Keep a well-edited Wardrobe

Unlock your style in 14 days: Keep a well-edited wardrobe

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to 88 Comments

You didn’t think the Styling You Holiday Style Camp was going to be all glitter and fluff, without any hard work, did you?


I promise though that the hard work in the beginning is seriously worth it.

Worth it because the work starts in your wardrobe. With what you already own.

The truth is, you can’t really unlock your style, or shop successfully to enhance your style, without editing the clothes you already own.

Keep a well-edited wardrobe. less really is more

The tricky part here is LETTING GO.

Letting go of past style “seasons”, letting go of clothes that no longer fit, letting go of the fact that you spent money on clothes you no longer – or never did – wear.

Rarely have I come across a wardrobe that doesn’t contain any or all of the above.

My own included.

Which is why twice a year – as the seasons change and before I go shopping to top up my wardrobe – I take a good hard look at every piece that’s in there.

I don’t have a lot of space so if something is going to retain my prime wardrobe real estate, it has to not only work for me, it has to make me feel fan-bloody-tastic every time I take it out to play.

Less really is more. All you need is a good, solid collection of wardrobe basics (we’ll talk about them tomorrow) and a sprinkle of seasonal show ponies (yes, they’re the day after).


Style Work

Yes, you guessed it. It’s time to get stuck in to that wardrobe edit.

Here is the step-by-step method I recommend.

1. Get in the right frame of mind.  If you need a glass of wine to help achieve that then go for it.  I’ll wait here while you go to the fridge.

2. Lock the door so you don’t get any “helpers” in the form of small children.  They will distract you with requests such as, “can I please have another biscuit?”, “watch YouTube on your iPad?” or “mummy, why are you drinking wine for morning tea?”.

3. Pull EVERYTHING out.  I’m a cracked record on this one.  There’s seriously no point flicking through the racks, offering only a cursory glance at that floral top you bought three years ago. That still has its tags on.

4. Look at your empty wardrobe.  At this point another glass of vino may be called upon.  You’re not wardrobe gazing here.  You’re taking a good look at the space available to you and thinking how best you can make the most of that space.  If moving your partner’s clothes into another room is what you think best, who am I to come between you and marital wardrobe bliss?

5. Unless you’ve had your wardrobe custom-designed by a company that builds in all those clever shelves (in which case I have serious wardrobe envy and may descend on your house just to sit in front of said wardrobe and stare) then it’s a good idea to invest in some sort of wardrobe storage system to maximise your space.  They work particularly well when you have a lot of hanging space but next to no draws. The shoe insert is an obvious one but I also like the deeper boxes and drawers for my knitwear, jeans and tees.

Keep a well-edited wardrobe

6. When you have all your clothes out of your wardrobe, start to organise them in to type and colour. This is particularly essential if your week involves two completely different type of clothing demands. One client I’ve worked with is ultra corporate during the week and surf lifesaving all weekend. We were able to split her wardrobe into two, so that Monday to Friday she opened one section; on the the weekends and holidays another.

7. During this organisation process, you’re culling, right?  Remember, if it doesn’t fit and doesn’t make you feel good it has to go (special consideration is given to sentimental pieces … I’m not that harsh!).  If you want to hang on to those jeans (just in case … umm like my sass & bides I squeezed into for my 40th, drank too much and they’ve never fitted again), then store them out of sight.  Otherwise, they will only make you feel like crap every time you see them.

8. Put things back into your wardrobe in a way that suits your space and lifestyle.  I have a small wardrobe that I’ve been unable to convince my husband I should have sole custody of (despite regularly encroaching on his “side”), so I have taken up a sub-let in my daughter’s wardrobe to house the clothes from the season I’m not currently wearing.  I figure I’ve not got long to go on this plan, though, as the teenage “must buy new clothes” bug has well and truly kicked in.

9. Bag up clothes for your favourite charity store, keeping aside any you might be keen to eBay.  From experience, it’s new, near-new designer labels that will pull the most cash and make your eBay session worthwhile.

10. Sit back. Pour another wine and admire the glory that is a wardrobe ready for the season ahead.

Let me know how you go in the comments below.




** The Styling You Holiday Style Camp {Unlock Your Style in 14 Days} is based on the Styling You Manifesto. If you don’t have your own, you can download it here. I’ll also be giving away a proper printed Styling You Manifesto from The Smile Collective every day to the reader who catches my eye with their comments and participation.

