Easy to use and organised wardrobes make life easier for everyone but, as we age, the key activities of daily living may become more challenging (feeding, dressing, bathing), so we need to set ourselves up to make these activities as easy as possible, so a well organised wardrobe is a must.
It is important to understand that we have lived longer and for many our wardrobes will have many items from our past (often which we have strong emotional connections to) which can make it harder to let items go.
Ideally your wardrobe should have 80% of what you currently wear (what I call “Functional”), the remaining 20% can be “Favourites” – clothes that we love or are associated with wonderful memories. If 80/20 is too challenging, aim for 70/30 or even 60/40, it’s better than 20/80.
Statistics show that we only wear about 20%-30% of what is in our wardrobes!
I get calls from clients in their 80’s whose clothes are all around their room or piled on beds or chairs. Their wardrobes are full of clothes (and shoes) they haven’t worn in years. It’s not easy letting go of clothes that are still in good condition or have great memories, but you need to focus on what is important (i.e. making dressing each day easy) and not leave them in your wardrobe too long as they may deteriorate and then no longer be able to be used by someone else!
- If you have clothes that are lying around your bedroom, these are probably the clothes you are wearing regularly. It is hard to tidy up, when you have no room to put items away. Don’t be tempted to start stuffing these clothes into your wardrobe. You need to start with looking at what’s in your wardrobe and making room for your current clothes. Remember, your wardrobe needs to make getting dressed each day as easy as possible.
- Remove what you no longer wear, what you no longer like to wear and what is not “worthy” of you (what I call “Farewells”)
- How many old clothes have you set aside for gardening or doing chores? Realistically how many do you need?
- As you make room in your wardrobe, you can start hanging up the clothes lying around your room – you now have space for the clothes you are currently using.
- Get rid of poor quality clothes hangers (particularly the dry cleaner steel hangers – they rust over time) – try to find a streamlined hanger that you like – it will be easier to hang clothes and your wardrobe will look more pleasing
- If you find your wardrobe is hard to use – hanging rails too high or too low, too much hanging space and not enough shelves or vice versa, think about investing in an update – check out what is available – ask friends/family for help
- Donate beautiful shoes you can no longer wear – I know, it hurts. I had to donate my beautiful shoes because I can no longer wear them (due to orthotics)
- Remember if you leave items in your wardrobe too long, they will deteriorate and it will be too late to donate them
- Make it smell great – I love the old fashioned lavender bags and luckily I have an abundance of them as I harvest the lavender from my garden.
- Once your bedroom wardrobe is organised, think about whether you have other bedroom wardrobes with your clothes in them!!!
- Importantly, while you are decluttering, stop buying new clothes!!!
Mary J Harnan BBus, 3a home sorting specialist
Aging Specialist, ICD | CD Specialist, ICD | Hoarding Specialist, ICD | Expert Member AAPO
Based in Balwyn North, Vic, I have sorted 100’s of homes & helped 100’s of senior adults & their families.
I regularly speak about 3a decluttering, smart downsizing and farewelling the family home.