What is a Wardrobe Audit?

By Swapshop, posted 30/04/20

Do you feel like you have too many clothes? Most people do and yet we still often feel like we don’t have anything we want to wear. A wardrobe audit is designed to help you see what clothes you have and what you wear the most.

Pile of paterned clothes neatly folded on a white stool

We often hear about how the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, but how can you go about making your own fashion choices more sustainable?

A wardrobe audit will help you to recycle clothes you don’t want anymore, free up space for those that you actually need, and rediscover those you’d forgotten about at the back of a draw. Thankfully, Jo from the Swapshop is here to guide you through how to do your own, step by step.

So, where to start?

The first step sounds easy but might take a while. Go through EVERYTHING in your wardrobe. Everything you wear everyday, everything you wear only for special occasions, and everything in between.

Sort them into piles of:

  • Your favorite things that you wear all the time
  • Things you wear sometimes and want to keep
  • Things you want to pass on
  • Things you need to repair/ alter
  • Things you aren’t sure what to do with

The idea of getting everything out at once lets you see if you have more or less of something that you need or don’t need. If you have two similar things but only ever wear one of them maybe pass the other on? Equally if there are things you wear all the time maybe it is worth having more than one.

Cut off date

For anything you look at and think “I should wear that more” or things you say you wear but actually haven’t, a cut off date can be helpful. (It might be a good idea to decide what it will be before you start so that you don’t change your mind based on things you want to keep)

The idea is, you pick a length of time, i.e. 1 year, and everything that you haven’t worn in over a year gets passed on. (A year goes through all the seasons so you can’t use the excuse of, “it’s a summer thing” if it’s been over a year since you last wore it.)

Ask questions!

The main part of doing a wardrobe audit is questioning yourself:

  • What things do you own that you don’t wear much?
  • Do you not wear them much because you don’t like them/ don’t feel comfortable wearing them or just because you need a couple of things for fancier occasions?
  • Do you own 5 suits/ fancy dresses even though you only go to one event where you need to wear that kind of clothing a year?
  • What things do you wear the most? Do you need more of these or do you have enough?
  • What is it that you love about the things you wear all the time? Are they a particular style, a particular color?
  • Are there some things that have been your favorite for so long that they now have holes? Can you patch these up or is it time to use the fabric for other things?
  • Does it fit? If not do you want to keep it enough to alter it?

Your Style

You might also want to have some questions about what your style is, and, what you want your style to be. This again can help you in deciding what things to keep and what other things you might want to get. This might be a good time to think about a one in one out rule. If you want to get something that fits a new style you want to have, maybe pass on something that you wore when you wanted a different style.

It might also be that you need more things to wear for work if you got a new job in which case maybe this rule isn’t so relevant.


Often we see a lot of things about capsule wardrobes and having the fewest possible items. While this is certainly a good thing for some people, it is also worth thinking about the fact that a lot of the environmental footprint of clothes comes from washing and cleaning clothes. If having more clothes means that you can wash less frequently and have fuller washes when you do, it is not necessarily a bad thing to have a few more things than extreme minimalists.

The Box

If there are some things you are really promising yourself you will wear, a good test can be putting them in a box somewhere for a few months. If you don’t think about them at all while they are in the box, you will probably survive without them. (This can also have the added bonus of feeling like new clothes when you do find them again and start wearing them).

Do you really need all those socks?

If you are anything like me you have a lot of threadbare socks at the back of your wardrobe because you can’t bring yourself to throw them out for environmental reasons. There are hundreds of videos and articles online, all showing you what you can turn your old worn out socks into, so that, instead of just sitting there, they actually have a function again.

What I am trying to say here is that there is always a better use for something than being at the back of your wardrobe. If it can be worn and loved by someone else, pass it on. If it can be used as fabric for another purpose, use it! The internet is an amazing place for coming up with uses for everything and anything.

Can SHRUB Help?

The Swapshop is always happy to take donations of good quality clothing and bric-a-brac. There are sewing sessions every Tuesday and Thursday evening 5pm - 7pm with people to help in any way you need.

Unfortunately, all of SHRUB’s activities are temporarily suspended at the moment but we will let you know as soon as they are back up and running.

Can you support SHRUB Coop with a donation?

To do our part to help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve temporarily closed all public activities until further notice. This is having a big impact on our income.

If you are in a position to help us, could you make a donation to SHRUB Coop?

SHRUB Coop is supported through a combination of grant funding and generous donations from our community. We’re grateful for all their support. Find out more about our grant funders by clicking on the logos above.