It's not sexy, we know; and it is reminiscent of the lectures we all got/get from our mothers, but it really can be cathartic (not to say hugely practical) to give your closet a clear-out. And right now, in that window between winter-sales splurging and planning spring purchases, is the perfect moment to do it: to decide what to keep and what to send to the local All Aboard shop, even - quaint, old-fashioned thought - to decide what to repair and what, in these recessionary times, might be given a bit of va-voom with some TLC and, maybe, some new buttons.
Julia Dee, founder of Total Wardrobe Care, is the ultimate professional when it comes to clearing out, sorting out and revamping your wardrobe. With a background at Harvey Nichols and Harrods and in up-scale dressmaking, she has a client list that includes Elle McPherson, David Furnish, Marie Helvin and a slew of top stylists.
Since it was founded in 1992, TWC has developed around 40 products for storage and moth-proofing, as well as clever services such as out-of-season clothes storage; a "seamstress squad" (which comes to your home to do those sewing jobs you hate, like school uniform name-tags, replacing shirt-buttons, etc); a Wardrobe De-Tox (see panel); plus alteration and Make-do-and-Mend services which repair, alter or remodel pretty much any garment, including vintage and leather.
Part of Julia's motivation in creating her alteration and make-do-and mend services was dismay at the British attitude to grooming: "A French or Italian woman will have a new garment altered so it fits perfectly, but British women aren't taught to be groomed. We're taught to believe it's vain to care too much about our appearance, but if you have bought a lovely garment, it should fit well."
A simple hem is easy, but the problem, as we all know, is a complex alteration. TWC is pricey, but its magical services include shortening the sleeves of a coat or jacket from the shoulder to keep the detail at the cuff, nipping in darts or seams, letting out a skirt by up to four inches (the trick, apparently, is to remove the waistband), and repairing vintage pieces.
Julia's other grooming grouse is that too many women don't use a full length mirror: "Everyone should have at least a 4ft x 6ft mirror in a well-lit spot, with sufficient space so you can stand back and check yourself head to toe. And you should always check the back view with a hand-held mirror."
Which means no more asking your partner: "Does my bum look big in this?" You can decide for yourself...