no more clutter logo no more clutter newsletter for October 2004

Transform your wardrobe

I've just been for a walk with my blind cairn terrier Barney in Cherry Tree Woods in East Finchley and there's no denying it - autumn is definitely here. It's time to fish out the jumpers, scarves and coats and to prepare your wardrobe for the colder days ahead. The more avid shoppers among us will already have hit the shops in search of new boots, "must-have" items in this season's colours, cashmere sweaters and other blissful purchases.

But before you buy another thing - stop. Open your wardrobe and have a good look. Do you face an overcrowded muddle of crumpled clothes, expensive shopping mistakes and clothes in at least three different sizes? Be honest, do you even know what you have lurking in there? How often do you give up and grab the same pair of black trousers or your favourite shirt off the back of the chair? You are not alone - on average we all wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.

Don’t delay any longer – sorting out your clothes and accessories is a great mood booster. Imagine next time you look in your wardrobe there are only clothes you feel fabulous in. Set aside a quiet morning or afternoon to tackle your wardrobe, follow my tips and turn that fantasy into reality.

Set your goal

You are aiming to streamline your clothes so they are current season, your current size, in good repair and you enjoy wearing them all. That way getting ready in the morning will take half the time.

Declutter thoroughly

Take absolutely everything out of your wardrobe – lay the clothes on a clean sheet on the bed. Now go through each item of your clothing - hold it up or try it on in front of a full length mirror. Ask yourself the following questions

  • Have you worn it in the last year?
  • Does the tailoring and colour flatter you?
  • Is it in good condition (ie no holes, faded, tatty or tired)
  • Do you love it?

Unless it gets four yeses why are you keeping it? It doesn’t matter what it cost, how much you loved it five years ago or if you’ve never worn it – if it doesn’t work for you now, let it go.

Say goodbye to “fat” and “thin” clothes

Both men and women suffer from the vagaries of weight gain and loss. It can be very depressing to look in your wardrobe and see a host of size 10 tops or 32inch waist trousers that no longer fit. If you are planning to lose weight or have just had a baby then store clothes that are too small. Put a date on them and if you can’t get into them in a year give them away. Let go of all clothes that are too big – otherwise you are unconsciously telling yourself you expect to gain weight again.

Store like with like

Once you’ve decided what clothes to keep it’s time to put them back in the wardrobe. Face all hangers the same way and categorise clothes into work and leisure. Put your work suits and shirts on one side and your casual clothes on the opposite side. Colour code everything so you can see at a glance that you have 10 pairs of blue jeans or 12 white shirts. Make a note of any clothes and shoes that need mending. If you're not handy with a needle get to know a good drycleaner or tailor who can help you out.

Invest in good quality hangers

Next time you treat yourself to a new shirt just say no to the offer of another free store hanger. Hangers are an important part of clothes care. Return any wire ones to the dry cleaners and treat yourself to wooden ones or padded ones for more delicate items.

Beware moths

Moths are still very much with us in the twenty first century. Keep them at bay by using cedarwood, lavender, or horse chestnuts. Check here for some of my tips for moths.

Find your unwanted clothes a good home

You can donate to charity, recycle your tired clothes or sell your unworn mistakes to a dress agency or even on eBay.

Edit your clothes twice a year

Every April and October have a thorough clear out of your wardrobe. Be ruthless about keeping anything you haven’t worn last season. Use this opportunity to change clothes over to the current season. Store the out-of season ones in your spare wardrobe or use under bed drawers or vacuum packs to store in the loft. Don't forget to sort out your sports gear too.

Work the one-in one-out policy

Once you’ve reached capacity with your clothes storage it’s tempting to fantasise about that enormous walk-in wardrobe. In reality it’s time to work the one-in one out policy. For everything new you buy you let something similar go. This even applies to shoes!

Minimise shopping mistakes

You’re only human – we all have “off” days when we buy things that we’ll never wear. Limit these mistakes by only buying clothes you feel fantastic in. If you’re dithering go and have a cup of coffee and come back in half an hour and try it on again. Chances are you’ll walk away empty-handed and save your money for something that has the Wow factor.

Check out this month's tip: Even up your odd socks

Competition result

Debi wins the family organiser calendar from for her contribution to last month's discussion - What's holding you back from having the clutter-free home of your dreams?

Debi says: "Can't believe you left out my all-time favorite, "I'm holding onto it so that when I lose weight I can wear it again!" As you know since you are into psychology, that excuse represents ALL KINDS of deeper problems. I've been using this excuse for years and in the meantime had amassed a HUGE wardrobe in things of all sizes. I even had some clothing items that I really loved in three different sizes so that I could wear it no matter how large I got.

I only recently came to my senses and learned to accept myself the way I am. I knew the rule that "if you haven't worn it in over a year, get rid of it," but I had never quite been able to carry through when I'd set out to do that. So I asked my daughter to help. She sat on the bed while I went through everything in four closets. Every time I would waver in my resolve to abide by this rule, she would ask, "Mom, when's the last time you wore that?" or "How many sizes are you away from that size now?" I think I have conquered this problem now and am loving my clutter-free closets."

I'm sure everyone can relate to this. In my twenties I used to buy clothes one size smaller in the vain hope it would encourage me to lose weight. Years later they went to the charity shop unworn!

This month's Competition

Your chance to win a pack of 10 fragrant lavender balls from the White Company ( to hang in your wardrobe, to smell sweet and to banish the moths. Just email Sue at and share any tips, revelations or funny or moving stories about decluttering your wardrobe. My favourite answer will be published in November's newsletter.

A new Feature coming next month as part of the newsletter is the Clutter Clinic. It's your chance to ask Sue questions about decluttering. If something is mystifying you, chances are other people are puzzled too. So send your emails to

Sue Kay works with a wide range of clients to organise home offices, small businesses, declutter before a house move, prepare your spare room for a new baby and organise your wardrobe ready for the new season. If you're selling your home, she can help you present it clutter-free for the market to achieve a quick and profitable sale. For practical sympathetic help call Sue on 07974 076 675 or 020 8444 5149 or check out the website at


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