Resigned to the confines of the four walls around us, and with the promise of a life after the pandemic dangled tantalisingly before our eager eyes, now is the time to rethink your wardrobe. With time to spare, turn your attention to that oft-overlooked cavern of clothing for a spring clean.
What do your clothes mean anymore? What do you want to look like when you go back to the office, and further down the line, the pub? What the pandemic has taught us is that clothes can uplift the wearer. When the entire landscape of working environments shifted in late March, getting dressed for working from home as one would for the office, even when the morning commute was from the bedside to the kitchen table, was a means of maintaining a degree of normality and workplace formality.
Perhaps this renewed perspective of clothing can change your perception of how you dress and what you dress for. Look into that wardrobe and offer yourself peace of mind. Who are you? What do you stand for? What do your clothes say about you?
Whether you’re working with a tight space or fighting for wardrobe real estate with a significant other, the first step in any wardrobe clear out is assessing the space you have to work with and learning how to economise it.
The general rule is: if you don’t wear it at least once a year, with the exception of formal tailoring (though ensure this style is streamlined and sophisticated), it doesn’t need to be in your wardrobe. If you don’t find yourself reaching for a dowdy five-year-old jumper that gets a wear one winter or a shabby shirt that one might reluctantly grab for formality’s sake, the chances are they have to go.
Ideally, one could begin emptying the contents of the wardrobe before deciding what to cull. While you shouldn’t deprive yourself of having options -- nobody wants to be cornered -- assess what is essential. Shirts and trousers are likely to be strictly relegated to the office while t-shirts and jeans are weekend dressing staples.
Search for overlapping pieces. Shirts with jeans; t-shirts with trousers. Reversing the role of either the top or bottom of the outfit can shift the entire meaning of the outfit, bringing it from boardroom to bar. What remains after a wardrobe spring clean should be items that require little thought.
Which brings one to the notion that the centrepiece of every wardrobe should be five basic, adaptable options that can somehow be incorporated into every outfit. These require flexibility but enough intrigue to offer a stamp of personal style. They must be as self-effacing as they are subtly eye-catching. Most importantly, this is where the word investment becomes the focal point.
As budgets tighten and discretionary income is limited, the updates to one’s wardrobe should be purchases that provide longevity. One should rely on a jacket like Scotch & Soda’s take on the traditional trench: abbreviated to mid-length, the sand-coloured cotton jacket features a blind button closure for a clean look and boasts a detachable storm fastening to button at the collar for when the weather worsens.
A trusty jumper can be transported from a day at the office over a shirt to a weekend gathering, and with the uncompromising Irish weather, it’s advised to have something to wrap up in at all times. Reach for Isabel Marant’s alpaca-blend striped jumper with subtle graphics. Not only is the relaxed fit a departure from traditional tighter-fit wool, the design is understated enough to wear again and again but special enough to always hold some intrigue.
A classic white t-shirt is as timeless as they come. There are a range of options on the market but quality is key. COS’ recent White T-Shirt project focused on designing three essential organic cotton t-shirts for men with an emphasis on volume, proportion and silhouette.
A bastion of American denim: Lee Jeans offers an indigo wash mid-rise waist straight leg jean made from organic cotton.
Footwear is divisive and challenging terrain to negotiate. How casual is too casual? How formal is too formal? Base London strikes the balance between the two with their burgundy brogues, detailed with intricate laser-cut details and featuring an unconventional cleated sole.
Donate or sell?
What becomes of the items that get the cut?
There are other journeys your clothes can take beyond your wardrobe that will prevent them from ending up in a landfill site. You can sell them online at Depop, Dondeal.ie or eBay. More expensive items could be taken to resale site Grailed, a community marketplace for pre-loved designer clothing. According to GlobalData, the resale market will exceed $50 billion in 2023 — up from $24 billion last year.
Another way they can have a second life: charity shops (though it might have to wait until after the restrictions are eased).
"Unfortunately most charity shops are closed now (although NCBI is still selling clothes online via the Thriftify website), so you can put your unwanted clothes in bags and donate them to charity shops when they reopen," said Fiona O’Malley, Director of Communications and Fundraising at World Vision Ireland, a child-focused overseas aid agency.
One of their chief aims is to "make a positive difference for people in the developing world who are hit the worst with the negative impacts of climate change". Across the country, there are outposts in each city and town supporting worthy causes and, in recent years, highly trusted amongst the younger generation, charity shops are a haven of clothing waiting for a new lease of life, an opportunity to redefine a classic.