November 29, 2018

Not Your Average Wardrobe Declutter Post…

not your average wardrobe declutter

I love a good wardrobe declutter as much as the next woman. And with minimal encouragement I’ll write a post about it too. In fact, I know I’ve already written at least a couple of times on this very subject… as any former style blogger worth their salt would.

Wait. What now? A former style blogger?

I always considered myself first and foremost a style blogger – that’s where my blogging roots took hold and style content is a first love. So I’m not quitting it really – it’s just not my No. 1 element to the blog anymore. Maybe it’s the life stage I’m in, in fact scrap that, it’s definitely the life stage thing, but I want to talk about so many more things other than getting dressed.

Don’t get me wrong. Catch me on a good day day and I’ll bang on about what we wear for hours – the clothes we put on everyday tell the world something about ourselves on a very personal level.

Not only that but I bloody love them! Not much competes with the feeling of pulling a cashmere sweater over your head, sliding your arms into beautiful silk shirt sleeves or slipping your feet into a pair of shoes that make you gasp in the face of their gorgeousness.

But… and this one’s a doozie, what happens when the majority of the clothes you own start to make you feel uncomfortable? Not just in their quantities but for what some of them stand for and how they came to be in your wardrobe in the first place?

In case you think I’m about to reveal a secret life of crime, I didn’t steal them. Nor did I sell myself on a street corner in order to pay for them – these days, that would get me more Marks & Spencer than Mulberry I fear.

Putting my imaginary criminal former lives aside, lets skip back to a weekend about a month ago when H was busy with her teen social life. And I found myself in the rare position of being able to devote solid blocks of time to my current favourite hobby… decluttering.

And this time, I had the dressing room set firmly in my simplifying sights!

By the Saturday evening I had six bin bags to go to the charity shop. A couple of weeks prior, two had already gone to a friend. Come Sunday night I had the equivalent of roughly two more bags. And this was not the first time I’d gone though my wardrobes in the last six months and ended up with a bag or two to donate.

Where/how/why the hell did I possess so much stuff and more importantly, why was it making me feel so crap?

Maybe we should wind things back a few years…

I liken the influencer explosion to a permanently hungry beast that we’ve all been unwittingly feeding… and it most certainly woke my own appetite for gorging on fashion like never before.

It’s no secret that I’ve always loved clothes and shoes and so finding myself in a self-made career that talks about them all the live long day, is it any wonder I became the literal kid in a candy store?

First came gifted pieces, much later sponsored work and with it, more disposable income to buy things that I’d admired on my fellow bloggers. I lost count of the the number of times I hit “Add To Bag” without stopping to think “Do I like that… or do I just really like that on her?”

Before you know it you’ve accumulated so much that you literally can’t see the cashmere in amongst the crazy.

By the time we set up the spare bedroom as a dressing room, I had a clothing collection that was bursting at the seams. After utilising Mr OS’s mathematical skills to figure out exactly how to cram as many cupboards as possible into one room (and several trips to Ikea later), I moved my stuff in and it felt like I’d arrived.

Although to what I’m really not sure.

Maybe I’d seen one too many blogger closet features by that point and was suffering from delusions of the walk-in wardrobe kind.

But I did love the dressing room for the longest time. I’d walk in and open the doors and just stare… and just be with the clothes. You know… much like that fictional, NYC dwelling writer we all know and love.

And then about a year or so ago it all began to make me itch. Not literally. Although I’m fairly sure I possessed more than my fair share of cheap fabric that induced frequent bouts of scratching and tugging at necklines.

But the metaphorical irritation just wouldn’t cease.

One happy consequence of moving toward a new life stage means that the urge to simplify now occupies the majority of my waking thoughts.

Most rooms in the house have already been subject to a thorough going-over (round one – there’ll be more!), but the room that housed the contents of my wardrobe was screaming at me continually. It was going against the grain of every minimal habit I’d been quietly nurturing on the sidelines.

It needed to be unravelled and all the clothing that posed the question “Why did you buy this?” needed taking to task.

Why wasn’t that pink tulle skirt, bought for the perfect Insta capture moment making me feel better? Why did the faux suede mules in a must-have shade of nude hurt my feet so much that the only thing I could wear them for was one outfit shot?

And what about the jumper covered in over-sized paillettes that I’d seen on one of my favourite influencers? Is it any wonder that I felt so so ridiculous at the noise it made when I walked that I never even took the tag off it?

None of these were doing anything to improve my mood.


