It took me 7 hours to reorganise everything this time (with a couple of tea/Kardashians breaks) but it definitely has its advantages (like a free bundle of "new" outfits to unwrap every 6 months - you will be much more excited by that summer dress next year if you haven't had to flick past it to get to your snuggliest jumper every other day from November to April, trust me), so I thought I'd share a few tips for those of you who need to claw back some space, or just don't care to be reminded of your tropical holiday-wear when it gets dark at 4pm and your car's stuck in the snow.
I also wanted to share a few solutions for storing jewellery and accessories (which still allow you easy everyday access), that have saved my life, or at least my sanity.
Part 1: How to keep your jewellery, bags, belts, hats and scarves under control, beautifully
What to Do When Overrun with Bags, Belts and Jewels...
or Help! I Can't See My Carpet for Clutches, and My Jewellery is Just a Giant Knot!
Sound familiar? Oh yes, I lived like this for years, and I think it took a few days to finally unpick the jewellery! Everyone knows the old "clear stacking boxes with Polaroid labels" trick for shoes, but I wanted to share a few tips and tricks which I've personally found far more useful...
Bags, Belts, Hats and Scarves
Towel hooks - those ones that slot over your bathroom door - stick them on your wardrobe instead. I got mine from Argos for less than a tenner each - have a look around - basic chrome is always elegant, but there are plenty of other styles which might better fit your personal taste (although, if you're anything like me, you won't be able to see much of them anyway!). If you want to use them for belts, try and find some with horizontal slats which will allow you to slide your belts over and around them (if there's enough space between the hooks) as well as over the hooks themselves.
Best for Statement Necklaces and Overall Storage
If you are a serious magpie, the beautiful but functional Swag Bag should be your first stop - I have the maximum size (of course) but you can buy whichever best suits your collection - you can read more about them and order here, but they hook over any door, roll up for travel, and have lots of little velcro tabs for easy attachment and release of necklaces, bracelets etc, as well as a pop-on-and-off bar for rings, bangles, hairbands etc, and pockets to keep little treasures safe, made from mesh - from which you can hang earrings! There are also plenty of surfaces onto which you can clip brooches and hair accessories. And they ship to anywhere in the world...
Best for Earrings
I use a plastic folding screen covered in little holes to display my earrings, bought very cheaply on eBay and so good for allowing you to see at a glance which pair will go best with your outfit. You can also buy beautifully ornate metal versions, such as this one.
Best for Bangles
Another eBay find - this kind of velvet bangle holder is most commonly used by jewellers and watchmakers, but why shouldn't the paying customer make use of them too? So elegant, and so much more space-economical than letting your arm swag spill all over your dressing table.
Best for Show Offs
The primary purpose of the jewellery tree is decoration, rather than utility, but it still packs a fair storage punch and beautifies your personal space like nothing else - mannequins (in a myriad of styles and outfits) are widely available, but delve a bit and see what else you can find - I love this masque version. They make gorgeous gifts.
Ring lovers can perch a few on the branches of their trees, but a ring hand makes a truly glamorous statement, as well as a dedicated storage unit - this one was a present.
And finally to the classic jewellery box - if I could, all my furniture would be mirrored and art deco style - I mainly use these drawers to store boxed items, as I like to keep most of my costume jewellery on display so that I'm constantly reminded I have it, and to stop it becoming tangled, but they sure look purdy... you could use them to store less pretty but essential trifles instead - rubber bands, spare buttons, safety pins... who's to know eh? These are from M&S - who always bring out a gorgeous selection of jewellery boxes at this time of year - just wandering around the gift section brings a sense of all being right with the world.
The Seasonal Switchover: Keep or Stash?
OK, time to take off the cocktail rings and roll up those embellished sleeves... The degree of ruthlessness required here is primarily determined by spatial constraints - my three or four Santa-sized vacuum sacks and two 20 litre boxes of shoes, hats and bags actually make up far less than half of my overall haul - if you're a fashion blogger/obsessive, you'll already know how many items you can take from season to season and layer up for different effects - it's half the fun of getting dressed, right? So...
Keep Within Easy Reach...
