By Lola Connelly
A conscious clear out can have many positive psychological benefits. And if you haven’t already had one during lockdown, then before Christmas is the perfect time. It will not only help you regain physical space, but also help mentally.
Your wardrobe is easier to look at, and most importantly will become a place to call your own. Keep in mind, the most conscious thing to do is to not suddenly get rid of everything you own. So here are some tips on how to consciously clear out your clothes.
For your wardrobe
1. Get all of your clothes out
First of all, you need to take everything out. This means your clothes in your wardrobe and draws. You’ll most likely come across items you completely forgot about. And you need to see everything you own, in order to make this effective. Moreover, this will give you some perspective on why you are also finding these long lost clothes. Are they overlooked? Wrong size? Wore it once for a special occasion?
Similarly it is beneficial to decide what you want to achieve from this clear out. For instance you could be looking to:
2. Create separate piles
Create five piles:
- Action (repair, cleaning)
- Keep for another season
- Don’t know (to come back to at the end)
A capsule wardrobe is an incredibly useful way to organise your seasonal clothes. Clothes that do not work for the current season, will take up valuable space. Have a look at our Capsule style edit for more inspiration. Keep in mind what you’re trying to achieve.
And remember, you do not have to get rid of an item just because it’s not sustainable. If you love the item, the most mindful thing to do is keep it.
3. Do the ‘Outfit Test’
In order to really find out if you like the clothing item or not, you need to try it on. And you can even take photos of yourself wearing the clothes. This may seem time consuming, but it is actually saving you time in the future. Furthermore, you can rediscover what you have by creating more than one outfit. You will be more conscious trying on items more than once, than immediately throwing it on the donate/sell pile. Try not to be over emotional or cling to pieces you’ll never wear however. There are many reasons we cling to particular items which include:
- You bought it in the hope it will fit one day (I have myself been a victim of this)
- You wore it once for a special occasion
- Decided to try a new trend and never went through with it
- You feel you’d be wasting money
- Keeping it “Just in case”
For starters, clothing which doesn’t fit will do you no good sitting in your wardrobe. Particularly if you’re wanting to boost your self esteem. The psychological benefits for this are huge. As you will no longer have to worry about what fits and what doesn’t.
We can certainly get emotional over clothes, making it hard to discard.
Seal this box and come back to it in a couple of months. If you haven’t thought about any of those items during this time, it is a sign to let them go.
If you feel you’d be wasting money, remind yourself the money is already spent.
Meanwhile, you can manage this guilt and stress by donating it and letting someone else love it. Above all, Cora Hilts founder of luxury sustainable platform Reve en Vert gave us some very useful advice to think about “Would I feel great running into my ex-boyfriend or girlfriend in this?” Check out the interview here.
Most importantly, try to avoid throwing clothing in the bin. Around 350,000 tonnes of used clothing goes to landfill every year. Small holes, rips and loose buttons can easily be fixed. Try and teach yourself these skills. These skills are also a good way to manage stress and keep occupied.
If you don’t trust your sewing, your local launderette may offer services.
5. Start organising
An organised wardrobe is said to give you more energy, as you have fewer distracting elements. Removal of clutter means you’ll feel less stressed.
First of all organise your clothes by category, then by colour. This will make it much easier for you to search for clothes in the morning, and is especially pleasing to the eye. Above all if you’re aiming for a minimalist wardrobe, colour coding will make it that much quicker to put an outfit together. Fold your knitwear however, and avoid using hangers.
Hangers will damage fabrics such as wool, cashmere and angora. You can even use the ‘filing’ or ‘rolling’ method for the draws.
Make use of your vertical space in your wardrobe. This can ultimately be used for belts, scarves or shoe organisers. A shoe organiser will therefore save space at the bottom of your wardrobe. Another useful way of working out what you do and do not wear is the ‘6 month safety pin trial’. Take the pin out when you wear the item, and if there is still a pin in an item of clothing after 6 months, it’s most likely time to get rid of it.
Moreover, you can match certain outfits together and put them on the same hanger. This will save you time in the future.
Speaking of hangers. Did you know plastic hangers are the plastic straws of the fashion world? Plastic hangers are not conscious and take 1,000 years to rot.
“MoS investigation revealed that plastic hangers could do more damage than plastic bags”
Fortunately, there are many natural alternatives to the plastic hanger. Look for hangers made of wood (FSC is the better choice), rubber, bamboo, sugarcane and fibreboard:
Moreover, if you have some plastic hangers there are also many other options.
They can be taken to:
- Homeless hostels
- Care homes
- First Mile (hanger recycling service)
- Theatre groups
- Students (Look at apps Olio and/or Next Door)
For the clothes you’re not keeping
1. Sell your clothes
There are many different methods for selling your clothes. Go to websites such as eBay, Preloved or Hardly Ever Worn (higher end fashion). Or, download apps such as Depop, Vinted and Rebelle. If the item is slightly faulty (missing a button for instance) make sure to mention this in the description. The buyer themselves may fix it.
2. Swap with your friends and family
A great way to ensure a conscious clear out is taking part in a clothes swap. With friends, family, flatmates or social bubbles. This will encourage sustainable living, with the confidence your clothing is not going to landfill. Furthermore, you may feel less guilty as you are saving money. But, make sure it is an item you love and know you will wear in the future. If you’d like to encourage your community to become more mindful, take a look at ‘Street Store’.
Clothing banks will give new life to old pieces of clothing. These can be found near supermarkets and local car parks. Visit Recycle Now or Love Your Clothes to find one near you. There is also The Fire Fighters Charity, to which unwearable clothes are recycled into items such as, industrial wipers and car upholstery. The income also goes towards physical, psychological and community support for firefighters in need. Type in your postcode to find the nearest donation box near you.
Before you donate your clothes to charities, make sure your clothing is in good condition. Remove any stains, clean them and try and do the basic repairs. This will ensure that your clothing gets sold. Did you know that only 10-30% of clothing gets sold in the UK. Stained clothing will most likely end up in landfill or incinerated. You can also check to see if the charity you are donating them to will accept them, if you’re aiming for a conscious mindset. Or even if they have a relationship with a recycler.
Likewise, The Salvation Army is a great charity to donate your clothes to. They’re a member of Textile Recycling Association, Charity Retail Association and have recently collaborated with Trader Recycling Universal Standard (TRUST). The Salvation Army has clothing banks, donation centres and charity shops.
Above all, the homeless around the festive and cold period are in need of basic winter necessities . You can put together a bundle or donate to Shelter.
Tips for the future
1. Rent your clothes
2. Shop second hand/Vintage
Shopping second hand is one of the most conscious options for many reasons:
- You keep it local
- Slows down fast fashion
- Promotes reuse and recycling
- Reduces Co2
If you’re aiming for a minimalist wardrobe, and one which does not cause you stress every time you look at it, try the one-in-one-out method. Everytime you buy something new, take an item out of your wardrobe. Either to donate, sell or upcycle.
“The first step to slow fashion, is asking why before you buy”
– Francine Joy
4. Love your clothes
For a truly conscious wardrobe, love your clothes and make them last. Get as many wears out of them as possible!
These are only a few ways to have a conscious clear out. In short, there are many options which do not involve throwing away your clothes. Have any more tips? Let us know in the comments below.