Ethical Fashion

How to Conquer Your Closet Madness

Conquer Your Closet Madness in 2015
Written by Jennifer Nini

I don’t have a wardrobe at the moment. We moved into our gorgeous 100 year old renovated home that contained no built in robes so our clothes – and my poor vintage items - are packed away in a tall boy, several plastic rubbish bags and a couple of suitcases.

So what makes me think I can dish out advice on organising a closet when I don’t even use one?

Good question.

It's a weird thing to admit but I have a thing for wardrobes. I really do. Some people love sports cars. Some people want big kitchens. Some people love high tech gadgets. I love closet spaces. When I purchased my first house (unit actually), I cared more about the walk in robe and its contents than I did for anything else in the house - even my beloved photographs. An envy of my girlfriends, the wardrobe was immaculate, spacious, colour coordinated with wooden hangers.

So reflecting on my 6 year history with that wardrobe (and hoping that my fiance builds my new one sometime this year) here are my closet organising tips:

Avoid overcrowding & clutter

According to Jemi Armstrong and Linda Arroz who co-wrote “A Guide to Buying and Collecting Affordable Couture” women only wear 20% of what’s in their wardrobes. Editing your wardrobe is a great skill to have if you are looking to live a minimalist life or if you just want to have a closet full of clothes that you actually wear. Personally, I dislike 'hoarding' and a cluttered wardrobe with items you don't care about is not only unsightly, is it impractical and wasteful.

If you wish to edit your wardrobe consider the following questions:

  • Do you have clothes that don’t fit?
  • Do you have clothes that you haven’t worn in over a year?
  • What clothes are worth keeping?
  • Do you have winter and summer clothes in the same closet?
  • Can some of the off-season items be stored elsewhere?
  • Can any of the clothes be donated, swapped or sold?
  • Are your shoes put away in a disorderly fashion?
  • Do you have clothes you consider too sentimental to throw away?
  • Do some clothes need professional dry cleaning, repairing, mending or altering?

Once you’ve taken the time to thoughtfully consider these go to your wardrobe and start editing. If you can’t do it alone then get an objective and decisive friend to help. Better yet, call on a personal stylist like my best friend Belinda.

Conquer Closet Madness in 2015

Closet Design

Once you’ve edited your wardrobe you should re-jig your closet to make efficient use of the space. Here are some pointers:

  • Store your garments by item, colour, size, season or outfit.
  • Invest in good quality hangers (metal hangers can cause clothes to become unshapely)
  • Fold and store all knit items or heavy bulky items fold as hangers will cause them to lose shape
  • If the item is a precious fabric such as silk taffeta or velvet either fold away or use cloth garment bags (don’t use plastic as clothes can’t breathe causing this odour and mildew).
  • Block out the sun as light tends to fade fabric over time

Ethical Clothing & Wardrobe Staples

Once you’ve re-organised your wardrobe take a look and identify if there are things that you need that are missing. Wardrobe basics, known as ‘staples’ should be the foundation of any wardrobe. These include the "Top 10" which are:

  • good pair of jeans
  • fitted blazer
  • tailored suit
  • crisp white shirt
  • LBD - Little Black Dress
  • black pair of pumps or heels
  • a classic trench or other statement coat
  • black cardigan
  • oversized knit
  • classic pair of trousers

I purchase most of my items second hand or vintage and I am a confident online eBay shopper. As wardrobe staples are considered investment pieces, there is nothing inherently wrong with you purchasing them retail. However I strongly recommend you purchase from ethical brands that have a reputation for producing well-made and long lasting clothing from sustainable fabrics.

DIY Moth Balls

And one last thing: don’t forget to vacuum your closet to get rid of dust and moths. This helps to prevent moths from devouring your precious garments and destroying irreplaceable vintage pieces. You can also make your own mothballs with rosemary and thyme (as I have for my linen cupboard and chest of drawers) as most standard mothballs available contain the dangerous chemical naphthalene - a chemical pesticide - which when inhaled (or mistakenly ingested) causes headaches, nausea, dizziness and vomiting.

Let me know if you've found this advice helpful or if you have other handy tips to share, please leave comment below.

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About the author

Jennifer Nini

Jennifer Nini is a writer, activist and the founding editor of Eco Warrior Princess. In 2010, after studying Fashion Business, she began this blog to explore her interests in fashion, politics, social justice and sustainability. Jennifer is also the founder of The Social Copywriter, a digital agency harnessing the power of copywriting and content marketing to help mindful businesses reach more people. When she's not perfecting a sentence or coaching business clients, you will find her at her certified organic farm reconnecting with nature.

10 Comments

  • I didn’t know you could make your own mothballs, that’s a very useful tip to know. I also like the idea of organizing your closet by colors and season. I have found if I pick out a few garments I wear the most and really like, then pick items that go with it, I can keep those items. If there are clothing pieces that don’t go with anything, I have to donate or give away those pieces. As I’m shopping, when I want to buy something I think of what it can go with. If I don’t have anything, I don’t buy it. It helps to de-clutter my closet a lot!

    • Hi Brooke,

      Thanks for your tips! I love your idea especially about shopping with what you already have in mind – I could not agree more. I don’t often go shopping these days as I am the queen of reinvention (and as a lover of vintage fashion know that ‘fashion’ is cyclical and items often come back around) however will keep this in mind when I do xx

      • Hi Jennifer,
        I am trying to shop more from second-hand shops and buy pieces that have a classic appeal and last for different seasons. I haven’t shopped vintage as much, but I want to look into it more as I shop.

        • Hi Brooke,

          I definitely recommend this option – I’ve been doing it since my dad first introduced me to thrift shopping through his love of attending garage sales! I encourage you to check out charity stores and thrift shops such as ‘Savers’ – it takes effort, but you’ll not only save money in the long run, but is good for the environment too! Let me know how you go 🙂 x

  • I just found your blog and I am enjoying it so much. This post was great and perfect timing as I have been having a huge wardrobe clean out (and general life clear out too!)
    Ethical fashion is something I’m only just learning about but I’m really keen to start incorporating into my life as it really is so important. 2015 is definitely going to be a year of change so thank you for the inspiration!

    Lauren xx

    • Hi Lauren,

      That is so wonderful to hear! I am really glad you like the blog 🙂 I look forward to hearing more about your sustainable fashion adventures so keep me posted on it. If you have any questions during your journey at all feel free to ask! And good luck! It is an enjoyable journey and you will find along your travels that there are more of us out there 😛 xx

  • Hi Jennifer – I’m off to do some sorting in my wardrobe. Last year I finished 12 months of not buying any clothing (but with an exception for a thrifted dress for an appropriate outfit for a Great Gatsby party, as I play in a band), before that I had only bought vintage/thrifted for 12 months, which i am back to again. There is so much I can do with what I already have though – I’m off to make some of it work better.

    • Fantastic! Sounds like you’re doing a lot for the sustainable cause already! I found the same with my wardrobe – I have invested in pieces that don’t date and each season the same items come out and most don’t realise I’ve worn it year in year out and its 10 years old! Also creating unique outfits with existing pieces is the sign of a truly artistic fashionista x

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