Monday 15 November 2010

Vix's Rules of Wardrobe Maintenance

Great-Great Grandmama's mourning jacket on display in the spare bedroom

Tralala commented a couple of days ago: 
"Vix, can you do a feature on managing a wardrobe? You see lots of advice out there but more aimed at a 'normal' volume wardrobe - not a vintage/charity-shopped one :) Are you secretly ruthless as to what you keep? Do tell!"

So here's my tips for not allowing my HUGE clothing collection get out of hand:

One in, One out.
I can only introduce a new item to my wardrobe if I take something out first. It doesn't have to be like for like, perhaps I'll swap a vintage dress for a charity-shopped pair of 1960's boots but something has to go to make room for the latest addition.

Hat storage

There's no room for something in my life if it doesn't make me feel fabulous.
If I wear a garment and don't get complimented, if it's uncomfortable or generally awkward to wear, then it's a waste of wardrobe space. I make sure the rejected item is immediately listed on eBay or given away, because if it's left to hang around it'll end up back in the wardrobe. 
There's no room for ugly, frumpy or unflattering clothes in my life.

My wardrobe is relevant. 
There's nothing in my wardrobe that I can't wear right now.
At the end of the summer I take out the strappy dresses, sun tops and silk harems, launder them and pack them along with a lavender bag in a vintage suitcase. I put away summery accessories (flip flops, bikinis, shell necklaces and feather earrings, straw bags and sun hats).
Anything that needs repairing is put in the mending basket ready for a quiet night in. If it's left to hang in the wardrobe I'll forget about the fault and I'll be stitching the hem back up on a frock five minutes before I'm due to go out.

Make do and mend
Keep It Clean
Only laundered and crease-free clothing is allowed to hang in my wardrobe. I hate ironing at the best of times but if I have to do it at the last minute it's even more painful. My coat hangers are of the old-fashioned padded variety (bought from jumble sales, church sales and car boots), I can't get as much stuff into the wardrobe but what fits has enough hanging space not to crease.

Pretty padded hangers and one of my 1970's Avon bluebird pomanders, filled with fresh lavender they'll keep the moths at bay
Clothing Culls
Once every couple of months I take everything out of the wardrobe and inspect it carefully. If it's damaged, irreparable and tatty I'll salvage the zips, trims or buttons and it's then donated to the Salvation Army, clearly marked as "rags" on the bag. Even if it isn't shop-worthy many charities get paid per kilo for rags and therefore still benefit.

1950's ice skates on display in the guest bedroom

So What If I Never Wear it?
Wardrobe fascists tell people to get rid of stuff they don't wear, well I don't care. If I love it I'm keeping it, relevant, practical, useful or not. Vintage ice skates, Edwardian wedding dresses, Victorian mourning dress and antique ceremonial jackets aren't something I'd wear on a regular basis but rather than getting rid of them or allowing them take up valuable cupboard space I'll display my precious pieces around my house for visitors to admire and for me to dress up in occasionally.

Victorian ceremonial jacket on display in the dining room

Hope this answers your question. Tralala! I'd love to hear anyone else's tips, too.

My Great-Grandmother's wedding dress from 1908


  1. Fantastic tips! Sine you mentioned it before, I have also recently 'invested' in a mending box. There is nothing more annoying than deciding to wear something and then remembering it still needs rehemming. I shall save the rest of the tips for my new wardrobe, but 'one in one' out sounds like very sound advice

  2. What a fantastic insight into maintaining a closet. I am a devil for keeping clothes that really don’t have a purpose, and still have clothes waiting to be fixed/altered, I think I need to get my act together. I really do adore those padded coat hangers, so individual. Your closet is perfection Vix, and one to be proud of xx

  3. Words to live by,my darling!! Stupendous post.Bloody helpful too! I have similar methods,I work on the 1 in 1 out,but sometimes don't manage that,and my mending pile is massive!!! O,and the keeping it clean?!hahahahahaha......o dear!
    Great tips,I reckon there's a lot to be learnt from you!
    You are just a legend,Vix,my saucy minx!!!
    OVE! Helga xxxXXXxxx

