Curated Closet part 4: the clear-out

I’ve been looking forward to this bit. After pondering what I was wearing, what I actually like and what suits me, it’s time to get rid of the things in my wardrobe that aren’t working for me.

Anuschka Rees (the author) takes a pragmatic approach to the clear-out. There’s no caressing your items lovingly and deciding whether or not they ‘spark joy’. You just go through your wardrobe – and drawers, boxes under the bed, and anywhere else you might be keeping clothes (!) – and try things on one at a time.

She provides a flow chart to help you, and asks you to categorise everything into either:

  • Wear
  • Alter/repair
  • Store (out of season clothes, keepsakes)
  • Trial separation – for things you’re not 100% sure about getting rid of; or
  • Donate/sell/textile recycling

I also went through my fabric stash at the same time.

It was useful. I didn’t have a huge wardrobe, but I was hoarding worn-out, ill-fitting and meh clothes – partly because I’ve not been sure what to buy instead and partly because of the sunk cost mentality.

There were some panic purchases in there like a shapeless top I’d bought for a last-minute work meeting in 33 degree heat; a jacket I wore to a wedding in 2004 that’s never fitted me; and a bridesmaid’s dress I wore back in 2008 that’s been waiting to be refashioned ever since.

Looking at my me-made items, I’m more considered in what I sew than in what I buy. I decided to let the following things go:

  1. The pink dress I made for the #sewtallandcreative challenge in 2017. I like it, but there are other dresses I like better that I reach for in the summer, so this one hasn’t been worn much.
  2. The first coat I ever made (pre-blog). The fabric is a gorgeous shocking pink boiled wool, but I knew nothing about interfacing or tailoring then, and very little about fitting, and IT SHOWS. My Rumana coat has finally made this one redundant, so I won’t keep it.
  3. This short-sleeved Astoria top in sweatshirting. It doesn’t get worn, because when it’s warm enough for short sleeves it’s too hot to wear a sweatshirt!
  4. My black halterneck 50s-style sundress, which I made in 2012 (pre-blog) but then altered to improve the fit. I think it’s had one outing since then, and the top needs boning to help it stay in place. I still love broderie anglaise (eyelet) in dark colours, so a similar fabric might crop up again.

My fabric stash was in better shape, following my stash diet the other year. I just got rid of one piece, an unidentified length of some kind of fluffy-backed fabric that I couldn’t work out what to do with.

Then I also have four things to alter – the pre-blog dress and unloved shirt I talked about before, and then two skirts that I’d like to change to a narrower A-line. I still love a fit-and-flare shape, but I’m noticing I prefer a narrower flare these days.

All that leaves me with some space in my wardrobe, and I can already see some huge gaps I’ll need to fill soon (any last-minute work meetings are going to require a trip to the shops to prevent me turning up naked!).

So I’m looking forward to the next part where I work out what I need to buy – and especially sew – to fill those gaps.


  1. Hello – Feels good to clear some stuff out, right?

    I’ll be doing my Quarterly closet adjustment this coming weekend. It’s not for everybody, but I love the ‘clothes capsule’ method. I’m able to have a limited amount of clothes that fit me and work well together, so I can quickly grab an outfit when getting dressed.

    I follow the blog method of having a CORE (year-round) wardrobe and adding to or subtracting from it seasonally.

    What are you going to do with the short sleeve Astoria sweatshirt? Just curious.

    🙂 Chris


    • Thanks Chris – I like the philosophy of this blog. And I’m always fascinated by the way some people can make a capsule wardrobe work, even though I know I could never do it myself. I donated the short-sleeved Astoria in the end (and kept my other one), but I’m wondering if I can be bothered to alter the neckline and try it again in a ponte… we’ll see!


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