The Ultimate Guide To Organising Your Wardrobe

Organising wardrobe
Organising wardrobe
(Image credit: Rex Features)

Feel like you've nothing to wear? You know that's not really true, but when your wardrobe is disorganised and in a muddle, your head gets in a muddle too.

Your first step to an organised space is to visualise the end result: picture opening the wardrobe and seeing everything beautifully arranged. Choosing what to wear is no longer a chore, it's a delight. And you can put your hand on exactly what you want without even thinking about it. So how do you achieve this?

GIVE YOURSELF A WEEKEND

Take a few days off work/off everything else. It's going to be hard work - not least because we feel an emotional attachment to our clothes. Make fast decisions so you don't have too much thinking time: keep going back to your wardrobe heaven picture in your head to help you decide what to keep and what to get rid of.

DON'T BUY NEW STORAGE

Arming yourself with a heap of pretty new storage boxes, drawers and caddies before you start means you'll simply start trying to fill them. Sort everything first and then design your storage around your real needs.

Ask yourself "Do I love this? Do i want to wear it again?". If you do, fine. But if you start thinking "A black cardi's so useful" when you know you never feel great in it, drop it into the charity bag. Worst case scenario, you can buy something you actually enjoy wearing that's equally useful. Seriously, you will still have enough to wear at the end of this process. If any clothes don't fit anymore, be realistic: are you really going to get that slim again? And if you do, don't you deserve something new? Too-small clothes are more likely to be shaming than inspiring.

Is it too shabby to wear again? If you love chilling out after your Sunday night bath in that old hoodie you inherited from your teenage son - great! Keep it! If you've been hanging on to a T-shirt with a slight stain on the front because it's OK for doing the housework, bin it. The only exception is if you happen to be into DIY - but just keep one "decorator's outfit".

Start with an easy section like skirts to get the hang of it; by the time you get to your undies you'll probably be quite ruthless; who wants lingerie they don't feel lovely in? Go through each section before you put anything away. Once you've made your decisions, do not go rummaging through bags to get items back out - tie them up and move them outside the room as each one is filled.

Be aware of the emotional pull of clothes: there are certain items we feel we simply can't let go of becasue they remind us of happy times, or were given to us by a friend. But if you never wear it, what's the point? If it's still wearable, wouldn't it be better to give it to charity so someone else can enjoy wearing it? You can keep the memories, just ditch the clothes!

THE CLEAR-OUT

  1. Arm yourself with plenty of black bags for rubbish and charity shop rejects. Don't start picking items out of the wardrobe or drawers, get everything out first. Yes, everything. This will take a lot of space (you might want to book into the spare room overnight).
  2. Sort items into types - tops, dresses, skirts, etc.
  3. Once everythings out, clean your wardrobe inside - this will help with your visualisation: when you're starting with a clean space, it'll give you a clean vision.
  4. Now start going through each pile
    of clothes. First sort them, again by colour - white tops, blue tops, green tops... Now go through each sub section and decide what to keep or throw.

W&H TIP: Check whether clothes need a dry-clean and look for missing buttons, dodgy zips and slight tears; put ot one side if you're keeping and don't put back in the wardrobe until you get the problem fixed.

STORAGE

Having culled, you should have enough hanging space, although you may want to add an extra rail so you can store tops/skirts on top of each other.Try to store bottoms below tops; it makes sense to see tops at the top.

You may need to buy some extra shelving or drawers to accomodate your newly arranged clothes. Don't overfill drawers but do a sense check - if you're trying to squeeze ten white tees into a drawer, maybe you haven't been ruthless enough. Drawer dividers can help keep unruly items in check; Ikeas's Maximera dividers, from £5 each, and Holfts cuttable dividers, from £2.50 for three, are great.

  • Hanging shelves can be a good way to store your underwear - try a shoe hanging shelf and you'll have lots of small shelves for different colours/styles.

  • Clear plastic storage boxes are perfect for belts and rolled scarves.

  • Hang bags from hooks, or store two inside each other to help keep their shape.

THE ORGANISING

- For each of your clothes, put any items that should be hung (not sweaters as they stretch) on hangers (use thin velvet ones and you'll get much more into your space). Put trousers on clip hangers and clip at the hem; they'll simply hang better.

- When you put clothes back into the wardrobe, arrange by type, colour and by length of item, left to right. What's the point? By knowing the layout of your wardrobe in your head, next time you want "long blue tunic", your eye will go straight to blue, straight to length, straight to the piece - so simple! This really does make a difference. Storing clothes in outfits never works because it's too infelxible. The only exception is that you may want to make a special occasion section, which could include fancier dresses, skirts and tops, and you may have items that have to be worn together.

- Neatly fold everything else - and again, arrage them by colour. Don't ball socks - the cuffs will stretch and bag.

Stand back and admire your work!

You'll probably feel exhausted after your sort out, but standing back and seeing all your clothes beautifully colour-coded and neatly arranged will give you a real lift - and inspire you to stay organised

Once everything has a home, it's easy to stay sorted: just make sure you put things away, rather than having a pile of ironed clothes laying around.

Keep drawers and wardrobes fresh and moth free with Total Wardrobe Care's Cedar Ball, £6 for 20, which absorb moisture, discouraging mould, and repel moths; to renew the odour try Natural Refresher Spray, £5.50, both totalwardrobecare.co.uk