  4. "Wardrobe fascists tell people to get rid of stuff they don't wear, well I don't care." I agree completely!
    So lovely to see both your great great grandmother's and great grandmother's garments! Wow! Love the mourning jacket and you look gorgeous in the wedding dress.
    I especially love this post! It's always so fascinating to get a glimpse not just into your wardrobe but I love seeing how other people manage their wardrobes too. I'm about to change over my summer to winter clothing and am going to heed your tip about packing the summer jewellery away too.
    I must say though I am extremely bad at keeping to the one in one out rule (which bf has always tried to hold me to without success!)

  5. One of my favourite posts <3<3! lovelovelove

    (sorry, can't type much. stupid laptop)

    x x x

  6. Hi my dear-what a fabulous and so inspirational post!! I do try the one in and one out adage and try to only buy and keep what I truly love too! You have some gorgeously sentimental pieces that look fantastic dotted around your house too! xx

  7. The hat cabinet turned out so well and your great grandmother's wedding dress is beautiful! It looks like it fits you perfectly too x

  8. You tips are good enough for anyone in any situation. So thanks a lot my dear friend.

  9. I agree with all of these, though I have MUCH less space to display things (a one bedroom flat) so I do tend to go with getting rid of stuff I don't wear so that someone else can. Except my mum's old clothes. I don't fit half of them, but I'm holding on to them anyway!

  10. Dear Vix,
    As you are one of a select number of people that have actually seen the shocking state my wardrobe cum floordrobe rooms you know that I live only by one of the rules you’ve listed i.e. the strict cleanliness one.
    I buy kilo bags of dry lavender from eBay & refill my DIYed organza pouches every three months.
    I meticulously clean everything I buy before it’s even allowed up the stairs & if I can’t wash it I freeze it…one compartment in the freezer is permanently occupied by a plethora of cloth & clobber, to kill off any little lurking nasties that may have hitched a ride back home from my vintage gathering travels.
    I know it sounds completely bonkers but I do think it works ;)
    I also rotate stuff once a month to get some of the hidden away/forgotten about garments out in to the open, as well as to check that all is well in ‘Vintage Wardrobia’ and to give all my two hundred & twelvety lavender pouches a good old squeeze.
    I have a shed load of garments that I am far too emotionally attached to, to ever part with, even if I’ll never ever wear them…it’s my prerogative to be a mad vintage dress collecting lady & if they were to send in one of those wardrobe fascists on a Feng Shui trip I will fight them to victory or death!
    As I frequently say to Mark, -“No, I’ve not got too much stuff…it’s the flat that’s too small”.
    I will have a shop one day…hopefully soon!
    Great post & I love your hat display cabinet, it looks ever so splendid!

  11. I agree that I won't wear anything frumpy, well okay I have a pair of walking boots, but that is just about the only frumpy thing I own and they only come out with the prospect of mud on a walk or snow on the ground!

    I also hate ironing. I give everything a good shake as it comes out of the washing machine, I never overfill it and I make sure I use the correct cotton/synthetic setting and to be honest I very rarely have to iron anything. x

  12. great tip about the padded hangers - I too hate ironing so will look for these ones for my closet..I love the vintage skates and the wedding dress. U look really dainty in it..

  13. You are so organized and have such practical tips. I have meaning to do a post on my Closet for a long time now but I am too lazy. Love this post!

  14. Another great post! I have been pondering a wardrobe make over and this might be just the thing to get my finger out!

    I am rooting for Shaun Ryder too - a mancunian ozzy osbourne if ever there was - funny a f*** - and we speak the same language too - fluent blue! lol

    Did you ever see Happy Mondays in Ghost Hunters - so funny I nearly bloody died! xx

  15. OOooohhh!!! Thank you SO much Vix :)

    I really can't be doing with the usual wardrobe rules at all and whilst one in one out is a great mantra - I don't tend to buy unless I really love something - so mine will have to be refine, refine, refine :) And I need to be stricter with the seasonal stuff - I try to keep summer going with lots of layers!