Unlock Your Style in 14 Days (Day 1 manifesto winner): Carla Harris. Carla, could you please email me your postal address: [email protected]

Comments 88

  1. I’ve done as much as I can, if I did everything I’d be naked 80% of the time.
    I have lost almost 10kg and am just 3kg shy of my goal weight, but I’ve been at home raising twins and finishing a degree for 3+ years, so I wear sloppy track pants ad t-shirts all the time. Now I need a new style, hair, make-up, wardrobe the WORKS to get me back into the workforce and one of those stylish mammas at playgroup. where do I start?

  2. It took me nearly two months to get started… but I did it! Now all that’s left is to clear my bedroom floor of the mounds of clothing/shoes/hats/belts/stuff that I need to bag up and give away, so I can get to my bed!

  3. Oh I am so far behind already and cannot deal with the thought of the cull. (I don’t drink wine and the campari bottle is empty).
    I am putting this off till Monday afternoon when hubby will be out and I can do it in peace. He hates mess and so a pile of clothes on the bed would not be welcome.
    I know I have lots to put in the charity bag but I am one of those people who perspire (sweat) a lot and will change clothes several times a day. As I don’t do the washing daily that means more t shirts, bras etc are needed. This is not an excuse – just a fact.

    My collection of skirts is a bit out of hand as I would only wear one or two a month and I have 10 to choose from. Something can go from that section. But what? I like them all. don’t love any of them. mmmmm

    You can tell I am procrastinating.

  4. This took me the better part of a day and Im still not done! 3 wardrobes of clothes are now 1.5 and Im not finished yet. There is a box for ebay, a box for special but no longer wearable and a pile on the spare bed so high Im not sure how to get it all to the Salvos! Question…do we do our shoes as well? Im dreading that because of course I cant justify a chuck out with ‘it no longer fits’ cos they all still do!

  5. Time for me to shed some lurkers! I have stuff lurking in the back that really needs to move on! they are sentimental bits or pieces that I have bought and just aren’t quite right yet- ie too tight to wear and have now fallen behind in style!!

  6. I did it! I spent 2 hours yesterday going through my wardrobe, even trying stuff on to convince myself to rid of things I knew were too small. Pants from 3 years ago, tops from high school (um, 10 years ago…) even handbags and shoes got culled. I only kept things I wore last year, that were too sentimental or were too expensive to justify get rid of after only a few wears. Thank you for the kick up the bum I needed and the extra space for new clothes 😉

  7. I currently have half of my wardrobe on the floor (clean and in baskets!) as I recently went on a bit of a shopping spree to finally get some clothes that were more “me”. And I got back from a mini-holiday at Caloundra today so I think the wardrobe tear out shall start tomorrow!

  8. Good timing Nikki! I did a wardrobe cleanout the day after Boxing Day, after I’d come back with some loot after the sales. My wardrobe was in pretty good shape, but it needed a bit of a tidy up. I ironed and folded all my scarves, sorted my jewellery, went through my shoes and ended up with a smallish pile of clothes to give away to some younger cousins. It’s such a lovely, clean place to be in now!

  9. Great series Nikki! eBay is great for selling designer things. The only thing Id say – right from the beginning just not to buy much. Quality not quantity. Quality pieces will go the distance and will always look good. Having a great wardrobe requires some thought (and time) to be put in it. xx
    ps. Happy New Year!!

  10. My problem is I am breastfeeding at the moment and probably will be for another 18months so have had to buy what I feel like isa new summer wardrobe as alli previously wore in summer was dresses. But I have been sensible! Have stuck to lots of good basics but really also need to cull!

    1. That’s one of those “seasons” I talked about. Yes, you have to dress differently from what you normally would and at the end of it you might be in a different headspace with your style too. Good luck!

  11. I think it’ll be tough for me. As a hoarder and a ‘what if-er’ it’s hard to get rid of stuff. But hey, it’s a new year – new rules apply. I may just need to close my eyes and open my mind.

    1. Can I make a suggestion here – when I do a wardrobe cull I make 3 piles – one pile of keepers, one pile of ?? and one pile of definitely going. The ?? pile goes in a special bag that I pack away out of sight & if by the next cull I have not gone looking in it for something then I know that I can live without the clothes in it and they then go into the definitely going pile. It’s a bit of a security measure but also helps keep track of how long you really haven’t worn something, which helps let go of it!
      Good luck!

