#JanuaryJoy – Have a Clear Out

Today, Michelle is here to talk about her ‘get organised’ plans for 2013. She has got a handy guide to how she tackled her wardrobe clear out that I think you’ll all find useful. I know I always find my wardrobe daunting. ‘Will I wear it again?’ and ‘It feels to wasteful to throw things away…’ but if you’re to have a streamlined wardrobe being ruthless is essential. Take it away Michelle!

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I’ll admit that when it comes to clothing I hate to throw anything away, yep my name is Michelle and I’m a hoarder. The problem became so out of hand when I had filled the entire wardrobe spaces across two bedrooms (3 double hanging spaces, and 15 drawers, yikes!) along with several more suitcases bursting at their seams in the attic space too. This came to light when my partner moved into my home and was genuinely horrified at the amount of ‘stuff’ I had that just did not see the light of day.

His continual nagging reasoning eventually resonated, I finally got that there’s no point keeping clothing that didn’t fit or was even remotely stylish anymore. It was time for a clear-out. Now along with my fear of letting go of anything in case I one day need it again, I also loathe waste and would rather sell my clothes on than just bin them. So when I have had a clear-out before I’ve simply moved the items from wardrobe to bin-liners in the vain hope I’ll miraculously find an extra 3-million hours to list everything on ebay and make enough money to treat myself to next seasons must-haves. #neverhappens. I simply end up with more clutter catching dust in the attic.

It was time to be radical, to let go and think with my head not my heart so I set aside a full day to have a proper clearout. I got rid of all those old clothes filling up my wardrobes and I made sure the things I use as part of my daily getting-ready routine were easy to locate and had a dedicated space.

The original day I set aside to do it actually turned into two but it’s time well spent in my eyes and boy am I glad I did it now. Over one month in and my bedroom is still exactly as it was when I finished the clear-out, totally zen and totally organised. The time it takes me to get ready each day has halved (yes that’s right HALF the time – just goes to show how long I spent ‘looking’ for stuff) and I’ve started to enjoy getting dressed again, co-ordinating my outfits and actually wearing more than a handful of core items.

So in the interests of sharing here’s my tips for having your own clear-out:

Put some loud music on – it will keep you going at a quick pace rather than getting distracted by all the things you’re unearthing
Start with a clean slate – pull out everything and pile it onto the bed, start with clothes, then move onto shoes, accessories and lastly your make-up/beauty items
Create three piles:

  1. The things you both LOVE and make you feel GREAT – these are the keepers
  2. The things you LOVE and want to keep but they need repairing or altering – you have to get these done right away or they’ll sit in your wardrobe for another 12-months
  3. The things that you’re not 100% sure about, items that don’t fit or have really seen better days – these have to go so get the bin bags ready!

Now be strict and keep only those items you really LOVE and WOULD/COULD wear. There’s no point keeping something you love but the fit being awkward, or the colour doesn’t really suit you, or you’re just waiting for something to go with it. If you have an excuse why you’ve not worn it then bin it. Keep in mind at all times, how those clothes make you feel, because really who wants to wear anything that doesn’t make you feel 100% great?

  • Decide which wardrobe and drawer space is best for each type of clothing, from hanging to drawers and shelving. Put items you need daily access to, like work clothes, in the main hanging spaces and those worn less often in drawers or on shelves.
  • When hanging your clothes back in the wardrobe try colour-coding them so they are easy to find when you’re pairing outfits together. I hang from light to dark shades with all my tops, shirts, blouses etc in the top hanging space and bulkier jackets, cardigans etc at the bottom. My trousers and skirts have a small wardrobe all of their own, jeans get folded up and put on shelves and everything else goes in the drawers
  • I know it’s a pain but try to iron your clothes too before they get put away, they will get slightly creased again but I find it’s easy enough to run a hot hairdryer over slightly creased clothes (or just hang them in the bathroom while you shower) than it is to get the iron and ironing board out every day. Also take the time to put them all the right way around on the hanger, you wouldn’t buy from a shop that had creased, inside out clothing on display would you? You want to feel good when getting dressed, it’s all about creating an enjoyable experience.

  • Utilise drawer dividers for things like jewellery and underwear, Ikea do some really cheap ones and they really do help to keep things neat and tidy
  • Anything that isn’t going to be worn for months (ie really seasonal items) should be packed away into suitcases for storing
  • Keep shoes in their boxes if you can as it maintains them for much longer. To help you find what’s lurking inside each box take a snapshot of each pair and stick it to the side of the box (I just used my phone to do it then printed on the home computer and stuck them on with tape, I would have preferred a polaroid but I don’t have one).

