Tried & Tested: An honest review of a wardrobe detox (from a self-confessed clothes hoarder)
Taking spring’s arrival as my cue to clean up my act, I signed up for a wardrobe detox to help me shed the excess.
Every couple of months or so, I feel the need to shed my skin, to purge my life of all my worldly possessions and start over. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just feel overwhelmed by stuff.
Life as a nostalgic means you accumulate things quickly, but can’t often part with them. This applies to everything from birthday cards to old teddy bears to clothes. My tiny rented room is overflowing with trinkets and knickknacks and too-loved cardigans my mam used to wear in the 80s. Every crevice is filled with something, meaning there’s very little space actually left for me. Sometimes, it feels as though the walls are closing in around me and soon, I’ll be buried beneath a sea of belongings.
My fragile, romantic heart means that I can justify keeping just about anything – I’m the type of person that frames first date receipts and repurposes empty wine bottles into candle holders because they remind me of celebratory dinners with friends – but over the past two years, I’ve made a really conscious effort to stop hoarding.
I moved to Dublin four years ago and have lived in five different houses since then; I’m not great with numbers but even I know that the math ain’t mathing there. A combination of bad landlords, not great housemates and multiple lockdowns means that I haven’t stayed in one place for very long. Most of the time, my penchant for keeping things is cute… it’s not until you have to pack your life up into your parents’ car for the third time in 18 months that you really start to regret every unnecessary purchase you’ve ever made.
All of that has propelled me toward a more minimalistic approach to life (one look at my room will make you laugh at that statement, but I’m trying goddammit!), which is exactly why I reached out to Marie Shortt. A French stylist based in Dublin, Marie has many strings to her bow but it was her wardrobe detox service I was most interested in.
According to her website, the process is usually split into two half days. On day one, she comes to your house to help you evaluate your current wardrobe, shop your own closet and bring joy to what you already own. She brings unwanted clothes to charity shops and recycling centres if needed and will also help you set up accounts (e.g. Depop, Vestiare Collective etc.) to try to resell anything of value you are no longer interested in.
Day two is more about learning. Having seen what’s in your wardrobe (and what you’ve gotten rid of), Marie will help you establish what gaps need to be filled and will show you how to shop in a more mindful way so that when you do buy something new (or new to you), you make smart purchases and only choose things you can wear with what you already own. Some people use day two to hone in on outfit planning and jump at the chance to get some personal styling advice from Marie.
Two weeks had passed since I got in touch with Marie to organise this clearout and admittedly, I was starting to regret my decision a little bit – enthusiasm replaced by dread as I wondered what I had gotten myself in for. But with our scheduled date fast approaching and no valid reason to cancel, I found myself having to accept that yes, this was really going to happen.
Pushed for time (and sure that I would lose nerve if we didn’t just power through), we decided to try to get everything done on the one day so Marie arrived to my house at 10am and, after a cup of coffee and a croissant, we were straight to work. Not knowing what to expect, I naively didn’t anticipate that there would be so much changing in and out of clothes but Marie got me to try on almost everything I own. Safe to say I slept well that night.
Some pieces were an immediate no – I had already decided to part with them before she even arrived so saying goodbye was easy. Other pieces I wasn’t sure about, which is where Marie’s expertise was really helpful. Choosing between a white Aran-style jumper and a similar cardigan was all the easier when I had a second opinion to expedite the decision-making.
Though she’s not necessarily a fan of the fashion colour consultation (a process that teaches you what shades/tones work best for your skin tone and hair colour), Marie does make some suggestions. For example, in my case, it’s not about saying no to green, but opting for darker and more vibrant shades over the pastel and slightly fluorescent ones I tended to lean toward in the past. Trying on two green cardigans in different shades definitely proved her point there.
Purging the excess was only one aspect of the process, however, and much of the trying on was really to show me the different ways in which I could style my wardrobe. In all honesty, I’ve felt a little lost as of late and my personal style has suffered as a result. I spend the vast majority of the week at home in comfy tracksuits, and my weekends are dedicated to outdoor pursuits where I’m in hiking boots and activewear… so when it comes time to actually put an outfit together, I don’t know where to start.
My fashion sense has evolved greatly since I was in college which is when most of my wardrobe was amassed, at vintage kilo sales or in Topshop (where too much of my weekend job paycheck was spent!), so Marie showed me some new ways to pair things together. A midi skirt and a silk kimono wasn’t very me; a linen shirt under a knitted vest with jeans and loafers, was. Marie’s focus is on helping clients build their wardrobes around better-quality, investment pieces. If they already own a few such pieces, she’ll show you how to restyle them in myriad ways so the cost-per-wear value really works for you.
The only noticeable gap was with my footwear. Unlike Carrie Bradshaw, I’m not really a shoe person so I have a very modest collection but a slightly dressier flat (these Mary Jane mules tick the box) wouldn’t go astray. We took photos of all the outfits I liked, with Marie telling me that some of her clients actually print the photos out and hang them on the door of their wardrobes for easy inspiration when in a rush.
Once all the trying on and outfit planning was done, we folded everything back into my wardrobe and I’m still in awe of the sheer amount of space in there. When Marie left, I properly sorted the no pile again. Having already promised my sister she could have first dibs on anything I planned on getting rid of, I repacked everything into a giant Bag for Life to bring home to her. Anything I knew she wouldn’t like, or felt I could possibly resell, I listed on Depop.
According to my brother, who exists exclusively in activewear or Bass Pro Shops merch (that is to say, he is extremely unfashionable and has no taste), “Only an 85-year-old granny would want half of that stuff.” I’m keen to prove him wrong, so shop my wardrobe here if you’d like to help me do so.
For the first time in a long time, my bedroom doesn’t feel like a storeroom for inanimate objects. All of my clothes fit neatly in my wardrobe, and where once I felt anxious by the sheer volume of things around me, now I feel much calmer. Getting rid of things is strangely therapeutic… let’s see how long that zen lasts, shall we?
A wardrobe detox with stylist Marie Shortt starts at €450. You can find out more information and book your slot on her website. Marie also recently launched her own preloved collection of clothes, all sourced from Paris and mostly from French brands. You can shop the full collection (which she adds to regularly) here.