1. Remove: Literally take everything out of your wardrobe and drawers (and wherever else you store clothes/accessories). Give the whole space a clean with a damp cloth so it’s free of dirt and dust. Throw in some scented sachets, bars of gorgeous-scented soap (to keep moths away and make everything smell lovely at the same time), and then place some drawer liners to protect your clothes and keep everything fresh.
2. Clear out: Start sorting through all the piles of stuff you’ve taken out (do this in sections to avoid getting overwhelmed). Sort everything into three categories: ‘definitely keep,’ ‘questionable,’ and ‘definitely get rid of’ (anything worn out beyond repair, too big/small, and anything unflattering that makes you feel miserable).
3. Organise: With the things you’re ‘definitelykeeping,’ check that everything is clean and in good condition, and then start putting them back in your wardrobe in the most organised way you can manage. This means grouping like with like, and storing things where you can find them. I stack all my shoeboxes at the bottom, sort hanging clothes by type and then by color, fold jeans, put sweaters on shelves, and keep everything else in drawers. Buy good hangers to protect your clothes (padded hangers for silk or wool items, wooden or slim plastic hangers — never wire — for everything else).
4. Declutter: Start sorting the two remaining piles (‘questionable’ and ‘get rid of’). Go through the ‘questionable’ pile piece by piece and ask yourself: Do you actually love it? Do you wear it? (If you love it but don’t wear it, start now!) Does it honestly still fit your style/lifestyle/body? Do you feel great when you put it on? If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these, move it to the ‘get rid of’ pile. Sometimes it feels great to be ruthless (call in an honest friend for help if you have trouble letting go!). If anything needs to be repaired or cleaned, do it that week. Add whatever makes the cut back into your (now) organised wardrobe.
5. Purge: With the last pile, either sell or donate anything still in good condition to a charity or a friend that you know will appreciate it. Toss or recycle anything that is worn out (no one wants your holey t-shirt, no matter how much you loved it). Again, do this the same week so the piles don’t lurk in your house.
6. Maintain: You’ve got everything in order, so try your best to keep it that way (it takes the stress out of getting dressed each day). Only put things back in your wardrobe if they are clean, in good condition, and make you feel great. If you’re short on space, store clean, out-of-season clothes in airtight tubs or suitcases until you need them again.