If you’re anything like me, your closet is chock-full of clothing that you hardly ever wear. I was tired of the same old routine every morning—peering inside, rifling through my clothes, only to pull out the same thing I always wore.
I finally decided enough was enough. It was time for a change! I’m going to share with you the steps I took to clean my closet and pare down my wardrobe.
How To Clean Your Closet
Stop Buying Clothes
The first thing you need to do is to stop adding to the problem! Don’t use retail therapy to relax after a bad day. Stay away from shopping unless you actually need something. The best way to curb this problem is to write down any items you need. Then, you are free to purchase what is on that list. This little checklist helps you to shop smarter.
If you do buy anything new, practice the one-in-one-out rule. When you bring a new piece of clothing into your wardrobe, you have to get rid of an outfit you already own. This is a sure-fire way to make you stop and think about what you buy before you succumb to your urge to shop. At first, you may experience shaky hands that spontaneously reach for your credit card but you’ll be okay if you don’t buy anything, I promise.
The next step is to take all of the clothes out of your closet. I bet you will see stuff in there that you completely forgot you had (which may not be a bad thing when certain styles are concerned). Lay all of the items on your bed or any other flat surface and move on to the next stage.
Sort Your Stuff
Use Post-it notes to make three piles: Toss, Donate/ Sell and Keep. Be ruthless here! Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it fit right now? Not in one year. Not after you’ve lost those last five pounds you’ve been trying to shed for the past six months. Right this second.
- Do I like it? Our tastes change. Styles change.
- Do I wear it? Just because you like an outfit doesn’t mean you actually wear it. We see things in the store that are so pretty but they just don’t look or feel right on our bodies.
- Is it still trendy? What’s hot changes quickly. If it’s no longer in style, get rid of it.
- Is it well-made and in good condition? As long as it’s a quality piece that’s free of rips and stains, feel free to keep it.
In order to keep an item, the answer to each of those five questions should be a resounding “Yes!”. Not a wavering, unsure one. If you said no to any of the first four questions, throw the clothing into the donate pile. Add poorly made, ripped or stained items to the Toss pile.
Let Go Of Guilt
Ignore the twinge of guilt that stirs in your belly as you pare down your wardrobe. The little voice in your head is going to say things like, “That was expensive!” or “That was a gift!”. Tell that voice to shove it and continue the process.
Think of it this way… Is it better to let an expensive item sit in your wardrobe unworn until it eventually gets moth-eaten or goes out of style? Wouldn’t it be nicer to give it to someone who truly needed clothing and could never afford outfits that were so nice?
Remember, there are people who could desperately use the clothes you don’t need. Don’t feel guilty about getting rid of stuff that helps others.
Any of the items that you were unsure about and you REALLY don’t want to let them go yet, keep them for now. I say this grudgingly because you need to be merciless when clearing your closet out—but go ahead and test if you actually wear the clothes. Turn the hanger that any of the items are hung on backwards. As you wear them, turn the hanger the right way. If after a specified amount of time, say three months, and you still have not turned the hanger around, then toss the outfit(s).
I Might Need That… Someday
We all have some item of clothing that we bought for one event that we will probably never EVER wear again. Please don’t fall victim to thinking that you will actually wear that outfit eventually. Toss it or donate it. End of story.
Get Rid Of Duplicates
Unless you have a twin and you both love to dress alike, there’s no need to have multiples of something. You don’t need more than one little black dress. You don’t need 30 pairs of jeans. Pick your favourites (Make sure you ask yourself the five questions mentioned previously) and move on.
Rotate Seasonal Stuff
Make room in your closet by removing seasonal items. If it’s Summer, you don’t need that bulky coat taking up valuable space. Place your out-of-season clothes in vacuum seal bags and store them somewhere else like on a top shelf in your wardrobe or under the bed.
Focus On Multi-Purpose
Keep items that fit multiple purposes like being worn alone, layered and those that can be mixed and matched. Basics like a white T-shirt, a great fitting pair of jeans and a quality jacket are always good starting points. You can branch out from there adding in colour and pattern as you see fit.
See this awesome Mix and Match Styling video that focuses on outfits for work. There are one month’s worth of ideas from just a few pieces.
Make some Extra Cash
Make some money from the stuff you no longer want and add it to your emergency fund. Take the “Donate/ Sell” pile of clothing and have a garage sale or list the items online. This cash may also help to alleviate any guilt you had from getting rid of expensive items.
Anything you don’t sell, donate or give away to family and friends.
Cleaning out my closet has left me feeling lighter somehow and I know that I have kept items that I truly love. Now, whenever I go to select an outfit, it’s an easy process because I don’t experience that “I have nothing to wear” feeling. Try these tips and let me know in the comments below how they work for you.