  12. I am one of those boring people who makes her own clothes (I hear you groan) and as soon as I spy something I like in the shop or on pinterest I whip it up at home in my size and the colour I love. Its a curse/joy because I have a constant supply of new clothes with the addition of a new piece nearly weekly and have 3 cupboards full. Since retiring I realise how lucky I am to have this talent because otherwise I could not afford up to date clothing.

  13. This is great advice Nikki. I was faced with three (leaning) towers of T-shirts after returning from a break over Christmas, because I had finally caught up with my ironing after a semester of overload study and work commitments It was a shock to see how much stuff I actually had kept over the years. I feel I need to complete the challenge given that I am in my final year of study with 24 gorgeous twenty year olds which really does my head in. At times I do think I manage to simultaneously look like a preschooler and pensioner, to quote Kurt of Glee. This year I will be facing the work place for the first time without the security of having a uniform to wear as well. Looking forward to your posts.

    1. Ah, yes … the Towers of Tees. Time to deal with them and understand what your style is going forward. It’s about those “season” I talked about yesterday. You’re about to head into a new one. Time to embrace it!

  14. I know a few people have said ‘perfect timing’ – me too – I just received a box of 20 wooden coat hangers right before I read this post. I had the best wardrobe edit ever in August when I convinced a friend who is a a fashion student and works for a fancy (I can’t afford) label come and go through all my clothes with me. I have to say it was the most freeing experience (and I told her should could make a living out of doing this). We discussed being sentimental over certain pieces as we ruthlessly sorted the clothes. I had been hanging most of my day to day clothes in sections by colour but she suggested I mix them all up after which opening the wardrobe was like bit like looking at somebody else’s wardrobe. After this every day it was looking at my clothes with a fresh eye. Along with the styling advice she had given me, it felt like I had a whole new wardrobe. Now I don’t decide what I am going to wear before I open the wardrobe door, I have a good look at what I have before I put it on. However, it is very much the time to go back and pull things out again. I have not bought a single new item of clothing since then but I see a lot of long sleeved and warm items that will not be worn for a long time and can go into storage until the cooler weather.

  15. I find the wardrobe edit very hard to do. I have loads of clothes and love the majority of them. I only buy more because I find other things I also love. It seems I have lots of love to spread around!! However you are right – it needs to be done. I am sure there are plenty of things in there that don’t fit, I have moved on from or could be altered to fit properly or in a way I would wear them more. I will commit to doing this process … thanks for the encouragement to do it. I like the idea of colour coding – it should be interesting to see how many similar things I have in the same colour! I too have wardrobe envy and am really looking forward to one day having a beautifully designed one.

    1. Love it Kelly … love that you have a lot of love to spread around! Looking at your love with fresh eyes will help though. And organising via colour to see what’s there already will help too. Good luck!

  16. One more thought for your readers, Nikki.

    There are some great charities out there that specifically provide outfits for women who are returning to the workforce and have nothing to wear to interviews let alone to work, and others that provide clothing to women in refuges, attending court, etc. If you have some good quality clothing that would be suitable, donating to these charities will make you feel really good about yourself, a little less cranky about having not got more wear out of your clothes, and will ensure your perfectly good clothes are not just sold as rags.

      1. Fitted for Work, which has offices in Parramatta NSW, Melbourne and Morwell, VIC is another brilliant organisation in helping fit out women and give them a confidence boost!

        The timing of this post was perfect, Nikki – I have heaps of lovely retro things but find I keep wearing the same old faithfuls over and over, so it was also serendipity I managed to book a stall at a local trash and treasure market tomorrow!

  17. I have been thinking in recent days that I need to seriously cull my wardrobe as its chock full of clothes but I only wear 5 dresses max at the moment. I still have skirts from prior to the Sydney Olympics that I know will come back into fashion (they always do every so often) but how long should I keep them when I haven’t got enough room to put another coathager in my wardrobe?! So much of it is emotional and that makes culling hard. Its also hard when I think about how much money I have wasted on things I’ve never worn or items I’ve kept as good only to wear them once or twice because everyday isn’t ‘good’ enough.

    So I guess its time to make some really hard decisions along with determining my style that suits my life right now.

    Thanks Nikki for the inspiration – I look forward to the rest of the bootcamp. On a side note, I am a new reader and have just purchased my first BB cream after reading your archives.

