Cleaning out my closet – what wardrobe weeding has taught me

Photo credit: DTK Austin Styling

Two years ago, I moved from a tiny bedroom in Stoneybatter with no wardrobe and my bed up a ladder (yes, really, but an excellent housemate and seriously great kitchen made up for it) to where I now live: a great two-bedroom house with a beautiful back garden.

With this dream rental home came that most rare of assets: an enormous wardrobe. Seriously, this baby was big: it occupied one entire wall of our large double bedroom, contained three clothing rails and more shelves than I could count. And it wasn’t enough: at one stage, I had that monster wardrobe full to the brim, with the overspill taking up the two wardrobes in the spare bedroom.

So I did what I should have done years previously and I streamlined: I brought roughly three wardrobes’ worth of jeans, dresses, jackets, skirts and shoes to Siopaella, to have them consigned.

For the uninitiated, that basically meant Siopaella would resell my clothing – steamed, organised and, in some cases, repaired (thanks, guys!) – at a knock-down price to women looking for lightly worn kind of designer gear (from Topshop up to DVF and Marni). To date, my wardrobe has netted me a cool €6,600 (the consignor gets 40% of the selling price) – which isn’t bad, considering these were items I rarely (in some cases never) wore.

Today, I have two wardrobes full of clothing. I own six sweaters, two cardigans, four coats (a leather jacket, a warm pink winter coat and a leopard-print beige coat that always gets complimented), four skirts, about eight pairs of jeans, maybe 10 tops and around 12 dresses. My shoes number 16 pairs.

My one remaining weakness, I’ll confess, is the one thing Siopaella doesn’t accept – and, quite possibly, something I don’t really need – sportswear. What can I say? It never goes out of style, and it’s really comfortable, thanks to all that Lycra.

My wardrobe weeding efforts have taught me some serious lessons in life, lessons I’d like to share and hope that you may find clear-headedness (and money) somewhere inside of your own wardrobe. To wit:

Everyone needs a silk shirt

Right now, I’m wearing my housemate’s khaki Equipment shirt, but only because my own fuchsia number is at the cleaners’. A silk shirt, if it fits you correctly, will rarely make you feel fat and goes really well tucked into skirts, beneath dresses and paired with jeans or printed trousers. Button it up to the neck and add a statement necklace for interview attire; button way down and add a nice pendant for date night.

No one needs a bodycon dress

No, no one. And just because you have a great body doesn’t mean you should wear bodycon. Y’know why? Bodycon is boring. It’s like wearing a sign that says “I’m sexy!”, which is garish and weird, not to mention wholly inappropriate for daytime wear, funerals, family dinners… You get the picture. Anything bodycon I’d ever owned made me feel super self-conscious, even on my best body-confident days.

Clothes have power

Before my wardrobe clearout, I owned far too many items that made me feel bad. There was the dress I used to fit into. There, the dress I slightly discoloured in the wash. There, the jacket my mother gave me for Christmas that was just never quite “me”. If, when you look into your wardrobe, you feel anything approaching a negative feeling, get rid of it. There’s enough of that outside your door. Now, while not everything I own makes me feel amazing, mostly I feel fine about them. Everything fits and nothing reminds me of that night I got so drunk I threw a chair at my friend*.

Cheap means cheap – in more ways than one

Before I did my clearout, I would have considered myself a big Penneys shopper. I would frequently go into the Mary St shop and rid myself of €100-odd on random items of clothing: a slightly ill-fitting dress (but only €7!), a pair of cobalt-blue skinny jeans (€11!), more T-shirts than you could fit in an American Apparel factory. But as I sifted through my wardrobe, I realised that there wasn’t a single item from Penneys in there. Why was that? Oh, yes, because inevitably, one wash would result in said item shrinking, fading or otherwise losing its original lustre, and I would either bin it or donate it to charity, for some poor charity shop worker to price and attempt to sell on. No more.

Fewer choices mean quicker decision-making

I used to be that girl, who was always 40 minutes late to every kind of meeting, and took at least an hour each morning to get dressed – because I could never find the perfect thing to wear. Now? Well, I’m not super-punctual and I definitely do try on a couple of outfits before going out of a Friday night, but my regular weekday dressing has been made 100 times easier. With far fewer items to choose from, I choose quickly – and I stick with my choices. Efficiency is my new middle name.

Ruthless culler = ruthless buyer

The biggest change, aside from the actual look of my wardrobe (which no longer embarrasses me), is that I now shop a hell of a lot less. When I’m considering purchasing things, I think, will I wear this in six months? Will this go with the items I already own? Will it still look good after two spins in the washing machine? If there’s a no in there at all, I leave it behind.

Ultimately, no one needs 30 black T-shirts – and sequined jackets should be the exception, not the rule (even if they do look really, really awesome). I’ve even passed my life lessons on to friends whose wardrobes I’ve ruthlessly weeded, and I don’t even care that they now love me a tiny bit less.

* It was more of a light chair toss and no, she wasn’t injured.

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    • Karen
    • July 17, 2016

    You forgot the famous raincoat, which I love by the way. Hope you still have it! While I still buy the occasional Penneys tshirt, I do agree with you overall. I find getting ready so much easier, since I decided to stick with nice basics rather than 5 minute fashion fads! Feels a lot classier and more grown up now.

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