Easy to use and organised wardrobes make life easier for us each day but, as we age, the key activities of daily living may become more challenging (bathing, dressing, feeding), so we need to set ourselves up to make these activities as easy as possible. An easy-to-use and well organised wardrobe is a definite “must”.
If your wardrobe isn’t set up for this, don’t be too hard on yourself (yet). It is important to understand that we have lived longer and for many our wardrobes will have many items from our past (which we have strong emotional connections to) which can make it harder to let items go. However, now maybe a good time to set it up for the coming years.
Start by rethinking the purpose of your wardrobe.
- It is to help you dress each day, it is not for keeping every outfit or pair of shoes you have ever owned!
- Ideally your wardrobe should have 80% of what you currently wear – what I call “Functionals”
- 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.
Interestingly, statistics show that we only wear about 20%-30% of what is in our wardrobes!
- If you have clothes 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.
- So remove what you NO longer wear, what you no longer LIKE to wear and what is not “WORTHY” of you – these are “Farewells”, so either donate or toss.
- How many old clothes have you set aside for gardening or doing chores? Realistically how many do you need?
- Do you have clothes that are hard to put on? Maybe too many buttons or you can’t do them up easily. Let them go as “easy to put on” clothes will make life easier as you age.
- 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 wearing.
- 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.
- 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 (and that is truly wasteful).
- Make your wardrobe 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 other clothes in them!!!
- Importantly, while you are decluttering and re-organising, stop buying new clothes!!!
I regularly get calls from clients whose clothes are all around their room or piled on beds or chairs. An inspection usually confirms that their wardrobes are full of clothes (and shoes) they haven’t worn in years. I know 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 – making dressing each day as easy as possible.
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.