    1. Hi Bronwyn, I totally get where you’re coming from with all of the above. Those are the biggest stumbling blocks. The thing is, our style does change and if something comes back into fashion then often our older pieces still look dated. Only classics or true vintage seem to go the distance. The money wasting thing is tricky too … the aim with this process is to let go and minimise money wasting in the future. PS. Glad you’ve found this blog … and BB Cream!

  18. I’ve had an ongoing cull over the past 12 months and think I’m finally at a point where I’m happy with my basics. There are items that will go once they no longer fit (as I’m continuing to lose some weight) and others that will be replaced with like items or altered (such as my perfect ‘Audrey’ dress). I’ve had some pieces I ummed and ahhed about that with a little alteration have become favourites (eg a ‘Burberry’ look check maxi that is now knee length).

    I’ll be continuing to critique and cull as I go through 2013. My aim is a minimal, beautiful, versatile wardrobe holding only pieces that make me look and feel great.

    I’m keeping track of both my current wardrobe and dream pieces on Pinterest if you’re interested:

    1. Melanie, your Pinterest idea is gold – such a great way to keep focussed on what you have and what you’d like to add. I really admire your process of culling as you lose weight as so many of us hang on to the old “us” when this is exactly when we should be letting go!

  19. This is awesome as far as boot camp goes!

    Have just completed phase 1- wardrobe! Off to tackle the drawers, shoes and handbags… this is the hard part!

    So far a much easier cull than usual. Anything I would not wear as ‘me’ right now is gone, thanks to point 7. Am embarrassed to say I was even hanging onto a bikini I thought I may get back into- at least10 years gathering dust in a storage box!

  20. AH! I desperately need to do this! I’ve been guilty of hanging onto clothes that no longer fit me. But I keep realising (then forgetting) that body shapes change so there’s no way of knowing if it will still fit me when I get back to my goal weight. I have a huge bunch of vacuum sealed bags full of clothes to dontate. I’ve been thinking it’s time, and now I read this. Guip. Glass of wine tonight for sure.

  21. I hesitate to write this, but… I did have my very small walk-in wardrobe fitted in November with drawers, hanging space and show storage. I took the time when it was fitted to be absolutely ruthless with what I had and how it was to be stored. This has resulted in my having one empty drawer, two empty shelves and lots of free hanging space for future new purchases. I have split my two areas of double hanging into work and weekend wear, which makes it easy to locate clothes to wear. We have just one long hanging space that holds my dresses (in colour order). My husband has just one small double hanging area, as most of his clothes are stored in our large dresser. This challenge has prompted me to revisit the wardrobe though and to sort through what I have remaining and to audit my new needs. This will also clear out the storage on the top shelf. I have printed out the style rules and placed it in a cheap frame for the Reject shop and asked my husband to hang it in the wardrobe to keep me focus on my style goals. Just a side note, the cost for refitting our wardrobe was just $600. For those interested in revamping their wardrobe space, it is worth talking to people who fit bathrooms because many of them are able to install wardrobes as well. Hope this helps others readers.

    1. Hi Karen! Wow. Thanks so much for sharing your wardrobe story here. I’m really impressed – and yes, if you’ve got a walk-in robe of any size (I don’t yet but will have one day again soon!) then it is definitely worth this often small investment to make the most of the space. Love how it’s inspired you to not “fill” the space but to get even more clear on what should stay there. And thanks so much for framing the manifesto – great idea to put it up near your wardrobe or clothes!

  22. Great post. I adopt some of these principles but on smaller scales. I’m a vintage loving girl and the vast majority of my wardrobe are vintage pieces. It’s funny though its the very odd and rare seasonal piece that gets culled and usually after working it into several seasons. Fortunately though if and when the decision is made to cull a vintage piece it always sold or gifted.

  23. I did a HUGE wardrobe cull about 2 months ago. If it didn’t fit me, I hadn’t worn it in the last 6 months, I didn’t feel good in it when I did wear it or I looked at it and thought “why the hell is THAT in my wardrobe?” – then it got chucked. I was ruthless. The result? I now have about 15 articles of clothing and I’ve never felt better for having such little choice.

  24. You are a mind reader… So I’m in Bali & brought complete outfits & deciding what to wear has been sooo easy which got me thinking I need to take a long hard look at my wardrobe… Enter Nikki with wardrobe culling advice… Thanks, I’ll be doing that when I head home though might need to forego the vino… If you know what I mean.

