A workable wardrobe full of great clothes, footwear and accessories is a double edged sword. On the one hand, it’s fab to shop your closet each morning and have stellar outfit options. On the other, it doesn’t leave much room to add new items without your wardrobe bursting at the seams. And if you like to shop and refresh your look each season like I do, you have to come up with a solution. 

Some people deal with this problem by storing clothes and footwear in multiple cupboards around the house. Some pack away non-seasonal items to create space. Others, like me, prefer to keep their stuff in one space, and work hard NOT to overflow this space. Enter the “one in one out” wardrobe principle. 

Apart from outerwear, I keep all my clothes, footwear and accessories in a small walk-in wardrobe that I share with hubby Greg. My underwear and socks are in a separate chest of drawers in the bedroom. I only allow myself a certain number of clothing items, footwear and handbags at any one time because I find it easier to manage my outfits that way. At a glance, I can see what I have and pull an ensemble together chop-chop. 

Of course, I love to shop. So, in order to keep my wardrobe at a constant size, I usually have to give up a few existing items when I add something new. I constantly edit, which means that there are always empty spaces that can be filled. I also carefully add a few pieces at a time, so the spaces are never instantly filled.

The big question here is, how do I decide what goes out? My culling decision depends quite a bit on how I want to evolve my style at that point in time. If I have fallen out of love with a look and no longer wear it, I will pass on the items. For example, I’m really off ruffles and jackets with complex design details. So I recently passed on some ruffled blouses and jackets, which instantly created more closet space. 

My knitwear generally has a short life, so I say goodbye when its starts to pill, shrink or stretch out of shape. I always seem to have a shortage of tops, so there is usually empty hanger space for those. 

I have stopped buying jeans, although repurposing two pairs of skinnies into clams has made room for jeans or trousers. I recently culled my dresses in a big way because the knits were pilling, and sadly, some of my overly worn woven dresses had holes and tears. 

I hang onto comfortable footwear until it’s beaten up because I have fussy feet. I don’t have heaps and heaps of shoes, but they do get a workout because I’m out and about all the time and I’m hard on my footwear. I just got rid of three pairs of ballet flats and two pairs of boots with holes and tears in the soles. I also don’t add loads of shoes or boots in one go, so I never seem to have more than what I can store.  

Items like scarves and belts are added slowly and don’t take up much space. I don’t apply the one in one out principle to those items because I have not yet run out of storage capacity. 

I find it hard to cull my handbags because I am hopelessly devoted to my many, many bags. This makes it hard to shop for handbags at the moment because I cannot decide which ones need to go. Ideally, I need a handbag shrine for these little wardrobe pets.

I am reasonably strict about the “one in one out” wardrobe principle because I have limited closet space, and do not want to spill over into another closet. For the most part, I stick to editing and replacing within the same wardrobe category, but it’s okay if it doesn’t entirely work out that way. For example, I might edit out 5 tops and replace them with two dresses and three tops. Dresses will then spill a little into tops territory, but the size of my wardrobe stays roughly the same.

My friends and Dress For Success get most of my hand-me-downs, and the Salvation Army gets the rest. I have no problem passing on items that fall out of favour, even if it’s only after one season of wear because I know that they are going to a great home.