Now that we’re unlocking and getting back to normal, it would be natural to look at your wardrobe and long to make a few changes. Wine-stained joggers out, fresh sneakers and floral dresses in…but is there a way to declutter responsibly? Can we even make money from it? And how can we make our wardrobes work harder for us?
I spoke to Lizzie Grant, founder of Declutter on Demand, to find out how to streamline your clothes in a sustainable and even lucrative way. PLUS – I offer some extra tips on how to be a style icon on a budget…
Iona Bain: Lizzie, thanks to speaking to Young Money Blog! Firstly, how do you know when to keep clothes and when to get rid? And how can you dispose of clothes you don’t want in a responsible (or even lucrative way?)
Lizzie Grant, Founder of Declutter on Demand (www.declutterondemand.com): The main criteria to run through when deciding what to do with your unwanted clothes are:
- Is it clean and in good condition i.e. no stains or tears? If the answer is yes, donate. If the answer is no, recycle instead.
- Is it stained, worn, ripped or does it have holes? If yes, then recycle this item.
- Is it washed, ironed, in good condition and desirable?
- Is it worth your time selling it? Be realistic about why you want to sell and how much time you have. A quick look online will show you what comparable items are selling for.
- If your answer is yes to both of the above, then try selling! You can always donate items if they don’t sell.
IB: Why do people struggle to let go of clothes? How come we form such an attachment to them, even when they don’t fit, or we don’t wear them anymore?
LG: There are a number of reasons we hold on to clothes even though they don’t fit, or we won’t wear them anymore – the three main ones are:
- Memories / identity – when we buy clothing it becomes part of our identity and we form emotional attachments, often memories, associated with certain pieces. We may worry that if we let go of certain items of clothing that we will lose those memories or that part of our identity. This is not the case, but this mindset can still hold us back. Taking photos of sentimental items can help us to let go of the physical object and retain the memory.
- Aspirations – sometimes a piece of clothing is an example of what we would like ourselves to be or our lifestyles to be, even if that isn’t the case. For example, clothing that is too small and realistically we will not fit back into or clothing that we’ll never have the occasion to wear because we don’t get invited to the Oscars! Being realistic about what we actually love wearing will make choosing outfits from our wardrobe a more enjoyable experience.
- Guilt – if we spend a lot of money on a piece of clothing, we feel guilty about having wasted money if we then don’t wear it. We let these pieces sit in our wardrobe, taking up valuable space and giving us a guilt trip every time we see them! A better decision would be to accept we all make mistakes and pass it on to a better home whether by donating or selling it. Guilt also applies with gifts of clothing. You may not like or wear the item you have been gifted but you feel guilty getting rid of it because a loved one gave it to you, and it feels ungrateful to let go of it. Remember that they gave it to you as expression of friendship or love rather than expecting you to wear it – it is now under your ownership and you get to decide what you want in your wardrobe. Again donating or selling can make you feel better about letting go of that piece of clothing.
IB: For items you’ve decided to keep, what kind of wardrobe items would you invest in to organise your clothes better?
LG: Firstly, drawer dividers – use the vertical folding method to store your clothes in drawers and in drawer dividers on shelves to be able to grab an item and not disturb the rest. Use drawer dividers to organise similar items together so you can easily find what you’re looking for.
Uniform hangers make all the difference in making your wardrobe better organised. We love wooden hangers which are more easily recyclable at the end of their long shelf-life and mean you can’t cram your wardrobe so full so that clothes crease. However, if you lack space then velvet skinny hangers are helpful and are great for keeping silkier items from falling off hangers. Use skirt hangers for shorts, skirts, jeans – these are particularly useful if you lack drawer space.
Finally, if you are short on space swap out your wardrobe twice a year and store out of season clothes in reusable vacuum bags. You will need a vacuum to suck out the air, but this protects your clothes from damp, moths and dust and saves a huge amount of space in your wardrobe. Store these bags at the top of wardrobes, under or inside beds or under sofas.
Selling clothes online
IB: Which sites are best for low-value clothes in good condition?
LG: The best sites for selling low-value clothes are those sites which don’t have fees for selling items such as Vinted, Facebook Marketplace, or Next Door. Selling locally also means you can specify that buyers will need to collect, saving on postage costs as well.
