Give your working wardrobe an overhaul without spending a cent.

The way you start your day dictates its course and can set you up for success or doom and gloom. There are lots of things you can do, like picturing your day before you get out of bed, getting up before the kids and more. But here we want to talk about the skeletons in the closet. Facing the world with your best (polished) foot forward, a smile on your dial and a spring in your step is easy if your wardrobe is organised.

The key to an organised wardrobe is LESS IS MORE. This is not my wardrobe (pictured), but we can always dream! (Actually I’d be slower in the mornings with that many shoes to choose from.) When you think about it, you don’t need that many clothes and shoes, you just need smart combinations.

Busy mornings are less stressful when your clothes are accessible and clean and pressed and when shoes, bags and accessories are all there within reach. A winning wardrobe doesn’t happen by accident – it is well thought out and planned. The key is knowing what to toss. Coco Chanel was famous for saying “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” I say: simplicity is achieved by Tossing!

wardrobe overhaul

Here are seven tips to get your wardrobe sorted out quickly:

1. Set yourself up for success: If you’ve got a copy of the Biggest Tosser, you’ll know that 50% of success in any organising project is the set up. That means setting aside time to have your tools together before you start. Keep all your tools in a clear plastic toolbox with a handle so it’s easy to take from room to room. Here are the tools you need at hand so you can tackle your wardrobe without getting distracted:

  • Large thick heavy-duty garbage bags. If they’re not thick, they’ll burst open and waste your time and energy, as well as get on your nerves.
  • Rubbish bin – to keep your garbage bag upright as you’re filling it. This is important because you want to be able to toss clothes quickly. No second thoughts. The collapsible ones are great because you can zip them down and put them away when you’re not using them. I have one like this from IKEA. It’s called a Fyllen laundry basket and is currently $14.99. You might find one like this at your local hardware store.
  • A hand-held label maker – I have a Brother p-touch with QWERTY keyboard and choices of tape sizes and types, but suit yourself.
  • A box for ‘remove’, which is where you’ll put anything that needs to go into another room or cupboard. Permanent markers
  • A timer – I use the one on my phone. When I set it, I know I’ll only need to do a certain amount of time and then I can move on to my next job. It keeps me focussed.
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors for tags or packages you need to cut.
  • Notebook & pen – if you have any ideas or action items, then you can write them down as you go along. For example your shopping list, items that need repairing, etc.
  • A bottle of water – to keep you hydrated while you work and so you won’t be tempted to leave the room for a drink.
  • Phone – again, seems so obvious, but you don’t want to leave that room mid project when it rings.

2. Gather all your clothes together. Pick up any clothing off the floor and collect any from the laundry / get the laundry started while you work. You need to see everything you’ve got, not just what happens to be hanging in the closet.

3. Set some ground rules. Decide now that you’re going to get rid of items that are too large or too small. Also decide that you’re going to get rid of anything that’s out of style or an unflattering colour. For maintenance, use the one-in-one-out rule, meaning for every item you buy, one item has to go.

4. Sort through everything. All clothing, shoes, and accessories. Make lists as you go of action items that result from this process, items to buy to complete the project, and new wardrobe items that you need to purchase. Categorise all your items:

  • Keep – clothing, shoes, and accessories that fit and flatter you (no muffin tops!).
  • Toss – torn or stained items that are unwearable.
  • Donate – to go to charity.
  • Give to Friends – items you would like someone special to have.
  • Alterations & Repairs – items that can be worn again with a little help
  • Sell – items you’d like to sell instead of donate
  • Seasonal items that need to be stored for another season
  • Elsewhere – unrelated items that belong somewhere else and need to be put away.

5. Sort the clothing you’re keeping by season, then by type, sleeve length, and colour. Think of it as “filing” your clothes. Some people may prefer sorting by casual, career, and formal clothing as well. People in warmer climates may not need to sort by season. Where I live, for example, the winter weather is mild during the day and cold at night, so we need layers.

6. Position your clothes according to frequency of use. High use items get easiest position. Remember the 80 20 rule and keep the 20% of items you use frequently in the most handy position in your wardrobe.

7. Give it a little face lift. Consider purchasing new hangers. New hangers are like Botox for your wardrobe. Everything seems a little bit smoother. When I made the decision to toss out wire hangers and go all white uniform plastic, my wardrobe was just easier to manoeuvre. This is a personal choice but it makes a huge difference.