How to organise a wardrobe - and not throw away anything you might need

Now's the perfect time to organise, cull and refresh your wardrobe. Divia Harilela shares some expert advice

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 January, 2014, 3:13am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 January, 2014, 7:46pm

WITH THE WINTER SALES in full swing it's tempting to stock up on new pieces for your wardrobe - until you realise that you have no space to store them. For this reason alone, the new year is the best time for a much-needed 'detox' to streamline and organise your fashion essentials.

"We advise clients to go through their wardrobe every six months at the start of the new season. In general we recommend they separate their wardrobe by season so they can see everything they have and work more readily," says Jessica Meyers-Van De Velde, who, along with Pier Djerejian Shiever, co-founded The Changing Room Hong Kong, which offers style and wardrobe consultations.

The first step is the most time-consuming and difficult, and that's taking an inventory of items in your closet. Take everything out and lay it on your bed or around your bedroom. Then it's time to evaluate each piece - try it on and decide whether it stays or goes.

"If you don't feel it in the first couple of minutes, throw it away. It's also important to cull items that you haven't worn for a considerable amount of time - we usually suggest six months minimum," says Djerejian Shiever. "There will be some sentimental items and we suggest that you keep only one or two of these. Classics and high quality basics should take priority over trendy items. If it's something stained or worn out, just chuck it. If you love the fit, then get it copied at a tailor."

Other criteria to keep in mind when culling: whether the item makes you feel attractive, and if it is out of date. Many women make the mistake of keeping items that no longer fit, hoping they will lose weight and wear them later. If items need altering, put them aside and take them to the tailor. For clothes still in good condition but no longer suitable, charities such as Crossroads, The Red Cross and Oxfam always appreciate donations.

The Changing Room girls say that the ideal wardrobe should be divided evenly between separates and dresses.

"We've found that women in Hong Kong have a lot of dresses because they are easy. If your wardrobe has 70 per cent dresses, then you should cut down because they are not easy to mix and match. You can get more mileage out of separates because they are versatile and can be dressed up or down," says Meyers-Van De Velde.

Once you've assessed your clothes, it's time to organise.

Hang up everything on good quality hangers so the items don't warp or loose their shape.

Knitwear and clothing made from heavy fabrics should always be folded. Avoid plastic covering to minimise risk of damage in Hong Kong's humidity.

Stylist Denise Ho suggests flat fabric boxes which she uses for delicate items such as silks and evening gowns. If you are placing more than one item in each box, then divide them with a layer of tissue paper. Plastic vacuum bags are great for winter wear but should be avoided when it comes todelicate items.

Now your clothing is sorted, it's time to attack the accessories. "This is one area of your closet that you can always build on, as accessories are versatile and take up less storage space," says Meyers-Van De Velde.

Having easy access to all your items is essential. Store them in clear plastic boxes, available from places like Muji or Japan Home. The more you can display the better, so hang up necklaces and useful items such as scarves on hooks behind your wardrobe door.

"Jewellery essentials include a statement cuff, collar necklaces, a long chain (gold or silver), a leather belt, statement earrings and daytime earrings," says Djerejian Shiever.

Of course, women fret most about their shoes. These should be divided into categories like clothing. If you have the space, keep them in clear boxes or their original box with a photo attached for easy finding. "Avoid throwing flats in those woven baskets, as you'll never find anything," says Ho.

Once you're done, how can you ensure your wardrobe stays in tip-top shape? "Taking inventory often is important, as it can help you recognise what you don't need and where you have gaps. Give yourself a gift or two every season, something that's on trend that wouldn't be in your safe zone so you can avoid rash purchases," says Meyers-Van De Velde.