    Also - can I give a shout out for cedar wood balls or disks - the loose cedar balls can clatter around the bottom of your wardrobe or go in your boxes or cases even inside your shoes - and the disks - like a giant polo mint - go over your hangar hook. Natural moth deterrents and you can sprinkle them with your ess oil of choice! I get mine from the Betterware man or our local DIY shop has them in the household section.

    A repair evening is something I really need to start doing - I have quite a stack but once you start it's soon done - deffo a winter evening thing.

  16. Fantastic post Vix, absolutely brilliant and so informative! I'm going to have a big wardrobe cull soon, so will make sure I follow these rules! x

  17. I couldn't agree more! I am exactly the same with my wardrobe. As for the chuck what you don't wear, I agree with it except for special things like your skates and stuff, they are great for decoration and I just love looking at beautiful things. I love it when you post pics of your house it is like a treasure trove xx

  18. Well, I should be ironing at the very moment...

    I really like the idea of packing seasonal items away in luggage. And I pretty much follow the rule of one item in and one item out. (I limit the number of hangers!). It seems to me that it's important for clothing items to be able to "breathe." However, having clothing on display is a new thought...

  19. Sound advice Vix...I couldn't have said it better myself x

  20. WOW! I love your hat display stand!
    This is some great advice! I also only use padded hangers. I think I'll keep your one in, one out advice to mind. xxx

  21. Great idea, I've become a lot more organised with my wardrobe and space. As we have none. :) Ebay has a lot, and I have a basket with sewing jobs. I've got a lot more picky with clothes and only hoarde things with special memories or for my kids.


  22. Great post, I really like your idea of not keeping something if you don't get any compliments on it and it doesn't make you feel like a million dollars. xx

  23. Great advise! Must get padded hangers or make some to start with, that looks so nice. I agree with the comment about the wardrobe fascists. I save everything that makes me happy, wearable or not. Thanks for the nice comment on my work.

  24. Your great-grandmother's wedding dress is phenomenal! Where do you keep IT?

    Your tips and closet philosophy are practical and no-nonsense--COMMON SENSICAL really (which is kind of in short supply these days)!

  25. Great post Vix! I love your Great-Grandmothers wedding dress so much, its beautiful xxx

  26. Oh excellent post, I wondered what you did with all of that stuff, I had a Mary Poppins Tapestry Bag in my head that you just put endless fabulous outfits in and pulled them out as and when required! I would love a rummage round your house you have so many interesting bits and bobs you could charge an entrance fee!
    Kandi xo

  27. i adore this old old old wedding gown. it looks so romantic...

    thanks for your tips about managing a wardrobe. to be honest: one in, one out doesn't works in my wardrobe...
    ; )

  28. These are great tips Vix. I will be following these tips for my summer wardrobe. x

  29. I like the idea of having a fixing basket. I should do that as my stuff to fix always finds its way back into the wardrobe. I do actually need some new wardrobes too, and I love the way you display your hats. Hmm, I definitely need to take a leaf from your book. xx

  30. I'm going to pick up on the mending tip, I've lost count of the number of times I've got something out to wear only to find that it needs a repair, just need to earmark a basket now:)xxx

  31. I love your wardrobe tips. I've been trying to stick to the 'one in one out' policy, but i think in my case it needs to be more along the lines of 'one in three out'! x

  32. What a fab post Vix. I love how you only keep things that make you feel fabulous. What a simple but brilliant idea. Feel a wardrobe cull is needed. Just off to send you a wee email. x

  33. This is really very useful, thank you Vix! I bought a massive old suitcase for 99p on ebay recently and I've been meaning to take all my summer stuff out of my wardrobe to go in there. I do have some lovely old kilts (they were my mum's who was super skinny) I haven't been able to get into them since I was 10, but I love them all the same! :-)

  34. What fantastic advice! I can't watch those house clearance programmes as I get so angry. Just cos you haven't worn/read/used something for 18 months doesn't mean it automatically needs to go in the bin. I have lots of things that live in boxes and they're flipping well going to stay there. Anyone that tries to encourage me to get rid of stuff will get short shrift.