IB: Do you have any good tips for organising our clothes while you’re selling them?
LG: Create a ‘To Sell’ area in your home where you can gather your items in boxes or bags. You may want to dedicate a small section of your wardrobe or the back of the door for items which need to be ironed so that they stay in good condition for your buyers.
If you are selling a lot of clothes, organise them in piles separating by category e.g. T-shirts, jumpers etc. so you can quickly and easily find the item which has been bought.
Finally, pre-buy packing envelopes and store these with a pair of scales near to your selling items (if you are selling online) so you can package and print your postage labels quickly and easily.
IB: How do you know what prices to set for your clothes? How can you get good pictures?
LG: Be realistic about pricing – do your research and do a quick search to see what similar items are selling for online. Just because you bought an item for £50, doesn’t mean you’ll get that when you resell it. In many cases, people aren’t prepared to pay as much for something second-hand as they would brand new from a shop, so bear this in mind with pricing. It is easy to change your price so you can always reduce the price if it is getting likes online but is not selling.
When photographing your items, you should:
- Find a spot with natural daylight (it helps if it is a sunny day!)
- Use the best quality camera you can and take clear, un-blurry images.
- Think about your background – you can be as imaginative as you like but make sure that your item stands out and reflects its true colour.
- Help the buyer envision themselves wearing the items by modelling the item yourself.
- Wash and iron garments before photographing them for sale and tackle stains and small repairs which can boost items’ value.
IB: Depop is huge at the moment, and it’s a favourite of mine, so do you have any tips on how to make your clothes sell quicker on that particularly platform?
LG: List regularly – if you have a lot of items to list on Depop, drip feed them and post over several days, not all at once. Take great photographs to make your clothes visually appealing. Think of this as Instagram for your clothes!
Make sure you write accurate descriptions – include the size, dimensions and fabric details from the label. Study clothes for flaws and include these in the description, so buyers know exactly what to expect. You can include hashtags as well – the search function on Depop is good but this can strengthen engagement.
If you have a particular niche e.g. vintage or large quantities of items such as trainers then you can give your page a theme and attract loyal customers. Jumping on seasonal-wear or a trend can also help sell items quicker.
Also, just in the same way that you would engage with users on social media, do the same on Depop – like, comment and follow others and engage with the community as this will help raise awareness of your page.
Finally, great reviews are key to selling and the way to get these is to be honest and respond quickly to messages from potential buyers. Don’t try to sell anything which is too worn out and don’t sell anything that is dirty. A hand-written post-it note is also a nice touch in your package to say thanks to your buyer and a great way to get a 5 star review!
|REFORM YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FASHION – by Iona Bain
Did you know that making just ONE new white T-shirt involves wasting 2,700 litres of water? That’s just one stat that illustrates the harm done by the production of new clothes.
It’s on ALL of us to think about our environmental impact as consumers and ask: how can we do our bit? Re-evaluating our relationship with fashion will not only buff up our eco-credentials but free up our finances too. Research by the sustainable label LABFRESH has found the average Brit spends nearly £1000 a year on clothes, yet we’re the 4th biggest textile waste culprit in Europe. We’re just not getting enough bang for our buck, and our poor ol’ planet suffers for it.
As we come out of lockdown, resolve to do things differently. Look at your fashion habits. What impact are they having on you, your clutter, your finances, the environment, your stress levels? Is it necessary to buy something new every week or month? What do you need clothes for?
Understand your basic clothing needs – work, college, casual, going out and special occasions are the 5 broad groups that apply to most people. Then look at what you already own. Are you buying too much of one thing? How versatile are your clothes? Can you put together items in different ways for different purposes? Shop in your own wardrobe more and get to know what you really need. That way, you’ll buy fewer items of better quality that you’ll wear more. Win-win!
Finally, always ask when shopping: do I already own something like this? How often will I wear it? If you feel your desire swamping your sensible gut instinct, get off your phone/laptop and do something else. Give yourself 24 hours to think about it. Only buy if you’re really sure it’s a good purchase.
ONLINE SELF-CARE CHECKLIST