  • If you have a dressing table don’t be tempted to fill the surface with ‘stuff’ it may look pretty but I guarantee it will look chaotic after a week of rushed getting ready, instead try to keep everything in drawers. Keep only the items you use on a daily basis on your table and have them organised in pretty pots (mine are Cox and Cox candle votives) and use a nice tray for any flat items (like blusher and bronzer) that won’t go in a pot. Create separate compartments in the drawer space using plastic pots so you can group things like hairgrips, bobbles, nail products etc (mine are old business card holders reused)
  • Skincare products I find are better in the bathroom as they are part of my washing/showering routine

I quickly realised last year that I can’t continue the way I had been doing and a certain level of strict organisation was needed for my sanity. So I’ve started #ProjectOrganise and will be blogging, tweeting and instagramming about my progress over the course of 2013.

Please do join in, there’s nothing better than knowing we’re all in it together, if you have any time-management tips, or little aspects you also feel the need to tackle then drop us a comment and we’ll make sure it’s considered in a future post.

When our time is so precious it’s little steps like this that make all the difference. Every. Second. Counts and no-one wants to waste time hunting under the bed for their mascara every morning.

Pocketful of Dreams

{Pocketful of Dreams are creative event designers, passionate about creating breathtaking experiences. They design, style and deliver unique weddings and events tailored to your own personal story.}

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19 thoughts on “#JanuaryJoy – Have a Clear Out

  1. Oh this tips are actually really good. You have inspired me to organize my closet by colors and forms and hang my dresses properly (not folded in half, 3 in 1 hanger like I do, which makes it crammed).
    I am also a hoarder , it is hard to let go of stuff. I am slowly learning because the husband likes it clean and neat and he really does not like to keep stuff “just in case” . For him either you need it or you don’t.

    • Hi Amanda,

      My partner is totally the same. Sometimes we need to keep things just for pure love!! Otherwise we’d never have those vintage classics to pass down the generations. I try to invest in key pieces that I know are classics, then those that are more ‘of the moment’ I won’t spend as much on so I don’t feel as bad when it comes to saying goodbye.

  2. Morning all,
    I have been really inspired by Rebecca’s January Joy series, and totally agree with Michelle that January can be hard enough without setting yourself up to fail. It has helped lots that I’m in that glorious post wedding bubble (4 weeks tomorrow!) that I have yet to suffer the January blues. When this series was launch the clear out stuck out as priority to me, especially after a year of wedding planning I had neglected the clutter piling up at home. Its also helps that I live in Dubai and the weather is quite spring like at the moment so I feel even more inspired. I started my clear out a couple of weeks a go. Unlike you Michelle, I have given myself until the end of January to have my bedroom and kitchen organised. This was because I’ve had too many deadlines at work to set aside whole days which I would have preferred to do, although this has felt easier and more achievable. I’ve hire a table at a flea market with a friend the first weekend of february to sell many of my cull and have donated to charity too. I’ve still a few drawers to do but already my head feels much clearer, and I’m exciting about being much more organised throughout the whole of 2013. x

    • Hello Andrea, slightly jealous of your spring like weather. It’s fr, fr, freezing here.

      The only reason I set aside a day or so was that I knew once I got back into the swing of things in the new year with work and all the other projects I’m involved in I knew it just wouldn’t happen. Plus I had two weeks off over Christmas and really struggled with the whole ‘doing nothing’ aspect. Did not come naturally.

      Congratulations too, enjoy your post wedding bubble xxxxx

  3. I totally forgot to say in the post what I did with my stuff. I could NOT bring myself to just throw it all away, so I found a charity I felt strongly about (a women’s refuge) and donated it all.

    Now if I do have a slight moment when I miss a certain item I can just remind myself that’s its gone to a far better home.

  4. This post comes at the perfect time Michelle & Rebecca!! I’m packing up to move flat this weekend and need a major clear out before I move. I hold on to way too many clothes and I’m hoping a new place will motivate me to be more organised. Will definitively be joining in Project Organised to keep me on track (I have been known to derail after a week!)


    • Hi Laura,

      Ooh yes a clearout is a MUST when moving, so counter-productive dragging it all with you.

      Honestly I’m usually the type to have a clearout, get organised and 2 weeks later feel like I’m back to square one. So far so good but I’m working hard at it.

