Sarah A Beach Cottage - outfit

De-cluttering a wardrobe: the results in beach cottage style

Sarah A Beach CottageFashion 33 Comments

Editor’s note: I first met Sarah* on Twitter a few weeks before we were to spend a whirlwind weekend together in Kuala Lumpur for the 2011 Nuffnang Blogging Awards. We endured very little sleep, some shopping, a few drinks and a night on the floor of Melbourne’s Virgin Australia terminal. We bonded over our love of beachside living, budget clothes and beauty product obsessions. Yes, you get to know someone a lot under these circumstances! And, you know what? Sarah is a top chick. And she has a top blog. She’s an amazing photographer and she’s portrays her family’s dream of living by the beach in Australia to perfection. Today she’s guest blogs here after I sent my wardrobe de-clutter tips over to her last week


Do you need some inspiration this Monday morning to get your wardrobe rocking. Well I think I might be the girl for you!

My name is Sarah and I recently had the fortune to get lovely Nikki involved in something that has been niggling away at the back of my mind for a long time now … the de-cluttering of my wardrobe.

You see, it was my dirty little secret … the rest of my house, it’s ok most of the time, save the odd discarded sports bag, school lunch box or general paraphernalia from one of my three kiddos hanging around, but my wardrobe was my biggest kept secret and my largest problem.

The main thing is its size … we live in an old cottage with small rooms and I like vintage stuff, most of the time this is a match made in heaven, but when it comes to wardrobes however, it was not heaven in there, more like hell.

You see, it’s not a place that you can walk into, look up, look down and compartmentalise your whole life. It’s a small old fashioned 1940s closet that I found on the side of the road on the way home from the beach, tied to the top of my car, cleaned up and painted white.

And there was another small problem.

The wardrobe has another role in my life, other than holding one’s clothes … I like to store things in it, mostly vintage treasures that I find and other pretty homewares that I don’t want my husband to know about. It’s easy, I stash it in there in the bag and a few weeks later introduce it to the cottage quietly and without any fuss and no-one is any the wiser.

But it was time to get serious here because really I was absolutely drowning in it and, to be honest, it was a little depressing when getting dressed in the morning and I won’t even mention that the doors wouldn’t close …

I have to say though I couldn’t quite muster up the enthusiasm to spending time taking this on when I could be down the beach or painting things white.

And then I got sprinkled with StylingYou glitter, oh yes, Nikki, who you all know and love, came to the rescue.

She whipped my wardrobe butt and got me out of one serious style rut.

She gave me a StylingYou virtual session and followed it up with easy points for me to follow to get me through this … I saved them on my iPad to refer to as I got stuck into it and believe me, about halfway through, I took a deep sigh, opened them up and took a read for added help.

After a few hours of sorting though, as Nikki knew, there was much progression … four sacks (which I may add I could not believe) came out of this one small wardrobe. Talk about tardis and more room for homeware stashing now (oh, no, ooops Nikki, I won’t do that, I am a new StylingYou Wardrobe Purist) and I began to feel a HUGE and I mean massive weight lifting off my shoulders.

But even better, I found things I loved, I found things I never loved, and tried on things that I loved, but really, never did quite fit or never did quite look right in.  Out they went.

And as I got to the end of this mammoth session something very very strange and very liberating happened … oh my, I felt like I had a wardrobe full of new clothes!

Eight little black dresses for any occasion and easy chic?  Check.

Three pairs of neutral shorts to pair with my favourite tees for the school run and blogging.  Check.

Four neutral cardigans to layer over shorts as the weather changes and Autumn rolls in.  Check

Lots of scarves to rotate and add some chic to my casual favourites, colour coded and easy to find.  Check.

The list goes on.

What was more interesting though were the things that I don’t have in my wardrobe … the gaps that I found and the things I need to invest in.  I certainly do not need any dresses, any singlets or any casual tees for a very long time.  No.

But I do need a white linen shirt and certainly dressier tops to wear with jean or pants and I definitely need a nice evening top.

I also found things in there that had never been worn, with the labels still on, that had been pushed back further and further … things that are right up my alley, easy, comfortable and classic … things I needed to get back into my rotation.

Like these neutral wide-legged pants … these are the sort of clothes that say me, I am comfortable in them, they fit well and I can dress them up or down. So why were they sitting in my wardrobe unseen with the label on?

Neutral wide-legged pants

So with these in mind and a blogging meeting to go to the following week, where I needed to leave the beaches, go into the city and get out of my shorts and tees I wanted to buy a dressier but still casual and comfortable top to go with these pants. I found the one below at French Connection.

I found this one, for me it’s an investment … the fabric is beautiful and the fit even better.

Sarah A Beach Cottage

Together with heels, a scarf and layering up some bangles and the pants I already had in my wardrobe, I was good to go!

Sarah A Beach Cottage - outfit

On my shopping excursion with these pants in mind, I also ducked into Emerson at BigW – one of mine and Nikki’s secrets – to finding simple classic pieces without breaking the bank.

….when I first met Nikki, we hit it off like a house on fire about fashion and stuff, ok I am not in her league where beauty products or clothes are concerned, I mean the woman travels with so many beauty products that when attempting an international flight she asks people she has only known for 10 minutes to stuff her goodies into their bags … but that’s another story … but one of the things we did talk about was the Emerson range at BigW and how supermarkets here in Australia are getting in on what the rest of the world have known for ages … women like to sling a t-shirt in with their other shopping … it just makes it all too easy.

So into BigW Emerson I went and when I spotted it I ran towards this top, pushing other budget-conscious fashion shoppers out of the way and snapped it up … this has my name all over it and at $15 who cannot walk out with this in their trolley alongside the bulk load of washing powder?  Not me for sure.

