Out with the old
By Zita Collinson
The new year's here and it's time to spring clean your wardrobe. Image consultant and life coach Lisa Berry, from Blythe Bridge, shares her top tips on decluttering
EVER felt you had too many clothes but still can't find anything to wear? If you're stuck for ideas but overwhelmed by a wardrobe bulging with poorly-fitting outfits and impulse buys, then the new year is the perfect opportunity to sort out your style.
Lisa Berry, a 41-year-old business mentor, who runs You-Nique, says a well-ordered wardrobe should reflect a person's lifestyle.
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"If you only go out once every two months, why have you got 10 going-out items in your wardrobe and yet claim to have nothing to wear every time you go out?
"The most that an item is going to get used is three times during a season based on the fact that you will rarely wear the same clothes in summer and winter.
"Instead buy a good pair of jeans and a couple of classic going-out tops where you can add accessories to reflect the fashion.
"When you start to declutter, have boxes and bin bags at the ready. It shows you mean business."
Lisa says that many women hold on to clothes that are the wrong size in the hope that one day they will slim down or as an incentive to shape up.
"My motto is we deserve to feel fantastic every day of our life no matter what we are wearing," continues Lisa.
"A starting point is to go through your wardrobe and if there are any items where you don't feel good, throw them out now – and don't treat it as an excuse to go out and buy yet more mediocre clothes.
"Leave the past where it's meant to be – behind you.
"Having items in your wardrobe that don't fit only serve one purpose and that's to remind you of what you once were.
"Living in the here and now is the best way to be.
"There's no benefit to be gained hoping that one day you will fit back into those size eight trousers.
"What matters is feeling good today and not in two years or six months."
Avoid cheaper clothes that might not flatter your figure.
It's a false economy, argues Lisa.
Instead invest in a few, well-made key pieces.
"I'm self-employed and work in a number of different sectors," says Lisa.
"I also need to be able to go from day to evening very quickly. There's no point having an expensive dress hanging in your wardrobe that's the latest fashion and you've only worn it once to a wedding.
"Make your clothes work for you. If you do have a dress hanging in your wardrobe that has only been worn once can it be altered by a dress maker so you can use it again?
"The most economical way of looking good and decluttering is to buy good-quality items that can be dressed up or down.
"Each season I invest in wardrobe building blocks like a well-fitting pair of jeans, two nice tops that can be dressed up or down and a dress that can be dressed up or down.
"My rule here is for every wardrobe building block – whether it's a dress, skirt, jeans or trousers – ensure you have three different ways of putting together an outfit using that key piece.
"If you have something like a little black dress, it should be versatile enough to wear for five different occasions.
"Take a fitted black shift dress. For a business meeting, you might wear a white blouse underneath it, and accessorise with a little black and white belt.
"Going out after work, I'd swap the belt for a red one, take the blouse off and add some vintage red and white shoes.
"Only buy what you need and not what's considered a bargain."
Take some time to plan your wardrobe and order your outfits.
"There are a number of ways of achieving this and it's down to personal preference," says Lisa.
"One method is to put outfits together. For example, you can put skirt with shirt with scarf. This saves lots of time especially if you are in a rush in a morning for work.
"Organise your wardrobe in terms of lifestyle.
"You can put all your work clothes together, going-out tops, going-out skirts, or day dresses.
"Personally my preferred option is to have your wardrobe ordered into outfits. This also really works from a decluttering perspective.
"You can then easily identify when it comes to replacing items what it is you need to buy.
"Never again will you just buy an item of clothing without knowing what you will wear it with and where it sits in your wardrobe."
Lisa also applies a 12-month rule – which means that if she hasn't worn something for a year, she gets rid of it.
"I say 12 months because that allows you to examine your clothes each year and decide a) what's in fashion or, could be brought up to date with some tweaking or accessories, b) what fits c) you still like and d) decide if it still appropriate to your lifestyle."
Finally, remember that decluttering is a chance to make some cash.
"I made approximately £700 last year selling items that no longer served a purpose on eBay," says Lisa. "It's a true saying that one person's cast off is another person's treasure."