How to properly spring clean your wardrobe (any time of the year)

We asked personal stylist and expert organiser Alarna Hope for her top tidying tips...

With spring having sprung, it’s high-time for a clothes clear-out. Now is the perfect time to address those all important cleaning tasks we tend to put off. Brighter and earlier sun rises will put a spring in your step, so set aside a Saturday morning and get on with what you put off all winter.

We’ve turned to personal stylist and expert organiser Alarna Hope for her top wardrobe-wrangling tips. So, whether you’re struggling with new office dress codes or fighting to find a good folding technique, here’s how to spring-clean your wardrobe (although you can certainly do this at any point throughout the year)...

Don’t think of your clothes individually

Start by knowing what you want your style to look like. If you have a style in mind before you start, you can work towards the style you want. So many people throw things out that could be used — and that’s why you should think about your clothes as part of a whole outfit, rather than thinking of each item individually.

Once you’ve done that, work through your wardrobe category by category. I like to start with shoes, line them up, check for damage, see what’s missing and put anything that needs a trip to the cobbler aside in a bag.

Ditch the ‘if it brings you joy’ approach

I know many boring brown belts and white T-shirts that don’t bring joy by themselves, but are fantastic building blocks for an outfit.

Ditch this ‘bringing joy’ idea — or only use it when shopping for a full outfit, not singular items. When getting rid of items, the first question I ask is ‘Is it my style?’, if not, I pass it on. If it passes that test, but it’s worn out and irreparable, I ditch it. If it can be fixed or altered, it’s a keeper.

Don’t underestimate the power of good hangers

It may sound like you just want to make the space look better, but matching hangers not only create a uniform look, they also ensure everything hangs from the same level. You won’t lose clothing that’s hiding between thicker hangers if they’re all the same. I personally love velvet hangers as they save space, are non-slip and they come in a variety of colours.

Sort by garment, then by colour

Sort by garment type first, so jeans together, chinos, trousers, shorts, etc. In those categories I group by colour, ie: black jeans, grey jeans, dark blue jeans, light blue jeans, cream and white. Try organising your wardrobe that way first, then stand back with your wardrobe doors open and see if there’s any need to change the layout of your wardrobe.

For example, do you have a lot of long hanging space, but all short garments? Could you use an extra rail halfway down? Playing with the layout of your wardrobe will help you get more out of your space.

Learn a couple more space- and time-saving tricks

Line up shoes heel to toe, you’ll get some extra shelf or floor room by doing that. Add a shoe rack in your wardrobe if you have a bit of space between the bottom of your clothes and the floor.

Utilise those high shelves for off-season items, sentimental clothing (shirts from charity runs, college jerseys, family gifts, etc.) and sports gear that doesn’t get used as often. Fold knitwear and jeans. Ditch shoe boxes. And remember to use your wardrobe space for clothing — nothing else!

If space is an issue, organise by season

You want to be able to get ready quickly and efficiently — not have to sort through clothing you can’t wear right now. If you have the space, simply allocate certain shelves and hanging space for winter and autumn, vs spring and summer.

When working with clients who have bigger wardrobes, I usually have winter down one end of the wardrobe and summer down the other.

Establish the dress codes in your life

While many offices have relaxed and ditched the ties, some even opting for chinos and smart shirts, some are gearing up to get back into the office and create a firmer line between what’s acceptable at work and what’s meant for home.

If your workplace or business looks like it’s about to go through a rebrand, hold off until you get a copy of your dressing guidelines. And, when in doubt, follow my rule: If you could wear it to the gym, the beach or out clubbing, don’t wear it to work.

Struggling with seasonal weather? Here’s how to protect your wardrobe against April showers…

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