Sick of all your clothes? How to detox your wardrobe and feel yourself again

Want to find new style and confidence? A wardrobe detox could be the answer to your fashion woes.

Choosing what to wear can often be a surprisingly disheartening experience. That’s because our wardrobe reflects how we feel about ourselves – and we might not like what we see.

The truth is, most of us wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. The rest of it just hangs there, year after year, an uninspiring combination of the ill-fitting, the panic purchases and the ‘wear one day’ items.

Assessing my own clothing, it would seem I’m stuck in something of a rut, with the focus firmly on comfort when it comes to my go-to choices. Practical, yes, but it all feels a little boring and lacklustre.

If it’s not dark, denim, cosy or elasticated, it’s something I’ve worn once, maybe twice.

And so, prompted by Kat Farmer’s new book, Get Changed: Finding The New You Through Fashion, I embark on the sartorial version of a spring clean.

Kat Farmer's recipe for wardrobe happiness works wonders (Picture:Getty)

Get Changed urges us to confront what we wear and why, re-evaluate who we want to be and manifest it through carefully selected items we look forward to wearing, whatever the occasion.

‘This is about taking things back to the beginning and being really honest that we’re all sitting there in pyjamas feeling like s*** and unsure where to start because it can seem really daunting,’ explains Kat, 49, who lives in Kent with her husband and three teenagers.

‘I want to debunk the myths that fashion is elitist or inaccessible, or that if you care about what you wear, you’re innately vain. Caring about what you wear is an intrinsic part of self-respect and self-confidence,’ adds Kat, whose Instagram account @doesmybumlook40 has a legion of followers who appreciate her no-nonsense tips.

Get Changed takes the format of a recipe book with chapters devoted to preparation, ingredients and method.

‘If you can’t cook, you find a recipe, buy the ingredients and follow the instructions, and it can be the same with your style,’ says Kat.

This isn’t about finding one outfit that will magically transform your life, it’s about understanding your relationship with what you wear – and acknowledging what’s amiss.

‘I can identify with that total lack of confidence and that loss of any belief in your sense of self-worth,’ says Kat, a former City high-flyer who felt she’d been ‘put out to pasture at the grand old age of 35’.

A psychiatrist informed her she was suffering from ‘loss of identity,’ which prompted her to focus on fashion, a lifelong passion, and a decade ago she started a business and blog aimed at the over-40s market.

Of course, people lose their sense of identity irrespective of age and that’s been particularly resonant in the pandemic.

‘People went into the pandemic one person and came out of it another,’ says Kat.

‘Priorities, job, shape and budget might have changed. All these elements can impact confidence, and that transforms into looking in your wardrobe and thinking you’ve got nothing to wear because it doesn’t feel like you. So start with asking yourself: who do I want to be? What’s my end goal?

‘Once you’ve done your prep and considered the necessary ingredients (colours, prints, accessories and the ‘pantry staples’ of any capsule wardrobe), you’re ready to start the wardrobe detox – trying everything on and analysing the merits of each item.

‘The best way to do it is to get everything out. It’s painful and it gets a lot worse before it gets better but it is cathartic. Once you’ve gone through everything, you can see what you need. It gives you a reason to go shopping, as well as focus, which means you make less mistakes,’ says Kat, who stresses this isn’t about buying more but buying less.

You’re not only creating a capsule wardrobe but also becoming a more responsible shopper.

‘This isn’t about buying a whole new wardrobe or spending lots of money, it’s about buying specific things you’ll wear for years and make you feel incredible.’

Kat’s recipe for fashion success

Preparation

  1. Acknowledge you want to change, you can change, and do it in baby steps
  2. Appreciate it’s OK to want to look great so you feel great
  3. Take inspiration from people whose style you admire
  4. Think of words that describe how you want to look and feel
  5. Dress for the lifestyle you have, not the lifestyle you want

Ingredients

  1. Make friends with neutrals and identify colours that make
    you happy
  2. Go with your gut instinct
  3. Remember it is OK to love black, but it should never be worn to hide behind
  4. Make a list of ‘pantry staples’ – the foundation of your wardrobe
  5. Elevate outfits with accessories, whether that’s a red lippy, hairstyle, earrings or shoes

Method

  1. Set aside time to detox your wardrobe, get everything out and try everything on
  2. Don’t throw anything away. Rehome items by swapping, selling or donating them
  3. Ensure everything in your wardrobe has a purpose
  4. When detoxing your wardrobe, or shopping, think ‘rule of three’: You must be able to think of three occasions when you will wear an item. This can’t simply be three days at work, out for dinner, on holiday etc
  5. You must be able to wear an item with three outfits you already own. If you can’t, let it go

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