A feeling of discomfort over how much I owned as the result of an “influence” purchase was seeping in at an ever increasing rate. Feelings of inadequacy and confusion over who I was and who I was becoming manifested as things on hangers in my cupboards.

That sounds a tad melodramatic when you read it back but the common human trait of thinking that a purchase will enrich our lives is nothing new. We’ve been making ourselves “feel better” with a treat for eons.

By the way if you’re still reading and at this point, starting to think “Hey Woman… where the hell IS my wardrobe declutter post??”… my bad! I guess the title could’ve been a little misleading.

Said clothing clutter was getting in the way – not just of getting dressed but of feeling calm and centred too. Too much (and too many of the wrong) choices were taking me away from what I really felt good in.

Lo and behold, realisation dawned that buying and wearing the chunky knit that I saw on my aforementioned favourite influencer didn’t mean that her success would become mine. Quite the contrary – it just stopped me from being the person I was supposed to be sharing in my own online space.

So what to do now the clutter is cleared, the itching has subsided and relative calm has been restored?

Shopping for me

Turns out that all the “influenced” shopping I was doing was hiding the fact that I was lacking a couple of really useful staples here and there.

So as and when I decide to move on those, I’ll be sticking to my own pre-set brief and not straying off the path. I’d also like to save up in order to ensure they’re better quality pieces, as opposed to getting impatient and ending up substituting them with their fast fashion equivalents.

Whilst I was going through the declutter, I constantly referred to Jessica Rose Williams’ Capsule Wardrobe workbook to help me figure out what I truly loved. I never thought for one minute that I’d get mine down to 30 items but what I am left with feels right for me for now. And I’m not dismissing the idea of whittling it down to less over time either.

A more eco-friendly wardrobe is a whole other post (or series of posts) so I realise that that dropping in the words “fast fashion” only begins to scratch the surface. But asking “Do I really need this? Or am I just buying it because I’m having a sh*t day?” is a good a place to start as any.

Gifting for the blog

In terms of what I’m gifted for blog and Instagram content, I’ve always selected according to the brands I would buy from and would happily recommend to you. Moving forward, I think I need to add in the criteria of “Do I need actually this item in my wardrobe right now? Or am I only accepting it for promotional purposes?”.

If I don’t need it, it would be wasteful to accept and I would rather show you something else I already have in the wardrobe, perhaps just styled in another way.

For sponsored brand work that involves me being sent items to feature as part of the content creation, unless I would wear it again and feel it’s lacking in my wardrobe, I’ll be requesting returnable samples.

Space To Create

Having emptied two sets of floor to ceiling cupboards and sworn to operate a one in, one out policy so that I don’t suffer with over-stuffed wardrobe syndrome again, I’ll be having a bit of room redecorate and re-jig next year.

I want to incorporate some desk and photography space so I’m currently bouncing around a few ideas in my head.

I’ll let you know how that one pans out as and when!

When I looked at how much I’d accumulated and examined the reasons behind some of it, I felt a degree of shame and embarrassment and for a nanosecond, debated about putting it down here on the blog.

But I’m also aware that I accumulated much of it because of being a blogger and I won’t apologise for what I do for a living. So I guess this is my confession of a former clothes-a-holic – a cautionary tale if you will, from an influencer who became an influencee.

The responses I got when I shared the declutter “results” on Instagram Stories that weekend, were nothing but supportive. (It’s still here in my profile under the Simplify Highlight.) Turns out many of us have bought something because we’ve seen it on someone else and instantly coveted it… without even questioning if it’s actually for us.

And a few wise women shared some enlightened thoughts on how they feel we’re all being influenced and sold to on a continual (and sometimes underhanded) basis too.

My personal view is that the influencer industry, when it’s executed well and with integrity, is still a thing of brilliance. It’s allowed numerous women in particular, to build themselves a career based on their passions and one that provides them with the flexibility to devote time to the other meaningful facets of their life.

The tide is turning for both influencers and consumers and many of us are starting to question what and how much we should promote and how much we really need something, respectively.

The responsibility lies with all of us to make sensible choices.

So it turns out we can tame the hungry beast after all. It just took us a while… and a few donations to charity to start figuring it out…

ps: Have you guessed who “my favourite influencer” is yet? I still love how she dresses and consume her content avidly. But I won’t be buying 90% of what she wears because it won’t look the same on me.

Instead I’ll continue to admire her and be inspired to execute my own style as well as she executes hers!

