Social Distancing 101: Take This Time To Declutter And Redecorate Your Space

With additional reporting by Nicole Low

 

As we continue to try to flatten the curve on the Coronavirus pandemic, we are practising social-distancing and the recommended guidelines given by the World Health Organization. Now that we are suddenly faced with a whole lot of time in our homes, it’s a good time to consider sorting our spaces out. Because if there is one thing we at least have control over, it is our surroundings.

When it comes to our wardrobe, it’s best to face this daunting task with an intention in mind, other than to get organised. Here, we can take this opportunity to hone in on a consistent style or perhaps rework our everyday outfits with rediscovered loves. It’s also the ideal time to Marie Kondo what you have and REALLY utilise the beloved pieces in your closet.

Naturally, this isn’t easy to muster up the effort to begin and follow through. Alternatively, you can seek teh help of personal styling and decluttering services such as Sortorial. Founded by fashion writers and stylists, Dana Koh and Debby Kwong, Sortorial offers services ranging from personal shopping to wardrobe purges. We look to these two to pick their brains on some nifty tips and tricks to streamline our wardrobe this social-distancing season.

Here’s what we found out:

 
 
Where do I start?
 

The process of elimination always starts with two things: What doesn’t fit your body or your style anymore. We always have that “I’ll wear that some day” outfit but it’s time to let it go—and we’ll donate those pieces to people who will be grateful to slip into them instead. 

 
Are there any steps I can follow to organise my space more efficiently?
 

Our go-to steps are to first detox and declutter, then clean and organise, and finally, style up (if space allows). We always start with the area our client needs most help with. That can be their main wardrobe, their off-season outfits that need to be stored properly, or overflowing pairs of shoes, which we can build individual shoe boxes into a vertical shoe wall if they like.

 
For someone who is still experimenting with various styles, how can I embrace more minimalism and find my own signature style?
 

Closet wise, a little goes a long way. Switching all hangers to matching thin ones and sorting clothes by colour instantly gives wardrobes more streamlined appeal. Fabric bins and dividers, too, make a huge difference when everything has its allocated space. 

Style wise, zoom in on a palette of five colours, which should include neutrals (black, white, nudes) and one or two other favourite colours—you can expand on tones, like all shades of red (from blush to burgundy) for example. With this colour foundation, you can build looks with different cuts and silhouettes while effortlessly maintaining a cohesive aesthetic.  

 
 Are there any key pieces of clothing that I should have in my wardrobe?
 

Essentials are highly reflective of one’s lifestyle, but I’d say a set of well-fitted plain T-shirts that can be worn with high-waisted trousers or a pencil skirt for work, and a good pair of jeans for the weekend; a crisp white collared shirt; a go-to tailored blazer; a bold coloured cocktail dress that can be dressed down over a T-shirt or dressed up with a leather jacket; and a figure-flattering turtleneck for colder (or more formal) days. Sleek gold jewellery and a statement scarf that can be tied in a multitude of ways are easy add-ons to transform a look too. We’ve created similar capsule wardrobes with versatile mixed and matched looks for clients.

 
 
I can never decide which or what to let go of. What should I do?
 

So you have the “Keep” pile and the “Toss” pile, of which we help donate or recycle. For the few “Maybes” that you can’t bear to part with just yet, sure, give those a second chance by inserting them back into your wardrobes but with the hangers turned backwards. If those hangers remain in that “wrong” direction 4-5 months later, then you know you didn’t attempt to wear them at all and that it’s time to let go.

 
So are there any essentials I need to get my hands on to improve my wardrobe storage? Where are the best places to get them?
 

We love our sorting solutions. Our sortorial arsenal is always stocked with thin velvet hangers; S-type hangers for pants; large white baskets or fabric bins for compartments within closets; acid-free paper for stuffing and lining bags; vacuum bags to neatly put away off-season pieces like winter wear or gowns; and a host of collapsible boxes, from big fabric ones at the bottom of cupboards, to small foldable ones that build into stackable shoe boxes. We usually do online consultations first to find out if we need to bring anything else as well—like makeup organisers and dehumidifiers.

Don’t miss out on your neighbourhood home fix-type stores! They have some great options readily available, ranging widely from storage bins to thin hangers. 

And get creative! For an eco-friendly alternative, use a 3-tier tray that you would use for kueh-kuehs as a display for nail polishes, clear acrylic trays for house skincare, and stainless steel wire grids which work just as well to hang sunglasses and chunky necklaces. 

 
My partner and I are sharing the same closet and it is so cramped and messy! Any advice?
 

Indeed, not all is fair in love and wardrobes! Re-organising shared closets is quite a popular request, with clients engaging us to sort out their spouse’s closets often to make more space for their own. Always start with a good detox to purge pieces you don’t wear anymore, then start dividing—each person should pick a hanger colour to be used for all their clothes, and that helps create a clear demarcation of the shared space. You can also “draw the line” with a column of hanging compartments for folded pieces (just make sure you get the sturdy ones!).To maximise closet space, you can always place storage baskets below the hanging sections, and drawer inserts or dividers on shelves so you can stack more while still keeping things tidy.

 

What about my accessories? What is the best way to organise and arrange my handbags, shoes and jewellery?

 

We love velvet jewellery trays, laid out tetris-style in a drawer. You can order multipack options online, and simply categorise your jewellery and small accessories according to type and load up the trays with a piece (or pair for earrings) in each slot. If you don’t have a full drawer to line them all flat, these same trays can be stacked so just start with your least worn pieces at the bottom and layer up to your most frequently worn ones. Custom-categorise as you wish!

 
 
With Singapore’s humid weather and small living space, how should I store my bags and shoes to keep them fresh for longer?
 

Try allocating a shelf or two for bags in cool, dry areas with dehumidifying agents to help fight mould, rust and musty odours. Stuff them with acid free paper and place them upright in original dust bags or any suitable fabric bag to help absorb unwanted moisture and preserve the bag’s shape. Remember to always fully zip or fasten all openings and tuck in any loose hardware to avoid dents. “File” your clutches with acrylic dividers. The key is to prevent bags from directly touching each other to avoid potential discoloration or distortion.

Slot in shoe trees or original cardboard stuffing to prevent creasing in your leather stilettos or Air Force One’s. We always recommend storing shoes in clear, stackable boxes after quick wipe downs so you can see all your pairs and have them in easy reach—we’ve built vertical “shoe walls” for clients that are major space savers! 

Plus, bags and shoes are gorgeous investment pieces so why not display them?

Don’t forget about delicate clothing pieces and keep them folded in acid free paper if you can, or inside dustproof garment bags that can be hung inside your closet. What people also don’t do enough of is to ventilate these pieces—you need to take them out for a walk every once in a while to let the materials breathe, if not soles will crack, leathers may peel and whites might yellow.

 
 Lastly, how do I keep my wardrobe mess-free after clearing everything out?
 

Once decluttered, you’ll get a better picture of what you have and what works so you can make smarter style and shopping decisions in the future. Apply the one in, one out method. So if you indulge in a little shopping, make sure you take out the same number of old pieces to make way for the new ones. This instantly prevents impulse buys or binge shopping (just ‘cos it’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s worth it!).