How to do a Wardrobe Audit

Hey Skint pals,

With summer officially here, and baby Skint born, I’m finding that there’s hardly anything in my wardrobe that I want to wear. Either it’s now too big (oh joy!!!!), too wintery, or I’m just plain sick of the sight of it. It’s time for a wardrobe crackdown  – every skint girl needs one at least a couple of times a year. 

how to do a wardrobe audit

When wardrobes get messy they get hungry too, don't you know?

Research has shown that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. You know how it is: you like a few key items, they work for you, and they’re always at the front of your wardrobe: they’re your fashion no-brainers. Then one day you wake up and discover that you can’t bear to look at them for another minute. Still though, you can’t think of anything else to wear. That’s the danger point: the trigger that catapults you towards the shops. Hang on though! Before throwing money at the problem, skint girls take time to assess their wardrobes. A thorough wardrobe overhaul now might well help you to avoid an overdraft at the end of the month, so before spending an afternoon on the high street, arm yourself with binbags and get to work. Of course, the thought of tackling our wardrobes is way less appealing than a shopping spree, but once you get started it can be great fun. Here’s how it works for me:

The method: all of the clothes come out of the wardrobe and onto the bed. Then one by one, they’re separated into three piles: keep, fix or ditch.

Keepers: The keepers should either be clothes you really love or ones you wear a lot because they work for your lifestyle. Put them all into one big pile for sorting later.

Fixers: All garments that need mended should be put in a bag to be dealt with soon. Fixers include any clothes that you like but don’t wear because they’re missing a button or the zip is broken or because they need dry-cleaned. These clothes are like money in the bank. If you’re anything like me you’ll be amazed at the number of perfectly good items of clothing that have been out-of-bounds for months, just because they need a tiny repair. These items probably have a combined value of at least several hundreds pounds – don’t let them rot in your wardrobe a minute longer. Into the mending bag they go, but DO NOT FORGET about them again. It’s easy to do: they’ve been out of sight for months and you’ve kind of got used to life without them. Plus, it’s a bit of a hassle to get that skirt cleaned. Well, not as much hassle or expense as hunting round town for a new one. Make a little rule for yourself: no new clothes till you’ve fixed what you’ve got.

Ditchers: This pile is tricky. Don’t be too hasty to ditch clothes: before you do, think about why you haven’t worn a garment and how it might be transformed. Unloved or unworn clothes can present an opportunity for the skint girl to get creative. If, for example, you sew some new buttons onto that cardigan, some fabulous unusual ones, how would that transform it? Similarly if you’re considering ditching something you once loved, see if there’s any way that you can revitalise it. Can you let down the hem on a skirt to make the length a bit more now? And if that trench coat is just too boring, how would it look if you trimmed the belt, collar and cuffs with contrasting ribbon? With a good sewing kit and a bit of imagination you can breathe new life into a whole array of flagging duds.

Many will tell you that the cut-off date for unworn clothes is a year and that if you haven’t worn something in the last twelve months you should sling it, but I can think of several items in my wardrobe that spent several years in the wilderness before being revived. Sometimes that was down to what was in or out of fashion, at other times due to a change in my shape. With items that I haven’t worn in a while but can imagine myself possibly wearing in the future, I prefer to store them. Buy some vacuum bags, pack the clothes flat after cleaning, and put them under the bed, or in the loft if you’re lucky enough to have one. Then, next time you have a wardrobe clearout, pull out the bag and see if there’s anything you fancy now. If after five or six clearouts there are still items that haven’t made it out of the vacuum bag, you might want to let them go, either to the charity shop or for sale on eBay. Those maternity clothes of mine? Oh, they’re burning baby. I’ll be building a big fire and laughing as they shoot up in flames – being pregnant was not my greatest fashion moment.  

carrie bradshaw closet

Ta-dah! See? All it needs is a tidy-up and your wardrobe will be looking just like Carrie Bradshaw's. Who knew it would be so easy?


As you sort your clothes, keep a pad and pen handy to jot down where the gaps are in your wardrobe. Do you have dresses that you’re not wearing because you don’t have the right shoes to go with them? When making a shopping list focus on the basics, on neutral colours that will pull together looks and go with everything. These might include handbags and shoes in black, brown or nude, white shirts, black trousers and trench coats. And keep your ten key pieces in mind too. Going shopping with a list will focus your mind and dissuade you from making random purchases. 

And when you’ve got your list and you know where the gaps are you can start on the shopping, safe in the knowledge that you’ve earned it!

Do you have any tips for making the most of your wardrobes? I’d love to know!

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About Skint in the City

Skint in the City provides stylish, practical tips and advice on how to live the high life on a shoestring budget.

6 thoughts on “How to do a Wardrobe Audit

  1. What a great article – I just did a blog post on how the holidays are the perfect time to to go through your workwear wardrobe, and when I went looking for an amusing photo to Pin my post to Pinterest with (I didn’t include one in my post), I found your wardrobe diving pic and also this article. More detailed than mine, but nice to see we have the same ideas. I used the pic on Pinterest, but included a link to this article and said how good it was – hope you don’t mind! Belinda

    • Aww. You’re very welcome Belinda. And thanks for the link and the kind words! Will check out your site – best of luck with it!

  2. This is a fantastic article!! I am writing a blog on simplifying my life and doing more with less (as in spending) and would love to link to this. Please check me out and let me know if you are ok with me linking. Thanks!

  3. Ellie

    Finally someone who doesn’t get rid of clothes based on a calendar! I like keeping some garments that fit well even if I rarely wear them. There are always times I want to wear something no one has seen and if it’s been long enough, I’m sure no one will remember the piece of clothing.

    • Hi Ellie, yep, I’m with you. A great piece of clothing s great no matter the season! I’ve often worn summer dresses in winter with a long-sleeved top underneath, tights and boots. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

  4. […] How to do a Wardrobe Audit @ Skint In The City […]

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