It’s Sunday night and you’re staring into the abyss that is your wardrobe, wondering whether you can get away with black trousers again, what shoes can you wear with a midi dress and whether a diamanté bib necklace is office appropriate (answer ‘HELL YEAH’)

And we have all had ‘dressing stage fright’ at 6am – when you hate every item of clothing in your wardrobe and it’s all hating you right back by whispering gently that your arse is way too big to wear it anyway… If all this sounds familiar and happens on a regular basis it’s time to take your wardrobe in hand! Getting dressed should be at worst, stress free and at best, one of the highlights of your day – not something that shatters
your confidence.

If you’re not feeling confident with your look, this can affect how you act and how others see you. Like it or not, it’s a fact that people judge you on your appearance and first impressions count – whether you’re broking a business deal, meeting a new client, chairing a meeting, going on a first date or visiting the bank manager.

Don’t panic, the fashion cavalry is here with some top tips on detoxing your wardrobe, arranging your outfits and making looking ‘put together’ one less thing to worry about.

How to commence a wardrobe detox

Take a morning when you’ve no plans, ideally you need to enlist the help of an honest and stylish friend – husbands/partners are not great for this. You need another pair of eyes to see you how others do and to be gentle but brutal if something doesn’t look great (better still, if budget permits, enlist the help of a stylist). Sit in front of your open wardrobe and answer these questions;

  • What do you feel comfortable in? What makes you feel good?
  • Do you know what suits you? Have you a good pair of legs you like to get out? Or maybe you hate your arms/hips/bum/whatever and you like them covered up.
  • What does your current wardrobe consist of? Mostly black skirts? Umpteen white blouses? What shape of clothes do you buy?
  • If you had to stand up tomorrow in front of 200 people and give a speech, what would you wear that you currently own?
  • Are you always shopping at the same stores?
  • Do any of your clothes still have the tags on? If so, why? Do you try things on before you leave the store? Do you send back internet purchases that don’t fit?
  • Does your wardrobe consist of clothes that suit your lifestyle and your job? Or are you top heavy in work outfits and no weekend wear?

This is a lot to think about, so be brutally honest, you’re only lying to yourself. Share your answers and discuss with your friend.

Now throw everything out of your wardrobe and drawers, on to the bed…

This is not for the faint hearted and speaking from experience, I’d make sure there is no wine involved to cloud any judgement or make you sentimental. You’re going to need a few hours at least but this will pay you back tenfold I promise.

TOP TIP – make sure you have a little make up on and your hair done – nothing will make your clothes look worse than trying things on when you look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards. Just trust me on this.

Make yourself three piles – 1) keepers 2) throwers 3) charity – you can even have a mending/restyle pile if you’re so inclined but don’t use this as an excuse not to bin stuff you won’t wear – this is a pile you’re supposed to do something with. Be ruthless. The throwers should be easy to tackle first – clothes that have holes, stains you can’t get out, bobbly bits – please do not use the excuse you will wear them around the house or in the garden. THROW THEM OUT.

What should make the charity pile? Please make sure everything you plan to give to charity is clean and wearable. Anything unworn, old fashioned, don’t fit you properly – too big, too small or not worn for seasons. If you have special or designer pieces that are too good to give away, sell them in a dress agency, to a friend or on eBay. If you feel like you want to keep certain classic items for your daughter or granddaughter, pack them away. We want to keep wardrobe noise to the minimum.

To get in the keeper pile, the clothes need to have been tried on to make sure they fit you AND they are flattering to your figure now. If it doesn’t flatter, throw it on the charity pile. If you have tons of tops or bottoms but nothing to wear with them, this is the time to look for gaps in your closet and see where you are making the same mistakes in your buying habits. Does that skirt you love never see the light of day as you’re never sure what to wear with it? Do not just try on a skirt and decide it’s a keeper – FIND a few things that will go with it – tops, jackets etc. If you start to struggle, keep these things aside and make a list at the end of what you need to buy.

If you’re looking for inspiration, Instagram and Pinterest are great. You can type in ‘pencil skirt outfits’ for instance and find yourself 1000’s of photos to inspire you. I use Pinterest if I run out of styling ideas.

Make an inventory of what you’re keeping and what goes with what. If you are a tech geek and you want to invest the time, there are apps you can buy (cheaply) where you can photograph your clothes and then build outfits to remind you what you have (type in STYLEBOOK in the app store).

The idea of a wardrobe detox is so you can clearly see what you have to wear as soon as you open your wardrobe. Now the outfit building can begin. There are some essentials that you should own that will work whatever your taste.

Here is a good list of basics to start with:

  • Fitted tees – these can be jersey or silk and in black, white or muted tones and don’t have to be expensive – round necked or v necked
  • Tailored trousers – black or navy – good quality
  • A tailored jacket – single buttoned – again black or navy
  • A denim jacket – should come just on or above the waist – make sure it fits properly across the shoulders and don’t worry if you can’t do it up across the bust, you don’t need to fasten it
  • A leather jacket – could be a biker or a more fitted blazer type
  • A white shirt – easy to pick up on the high street if you don’t have huge boobs – harder if you have as it’s important not to get that button strain. Go to a shirt tailor – doesn’t have to be expensive – high street shops like TM Lewins and Charles Tyrwhitt do women’s ranges
  • Heels – they don’t have to be too high but at least 2 inches
  • Beige or camel trench or light weight coat – you can go navy here too, just not black
  • Great fitting jeans – go to Donna Ida online or visit her stores for the best service and advice
  • Shoe boots
  • Plimsolls/cool trainers e.g. Stan Smiths
  • Accessories – never underestimate the power of these – necklaces, bangles, scarves, bags – sometimes more important than the clothes themselves as can update your look instantly.

These essentials can be mixed and matched to change up what you’re wearing.

Here’s a couple of examples;

Take a floral midi dress (on trend and all over the high street)

  • Wear it to work with a fitted jacket and a pair of heels to corporate it up
  • Going on a dinner date? Rough it up with a leather jacket and shoe boots
  • Out with the girls? Add a denim jacket and some plimsolls.

Take a white shirt

  • Wear with jeans, plimsolls and trench on the weekend for simple style
  • Wear for work with trousers but add large bib necklace to give it interest and depending on where you work, why not wear the denim jacket here to make it look less corporate
  • Why not try tying the shirt at the front (making sure to keep your skin covered unless you are 17) and pair with a tulle midi skirt and a leather.

You get my drift – I’m not saying that the above will be your ‘thing’ – it might not be to your taste at all BUT I’m demonstrating that your wardrobe can be a lot more versatile that you think.

One last tip, always get work outfits ready the night before, including underwear and accessories. It works I promise.

Girls, we got this….

Paula Fry