An Esquire Guide: The Wardrobe Purge (Not The Title Of A Spoof, But Could Be)

Our Fashion Editor-at-large on why it’s time to throw out the old… and go shopping.

BY Janie Cai | Jan 27, 2017 | Fashion

Good riddance, 2016. After a year of crazy, you need something to help you start 2017 on the right note. Forget your list of half-hearted New Year resolutions penned in an alcohol-infused frantic haze as the last year ended. Take this as a call to action—like an enema, the wardrobe purge can seem scary/painful/unnecessary at first, but you’ll feel much better/confident/etc after. For one, you’ll be less sartorially constipated. The trick is knowing how to start, and then when to stop. Here’s our foolproof guide to tackling 2017 from the deepest, darkest corner of your closet.



  1. Decisions, decisions, decide
    Make a cup of strong coffee, sit down and write down on a piece of paper why you need a wardrobe purge. As you clear things, especially items with sentimental value, it’s easy to get side-tracked. We don’t want you to spend ages on this so every time you can’t decide to throw or keep something, look at the words you’ve written on your paper. We highly recommend the following:
  • “Screw you, 2016. I’m breaking free of my skinny jeans—2017 is the year of increased circulation!”
  • “Clear enough to convert my wardrobe into a cool sleeping pod that I can rent out on Airbnb to fund my artisanal whisky collection.”
  • “To find my cat. Last seen July 2016, under a pile of unwashed designer denim.”


  1. Set a day, or three
    Clearing stuff takes time and focus. Take a day off and give yourself a set amount of time where no one will disturb you. Trust us, you’ll treasure that privacy as your riffle through last year’s cringe-worthy fashion mistakes (which shouldn’t exist if you follow Esquire).


  1. Form three piles: keep, donate and toss
  • Throw anything that is stained (don’t try and palm off pit-stained shirts to the charities, that’s just gross) or have holes that you can’t mend.
  • Donate items that are still in good condition but that you won’t wear. (Examples: dad jeans, beige, baggy pants and free or bulk-buy T-shirts with ironic prints like “IPood”. Actually, toss the T-shirt, bad style karma comes around—end it here).
  • Keep all the things that fit you well. If they don’t fit, either donate or toss it—be strict. And don’t tell yourself you’ll lose weight this year to finally get back into that pair of expensive Japanese selvage jeans*. When you actually lose weight, you can shop again. Till then, out it goes.


  1. Organize
    Before you invest in new clothes, invest in some good hangers and wardrobe organizers. Most of the time, you will only wear what you can see and because the average wardrobe looks like a war zone, most guys tend to wear the same three pieces of clothing in the topsoil layer. Make it a point to:
  • Hang all work shirts.
  • Fold knits in drawers (don’t hang them, they’ll stretch).
  • Hang your trousers neatly. Use hangers that have a non-slip rubber coating so your trousers stay on. 
  • Hang suits and coats on proper suit/coat hangers (if you don’t, you’ll destroy their shape).
  • Have a dedicated sock drawer/section and a separate, dedicated underwear drawer.
  • And fold your stuff neatly. Whilst we find Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up a tad intense, her method of folding clothes deserves our attention (watch the video below).



For your pants: hangers from The Container Store, SGD9.20 for 3 pieces.

For your suits: Bumerang wooden hangers from Ikea, SGD7.90 for 8 pieces.

  1. Have a break
    Bust open a cold beer, stretch a little, or make some fragrant Genmaicha. After you’ve completed step four, take a step back and survey your wardrobe. Have you increased circulation? Found your cat? If you haven’t completely met the motive you penned on the paper from the start then get back in there and get rid of more items. BE A MAN. You can do it.


Congratulations, you're done! You’re now ready to start a new year. And if your wardrobe looks bare, don’t worry, we’ll be keeping you posted on how to fill it, so stay tuned.