Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to cull your wardrobe?
It’s certainly true that for many of us, clothes are more than fabric and stitches. Each garment tells a story, reminding us of a certain time in our life or a person we used to be. Lots of us are guilty, therefore, of holding on to old clothes – resulting in wardrobes creaking at the hinges, filled with pieces we haven’t worn in ages.
It’s often suggested that if you can bring yourself to let go of your sartorial past and pare back your closet, you’ll be all the happier for it. But why is that? And how can we persuade ourselves to ditch a wide array of clothes in favour of a capsule wardrobe? This is where Annmarie steps in:
‘It all comes down to choice,’ she says. ‘If you have too many options it creates anxiety because our brains aren’t designed to deal with that much choice.’
1. Understanding what you don’t need
To anyone facing the dilemma of ‘too many clothes, nothing to wear’, Annmarie recommends trying a technique she’s dubbed the ‘Ryanair theory’.
Choose 17 pieces from your wardrobe that will serve you for two weeks. (As a guide: two bottoms, one dressy bottom, one pair of jeans, two tops, one dressy top, a T-shirt, a coat, a jacket, two bags for day and night, a sweater, a dress, a pair of evening shoes and two pairs of day shoes should cover it.)
Place these items in a 10kg bag that would fit in a low-cost airline’s overhead plane locker, then remove everything else from your wardrobe and give these pieces to a friend or partner to keep under lock and key. Return the contents of the 10kg bag to your wardrobe and voila, you have a capsule wardrobe.
Keep a diary throughout your two weeks wearing the contents of the 10kg bag, noting your experiences of dressing each day. Afterwards, reintroduce the rest of your clothes back into your wardrobe and carry on recording in the diary. You’ll quickly notice, Annmarie says, that daily dressing is more stressful with the extra choice, and that many items are unnecessary.
‘The reason we don’t wear lots of things is because we can’t see them,’ she notes. ‘My mantra is “visibility is accountability”. If you can see it, you can account for it, and you can wear it. It’s very empowering.’
2. Getting rid of false ‘motivation’
Of course, one reason many of us hold on to those extra clothes is because we hope, deep down, that one day we might be able to squeeze back into them.
‘A lot of people mistakenly think that keeping your old size-10 jeans in your wardrobe is motivation,’ says Annmarie. ‘When it’s really like having a mean girl in your closet, pointing at you, saying, “Ha ha, you don’t fit into me!”
‘When you start holding on to clothes that no longer serve you, you’re allowing yourself to subconsciously fall back into old habits. All denial is doing is holding you back from real growth.’
3. Shopping SOS
So, that sorts out our existing wardrobe issues, but how can we stop ourselves from adding to our clothing collection?
‘If over-shopping is a problem for you, you need to address your triggers. If you find that you’re always picking up something from the shops on your way home because you work on a shop-filled street, take another route home. Often the reward from shopping is the endorphin rush and if you can find a different means of achieving that high – like going to a yoga class – do that instead.’
If you do find yourself in a shop and lusting after an item, the best thing you can do is walk away quickly, Annmarie says.
‘When dopamine (the reward hormone) fires, it floods the brain and short-circuits the channels of logic, so the best thing you can do is leave and tell yourself, “If I really want it that much, I’ll buy it tomorrow.” That will give your brain a chance to understand whether it’s really a want or a need.’
And as for online shopping? Or ‘Pandora’s Box’, as Annmarie calls it…‘I have a private Pinterest board and throughout the week I put all the pieces I like on it. Each Sunday I’ll sit down and look at my board, deleting all the pieces I don’t actually want and thinking to myself, “What could I really use?”
‘Doing this gives your brain the chance to go from hot to cold and emotional to logical, then you’re in a better position to buy the pieces that will really serve you.’
4. Switch up your style
‘A signature style can often become a style rut – if we don’t tweak it, we can find ourselves wearing the same thing 10 years down the line and not having updated our wardrobes at all,’ Annmarie says. ‘In fact, you should really be doing quarterly wardrobe appraisals.’
As a way of assessing what to keep and what to cull, Annmarie has a nifty trick…
‘Every time you wear something, twist the head of the hanger it’s on. Over two or three weeks you can use this visual marker to see what you’ve worn and what has stayed untouched.’ Then, she says, you can think about why that’s the case and which items need to go.
This all makes perfect sense, of course. But when it comes to emotional attachment – (and pretty clothes!) – cutting back is easier said than done. Taking the plunge and decluttering your wardrobe is indisputably challenging, but try it for yourself, Annmarie urges, and you’ll find the rewards are liberating and utterly worth it.
‘When we think of getting rid of things we think of loss,’ she says. ‘But you have to prune things in order to grow … you need to think a bit less about what you’re losing and instead think about what you can gain.’
From: Good Housekeeping UK