06/09/2016
^^^^ us.

Words by

Alyce Cowell

Hi everyone, I’m Alyce, and I’m a recovering hoarder. It’s been a long and difficult road to get to where I am today, but I’m finally at a point where I can look at a piece of clothing, no matter how tempting, and know deep down I can no longer go there. It’s time for that garment to go in the bin.

This kind of resilience has taken a lot of practice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to clean out my wardrobe and ended up keeping everything. I mean, what if I wear it some day?!?!!? (Spoiler alert: I don’t).

The problem is, I’m a stylist. I teach people these tricks all the time, concealing the fact that I can’t open my own wardrobe without a tower of jeans showering me from above... or that the production team from Hoarders is probably staking out my house right now.

But over the past few months, and many failed clean-outs, I’ve learned to take my own advice. I’ve come out the other side and I’m here to tell you that you can do it too.

Before we get started, it’s important you’re in the right frame of mind. My boyfriend and I like to think of it as a split personality: when Ruth (short for Ruthless) is in town, my wardrobe better watch the f*ck out. Your wardrobe better watch the f*ck out. Everything better watch the f*ck out.

You’ll also need to set yourself up: tidy the area; have a ‘sell’, ‘donate’ and ‘can’t decide’ box; change into your underwear (you’re gonna be trying on a lot of clothes); put on your best mid-00’s playlist and have all of the necessary supplies ready, such as new hangers, a block of chocolate and multiple bottles of wine.

Tip 1. Take baby steps

Everyone is different, but I find the best way to tackle the task is to turn it into lots of mini tasks that won’t give you a panic attack. Start with your shoes, then your jumpers, then your dresses, then your shorts, and so on. You’ll get on a roll and it’s also a sneaky way to categorise your wardrobe for later on.

Tip 2. Ask yourself the tough questions

Hold up every single item and inspect it carefully. Ask yourself: have I worn this in the past year? Does this still fit me? Is that tomato sauce? If you’re planning to sell some stuff, decide whether you’d be willing to give it up in exchange for a sparkly new item. This always works.

Tip 3. Create an outfit book

If you’re especially organised and impressive, you can create an outfit book as you go. This is something celebrity stylists do for their clients who can’t possibly get dressed on their own for a day in St. Barts. But it also comes in handy for us normal people who literally have nothing to wear to work on Monday. It’s a fun weekend activity that will require another bottle of wine. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Take a photo of each item with a polaroid camera or your phone

  • If on your phone, print them out

  • Put together cute looks

  • Stick them in a notebook or photo album

  • Make notes beside each look, referencing which shoes and accessories match, or where you could wear it.

Tip 4. No wire hangers!!!

If you’ve seen Mommie Dearest, you’ll know Joan Crawford really didn’t like wire hangers. Sure, she was terrifying, but girl had a point. Wire hangers can ruin your garments, and being so thin, they also make it hard to see what’s hanging up. Now’s your chance to swap to plastic hangers – or wooden, if you have the space and earn more than $100,000year. Ensure they’re all the same, because it looks tidy and the thought of your mismatched hangers keeps me up at night.

Tip 5. Return them home

As you finish each section, put it back in your wardrobe... the wrong way. Yep, we’re going against everything you’ve ever learned about hanging things up. Instead, hang your hangers the opposite way. Whenever you wear something, hang it the normal way. Anything left hanging the wrong way in a year’s time didn’t get worn and it’s outta here, no excuses.

Tip 6. Assess the leftovers

Once your wardrobe is in tip-top shape, it’s time to go through the boxes. Try on each item from your ‘can’t decide’ box, asking for opinions from honest family members, if necessary. Decide on the spot whether you’re keeping it or getting rid of it. I don’t care which it is, but it cannot stay in that pile.

Pack up your donated items and take them to the op shop immediately. Do not put them in your car and drive around for eight months before you get around to it. Don’t even stop for a coffee.

Next step, if you can, start on the items you want to sell straight away. Here, you can choose your own adventure: eBay is best for popular, highly-searched labels; Facebook is a quick and easy way to sell to your friends; a market stall works if you don’t mind a bit of friendly negotiation, and apps like Carousell are free and super fun to use.

Illustration by Twylamae.

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