- Trans-seasonal staples - shirts, T-shirts, skinny jeans, midi skirts etc etc
- Anything you have a hankering to layer up with tights, boots, knits, long-sleeved tees, roll-necks etc - some playsuits and minidresses will work brilliantly, depending on colour, print, style and fabric
- Dark/rich toned floral garments
- Shorts, miniskirts and cropped trousers in tailored or heavier fabrics, like wool or leather, and/or dark/rich/monochrome shades
- Maxi and mixi skirts and dresses - perfect for chanelling the gothic and Edwardian vibes, or layering with boots and knits for a boho daytime look
- Crop tops in dark/rich tones to pair with high-waisted separates, and embellished sheer versions (like the ones in this post, still available in Primark) in all shades for Great Gatsby-style layering
- Anything which is likely to become a horrible mess and require hideous amounts of iron-love after being folded for 6 months - I always leave out my pleated skirts just in case, along with anything which I know creases terribly
- When switching to summer, a couple of emergency jumpers and warm jackets!
Stash 'til Next Season...
- Overly-summery florals - florals are huge this winter, but I tend to prefer a darker background and perhaps a slightly more oriental feel to a tropical/ditzy print on a white or pastel base for AW
- Overly-summery crop tops - again, you can certainly take a studded bralet right through this season and out the other side, but you might not be sporting your highlighter pink mini vest to your Christmas party
- Pastels, whites and brights that it would just feel wrong to wear in winter - don't get me wrong - I love winter white, and plan to try teaming a white chiffon blouse and skinnies with tough black boots this season, but my broderie anglaise is not seeing the light of day until next spring. Likewise, my bright orange, scarlet red and neon yellow skirts are staying firmly put, as would a Chanel-style pastel boucle suit, if I had one, but I can't imagine wearing lemon jeans again until at least March - N.B. - White flares are only acceptable in temperatures over 15C
- Pedal pusher-style capri pants - a flash of patterned knee-high peeking out from under the hem of a peg leg trew is elegant and sexy, but a whole calf-full?
- Excessive nauticalia - personally, I've retained my black and white striped garb, but stashed anything navy and white - otherwise it would ruin the excitement of reclaiming sailor chic each and every March!
- Anything which you've worn so much that the sight of it currently bores you to tears - after 6 months of enforced separation, you'll probably be ready to welcome it back into your life with open arms!
You Will Need...
- Storage containers: I use clear boxes on wheels for my shoes and accessories so I can see at a glance what's inside - if you intend to keep them under your bed, measure the space available first and make sure they'll fit before you buy them - include an extra couple of centimetres for the wheels (I didn't - so they have to live at the bottom of a wardrobe, hence defeating the purpose of the wheels)! Vacuum packing sounds like a fantastic idea for clothes, and it looked foolproof on QVC, but the bags I got (from Play.com, last year) are not airtight when the valve is closed, so all the evacuated air seeps back in within seconds, and I just use them as standard storage sacks! So if your heart is set on vacuum packing, pick a well-reviewed product!
- Motivating tunes on your headphones - I was clever/fortunate enough to pick the day Robbie Williams' new album came out, and also finally got around to downloading the "new" Garbage album during my first break (6 months after its release).
- Remove all unseasonal fare from wardrobe(s) and drawers, carefully fold and arrange in chosen storage containers. Stash.
- Re-organise remaining clothes and accessories in a pleasing manner - it really is the best way to stay aware of what you actually own if you have a lot of clothes, making it far easier to choose what to wear, find what you're looking for and prevent the purchase of near-duplicates! This season, I have "one-piece" (dresses, playsuits and jumpsuits), "tops and light cover-ups", "bottoms", "jackets and coats" and "evening" wardrobes, with pieces arranged first by garment type, then length, and finally colour!
- If you've done this before and already have a stash of new-season-appropriate clothes ready to replace the emigrants, fit them into the appropriate places within your new scheme, but take a good look at each piece first, as you may well see it with new eyes after its absence - have you instantaneously conjured up an ingenious new ensemble to centre around it? Or do you really need to let it go now, since it's looking more than a little bobbly after 5 years of loyal service, and that stain is never going to come out?
- Reward yourself with wine/chocolate/Gossip Girl/sleep.