Wardrobe management. What to keep and what to let go

Wardrobe management. What to keep and what to let go.

Wardrobe management. What to keep and what to let go.

I was recently asked this question by a reader. She seemed to be having difficulty in letting go of certain items in her wardrobe. I know the feeling I have difficulty in divesting myself of some of my good quality classic pieces. Despite the fact that they have served me well and on the cost per wear ratio have earned their keep.

I have had a good think on this conundrum over the holiday period. As I spent that time in our apartment in the South of France this was a good place to start. I keep a small collection of basic essentials down here. Such as my tried and tested black and navy trousers for autumn/winter plus a few tops and sweater. My linens are packed away and ready for the summer season. I do tend to bring down pieces from London when I have become a bit bored of them. Somehow they seem to look fresher after a separation. This is a trick you can try out at home if you have the space. Perhaps it just a question of boredom and the piece still fits, is in good condition and suits you. Packing items away for a few months might just give you a new perspective.

My small wardrobe space was beginning to look overcrowded. So I had a good clear out.

First to go where a couple of pairs of jeans. Jeans are strange. Certain styles seem to go on forever whilst others just look wrong when you try them on. I think it is in the subtle detail. Slightly too low on the waist, too wide or narrow and they can create the impression that we are out of touch. Not good when you are older.  Those ones need to go.

Next were sweaters. Over the last couple of years I have experienced this strange phenomenon. My sweaters no longer fit.  They are the wrong shape, too clingy round the middle. Not flattering especially when they reveal that tell-tale roll round our middles! How this has happened I can’t imagine as they used to look great. Several have been given to my petit half Japanese daughter-in-law.

Jackets can do the reverse and look too big and bulky. Perhaps it is the shoulders or just the general wider squarer cut of yesteryear. This is another mystery to me as I like the new oversize trend for coats. I bought a cocoon coat from Jaeger this winter and love it. It layers beautifully over thick woolies.

There are no specific rules about this. I don’t favour rules on this blog. I would say the criteria for me is when I put a garment on do I love it, do I feel good in it. I have become much stricter with myself on this criteria. I reckon life is too short to wear something you do not feel happy in. The next consideration would be comfort. Gone are the days when I would have sacrificed comfort for fashionable. I am no longer prepared to hobble around in high heels or kid myself that I can wear a size smaller than I actually am. Whoever sees a label anyway.

Colour and texture are also important aspects. As we get older our hair and skin colouring tends to fade. So the colours that may have suited us in the past no longer do us any favours. We can often overlook this aspect and continue wearing colours that are no longer our best. Check this by standing in front of a well lit mirror and holding a colour just under your chin. Does it shed a flattering light onto your face or does it make you look washed out?

Texture can also me challenging as we age. If you have any bulky items that make you look larger than you are. Best they should go. Lighter more fluid fabrics are kinder on the curves.


Trousers – should be well cut, flattering and in good quality fabric. Baggy and saggy are not acceptable.

Outerwear – If you want longevity for a coat or jacket put a good proportion of your budget here.

Dresses –  You can be a bit more daring with with style and  colour. A dress should drape well and flatter the figure

If you have any questions or advice on this subject leave a comment or email me at chicatanyage(at)iCloud.com. 


Classic trousers and jackets

Knitwear that is designed to flatter


Sketch by Dee


  1. 2nd February 2017 / 12:30

    I find I go through phases. Some summers I’m in nothing but dresses. Others, I prefer capris day after day. So putting things away is a good strategy–it feels fresh later.

  2. 2nd February 2017 / 13:36

    It is certainly a strategy that works well for me.

  3. Christine
    2nd February 2017 / 17:01

    You have raised some excellent points here that really help me. So many people will tell you the same old stuff ie get rid of things that don’t fit etc but you have gone beyond that in my opinion. Really helpful. I totally agree on putting stuff away for a bit and don’t hold with the idea if you haven’t worn it for a year then get rid of it. Classic clothes can go on for years but you have to be aware that even these become dated in time.

    • 3rd February 2017 / 09:33

      Hi Christine

      I have quite a few classics that are at least 15 years old and still in good condition. A few are heading for ebay as somebody else might love them.

