One perk of being an adult is that you can buy whatever clothes you like, whenever you like.
Buy a cute new sequin dress for an upcoming party. Shell out for the latest rapper-sponsored shoe. Drop a week’s rent on a fancy work outfit. The world is your wardrobe, if you want it to be.
But with all this freedom, it’s easy to spiral out of control. The floordrobe slowly becomes a permanent installation, and despite having hundreds of options you wear the same three outfits each week. There’s only one solution to this: decluttering. With spring approaching, there’s no better time to pick your clothes up off the floor and start again.
Make a list
What do you actually need? Before starting the big cleanse, write a detailed list of the things you think you need in your wardrobe. Be specific but reasonable – you probably only need one pair of light blue jeans, not five. While you should cover all your bases, remember that one piece of clothing can have many uses. A good, clean jumper goes further than you think.
Marie Kondo, creator of the globally revered KonMari cleaning method, says you should consider whether each item “sparks joy”. If the answer is ‘no’, it must go. While “sparking joy” might seem pretty broad, there are some ways to break it down into easier questions. Have you worn the item in the last year? Did you feel good when you wore it? Does the upkeep of the piece (ironing, dry-cleaning etc) outweigh how you feel when you wear it? Again, if the answer to these is ‘no’, get rid of the item. Make some exceptions for nostalgic pieces or those that have sentimental value, but try to only keep things you honestly couldn’t live without.
Organise so it won’t happen again
Make four piles when clearing out your wardrobe: keep, maybe, donate and recycle. Once you’ve sorted everything into these piles, and decided what you want to keep from the ‘maybe’ pile, don’t just go throwing everything back in. To avoid the fast-track to another floordrobe, it’s important to have a system. There’s no right way to do this – some sort by clothing type, others by outfit. Make the most of the space you have and make sure it’s something you can easily maintain.
Sell your clothes
You’ve spent your hard-earned cash on your clothes and just because they’re no longer useful to you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get some cash back. There are loads of platforms to help you sell your clothes that are still in good condition. Online app Depop is particularly handy, but don’t discount good ol’ Facebook Marketplace or simply making a separate Instagram for your clothes. If you prefer human contact, look into setting up a stall at your local markets. Be reasonable in setting your prices to cover your costs, but don’t try to take advantage of your shoppers. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, but no one will pay $100 for your Year 12 jersey.
Donate the rest
While making a bit of cash from your old clothes can be great, donating clothes is less effort with a bigger (non-monetary) reward. There’s an endless list of stores that accept donations. Those run by charities such as the Red Cross and Lifeline are a good pick, as your clothes will be supporting those in need. It’s super important that the clothes are still in a wearable state, though, as these shops are already overwhelmed with garbage that volunteers must sort through. It’s also worthwhile to try researching charities that give the clothes directly to those who need them, to ensure your stuff doesn’t just end up in landfill. For example, Dress For Success is a charity that accepts professional workwear for their clients to wear to job interviews. Not only do your clothes get a second life, but they could also help someone land a job and break the poverty cycle.
Recycle your trash
Don’t just throw away the clothes that aren’t in good enough condition to donate or sell. There are various clothes recycling programs that deal with items that would otherwise end up in landfill, including at every H&M store in Australia. H&M will take any clothes, bedding or shoes in any condition and recycle them into other products. You’ll get a discount voucher for every bag of clothes you bring in, along with that refreshing feeling that only comes with helping to save the planet.