Yesterday a lady called Cat came to my bedroom and threw away all of my clothes. On Valentine's Day I went to an event called The Pants Party organised by my wonderful friend Tash, founder of the Pants Project, which raised funds and awareness for the Fertility Network UK. One of the great prizes available at the auction was a 'Wardrobe Edit' kindly donated by a lady called Cat and, having taken over an hour to find anything to wear in my abyss of a wardrobe earlier that evening, I knew that I had to have it. Yesterday, Cat came to the house and today my wardrobe is considerably smaller and more organised than it was before she came. It was in a terrible state before she arrived; this is a photo that I took of it that morning (I've never needed a clear out so badly...):
First things first, Cat sent me an online questionnaire to fill in, in it I had to describe my current wardrobe, what I wore, what I was comfortable in, whether I dressed for work or play and what I wanted it to be at the end of her visit. So I filled it in and then Cat gave me a bit of homework to do before she arrived. I needed to divide my wardrobe into two different piles; clothes that I had worn in the last six weeks and clothes that I hadn't. Well that was embarrassing. I probably wasn't wearing more than 20% of my clothes. This was when the panic set in that Cat was going to see the 80% pile and make me throw it all away. (Thankfully she didn't do this!).
So when Cat arrived we made a cuppa and hat a chat, went through the questionnaire and worked out what I wanted to get out of the experience: I wanted to feel confident in my clothes.
We then went up to my bedroom and began the edit. First things first Cat asked me to try on my 'go-to outfit'. The outfit that I would put on if I had to run straight to a meeting that would make me feel good, cool and confident. I opted for something that I had actually worn the day before to a meeting, a dusty pink blouse with black jeans and a pair of trainers.
I then put on something that I own but have never worn. I kept the same trousers and shoes but then put on a bright red lace shirt. (Despite the fact that I hadn't ever worn it, we decided that it was pretty cool and miraculously it stayed in the wardrobe on the promise that I actually wear it!). The purpose of this exercise was to work out what I felt comfortable in and what the difference was between the outfit. Cat told me that in the first outfit (pictured above), I looked comfortable and when I looked in the mirror, my eyes were drawn to my face. When I wore the red shirt the opposite thing happened, rather than noticing myself, eyes were drawn to the thing that I was wearing, which isn't what you want when you are in a meeting.
So once Cat had a feel for my wardrobe, and my personal style, we started outfit building. This was great and really useful. With all of my clothes laid out in front of me it was so much easier to see what worked. We picked some statement skirts that I own and can never find anything to wear them with, my boyfriend jeans and maxi skirts. We started pairing things that I wouldn't have thought to do and mixing and matching outfits.
Cat would pull out items one by one from my wardrobe and we had to work out whether it was a) worn, b) flattering, c) necessary. Do I need three black jumpers? Probably not. Was a jumper with holes in it something that I needed? Again, it wasn't. And I have to admit once I was into the swing of things, I was much more ruthless than I thought that I would be.
Everything that we decided was staying was put into the wardrobe the wrong way, (the metal part of the hanger facing towards me), the idea being that if I wear it in the next three months then I can turn it around. It not, then their presence might need to be reassessed. Once we had finished doing all of the big things, the dresses, the jumpers and blouses, it was time to move onto the basics (things that aren't worthy of a hanger!)
I had already divided them into piles and looking at the 'not worn in the last three months' pile, whilst still feeling pretty ruthless, I got to work. We decided that if wasn't sentimental (old school jumpers of charity t-shirts) and if I couldn't imagine myself wearing it during the day, then it was time to go. Cat stood with a bin bag open and I threw away old tatty t-shirt after old tatty t-shirt. The sentimental ones were folded nicely and along with the novelty jumpers were put onto the top shelf of my wardrobe where they could be called on if I needed one specifically.
With the remaining clothes I made piles; holiday clothes that could all go together, long sleeved shirts, 'going out tops', 'basic tops' etc. I was so surprised by how much I owned that I didn't wear, particularly where my trousers were concerned. I'd say over half of them didn't even fit me and still I'd let them pile up, it felt amazing to go through it all I have to admit.
Three hours later and the wardrobe was half the size it had been before Cat arrived, it was SO organised and there were four bin bags filled with clothes that were ready to be donated. (If anyone is interested I have decided to give the warm clothes to refugee charities and the rest to local charity shops).
I thought that this process would kill me, that it would be too painful to be parted with all of my clothes and that it would make me all teary and stressy. But I have to say, I thought it was SO great. Already my outfits feel so much more calculated, I feel more confident when I am dressed and I realised that I actually own some really great stuff.
Cat has made me a little shopping list of things that will 'finish outfits' and ideas for replacements of things that were binned because they were old, tired, or holey. I don't need to do this immediately, as who's got the money for that am I right?! but it is something that I can do over time and it ensures that I am not wasting money buying things that I don't need when I do go shopping. I now know what works for me and I can remember that next time I am scrolling through all that Asos has to offer.
I am now all set for my upcoming holiday and already so excited to start dressing better. The whole process has definitely made me more body confident (now I know that I shouldn't be hiding behind my clothes, rather finding things that actually work for me) and it has made me more enthusiastic about fashion and about my part in it. It is very easy, I feel, to get overwhelmed by clothes and I often find it easier, especially on days when I'm a bit tired and grumpy, to hide behind what I wear and before long you find yourself too frightened to then branch away from that.
I loved Cat so much and am so so grateful for this whole experience. If you want to do something like this (which I do really recommend), then you can book a session with her HERE. But it is worth remembering that you can do this on your own. Pull everything out and be ruthless. Dressing great makes you feel great, you don't need to go and buy a whole new wardrobe, take a few hours, go through what you already own and find what works for you... I think you'll be surprised.