27 comments on “Not Your Average Wardrobe Declutter Post…”

  1. Hi Amanda, I did the same with skincare. I had drawers full of samples, ‘free gift with purchases’ and creams that promised skin transformation. Last week I visited a skin care expert who was not affiliated to any brand. She talked through the products I currently used, then examined my skin and gave me the most amazing facial. She then wrote me a list of all the products that I should try, incorporating some products I already use. Best of all, the most expensive product was £35! So, I will have a capsule collection of skincare products that complement each other. I definitely recommend it!

    1. Hi Linda,
      that’s so interesting to read it applies to beauty products as well – I hadn’t thought of it in those terms. I’d also heard of a couple of other people who went to see non-branded skin care experts and came away with adjustments to what they were using and saw massive improvements in their skin. Maybe I might give this a go in the new year. I think the beauty industry always has and always will be a big seller. xx

  2. So, who is your favourite “ influencer”? Great post, I’m like Linda, always buying the new “ miracle “ cream but it drives you mad in the end!

    1. Hey Vivienne! It’s Alex from The Frugality blog – I just love how she puts a look together! Which I guess is why she’s such a successful stylist! And I hear you re the pull of the miracle cream. Another instance where we’re being sold to. I don’t dispute that – its just the way of the world we live in I guess. xx

      1. I think its interesting to note that Alex of the Frugality has also cut back on promoting clothing and purchasing herself. Great minds think alike. The two of you are both fantastic!

  3. Hi Amanda
    At 55 I’m feeling very much the same, but I’m contemplating the run up to my sixties not my fifties. You write so eloquently about this.
    My favourite influencer is Alexis stylememos, I met her recently she is genuinely lovely in real life too!
    A lovely post that I’m so glad you shared with us all

    1. Hi Ashley,
      Ah thank you – its good to know that other women feel this way too. I think part of it is “looking for yourself” at the this life stage maybe? Oh my goodness – I love how Alexis dresses – she is so damn effortless and cool… to a level that I feel I could never achieve! And am happy to hear she’s just as lovely in person too! xx

  4. Could you do a post showing us what survived the purge and how you are going to wear those items? And what you might need to buy to pull everything together.

    1. Hi Nicola,
      I’m thinking about how to work this into my content next year – it will definitely feature in some shape or other. I feel its all still a bit of a work in progress but will happily share the journey along the way!
      Amanda xx

  5. As usual, I was nodding along to all of this. I’ve continued to declutter and simplify and it just makes me so happy – it turns out that ‘stuff’ clutters not only my home, but my mind too. Still can’t guess that influencer though!

  6. Hi Amanda,
    I’m in my mid forties and feeling the same need to simplify and minimalise, including a large wardrobe. I’ve started the process but would be interested in a post as to how you achieved it. Also, is your whole year’s wardrobe 30 items or is that your winter season. Love the blog.

  7. Hi Amanda,

    Not for the first time I found myself shouting “Yes! Yes! Yes!” at my laptop as I read your post.

    I’m 51 and have just downsized (post-kids moving out) to a small cottage in rural Wiltshire. It gave me the opportunity to have the biggest declutter of my life, which was SO liberating. I now only have possessions that I really love or can’t live without. As an added bonus, I’m far enough away from the shops that I’m less likely to pop into town at the weekend for a spot of retail therapy. I wanted to simplify my life and be more eco-friendly (thanks to you I’m now recycling my Nespresso pods, BTW). I’m so much happier with less stuff. And the housework takes less time, which must be a bonus…

