Stylewatch: What to keep when you declutter the wardrobe

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I recently had lunch with my mother-in-law for her 95th birthday. She enjoyed telling me she was wearing a Katies top she’d had in her wardrobe for more than 40 years. She hates to throw anything away … ever! Her shape has certainly changed over the last 40 years, but its wonderful to know that this top had stood the test of time.

Her story got me to thinking about the items I have in my wardrobe, and how many of them may be ‘old’ but still relevant.

I have a heap of pieces that are more than 10 years old, but still in good condition. They may not be ‘fashion pieces’, but they are classics that I wear several times a year. So perhaps we need to sort out the frivolous fashion pieces from the serious everlasting pieces.

My mantra is, if you haven’t worn an item over the past three years, then you probably need to let it go.

Key pieces to keep
are one of the few categories that I think can survive  the ‘three-year rule’. I have a 15-year-old black and white scarf, that I still wear quite often, and I always get compliments when I do. I also have a pretty one from the 1950s that my mother used to wear. And I have a multitude of colourful wraps that I’ve bought over the years. These are terrific for air-conditioning spaces because you never quite know what the temperature will be.

Costume jewellery of a relatively good quality should be kept, but items like sunglasses never come back into fashion. Sell them on eBay or given them to charity.

You should also keep black basics – the pencil skirt, the black pants, the black jacket and the dress, providing they still fit and are in good condition. These pieces can be easily restyled and reused with an updated blouse or scarf.

Coats and jackets are also keepers. I have an absolute passion for jackets and raincoats, so I would find it really hard to say goodbye to one of these pieces, no matter how old it is. Trench coats, anoraks, raincoats, pea coats and parkas are quite resilient to fashion trends, except for that bright chartreuse one you bought some 10 years ago. That will seriously never come back into fashion, and needs to get the heave ho now!

Tops and cardigans are likely to make up a big portion of your wardrobe. Cardigans are a great investment as they are never really out of fashion, and never really in fashion. However, they are incredibly practical, so they are keepers in all their forms – long length, hip length, crew neck, vee neck and all the variations in sleeve lengths, too.

Classic tees, if they are in good condition should be kept, along with those great cream or black tops that are also neither in nor out of fashion. This category is the most important to look over carefully to make sure it is not outdated. It’s also the category on which we spend most of our money and is the easiest way to update the look. You will have to be incredibly ruthless here and implement the ‘three year rule’.

Boots are usually timeless and, stylewise, they last for years. I have several pairs that are well over 10 years old, but still look as stylish as the day I bought them. That’s not always the same for shoes, though, and these need to be sorted into classics and fashion. If the fashion ones are out of date, then you will need to throw them out. They take up unnecessary space, and just add to the clutter in your wardrobe.

Hopefully, this will help you take a good hard look at what’s in your wardrobe so you can make the hard decisions. Clearly, my mother-in-law wouldn’t heed this advice, but at 95 years old, I am never going to get her to change her ways … and why would I?

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Written by petaro


Total Comments: 4
  1. 0

    Some good tips here. I also suggest regular clearing out of underwear and socks

  2. 0

    Especially single socks

  3. 0

    I’m a bit more rurhless and apply a one, or max two year rule. We also need to pay attention to colours that no longer suit skin tone and hair colour. My main criteria is, ‘do I really enjoy wearing this item?’ If it does not make me happy and it’s two years old or so, out it goes.

  4. 0

    If I have the room to store my clothing neatly and tidily I do. I do not take notice of what these experts say about getting rid of stuff you have not worn in a certain amount of time. I do it when I feel it is time to get rid of stuff..and when I do it is usually a reasonable amount.



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