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Retirement wardrobe essentials

retirement wardrobe essentialss

While retirement might feel like a breath of fresh air, sorting out a wardrobe that still holds clothes from 1985 certainly isn't. So how do you go about attempting to declutter? And how do you decide what you actually need and what you don't? We've put together some tips on how to clear out those unwanted bags, dresses, skirts, shoes (and everything in between), and created a list of essentials to help you create your very own retirement wardrobe.

More style tips this way... 


What should I do with my work wardrobe in retirement?

tidy wardrobe

For the majority of gransnetters, it's all about going the whole hog. Nothing beats a good, old-fashioned mass clear-out - and you might just feel better for it too. But what should you do with old items that are otherwise in great condition? Rather than chucking out gorgeous pieces that a) don't fit, b) you no longer like and c) you're really never going to wear again, put them aside and take them to a local charity shop. Or, if you want to make a few bob instead, sell your unwanted clothing on eBay. One gransnetter swears by it. As for the tat? Be sure to send that to the recycling bin.

"Within a month of retiring, I took the lot to a charity shop and I've never looked back." 

"I eBayed my work clothes - suits, coats etc - and was amazed by what people bought. It's the way to go!"

"I took great delight in dumping my business suits, dresses and jackets in the big textile recycling bin when I retired. I never wanted to see any of them again. It was very cathartic!"

"Treat yourself and buy casual stuff now you are retired. Do not clutter up your home with things you don't need."


Top tips for getting rid of old clothes

woman looking in mirror

"Now I'm retired, I certainly don't need 80-90% of the clothes in my wardrobe, but how do I decide what to give to the charity shop?"

Saying is easier than doing, of course, so while you may have good intentions to do all of the above, going about it is another kettle of fish. So how do you actually decide what to get rid of and what to keep for a minimalist retirement wardrobe? 


1. Dispose of them gradually

Having a clear-out doesn't mean you have to empty your wardrobe completely. If, like many of us, you struggle to part with old possessions, start slowly - begin with old underwear and t-shirts then go from there. 

"I think it's all about psychology. There's a feeling of safety you get from looking at your clothes knowing you have them even if they no longer fit/are not in fashion. They can remind you of happy times."

"I kept a couple of pairs of smartish trousers and jackets 'just in case', but got rid of a lot of other stuff. It is worth hanging onto a few bits for volunteering or similar."


2. Abide by the two year rule

If an item of clothing has sat unworn in your wardrobe for over two years, chances are you probably won't wear it again. So rather than leaving it hanging for another two years, consider throwing it out altogether. 

"I go on the 'if I haven't worn it in two years, get rid of it' principle, which seems to work."


3. Harbour no regrets

A struggle to declutter mostly comes from doubt - "What happens if I regret throwing it out?" Yes, it's often tough to take the plunge, especially if a piece of clothing holds sentimental value, so take your time and try this technique as recommended by one gransnetter:

"Pull out what you wear now and put those clothes aside. Then pull out what you have not worn for a year and bag them up too, but don't part with them yet. If, after a month, you don't feel the need to go back into the bags, give them to charity. Drop them in the shop, walk out and don't look back."


4. Test the 'one in, one out' strategy

What's better than chucking out an old piece of clothing? Finding a better one to replace it of course! It may not decrease the amount of clothes in your wardrobe, but it might just encourage a bigger clear-out at a later date. 

"I now operate on a 'one in, one out' scenario. It works wonders!" 


5. Don't keep clothes that do nothing for your self-esteem

Clothes are ultimately all about how you feel when you wear them, so if you have a dress that makes you feel frumpy or a skirt that really does hug the areas you feel most self-conscious about, make sure those clothes are the first to go. 

"You'll instantly know which ones they are. By all means keep one or two outfits for gardening, DIY, walking the dog etc, but don't keep many." 


6. Ask yourself these five important questions

1. Is it comfortable?

2. Does it fit well?

3. Does it suit me?

4. Do I feel good when I wear it?

5. Would I still buy it if I saw it in a shop?

"Unless you can say yes to all these questions, it needs to go. I cannot believe how much space I now have in my wardrobes and drawers!"


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Essentials for the perfect women's retirement wardrobe

retirement wardrobe

"Do people wear skirts at home? What do I really need? I'd love to dress more smartly, but, instead, I slob around in ancient jeans and fleeces."