  25. I edit regulary but I am still very very bad at th letting go! I must admit that as my belly has grown large & I have tried to find things to wear I am seeing my wardrobe through new eyes. Clothes I thought would see me through my pregnancy are not going to. Clothes I keep insisting I will wear must go ( I have a dress in my wardrobe that has been there for over 4 years & I still have not worn it!) . A major cull is in my near future….thanks for the push Nikki xx

  26. Bring it! Small child returned to childcare this morning, + Mr Notable headed off to the studio. I’m home alone, floor is mopped + I’m heading straight to the walkin, hot cuppa in hand. Loving this boot camp, its the only boot camp for me!

  27. Absolutely! This is great, I hope everyone is whipping through their wardrobe as we speak.

    I actually moved my clothes into a separate room {I had a spare, so why not, right!?} now titled my robe room. But before I made the move I was BRUTAL when it came to what stayed and what went and my style {and budget, it turned out I had a LOT of stuff I was looking at online already} thanked me.

    Good one. Loving the series Nikki!

  28. Nikki you will be very proud of me as after Christmas I had to do some culling as my other half got new clothes for Christmas and he actually had a whinge about how much space he has compared to me,I looked at all the hanging space and drawers I HAVE and thought….Hmm I suppose he can have one drawer of mine, so cull I did,and it was hard I have so many Pjs and tees and I thought do I really need all these ,so while I was on a roll I went through the wardrobe as well,I got a garbage bag full of things I seldom wear and things that are” just in case” I will wear,as I too have limited space and not a wardrobe like I would like,so today I am off to the charity shop to get rid of them.So thank you Nikki for this post,looking foward to the next ones.

  29. Perfect timing! I woke up this morning with one task on my to do list – to sort my wardrobe. Im on holidays and have a list of must do jobs to work on. After being woken from a sleepin by the door bell, i thought what a perfect day to tackle the wardrobe. You really have to be in the right mood for this job. As i am having my morning cuppa, i thought i would catch up on blog reading and now after reading this post im more ready than ever. Must have meant to be. Thanks.

  30. Perfect timing Nikki! I go back to work in 23 days after having my 2nd and last bub. Time for the daggy trackies, maternity leftovers and saggy worn to death tees to go! Time to try on all the old work things and ask do I love it & does it love me? If its a double yes, it can stay. Bring it on!

  31. I am all over this! I have just culled my wardrobe for the second time this SEASON! What I have left are all my favourite things. I can now wear my favourites – all the time! I also did not feel at all bad about picking up some new tanks and some very cute little summer dresses just to add some pop to my summer look… Love this post. Everyone should do it – there is a lot of baggage in wardrobes – clothes evoke a lot of emotion – and sometimes, they have to be let GO!

  32. I must admit I’m pretty good at this one. I cull every season but the problem is when I cull I buy and usually stuff that isn’t right! Will go through wardrobe today and do another serious cull. Wish me luck! Looking forward to what I need to replace the bare space with. (I’m going to Adelaide in two weeks so will be doing some, okay, a lot, of shopping)

  33. I love a wardrobe clean-up and like you I go for it twice a year when swapping out my summer and winter wardrobes. However, I am guilty of keeping some “just-in-case”, “fine under a jacket (as long as said jacket is not removed no matter how hot it gets)”, and “if I just lose a few kilos, these will fit again” items.
    Having tried a few different outfits when it turned cold and rainy on Christmas Day in Sydney, I know there are a few things that really need to go- they don’t make me feel good about myself, and don’t really seem to work with anything that fits me now. Just yesterday I started putting them in a bag to donate to charity but I think I need to have a good look at everything in my wardrobe, to start 2013 in the right frame of mind.

  34. You’re up early to post this Nikki! I might have a cuppa at 7.28am to start this task and leave the wine til, oh, at least 9am 😉
    Thanks for the laugh, and the kick in the bum- I have lots of items in my wardrobe that I have inherited from a friend or bought to copy someone else’s style, but just aren’t me, but I can’t seem to part with them- they are new-ish, they are expensive-ish. Though every day I open the cupboard and feel I have nothing to wear. I also feel like I get into the groove with a certain season just at the end (eg. winter wear) and then am a bit lost how to dress when the weather warms up. Hot hot today in Qld- what to wear to look stylish but be comfortable and cool?
    Ok, wardrobe edit, brutal edit- here I come! Wish me luck x

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