Monday, 26 January 2015

How I organised my wardrobe in 10 easy steps

I have done it!

My wardrobe is now neat, tidy and small.  Capsule size almost.  Out went anything unloved, not flattering or unworn, including four pairs of heels and my feet just hate, despite making me look more glamorous. My "work at home, live near the beach, mad gardener, mother of five, and only occasionally go out" lifestyle in a regional tropical town does not require more than one pair of killer heels, or, to be honest, ten vintage dresses. Or even my vintage velvet leopard print jacket, but hey, I
do wear it every year in our one month of cold weather.

So what organising strategies did I use?
  1. Take everything out of the wardrobe, put it on the bed, in piles of bottoms, tops, dresses,  outerwear etc.  If, as you take it out you know you haven't worn it in a year, or you really don't like it, put it into a 'get rid of' pile, or straight into plastic bags for the thrift shop. Make sure you have all your clothes, including the extra jumper in the car and in your laundry basket.
  2. Line all your shoes in pairs on the floor. If you can't find a shoe, hunt for it or throw out the single one.
  3. Clean and wipe down the wardrobe and shelves.
  4. Start with dresses, hold each one, feel the fabric, check for holes, try on if necessary, and make sure you love it before you hang it in the wardrobe. I hang darkest colosr at left, to lightest at right.
  5. Lay out bottoms along one edge of your bed.  Do as with dresses. Take away any that are too tight, too big, too ugly or broken, put them on the give away pile.  If you have two the same, pick one to keep. I really do not need two pairs of denim shorts.  Try to get down to under ten items.
  6. Repeat with your tops, but aim to have a few more than bottoms.  Hold each top up along each bottom - it should go with at least three of them. I hang all my tops and bottoms (again in colour order with tops, next to dresses, then bottoms), apart from jeans, but they can be folded or rolled and stored in drawers - each vertical instead of piled on top of each other, so you can see what you have
  7. Do the same with outer wear, then hang these to the left of dresses.  My wardrobe opens from the right with harder access on the left so that where my rarely worn outwear goes.
  8. Repeat the process with shoes - especially heels that hurt your feet after an hour, and those flats that pinch your toes. Make sure shoes are all dust free before putting them back. I sit shoes neatly on the floor of the wardrobe, and on a shoe rack behind that.  I am too lazy for shoe boxes, and try and wear each pair at least once a week, but they do keep the dust off. 
  9. Go through your underwear, throw out anything with holes (or fix them) stains etc, or that doesn't fit.  Fold it neatly and put it in a drawer or basket near or in your wardrobe for easy dressing.
  10. Handbags and Scarves. If I haven't used it in 12 months it's gone.  If I don't love it or its damaged its gone. I kept two bags, one bright large bag, and one small black bag to match both my killer keels and flat sandals. I have one wallet/purse. I kept four cotton scarves for both summer and winter here, which are also big enough to be used as wraps.
So here is the before -

and here is the after -

after, the organised wardrobe

My weird wardrobe has only a few shelves, so I moved my bedside table into it to store jeans (top shelf, one dark one light pair) and bathers and sarongs (it's seriously hot here and we have a pool, so three sets is not excessive).  The baskets up the stop store sewing things, craft things, and gifts. the bottom basket has underwear, with scarves threaded through holes. 

I store my wallet, phone and diary on the bottom shelf each evening, and there is also a clothes glove for removing lint etc.  Apologies for the grainy photos, my power was out, again!

I do have a basket down the bottom with serious winter clothes, for when I visit Melbourne and the south, but basically this is my year round wardrobe.  I even have a basket for my underwear, so I don't have to go to the chest of drawers on my husbands side of the bed.