  4. Sue Lewellen
    2nd February 2017 / 20:57

    I like to blame high humidity for the apparent shrinkage of my clothes while hanging in the closet. (However, I live in a virtual desert here in west Texas!) It couldn’t be the chips I am eating while watching TV! I usually clear the closet when the seasons change. I reserve a closet in the spare bedroom to hang out-of-season clothes. I guess with Spring coming soon, I will have to face the disappointment of “high humidity” again!

    • 3rd February 2017 / 09:27

      Hi Sue

      That is the best reason I have heard yet for magically shrinking clothes. As there is lots of humidity in France I will definitely be using that excuse!

  5. Viv Butler
    2nd February 2017 / 21:05

    I followed your advice a few posts ago and parted with some of my fitted cashmere sweaters that had become rather ‘snug’, rather a wrench but made perfect sense, the replacements are so much more flattering, and who minds ‘having’ to buy a few new pieces ! Very good advice again Josephine, thank you.

    • 3rd February 2017 / 09:19

      Hi Viv
      I am also finding my new style sweaters much more flattering.

  6. Angela Barlow
    2nd February 2017 / 21:33

    Haha, I have had the reverse problem. I cleared out clothes that were too snug and bought more flattering replacements; only to finally get my act together and eat more sensibly. Result being I have lost 10kgs over several months and my ‘new’ clothes now swamp me! However, the benefit has been that I am now keeping a smaller wardrobe so that any future fluctuations won’t be as costly.

    • 3rd February 2017 / 09:13

      Hi Angela
      I had a similar problem with my trousers. Most of them seem to be loose on the waist. I have taken the good ones to my alteration lady. I find it makes all the difference to have clothes that fit well. Having said that I am wearing many of my sweaters as size larger these days as I find they hand better. I have narrow shoulders so sometimes add a small shoulder pad to give them more shape.

  7. Elaine Persona
    3rd February 2017 / 04:28

    I spent two days earlier this week clearing out an overcrowded wardrobe. Before I started I decided that I would approach the task with the mindset of what I might realistically wear in the future rather than hoping there’d be an occasion that I might wear something again or would ever fit into again! I tried to keep my age (62) in mind and tossed out anything that hinted at dated or frumpy. This is something we should all guard against! Four bin bags later I can now find what I need and feel as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders – emotionally and physically. It feels so good that I might tackle the same cupboard again in a few weeks with renewed ruthlessness. Luck and love to you all.

    • 3rd February 2017 / 09:06

      Hi Elaine
      You are truly an inspiration to us all. I too had a feeling of a weight being lifted off my shoulders when I cleared out my wardrobe in France. I felt lighter.

  8. Wendy in York
    3rd February 2017 / 07:39

    I like your advice . I’m happy to send things to Oxfam but I have had some items for many years . They are better quality than I can find now & often a little ‘ different ‘ . I have a fitted wardrobe in the loft & enjoy picking out a few things now & again to give them another go . It doesn’t always work but it’s great when it does .

    • 3rd February 2017 / 09:08

      Hi Wendy
      You are lucky to have an extra wardrobe. I use our garage as storage but I need to bag up carefully and protect against moths.

  9. Linda
    3rd February 2017 / 19:43

    It really is a great idea to clean out the closet of clothes that you may love, but no longer work on your body! plus, when I look in my closet and get frustrated because I have so many things that – a. don’t fit, b. don’t fit well anymore, and c. never really suited me but I bought them on sale! it is very rewarding to just get rid of things that you do not wear anymore. It is very freeing.

  10. MaureenC
    4th February 2017 / 09:16

    I’ve always been pretty disciplined about this and in fact I’ve really enjoyed periods when a change of lifestyle (moving out of full time corporate type work) has meant a shift in wardrobe needs. I’m still I this phase two years on but starting to feel happy with my new “uniform”. I’ve given all my more business clothes to a young family member who like many women with young children can’t afford to dress for her job and the rest go to a local charity shop. They send a quarterly email saying how much has been raised by the sales.
    Now if only other areas of my life were as organised as my wardrobe- like the rest of the house for instance…..

    • 4th February 2017 / 14:52

      Good for you Maureen. You seem to be well organised. I too give quite a lot of my not wanted clothes to the local save the children charity shop. Great idea they send you the figures for how much raised. A good incentive.

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