Can’t find your clothes? Sir Terence Conran, author of ‘Storage – Get Organized’, helps you sort and store your clothing.

It has been estimated that most people wear only 20 per cent of the clothing they own. This means that, unless you have a vast dressing room or walk-in closet at your disposal, your clothes storage is likely to be more overcrowded than it needs to be, and a good proportion of that space will be wasted.

Overhauling your wardrobe so that you end up only with clothes you really like and that suit and fit you, discarding the rest, is no less emotionally difficult than any other form of clutter control (and possibly more difficult, as self-image comes into it), but it is an essential first step.

Strategies for sorting clothing –

1. Get rid of anything you have not worn for a year or more. Some people hang onto clothing because they expect a trend might come back into fashion. Fashion is indeed very cyclical, and vintage has never been more popular. The older you get, however, the less likely you are to revisit your previous fashion statements.

2. Throw out clothing that does not fit you. Reviewing your wardrobe is painful because the process has a tendency to throw up reminders that you promised yourself that you would lose a bit from your waistline. Discard those guilt-making items, and if you do shape-shift in the future, celebrate with a new purchase.

3. Get rid of clothing that doesn’t suit you. Unflattering clothing is bad for your self-esteem.

4. Discard any pairs of shoes or boots that don’t fit you. You may be prepared to tolerate a crippling pair of heels on occasion, but some people have a tendency to talk themselves into buying shoes that don’t fit if a pair in their size is not in stock. Get rid of the offending articles. They are bad for your feet – and your feet are not going to change size.

5. Discard items you bought on impulse but didn’t like much when you got them home. People are often blinded by bargains and lose all grip on their fashion sense. Just because a dress is fabulously reduced and has a famous name on the label does not mean it needs to be in your wardrobe.

6. Throw out the waifs and strays: lone socks, shoes, earrings or any other article that was once part of a pair but is no longer, as well as accessories such as belts that are specific to outfits that you no longer own or wear.

7. Separate any items in your wardrobe that require minimal repair from damaged clothing that would be prohibitively expensive to restore. I am all in favour of mending whenever possible and I don’t mind a little wear and tear, but some clothes can get to the point where they are beyond rescue.

8. Set to one side all clothing that will not be required for the next season or two. This is obviously easier in parts of the world where the weather follows predictable yearly patterns. Even in Britain, however, where winters can be mild and summers chilly, at least some seasonal rotation of clothing is possible. Storing out-of-season clothing away from the bedroom or dressing area frees up useful space and provides better keeping conditions for your immediate wardrobe.

Strategies for storing clothing –

1. Never use wire hangers, except for shirts that you wear frequently. Use wooden hangers or padded ones for delicate items.

2. Knitwear, which includes knitted dresses, sweaters and shawls, should be folded and stored flat either on shelves or in drawers.

3. Store evening wear and formal suits inside hanging cotton garment bags, and make sure they are clean before putting them away if they are not to be worn for some time.

4. Hang clothes of a similar type, length or color together. Hang skirts from tape loops or use sprung hangers that can be inserted into the waistband of the garment. Hang trousers (pants) from clip hangers, suspended from the cuff.

5. Allow a depth of at least 600mm (2 ½ in) for hanging storage. Double-hang half-length articles such as jackets, shirts and skirts to make the most of space.

6. Use drawer dividers to separate small items such as knickers (panties) and socks or keep them in separate containers.

7. Don’t fill drawers or stack shelves above two-thirds of their depth.

8. Rack shoes on rails at the bottom of your wardrobe or closet. Alternatively, store them in cubbyholes, shoe tidies, boxes, fabric bags or lidded containers under the bed.

9. Use wooden shoe trees so that shoes keep their shape.

10. Pad handbags with tissue so they retain their shape, and keep them in dustcover bags.

11. Narrow rails attached to the back of cupboard doors provide a good way of storing belts, ties and scarves.

12. Never keep valuable jewellery in the bedroom. Keep it in a safe or at the bank. The rest of your collection that you wear on a regular basis is best stored in a box with subdivided compartments so that like can be put with like, or in a fabric roll. Fine chains, which can become knotted if left lying loose, can be stored individually in fabric envelopes or rigid boxes.

This is an extract from Sir Terence Conran’s ‘Storage – Get Organized.’

The Author:

Annie Deakin is an expert furniture and interior design writer who is currently interested in washing machines, cookers and fireplaces.

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