  35. Dear Vix, what an absolutely brilliant post! You are the expert! I am in awe as ever.

    I shall be following your tips.

    Great to see a glimpse of the spare room - it look wonderful. I love the way you've hung the pictures and the cabinet for the hats has come out a treat.

    Sorry we didn't get to catch up today I've been uploading a million pictures and Blogger has been doing odd things to the layout of my post, suddenly doing double spacing although it looks normal when I edit and all sorts of odd stuff. It's really annoying and so time consuming to keep re-doing bits of it.

    I'm off to Fee's late afternoon tomorrow - I'm life laundrying her house - it hasn't been done for ten years!! so it will be a mammoth job for both of us and God knows how long it'll take.

    I'd love to catch up very soon, Love C xx

  36. you house is how u display all your nanas treasures..thanks for helpful hints.

  37. that jacket is delicious, and how awesome that you still have your great-grandmother's wedding dress from 1908.:))

  38. Ah Vix, i wish i had your organizational skills !
    I keep stuff forever, and always end up wearing it (usually). I don't throw out the stuff i haven't worn in a year either. cause i know if i bought it, there was a "gut" reaction to it :)
    I have stuff from Jr. high on up til now.
    on occassion, i send a few bags to the charity gods, so that others can reap some good stuff too.
    selling off my vintage is going to be my real challenge in letting go......
    stuff can be overwhelming and holds me down, not to mention i have a hard time finding what i'm looking for in the clobber ;)
    you must come visit and help me purge someday :)

  39. That's exactly what my mom says to my dad when he buys books: Get rid the same amount as what you are bringing in. It never works though, my dad loves to collect.

    I wouldn't like to give away my clothes though, they are so wonderful :> Not that I even have many clothes, I only get new clothes once a year!

    Puffy dogs wiggling their tails,

  40. Ha, I do it EXACTLY your way, Vix. One in one out, I've got an extra wardrobe for all the things I do not currently wear, but I hold on to many clothes. a) for sentimental reasons and b) because at my age I KNOW that what goes around comes around, i.e. I might like it again in a few years time. Other things go to the charity shops to make space. And how lovely do you look in your great-grandmother's dress! xxx

  41. What a fab post, i'd absolutely love to have a rummage in your wardrobe, it would be every small girls dream! x

  42. Very helpful thanks! I use my hats as random decorations as I don't have space for hatboxes. I also have a pair of amazing shoes on the mantelpiece as they're better as a conversation starter than making me hobble around! Another page for your book Vix ; ) (I'm thinking about gathering blog tips together but it'd be a huge job!) xx

  43. This was fascinating and inspiring to read, and beautiful to behold. I, too, had wondered how you manage the volume of your vintage treasures, but the "one in, one out" policy explains a lot. I only wonder: will you someday reach a point where everything you've found is so great that you can't decide on a piece to remove?

    I would do mending a lot more often if I had a cozy fire like that to sit by! That's one of my few regrets about our old "character" home -- no fireplace, and I can't think of a place where we could have one installed in a useful fashion. Oh, I'd want a sewing box like yours, too. I hadn't realized that the sewing box you've mentioned was such a nice, well-stocked, freestanding chest.

  44. wow! I love this post, so many things I need to do from it!

  45. Oh vix, can i hire you as a wardrobe mistress?!
    I've been trying to sort mine out for months now, it's getting depressing. I get so sentimental over items, it pains me to get to rid of them.
    Having not had a proper purge in about 5 years, it's all gotten abit out of control (just see jem's floordrobe comment- Snap!) but i'm determined to make some sense of it by the end of this week.
    From now on i'll be using your 'one in one out' mantra so things don't get out of control ;)
    ps. i haven't been able to comment on calamity jem's blog for a few weeks now, it repeatedly sends me a mailer demion error. very strange!


Thanks for reading and for leaving a message. Please don't be anonymous, I'd love it if you left a name (or a nom de plume).

Lots of love, Vix