How to declutter and organise your wardrobe

Build a curated capsule wardrobe by decluttering it first.
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Is it possible to love fashion and the planet at the same time? I think so and I’m hoping to show you how in my monthly column for Wear Next.

I’m Cat, a full time working mum-of-two and a plus-size content creator. I have shopped sustainably for as long I can remember, but I realised when I had my eldest that I had a responsibility to be the best that I could be for her future and to teach her how to look after the planet she lives on. I started researching, reading and doing.

I’ve become more and more passionate about sustainability over that time, building small sustainable practices into our every day family life one little change at a time.

READ MORE: I’m quitting fast fashion for 2021 – here’s how it’s going

How to declutter your wardrobe

Now, armed with the knowledge of my own experience I am keen to help others on their sustainability journey too. I am very passionate about inclusive, accessible sustainable fashion and reaching those who normally feel excluded from sustainability. 

So here, I’ll show you how to take the first steps to build your own curated capsule wardrobe by decluttering it first.

You wouldn’t do a food shop without first checking what you had left in the house and the same principle should apply with clothing. In order to curate your wardrobe you’ll need to first follow a few easy steps.

A 2018 study by Movinga of 18,000 women across 20 countries showed that up to 73% of the clothes in the average woman’s wardrobe were unworn, and most of the women had no idea how little they had actually worn from it.

Lots of people think having a sustainable wardrobe means getting rid of all the fast fashion you own, but that’s a myth. The most sustainable wardrobe is the one you already have.

In order to truly understand what you already own, unload your entire wardrobe in one room of your house so you can review each piece. You might find things you’d completely forgotten you own or that you haven’t worn yet. Bonus!

You’re going to separate your clothing into three piles: those to keep, store, and sell/repurpose/donate/recycle.

READ MORE: Ditch harmful jeans with these stylish and sustainable denim brands

Keep

The Marie Kondo method of items ‘sparking joy’ is, in my humble opinion, a little drastic. Keeping and wearing your clothes is much better for the environment than anything else you can do, so consider the item instead.

If you can think of at least three outfits to wear it with or occasions you can put it on, throw it the keep pile. These items will form your every day wardrobe.

Store

Items to store should be anything seasonal or occasional, such as party dresses, Christmas jumpers and Halloween outfits. You need your main wardrobe to be as decluttered as possible so that you can see your everyday clothes.

The rest of the items should now fall into four categories. Sell, repurpose, donate or recycle.

Sell

Selling clothes online is easy and fun.

Reselling sites have simplified the process over the past few years and now apps like Depop, Vinted and eBay offer even the beginner an opportunity to easily set up shop and sell.

Take clear, well-lit photos with any imperfections listed. Look up items similar to yours to give you an idea of your listing price. As a rough guide, around one quarter or third of the original retail price should be your goal – but this can vary hugely depending on the current worth of the item. However the top you picked up in Primark may now only be worth £1 to resell and you might be better off donating it to a charity shop.

READ MORE: Tights are one of fashion’s most disposable items – buy sustainable hosiery here instead

Repurpose

If you love the fabric of an item but the piece is now damaged, there are lots of ways to upcycle your used garments, such as making a scrunchie or hair scarf with little to no previous experience.

Charity shops always need quality donations, so take the time to wash and pack your clothes before donating. Check the opening times of your nearest charity shop and make sure they are taking donations before you drop off. This is important, as clothes that get left out on the street often have to be disposed of and this has a cost to the planet.

During lockdown of course, charity shops remain closed. There are plenty of ways to donate unwanted clothes however, many of which we explain here.

How to declutter your wardrobe
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Recycle

Binned clothes go to landfill sites, raise greenhouse gasses and do untold damage on the environment. Please do not throw clothes away. If you drop clothes at donation points instead they’re likely to be resold, reused or in the worst case, recycled.

Now that your wardrobe has been decluttered, try to make do with what you already have. Challenge yourself not to buy anything new and use this time to rediscover your wardrobe and wear clothes you haven’t worn in a while.

Have fun, post a few pictures of yourself in your rediscovered wardrobe and I’ll see you next month as we begin to talk about building capsule collections with what you already have, refining your wardrobe and how to look after your clothes for longevity.

Until then, follow me on Instagram here.

READ MORE: Is ASOS ethical and sustainable?

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