Big W Emerson Top

I teamed the pants with the Emerson stripe tee , sandals, and a bright scarf for an easy casual look

Sarah A Beach Cottage

Threw on a few bracelets, and big sunnies to hide tired eyes and who would know I am wearing a $15 tee and found pants?

It’s amazing what a little push in the wardrobe department can do … of course, Nikki, knows this only too well, thank goodness she likes to share.

So that’s it, how losing four sacks of clothes from one very small wardrobe gave me two “new” outfits and makes me look forward to getting up in the morning and choosing what to wear … and if you can get over that barrier when you have a busy day, three kiddos and a dishwasher to unload, well, then I think you are half way there.

Thanks for having me Styling You readers and thanks Nikki for giving me the much needed push I needed to get a grip back on my wardrobe.

*Sarah blogs over at broadcasting from the beaches of Sydney on all things coastal and cottage, she loves home decor, collecting vintage things and white paint.  She also dabbles in Real Girl Fashion and loves reading cookery books and blogging her favourite recipes.  Oh and she sometimes can be found on a broomstick when a busy life, looking after the house and running around and feeding three kiddos all gets a bit much.

So, when was the last time you de-cluttered your wardrobe? Did you find something that needed to come out to play?


Comments 33

  1. Hi. I have already purchased the second top Sarah features- thanks Nicki and Emerson! I also LOVE the first one, can you give us any more details about it? Thanks. Jane

  2. Nikki, I’m feeling more guilty by the minute .. My wardrobe is in desperate need of declutter and an overhaul.
    I might have to get started on this as soon as possible before I start more shopping …

  3. I agree with the Emerson label and purchasing with the grocery shopping. Our local Coles supermarket now has a clothing line and I have purchased gym gear, pyjamas, white straight leg jeans, taupe 3/4 pants. All great quality and half the price of other retail outlets! When I told the girls at work where I purchased the white jeans, they were gob smacked!! Great quality – check, great fit – check, can I not feel guilty when it comes time to discard them – check! Why would u want to be ripped off every time you need a “go to” item in your wardrobe! I have always been a thrifty shopper and not afraid to tell people I am not wearing a “label” :).

  4. What amazing skills in have as a selfie photographer! Love how yiu’ve done those Sarah.

    I am long overdue for a wardrobe declutter but I’m retreating to denial-land for now.

  5. I ahve a huuuge walk in wardrobe, but even so it is chocka block full, so much so the rails keep popping off due to the weight on them. Last year I invested in the non slip velour hangers from howards storage world for my daughter and myself. I thought I may have needed to buy yet another box, but then realised that was a ridiculous thing and have started to cull the stuff in the wardrobe. Every week I try to remove about 3 or 4 items, but then I’ll buy more so I’m not sure if my plan is working! I don’t have a big w close, but plan to make a visit especially to the Emerson section when I get near one.

  6. I really must get my wardrobe sorted. Thank you so much for sharing Nikki. I have heard so much about you from Sarah and her blog- not to mention that I follow you on Twitter!

    Seriously, I have so many things but when the time comes to wear something, I hardly find anything apt. Totally calls for that whip.

    @ Sarah: Looking great…great post. Love you fancy pants!

  7. Now and then I get motivated to clean out my wardrobe but when it comes down to being ruthless, I’m a big sentimental wussbag. I think I need professional help to find those treasures that I know are hiding back in the dark. And to finally let go of those many many bridesmaid dresses that have only been worn once. Any takers?

    1. Becci, sentiment is fine for things of sentiment but I’d store those dresses out of your everyday wardrobe. You want to get ruthless with the everyday stuff – less really is more – you want to be able to feel fabulous in everything that’s hanging in your wardrobe.

  8. I bought the striped Emerson top last week, I have similar pants (a bit lighter) and a silk scarf that colour. I’ll try the combo out for work tomorrow, though I will have to wear a closed in shoe instead of the cute sandles. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. A great motivating post for a Monday !! I took your advice nikki last week and ended up buying a few t shirts from the emerson range, its great and the colours co ordinate well with other basics !! Its often hard to find the right ‘style’ something that says chic, smart mature but not ready for the blue rinse while not wanting to be mutton dressed up as lamb.
    Will you be doing some future posts on this sort of thing ?
    Daniele x

  10. I love Sarah and her effortless style, both in her home and her clothes.
    Both Sarah and yourself have inspired me to delve into the Emmerson range a little more over the summer.
    There are some great pices, but I always try on as I find their sizing can vary a bit.
    Hm, now I need to go find myself a few nice going out tops.

    1. Kat, it’s my experience that sizing within a brand or between brands is rarely consistent. I try everything on – and take a size up and down into the changeroom with me. It’s frustrating, yes, but it means I’m less likely to bring home a dud!

  11. I have been following Sarah’s declutter and your tips were fab. I did give my wardrobe a mini overhaul recently and found many items with tags still attached that just weren’t right so off they went to charity with a myriad of other things that well there were just too many reasons why they shouldn’t be in my wardrobe!! I still have a long way to go and know I was holding out for fear that there may be nothing left in my wardrobe. You girls just seem to easily nail a look and maybe I’m just too super critical with myself or I just don’t know what my look is!

  12. Yes thanks for sharing, I am now looking forward ( almost) to the mammoth task I have to do when I get home. I also dread getting dressed in the mornings, and I will be looking into the virtual wardrobe helper ( I am way too ashamed to let anyone actually see my wardrobe!) but after its finished I may post a photo 🙂

    Thanks again for sharing.

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