Spring clean style: how to do a wardrobe audit

spring clean your wardrobe
Karen Dacre,-Fashion Editor of the Evening Standard

Fashion editor Karen Dacre walks us through the essential steps of a wardrobe clearout

For many of us, warm weather and longer days signal an opportunity to revitalise and reorganise, so it makes sense to extend the spring cleaning to our wardrobes. But what items to keep and which to commit to fashion history? There's no doubt a major overhaul demands serious levels of contemplation and time. Fortunately, help is at hand. We asked a fashion editor for advice on cleaning up your dressing game: from reinvigorating the items you already own to enlisting a virtual Personal Stylist, here’s her expert guide.

1. The seasonal switchover

Whether or not you’re lacking in space, I’m a firm believer in packing away your winter wardrobe with the first glimmer of spring. Not only does this allow you to see the wood for the trees, but the practice of switching over from season to season gives you an opportunity to assess the situation before you make any new purchases. Think of it as a sort of biannual dressing audit. Changeable British weather means it’s worth holding back a lightweight coat or two along with a few fine knits in case of chilly spring days. Tip: vacuum storage bags are an essential companion. For easy unpacking, coats and dresses can be left on hangers.

2. Pay it forward

Your eyes met across a crowded store on a Saturday afternoon and it was love at first sight. But four years have now passed, and you haven’t felt the same about that dress since: it’s time to get rid. One woman’s trash is another’s treasure so take time to decide on the best outcome for the items you’re waving goodbye to. At a time when charity shops are closed, ensure your unwanted items don't end up in landfill by seeking out services and auction sites that offer home pick-up, or see if your local clothes bank is still accepting drop-offs. 

3. Fix up, look sharp

Our collective desire to take a sustainably-minded approach to the clothes we wear means taking more care than ever of the garments we own. A wardrobe overhaul is the perfect opportunity to carry out a bit of maintenance, especially if you have more time to spare at the moment. Breathe new life into a tired out coat with the addition of new buttons or shorten the hem of a seldom worn summer dress in an awkward length and it could become the most useful thing in your wardrobe. If you’ve got a backlog of lacklustre knitwear, why not busy yourself with a handwashing session making sure to carefully pack each item away afterwards? I swear by scented cedar balls to keep moths at bay. 

4. Respect the classics

When it comes to deciding what to keep and what to say goodbye to, you’ll find it’s the most useful – and most worn – additions to your wardrobe you could never dream of parting with: perhaps a favourite white T-shirt or a pair of black trousers with just the right amount of slouch. Think of these key items as a separate category and make sure each one works as well as you’d like it to. It’s also worth paying attention to what makes you feel good. If the neckline of your favourite sweater has lost its shape or the waistband of your favourite jeans is no longer the comfort blanket it once was, it may be time for a rethink.

5. Enlist a Personal Stylist

If your wardrobe is in need of some serious TLC, why not call in the professionals? You can now access the John Lewis & Partners' Personal Styling service online, by booking a virtual appointment through a video call on Instagram. Your dedicated stylist will talk through your existing outfits, help you identify the pieces you’re missing and give you tips on how to declutter the rest.

6. Invest in forever buys

After your clearout, assess the gaps in your wardrobe. Are there any classic pieces you’re missing? Which styles would make a sensible investment for next season and beyond? While you don't want to be buying a ton of new stuff when you've just pared things back, there are a few must-haves that every woman's wardrobe should include... 

True blues

Perennially stylish denim for the perfect investment piece.

In the navy

The failsafe colour you'll be wearing for decades. 

Soft tailoring

Your work-to-weekend hero pieces.

Not so basic basics

Easy, throw-on items to be your wardrobe's backbone.

Wrap stars

A must-have for an ultra-flattering and feminine silhouette.

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