    You have a knack for tapping into the zeitgeist. Keep it up! xxx

  8. HI Amanda! Were you reading my mind? We met many moons ago at a Hero Workshop you spoke at. I was just at the beginning of blogging and setting up as a Personal Stylist. In my first 6 months, it became very apparent to me, that my clients were all hungering after turning into their favourite influencers, rather than actually looking into their own lives and own styles. On top of that, the constant need to have something new and “on trend” was ever escalating for them and was being used to fill a gap in their lives which emanated from somewhere else. I was most disheartened to be giving advice which was falling on deaf ears, as clients wanted an excuse to buy and to look like carbon copies of their favourite Influencers. Or the clients with 25 pairs of black ankle boots or 25 grey jumpers. I had to really stop and think about it all. All the stuff was defnitely not making them happier In fact it was gettin gin the way of their happiness.
    I adore Jessica Williams’ vibe and slow move to minimalism, but I am still more of a middle grounder. My home is VERY minimal (people often ask if we’ve been burgled!)as I find clutter just stresses me out (hence the continuous arguments with teenage son’s pit of a bedroom). It is definitely more difficult to carry this through and get rid of clothes you love, but that just don’t have a place in your life. Its that whole buying clothes for a life you wish you had, rather than the one you are living!
    I believe that once you are truly happy with who you are, the clothes you wear just become a part of you and you look as amazing as you feel no matter what! Life stages have a big part to play in that too – comfort is a big factor as you get older. (Which includes not putting up with lesser/inferior quality).
    My own wardrobe is very minimal, and I still have days where I worry that others will think I am boring in what I wear. But I feel good and that is most important. I find it really useful to do a recap at the end of a season and note down what I wore and how I was feeling about my clothes. Then when the new season rolls around, I can check in and remind myself of my old mistakes and actually learn from them… in addition I try not to buy anything “make-do”. If I really need an item, I make sure I find the dream and only then, will I buy. (Often the reason we have so many versions of the same item is because we never actually found “the one”).
    With the current emphasis on waste, we all need to think much more carefully about our consumption of everything.
    I loved this post and really cant wait for you to post more on your journey. There can only be good in this type of influencing!!! Good luck. Xx

  9. I agree with all the above comments and your post .so liberating to clear out clothes and shoes that no longer suit my lifestyle or me . the couple of years since I really started loving InstagramI’ve bought so many more clothes!!! Sometimes it’s been a good thing …seeing the updated way to style yourself (especially as an older woman now ).. it’s been such a learning curve but also some mistakes along the way you so eloquently said it .. I won’t necessarily look like the influencer and don’t always have the opportunity to wear those kinds of clothes.. I feel the tide is turning though and many of the posts I see are now about shopping your wardrobe .. thanks for another great blog post

  10. Hi Amanda I have been reading your blog ever since it featured in (the now discontinued) Easy Living. It has been great to see you through this journey, from a style blogger to a minimalist mum, going through various stages in life. I particularly enjoyed reading today’s edition- our clothing choices so reflect what is happening with us internally and it’s good to see you gravitate towards this sense of calm you’re projecting.. I too have been giving a lot of thought to sensible choices and staying away from fast fashion. Every little step that each one of us takes will lead to a more sustainable planet. Keep up the good work Amanda. Love from a cold and windy Sofia x

  11. Great post! Although the crucial phrase for me is “The responsibility lies with all of us to make sensible choices.” I’m as guilty as the next person of craving the latest influencer must-have, but I have trained myself to really examine whether a) I have similar already in my wardrobe that I could restyle to achieve a similar look, and b) whether I can truly think of an occasion in my suburban mum life when I could wear it. But I do enjoy having a big collection of clothes, and can completely relate to gazing lovingly at it all! Not quite ready to declutter, alas….
    I love Alex Frugality too, particularly because she DOESN’T always wear the latest craze, and clearly purchases her clothes with a certain mindfulness.

  12. Yes, yes and yes!! You go girl!! As discussed – according to agenda item three (!) – this is the future! No one, whether influencer or not, can hand on heart say they need another ‘perfect’ boot/jumper/shirt/scarf/whatever. I think this is such a multilayered debate and if nothing else, what counts now is joining (or leading) the conversation. Surely the next stage of the influencer debate is not to step away and say ‘I didn’t MAKE you buy it!’ but to acknowledge, as you have here, with sensitivity and tact, that there was a bandwagon, everyone jumped on it, and now the wagon is slowing down.
    I feel as if I have been through a complete step change to the way I buy clothes in the last year, which is partly about understanding why I buy clothes (ie clothes = happy), and regularly assessing if there are gaps in what I own, but not slavishly filing any gaps I might identify. To take time and to decide on a brand whose credentials I like and then to covet something, which generally speaking, I research over a long period of time. I try also to only buy natural fibres; so polyester, viscose etc are out. If I don’t think I am going to hand it down gladly to my daughter then I don’t buy it.
    Sadly I don’t think the high street are with us in this, and so I have more or less abandoned buying anything from those shops; I concentrate on smaller brands or boutiques and get literally everything online. I think this time of mass consumption is a habit and I’d rather try to curb that habit by not getting sucked into the big brands who advertise constantly, and who are feature on every single influencer feed. It gets kinda dull. The only thing now is that this development will separate the wheat from chaff in terms of who has actual style, rather than who follows trends. Fascinating times. You’ll be at the forefront!! Lou x

  13. I loved this post Amanda, and found it really interesting and honest. As someone who has started to embrace a more ‘slow’ and minimal approach to fashion and consumerism it has been so fascinating to see how some influencers are also responding to this burgeoning movement.

