As the new Spring collections start to arrive, you may be thinking that it’s time to clear out your wardrobe to make space for some new treats. There’s the old adage that if you haven’t worn something for a year, it’s time to get rid of it. And it’s certainly something we’re encouraged to do by stylists, magazines, fashion industry insiders and the like who claim it is a quick fix solution to a chic, sophisticated wardrobe.
Well, I beg to differ. A wardrobe detox should never be forced. It should have a true purpose behind it. Otherwise you could end up applying a slap dash approach that you’ll one day regret. It may be that you simply don’t have any more space, - but even if that’s the case, there are careful considerations that need to be thought about.
So, before you decide to embark on a spring detox, here are some key factors to consider:
As we age our bodies naturally change. Some more than others, but lifestyle, children and menopause are common contributors. Whether you’ve gained weight or lost it, there is nothing to be ashamed of; your body is just as beautiful now, it is just different.
But in order to love your shape, it’s important you don’t have glaring reminders of your ‘old self’ taunting you in your wardrobe. Some people suggest keeping them will provide motivation to get ‘back in shape’ but all they really do is fuel low self-esteem. Their existence reinforces the idea that you shouldn’t be proud of how you look right now.
So, if you get a pang of dejection when you look at an item, it’s time to say goodbye, and make room for new pieces that will celebrate you today.
However, there is one exception to this rule: hope. Illness can often be a cause of lifestyle change, and there may be times you feel you’ll never get back your old life. If seeing something in your wardrobe makes you smile, even if it’s unlikely you’ll wear it again, keep it. There is a strong emotive link between clothes and the mind and you should hold on to anything that brings you joy. Maybe one day you will be able to wear it again.
When something gets damaged, it’s only too easy to chuck it. It should happen far less with quality investment pieces, but even they aren’t indestructible. A Manolo may have fallen victim to a puppy, or a knit to a pesky moth. But now there are lots of services that can make it as good as new e.g. the Handbag Clinic will restore designer handbags to their former condition. Alternatively, you could indulge in a bit of DIY and turn it into something new. Pinterest has loads of inspiration and tutorials for this. It’s only time to part ways if there really is nothing that can be done – no matter how hard it is to throw away those Celine boots RIP (no judgment if you need a mourning period).
Now this is a tricky one. It may sound simple, but trends are cyclical. There are pieces I’ve been close to removing that have since become bang on trend again. To work out if something needs to go, ask yourself one question: “Do I actually like it?”
You need to be impartial and not swayed by what the fashion ‘It-crowd’ is saying. True style is personal and takes confidence; if you were left to your own devices without external influence, would you have bought it?
If the answer is yes, then hold on to it and even have fun experimenting with ways you can still wear it, regardless of whether it’s still ‘in’ or not. If the answer is no, then Au Revoir! And make a mental note not to invest in that trend again.
The final consideration is what you will do with all your old pieces. We are more aware than ever of the impact clothes are having on the environment. In June 2018 the Copenhagen Fashion Summit reported that fashion is responsible for 92 million tons of solid waste dumps in landfills every year. So, if you are going to do a detox, you need to consider how you will dispose of your clothes responsibly.
My number one choice is donating to charity, but don’t just dump a big black bin liner at any charity shop. Do your research. There are lots of different charity shops these days that specialise in different types of fashion; from high end to cheap and cheerful. Divide your clothes up accordingly and donate to the most appropriate place. If you’re not sure, just ask a volunteer at a shop and they will let you know if they’d be interested or will point you in the right direction. And coming from someone who once worked in a charity shop: please do not use it as a place to dispose of your dirty laundry.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to make a bit of money back from some expensive pieces, sell them on eBay or take them to a consignment store so they will do the selling for you. And finally, if the piece is in tatters, look for places that recycle fabrics so it can still be put to good use.
Jacynth Bassett is the founder of the-Bias-Cut.com - the first pro-age online independent fashion boutique – and the movement Ageism Is Never In Style. She was inspired to fight ageism after growing frustrated at seeing women being treated as invisible by the Fashion Industry, largely due to their age.
Named as an “Ageism-Fighting Trailblazer” by Global Health Ageing, Jacynth is swiftly becoming recognised as one of the leading pioneers of style at every age.
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