What's the key to dressing for retirement? Well, the mix and match approach apparently. According to our gransnetters, the trick is to have a few staple items in matching colours that you can switch around depending on the occasion, a sort of capsule wardrobe if you will. While a few classic pieces from years gone by might hold too much sentimental value for you to throw away (and that's perfectly fine), focus on buying versatile pieces that can be worn over and over again without looking tired. So what clothes do you actually need? Here are a few ideas and a short checklist to get you started...

"I have more dressy clothes for going out and I have slouch clothes for when I am feeling under the weather or trying to get better. I call them all my party clothes."


1. Two kaftans or kimonos

"I do have kaftans and kimonos - they are cooling and loose for summer weather and come in vibrant colours too."

Where to shop:

Hello, Debenhams! Classy, colourful and comfy, their selection is a real winner. 


2. Go-to dresses for any occasion

"I've kept a few of what I used to call my Karren Brady dresses (bought at a fraction of the price of hers!). I wore one at the weekend for a meal out with friends and felt really smart."

"I still have dresses from work days which sometimes get an airing, plus I love making my own vintage dresses."

"My income has dropped dramatically so I now scour the internet for sales and free delivery."

Where to shop:

Try Joules for more casual jersey dresses and Phase Eight for maxi, print and shift. You might even find the odd sequined number in there too. 


3. Two pairs of smart black trousers

"Mix and match by teaming the more formal with the casual. Pick one or two black trousers, wear them to death and then throw them away."

Where to shop:

Choose a style that you can wear for a multitude of occasions. Next will do just the trick here. 


4. A very small collection of summer clothes

"I have decided that you only need one good summer dress." 

"I spend most of the summer in linen trousers with tops that are at least hip length. I have a couple of summer skirts for when I feel like a change, a smart linen dress for going out and a bright cotton maxi dress for parties in the garden. I try to keep to the same sort of colours - blues, greens and turquoises - which makes planning outfits easier."

Where to shop:

White Stuff are our go-to, offering a huge range of loose-fitting dresses, trousers and tops. Perfect for sprucing up your summer wardrobe.

woman wearing jeans

5. Three pairs of comfy jeans or jeggings

"Smart jeans and a sharp jacket (plus a scarf!) is a good combination."

"If you want to look smarter, change your old jeans for some jeggings or skinnies." 

Where to shop:

M&S offer a fabulous range of jeans. In particular, their black skinny jeans with stretch fabric are a boon! The brand is also ideal if you're looking for plus size clothing.


6. A few pairs of shoes, both smart and casual

"Go with one pair of brogues and one pair of boots. Dress them up or down with bling or smarter jackets."

"Excluding my smarter clothes, the rest is just jeans, tops and casual shoes/trainers/wellies. I am very comfortable slopping about."

Where to shop:

It has to be Clarks all the way. Hotter are also a must if you're after wide fit and super comfy options.


7. Versatile and asymmetric tops, including tunics

"Get some long vests, in a variety of colours."

"Come the summer, shirts and oversized and/or asymmetric tops are all possibilities."

Where to shop:

Monsoon have a fantastic assortment of beautiful tops, all adorned in gorgeous patterns that suit a variety of body shapes. 


8. A good handbag... or two

"I've bought a few good leather handbags (slightly smaller than my current ones) that will last for years and are most suitable for this new life. Across-the-body bags are a must!"

Where to shop:

Supermarket brands like Tu by Sainsbury's is a great option for cheaper accessories. 


9. Three or four smart jackets

"I'd keep three to four smart jackets. Even now I wear the jackets with jeans for a casual look."

"I do agree that good jeans and a nice jacket or blazer will take you a lot of places."

Where to shop:

It has to be John Lewis, of course. From linen to jersey to tailored, they have jackets galore! One gransnetter also recommends scouting charity shops to find the ideal outer layer: "I bought a fabulous Country Casuals purple jacket for £12 and a stylish purple scarf with shiny purple birds on it recently, matched with good quality trousers. I met an old friend today who said 'you look so glamorous in your outfit'! It made my day."


10. A couple of jumpers or cardies

"Invest in a good capsule wardrobe. Then it's easy to team things with cheaper items that some supermarket brands offer. A lot of their tops and jumpers are 100% cotton. Of course, you will now have more time to look at the sales!"

Where to shop:

Boden's knitwear is to die for. It might be a little on the pricey side, but they're a hit with our gransnetters. Also try the George at ASDA range for a cheaper option.


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