      Good luck with the move. Xxx

  5. Can I suggest the addition of a 4th pile – divide pile 3 into stuff that no one else would want – ie old undies, stained tshirts etc that get chucked, and stuff that someone else might want: the dress that is lovely but a size too small, the shoes that you’ve never been able to break in and donate that pile to a charity shop. I did this recently and its been great. I have also told myself that every time I buy something new, some old has to go to make room for it….. this is tough, and I haven’t been that sucessful. It’s more like 3 in 1 out but its a start.

    • Hey JoL,

      Totally agree, I forgot to mention in the post that I didn’t just chuck it all away. Giving it to charity is a must, particularly when so many items have hardly any wear. It’s shocking really but having this purge does make me now think twice about the money I’ve spent on clothes in the past. Or maybe I’m just growing up?!

  6. This is my kind of post! I am a self-confessed organisational geek. I am pretty strict on what I keep in my wardrobe and really only have the stuff I wear all the time (as a result I don’t have much because I’ve been promising myself I’ll lose weight before I buy new stuff and that is taking a while!!). However, I definitely need to look at better organisation for make-up and toiletries etc. so will be taking home that pile of empty business card boxes I have in my desk drawer tonight. Thank you for that tip Michelle!

    • Hi Yanthe, I think deep down we all harbour desires to be more organised! I know I do anyway.

      I don’t get those biz card holders anymore, gutted as I’ve now made use of about 20 of them around the home. Having looked online for similar products I’m glad I have these now as the Perspex drawer type units are expensive.

  7. This is a very timely post for me too. I went on a massive reorganisation and flat update kick after my wedding towards the end of last year. However, due to mother-in-law and other guests staying plus being away for 3 weeks over Christmas, I took a wardrobe shortcut (everything got put away but in no particular order) which is driving me crazy. Thanks for giving me inspiration do actually DO something about it!

    Also, if you could do a post on stylish, convenient laundry solutions, I would be amazingly grateful! Particularly if there’s advice for small flats with no convenient cupboards to hide it in!

    Lastly, I found that one of the best “updates” for the flat was installing hooks on the back of all the doors. It’s a great place for hanging towels (bathroom/spare room), aprons (kitchen), coats (cupboards), dressing gowns and bags (bedroom). We found some pretty and functional spiral ones from Homebase which were around £5 each but you can get cheaper ones too.

    • Hi Lara,

      Oh I feel your pain, it’s after particularly busy weeks of travelling that I lose all sense of order at home. The packing, unpacking, endless washing just takes over.

      Re laundry I’m stuck for places in my home too. A washing basket just doesn’t fit anywhere without it totally being in the way so I’ve resorted to a laundry bag instead. I have a little inset in my bedroom, it’s quite weird, really narrow and a total waste of space so nothing fits in it but the bag can quite easily squash in, plus it’s really tall so fits plenty in without it being on view.

      Hooks are great, I used to have some on the bedroom wall for jewellery but the fella said they looked messy so made me move them to a drawer. I thought they looked quite pretty.

      Will have a think about laundry solutions. X

      • Thanks, I appreciate that!

        I think the chaos is especially hard to deal with because I am usually so organised and know where everything is. Now I don’t and it seems such a mammoth task….but I will get there.

        Jealous that you have a place to hide laundry. I’ve been racking my brains over how to hide it/make it look pretty for weeks now (no pressure!). xx

  8. I am over-due a massive clear out, and this post has really inspired me. My fiance is much tidier than I am and keeps nagging me as he finds my things encroaching on his part of the wardrobe! A job for the weekend I think! xx

  9. I’m of the opinion that if you haven’t worn it in a year, it should go. However, I do struggle to let go of lovely pieces, even if I haven’t worn them! I sold a few things on eBay, donated to charity and I went to a clothes swap party recently as well. I still have a long way to go and need to get organised as I’m selling my house this year.

    • I just figure it’s an ongoing process. And you so should keep hold of those pieces you love. I said above to Amanda, sometimes we just need to keep the odd item for their sheer beauty. As long as they’re in the minority that’s totally fine.

      I went to a clothes swop party in Manchester once, I’ve never seen so many scary women in my life. Thought there was going to be a punch up over a cardigan, it was bizarre!!

  10. Finally in 2012 I actually used the tip I’d heard so often of turning all of my hangers backward at the beginning of January. My husband is more of a hoarder than I am, so I did his too. It was wonderful at the beginning of this year to pull out all of the non-turned-around items. I felt no remorse because there it was staring me in the face – you don’t wear these clothes! My next challenge – a bigger one for me I’ll admit, is to acquire articles that go with the clothes I have left. I am missing a style gene, so InStyle is helping me with that task.

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