Published 27 August 2017 ● Last Updated on 30 September 2020

Essential disclaimer

This article is aptly written by an erstwhile compulsive shopper. Yours truly. Since I’ve been there, done that and have the requisite experience, I was told by Anuja that I have to pen this piece! I am not complaining, as I managed to sort my own wardrobe in the process :-).

Starting off

Conduct a thorough analysis of the contents of your closet. As those of us who belong to the shopaholic tribe know- we have a tendency to amass clothes for all kinds of occasions- many hypothetical- my best friends son’s graduation (brace yourself, you will not be wanted there), my niece’s 16th (she will not want you there) or my favourite colleagues wedding (nope, you are not invited)! However, do not let the mammoth task you have set yourself kill your enthusiasm. A solution is at hand- just break down the task and do it over a period of time.

The day by day breakdown (Warning: Do not attempt to achieve this over consecutive days)

Day 1 – Shoes and accessories

Day 2 – Workwear

Day 3 – Workout wear and Loungewear

Day 4 – Casual wear

Day 5 – Party/out and about wear

Day 6 – Everything else [winter wear, traditional wear, you get the drift!]

too many shoes sorting shoes
Day 1: The task has just begun

The categories

Create 4 broad groups- The Must Have, The Can Have, The Can Give Away, The Must Recycle

Each day you get down to sort a part of your wardrobe, pull everything belonging to that pre-decided category out and throw it in a pile. Seeing the clutter will merely reiterate the need for the sorting.

how to sort my wardrobe closet messy closet
Sigh…the initial pile of clothes that needed sorting

Once the pile for the day is ready, take a good look at the individual item
– Try it out
– Sashay in front of a mirror
– Be honest with yourself
– Take pictures if you want a friend’s opinion
AND, finally, toss it into the right category.

Tips to tackle the sorting

#1 If the shoe bites, it is not the right size, give it away. Remember Monica’s boots Part 1 and Part 2 in Friend’s season 8?

#2 If you have not worn that neck piece or those chandelier earrings in a while, maybe you never will

#3 Your wardrobe is not a time capsule– If you wore it when you were 18, it will perhaps look good on someone who is 18!

#4  How can I give it away? It cost a lot– It’s ok to make a mistake, don’t dwell on it by wearing it

#5  Ask yourself “Will I ever wear this again?”- If you looked like you belonged to Gimli’s army the first time you wore it, please spare the world and say no to yourself!

#6 I bought this Herve Leger [Herve Leger how to say it?] bandage dress to wear once I lose weight– Unless you are in your early twenties or teens, this ain’t happening, so just pass-it-forward!

#7 Is there any item you have not worn in a long time but see yourself as wearing in the future. Keep it. It was perhaps a gem, lost in the clutter

#8 When you allocate an item to the ‘Can Give Away‘ category, remember it should be in MINT condition.

#9 Do you have too many items in the loungewear and work out wear? We all do, please sort and keep only the essentials

Once sorted 

– Arrange the Must Haves in your closet by color- Color coding works like charm, things are easy to find, coordinate and use. Keep the long dresses in the corner so that they do not meddle with the rest of the items in the closet.

how to declutter wardrobe (1)
My much neat’er’ closet

-The Can Haves need to be given due shelf space and must be revisited 6 months later. My Can Have items are up front on the floor of the cabinet. If 6 months later, nothing has made it to Must Have section, it’ll be time to move these to the ‘Can Give Away‘ group

– For the ‘Can Give Away‘ section, refer to a related article on where to donate in Singapore. You can also list it on Carousell/Gumtree for a quick sale or just give away to a family member who you think will do justice to it. Another option is to watch out for the next clothes swap event organized by Swapaholic  Singapore and be a part of the conscious fashion movement!

– ‘The Must Recycle‘ lot is clearly the one you can’t give away. See if you can mend and wear. If the item is irreparable, then see if you can use it for the next upcycling project. If not then please send it in for recycling to the blue common recycling bin in your housing estate. Or hand it in at any H&M store where it will be forwarded to their recycling drive (they keep a collection box near their cashier counter at all stores).

All sorted- P.S. I have claimed only 3 of the 6 shelves in our home shoe cabinet

Way Forward

Wardrobe sorting out of the way- what next?

1. Do not start surfing online for the next thing to add to your closet!

2. Start an informal swap group with friends – That way you can enjoy wearing something new without buying it and also get your clothes back. Your bit to help the circular economy

3. Want to buy a beauty you just spotted in the mall? Try it on. I find that trying on an item helps me get over the initial crush quickly and I can pass off the purchase! (Full credit to Anuja on this tip, I have tried it and it works like a charm. Also, it’s harder to walk away if I turn it into a forbidden fruit that I must ignore!). Likewise, save the online find into a wish list and it is easier to delay an impulsive purchase decision.

4. Seen a beauty online? Draw it. You will be able to contain the desire to buy it. Well, most of the time :-)! This is an idea used and documented by Sarah Lazarovic in her book, A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy

5. Download the closet on the app store or android and get sorted forever. After the one time uploading of pictures of all the Must Have clothes you are keeping, you can use the calendar to plan your look for the future. It’s free to download to top it!

6. The Can Have, The Can Give Away, The Must Recycle lots will need to be maintained and revisited on an ongoing basis – so let aside sections in your closet or store room for these. 

But seriously…

I have very recently evolved into a mindful fashion consumer thanks to Secondsguru following the revelation of the True Cost of fashion and the awareness of concepts of slow and ethical fashion. I’ll be honest, it is not easy and I am trying really hard to stay this way. Moreover, the consumption of fashion in a mindful manner is a journey, if you have started it and want help to move forward, then write to me at Or, if you want to discuss a specific concern/question about your fashion consumption journey-perhaps I can be of some help.





  • Thanks for sharing your method and journey to being a conscious consumer in fashion!

    I’m currently pursuing a conscious lifestyle and have been on a shopping ban since January this year. I explained more in my most recent blogpost.

    I’m wondering if you have read the book named The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo? This book changed my perspectives especially in the areas of decluttering and organising not just my wardrobe but every other aspects of my life.

    Marie’s method does not lead to rebound, compared to other methods of decluttering such as project 333 etc. I feel that using the single yardstick of ‘spark joy’ is much more effective than answering a bunch of questions, which may become too much sometimes.

    Also, I would like to point out that having the option of giving away our unused/ unwanted clothes is although nice, it shouldn’t give us the excuse of buying more. Same goes to having the option to recycle, as according to the waste hierarchy, recycling is ranked the among the lowest (aka as the last resort).

    In all, I hope that we can work together to spread the message and knowledge of being more conscious in our consumption.

    Would love to hear more of your thoughts!

    • Thanks for your message Elisa. I have heard about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo albeit I have not read it. I will definitely try to find a copy of this and Spark Joy in the library. Totally echo your thoughts on not using tidying up/giving away as an excuse to buy more! Quite on the contrary in fact!Let’s connect soon. Please drop me an email on Best,Lara

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