A detox diet for your closet

Find out ways to purge your wardrobe and shop mindfully

Letting go is never easy. Be it relationships, habits, books, clothes— the list can be long, much like the process. However, once you decide to rid your life (or wardrobe) of unnecessary things, it is a gradual, emotional and rewarding exercise. If you’re one of those who is constantly staring at a pile of clothes in the wardrobe, overwhelmed by the task of organising it and pushing it to a day that never arrives, a mindful wardrobe is what you need. An awareness of what is a fancy, a frill and a fine buy. And the reasons to know are plenty.

For writer and beauty editor Samreen Samad, it was the environmental hazards of fast fashion that pushed her to change her ways. The once compulsive shopper admits, “I always had an excuse to buy stuff that I didn’t even need — sale, event, anniversary, party, wedding, cat’s birthday etc. I watched a documentary a few years ago on how fast fashion and materialism was killing our environment. It was shocking. I realised then, that I had to be more mindful of what I was buying and wearing. I started recycling my clothes. For example, I made a skirt out of one of my Anarkali suits and used old tops as cushion covers. Also, I realised that my clothes from the big brands didn’t last for more than five washes. So I started buying from local designers who use better fabric. I now buy sustainable brands that use natural colours and natural dye.”

Conscious shopping also means picking up stuff that you really ‘need’ as opposed to ‘want’ and something that truly adds value to your closet. Transformational coach Anand Chulani explains, “Very often, people buy clothes that they think will help them ‘fit in’ at a certain place — whether it’s work or elsewhere. But those clothes do nothing to bring out their true personality. As a result, they’re uncomfortable. One must always remember that your wardrobe isn’t you, it’s an extension of you.”

Before you rearrange your closet, it’s important that you first deal with the stuff that you’ve accumulated over the years. Besides, the exercise can be therapeutic too. As Anand points out, “What you do in one sphere of life spills over to other parts as well. An organised wardrobe will invariably lead to better discipline in other matters, changing the course of things in daily life.”

So how does one decide what stays and what goes? For Samreen, the guidelines are clear. “I used to be a hoarder but I’m trying to be minimalist. I’m not there yet completely, but I’ve moved in that direction. I discard clothes that don’t fit anymore. It doesn’t matter how much I love it or how expensive it is. If it doesn’t fit, it has to go. I have also started keeping a certain limit for all types of clothing. For instance, I have decided on having four pairs of jeans at any point. If I buy a new one, I ensure that I’ll discard one from the lot.”

As a stylist who has been in the business for over a decade, Samyukta Seth has a few simple pointers to bear in mind while cleansing your wardrobe:

Choose quality over quantity

We all know the thrills of street shopping. It’s trendy, cheap and therefore, doesn’t make you feel guilty about indulging. But how many times have you really worn the top that you thought was ‘such a steal’? Exactly. Moderate shopping is the key to a functional wardrobe.

Buy for now, not later

Consciously buy things that you need for immediate consumption. Very often we pick up a piece hoping to fit into it someday in the distant future. Sometimes you pick up something with the hope that there’ll be an event or occasion that’ll do justice to it someday. Don’t do that. Buying at random is what causes hoarding. Buy stuff that you know you will do justice to today. You never know if something can arrest your interest or fascination for a long period of time.

Own the basic stuff

A good pair of jeans, a well-fitting black trouser, a little black dress. These are clothes, the combinations of which can get you ready for any occasion depending on how you team them up. Invest in a few good basic clothes that’ll work on multiple occasions. Ask yourself how many different looks you can create using a new piece of clothing.

Take good care of the garment

A well-maintained garment goes a long way as compared to the one carelessly tossed in the cupboard. Be mindful of the instructions on the clothes with regard to the washing, ironing etc. Educate yourself about the fabric and the kind of care it requires. For instance, always expose the garment inside-out while drying them out on a clothesline, give the garments enough space to breathe in a closet etc.

Choose timeless over trendy

Trends come and go. But the classics thankfully, stay that way. It’s true that fashion works in a cycle, but that’s hardly a reason to hold on to a boat neck top or a cold shoulder for more than a decade ago. Understand, that the fashion industry feeds off one’s trend buys to keep its wheels turning. Buy clothes that are an extension of you, not because they’re in vogue.

Organise your closet

Make sections for different kinds of garments. For instance, stack the shorts, trousers, dresses, shirts, skirts etc, together. Keep the clothes of a certain colour palette on one side. This will give you a sense of how much of a certain type of clothing you have and will keep you away from going back to get more of the same stuff.

Have a few statement pieces

Statement accessories such as a cool belt, big earrings or a bright scarf can instantly lift up a look. Make sure you have a few of these to spice any look.

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