    Lisa x

  14. I think what you’ve done takes a lot of courage; I applaude your decision and see it as an example of leadership in an industry that creates a never-ending dissatisfaction with ourselves and what we already own. If we could love ourselves enough to not feed into a culture of greed and joyfully revel in the clothing choices we make, we’d probably be a lot happier! As one of your followers on the West Coast of Canada, I always enjoy the artfulness of your blog and encourage you in your next steps!

  15. Hi.. I live in Ontario, Canada and I am a new subscriber. I just did a ‘first round’ of my closet and a few drawers.. happily discovering two cashmere sweaters I thought were long gone! Happy. And, every time I walk by that closet and glimpse the empty hangers, I get a lovely chill.. like something heavy has been lifted from my shoulders and they’re no longer up around my ears. I loved this post. Thank you..

    I am very curious about this blogger whose style you admire. Can someone advise the link to her blog please.

  16. Oh, this post was like my conscience talking to me, and I’ve enjoyed reading the replies about skincare and beauty, even though I’ve just fallen in lust with Beauty Pie! Does anyone have ideas for what do with old nail polish? Some in good usable condition…does it really have to be poured away, and if so, where?

  17. Hi Amanda –

    I absolutely LOVED this post! I recently tore through my closet to – and to be honest, it could use another round. But first, I think, I need to address the mountain of hair product I have acquired…

  18. I find it really hard to de-clutter clothes that I haven’t worn much, I guess I feel I haven’t got my money’s worth from them. I do have a “last chance” pile of clothes which I’ll wear maybe with other things to give them a last chance but if I don’t feel the love then they go!

    I tend to buy then wear my new stuff but these past few months I’ve been shopping my wardrobe and finding inspiration from instagram but use clothes I have already to get the look. Just saw someone with a khaki satin skirt and blue sweater and I have a camo satin pleated skirt and a blue sweater so tomorrow I will try this look at no cost! I enjoy your blogs btw, just don’t always comment.

  19. I think I’m at the other end of the spectrum. If I got rid of 10 bags of clothes I’d literally have nothing to wear. In fact I don’t think I could even fill 10 bags! I must loiter around these charity shops when all you bloggers offload your unwanted stuff…

  20. Loved reading this post Amanda and I just love your honesty. We’re all inspired/influenced by others aren’t we but I always think it’s really important to be true to ourselves. I’m definitely only intentionally buying these days, both for the home and myself and I’m also working hard on my capsule wardrobe too. Living with less is definitely the way forward for me x

  21. Great job.
    This is more like it Amanda. Over this past year i’ve Been unfollowing instagrammers who do nothing but post their outfits – which is actually a shame as they look so lovely. For example – wellies & champagne…. always beautiful but latterly just linking outfit after outfit ( as an aside do they actually keep all the clothes or return them after photographing?!? ). It’s all become a bit too hard sell for me and yes, I was purchasing stuff I neither needed or even particularly loved – ridiculous for 53 year old intelligent woman!
    So this is good content for me as, if I dare say, even yours ( and you were the 1st I ever followed) was getting a bit ‘samey’ and even slightly dull – sorry for honesty.
    Anyway – your back in the groove so I watched your menopause story with interest…. do something on that Amanda ( I am one phone call away from asking for HRT but am ever so slightly nervous!).
    What is the demographic of your followers? I am (as already said) early 50’s, one early teen child, do a bit of accountancy from home……. I bet the majority of your followers are similar – so less gift lists ( I do appreciate you like to make some income from your work) and more content like this.
    I repeat – good job x

  22. Fantastic piece of style soul searching, Amanda! I feel the same way. When I stare at my rail of pants hanging neatly in a row I ask myself, “how many pairs of navy pants can one woman own”? I have most definitely been “influenced” into these purchases. You are not alone. We have all purchased a bit too much. What has helped me stop buying is to be very organized with monthly clear outs so that I can see what I own so that I don’t purchase any more. And I have done this with clothes, makeup, and hair products. Its amazing how you can see your absent minded purchases once your get organized.

    I also think, as I turn 49 next month, that we change. We need to imagine a new version of ourselves every once in a while and its natural and healthy to throw out the old, and shed the past to move forward into who we want to be in the future. I think tossing clothing that no longer makes you feel like “you” anymore is excellent therapy. I’m excited to see what the new year brings for you and look forward to every post.

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