Cleaning out my closet - what wardrobe weeding has taught me
Photo credit: DTK Austin Styling
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It's fair to say, there was a time when wardrobe weeding was not high on my agenda. Six 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.
Wardrobe weeding: my first foray
So I did what I should have done years previously and I commenced my first foray into wardrobe weeding: I brought roughly three wardrobes’ worth of jeans, dresses, jackets, skirts and shoes to Siopaella, a consignment store in Temple Bar, to resell them.
For the uninitiated, a consignment store resells your clothing – steamed, organised and, in some cases, repaired (thanks, guys!) – at a knock-down price to women whose own wardrobe weeding has left them looking for lightly worn maybe-designer gear (from Topshop* up to Diane Von Furstenberg* and Marni*). To date, my wardrobe weeding has netted me a cool €1,769 (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 one wardrobe of clothing. I own about 10 jumpers, four coats (a leather jacket, a cobalt blue double-breasted summer blazer, two long duster-style coats and a raincoat), two skirts, about six pairs of jeans, maybe 20 tops (14 of which are T-shirts) and maybe three dresses. My shoes number 16 pairs (and 12 of those are runners).
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 nice shirt
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. (Granted, it can be difficult to find nice shirts if you are in any way busty; I like Marks & Spencer*'s, because they often have that clever concealed button which means you don't need to do the old safety-pin trick.)
No one needs a bodycon dress
No, no one. And just because you have a body society approves of 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 weeding, 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 [aside: I wrote this before I read Marie Kondo*, so honestly I feel as if she maybe copied me. Who can I sue?!). 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 commenced my wardrobe weeding, I would have considered myself a big fast fashion fan. I would frequently pop into town 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 fast-fashion item 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 wardrobe weeding = ruthless buying
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 are 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.
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* *It was more of a light chair toss and no, she wasn’t injured.
This blog post was updated on June 6th, 2018.