pre-partum clothes, yet they started to feel no longer “me”. All those years collecting the right clothes and all of a sudden i didn’t like it any more! I started building a new wardrobe, for the new me, for the 40 years woman who doesn’t have a real social life nor works in an office, for the mother I am now… meaning practical clothes, things I can wear and wear again and often toss on the laundry. After quite some time (my son is 3 years old now) I feel good again, I understood what I really want and have a satisfing wardrobe… and keep buying the cutest clothes for my little boy ?
    But I should really clean out my closet from the old unused and unwanted.

    November 5, 2018
  • I am glad to read all of this comments. I do my Shopping ban year at the moment. No shopping for a year and I mean NOTHING at all. It is very eye opening. Love the clear out proces and getting basics in place. It is so freeing. And as you said, it also helps to organize house and be a bit more minimalist.

    December 1, 2018