This is the list of what I have - the 'ageing' black is gone! I now have a more beachy/tropical navy, denim, orange, tangerine, yellow and aqua blue color scheme so that things mix and match (it's impossible to wear things longer than 1 day here, due to the heat and humidity, and sometimes tops only last half a day if I am not in the air-conditioning). I have also listed where the item is from, so I can get an idea of the total cost. -


Bottoms -8 ($97)
  • 2 pairs shorts, denim & tangerine (op shop $5 and new 2014 $30);
  • 2 pairs jeans, light denim & dark denim (new Target $30 2014 and op shop $3);
  • 2 denim skirts, 1 long 1 short (both op shop around $10);
  • 1 pair blue 3/4 pants (op shop $4);
  • 1 pair jeggings (yes, I know, jeggings! but they super comfy and cosy, Target sale $15 2014)
Tops - 10 ($61)
  • 2 sleeveless knit tops, yellow & blue (Rockmans from op shop around $6);
  • 2 sleeveless cotton blouses, white bright floral print & yellow (op shop $3 & Kmart $10);
  • 3 short sleeve cotton blouses, white, navy, orange & navy (op shop $3 each);
  • 2 nice print stretch tops in navy, orange, white mixes (op shop $3 & new in 2014  Myer sale $25);
  • 1 3/4 sleeve long t-shirt (TS 14+ op shop $5)
Jackets/Cardis - 4  ($105)
  • 1 short sleeve aqua green knit bolero (new in 2014, Be Me sale $15);
  • 1 short sleeve black stretch bolero (new in 2013 $30);
  • 1  long sleeve black bolero/cardigan (new in 2014 Target sale $15);
  • 1 velvet leopard print swing jacket (vintage, acquired in 2012 $45).
Dresses - 8 ($383)
  • 1 nice 50s style full skirted dress in black floral (dress up or down) (new in 2013, Myer sale $80);
  • 1 royal blue 50s style dress (custom made in 2014, $95),
  • 1 stretchy cross over dress in blues, oranges (new in 2013, Myer sale, $50),
  • 1 white/floral maxi 70s style cotton dress (new in 2014 Tree of Life, $55);
  • 1 cotton hippie style dress/cover up (new in 2014 Tree of Life, $45);
  • 1 loose linen dress in white, blue, orange (new in 2012, Myer sale $18); 
  • 1 60s style cotton shift dress in blue, white dots (handmade in 2014 from vintage pattern, est $10);
  • 1 long blue jersey 30s style evening dress (new in 2013, Myer sale $30);
That's 30 things, (and around $646 or $21.50 each) pretty good I think!

Other - 14 ($500)
  • 3 pairs bathers & 3 sarongs (new in 2014, 13, 12 around $200);
  • 2 silk tunics for sleeping/lounging (new in 2014, NWT op shop $18 each);
  • 4 cotton scarves (various, new and gifts, around $50);
  • (knickers and bras, about 6 of each - all new in 2013 and 14 around $215)
Bags - 5 ($206)
  • 1 large orange handbag (new in 2013, Myer $85);
  • 1 small black handbag (new in 2013, Myer $65);
  • 1 back-pack/bug out bag (new in 2014, Kmart $25);
  • 1 small carry on suitcase (new in 2014, Target $25);
  • 1 orange wallet/purse (NWT op shop 2014 $6);
I keep the orange 3/4 sleeve tee and jeggings in my bug out bag with my runners and 1 pair bathers and sarong (packed in case of cyclone evac etc)

Shoes - 7 ($362)
  • 3 pairs flat leather sandals, aqua, orange and black (new in 2014, Caloundra market $29 each) ;
  • 1 pair black thongs/flip flops (new in 2014 $25);
  • 1 pair yellow platform heels (comfy, new in 2014, $135);
  • 1 pair black peep toe wedges (killer, new in 2012, Myer $60);
  • 1 pair orange runners (in my bug out bag, new in 2015 Puma $55).
Wow, writing down the cost of each item is interesting. I am actually going to cut our Kmart and Target this year and find more sustainable producers for new clothing.  But that's another story.

So in total, that's 56 items, not including underwear, or jewellery, which I will tackle next....not quite minimalist, but not bad really.  I could cut it down to 33 for three months, but  I like dresses, I like vintage, and I don't buy much new - and everything fits neatly so why bother?

 Holiday washables, vintage dresses 1955

Holiday washables, 1955
Of course if I was back working in an office, by wardrobe would look different, but I do have a couple of dresses I can wear to the odd meeting or to go to court etc. The main thing is to have clothes that suit my current lifestyle, in colours and fabrics that I love and are practical. I have no white bottoms, for instance - I have black and white pets and lots of kids, and I garden - not practical for me.  I have lots of cotton, as I live in a tropical climate.

Have you sorted out your wardrobe recently?


Here's some further reading on the price of clothes

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