Sometime between the end of high school and the end of college I become a clothes hoarder.
For some reason it was always the cool thing in college to get together with my girls on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday before going out and swap clothes for the evening. I loved when my friends found things they liked in my closet and I loved being the girl with tons of clothes.
Fast forward to 3 years post college and I hate having an obscene amount of clothes. Literally I can’t stand it. Maybe it’s because now my life is so crazy and I move at least 3 times a year, every year. Or maybe it’s just because I’m getting older and I’m realizing the value of fewer quality clothes rather than tons of just ok clothes. Whatever it is, I truly love going through my closet and having stacks of clothes I’m parting with.Recently, I’ve been helping my mom clean out her closet and it dawned on my how good I’ve become at the process. While I used to love having heaping piles of clothes and closet full to the brim, now I love being able to get rid of things I no longer want and even have extra space (gasp!) in my closet.
Truthfully, I now clean out my closet once per season. That means as soon as summer wraps up I go through my closet and evaluate all of my summer skirts, dresses, and tank tops. I get rid of some things and then I move the summer clothes I am keeping to the back of my closet and make way for all of my boots, sweaters, and scarves for fall and winter.
So lets get to it, and finally get that closet of yours whipped into shape!
Before you start
If you’re feeling compelled to clean out your closet then there must be some reason. For me, it’s usually that I feel like I have “nothing to wear” but yet I stand in front of a jam packed closet. It is literally the most annoying feeling in the world, and it always compels me to get rid of some things. Remind yourself of this feeling when you start to loose steam in the process. Do you really want or need a packed to the brim closet with only a handful of things you actually wear or like? I sure don’t! Just thinking that thought makes me want to purge everything I have!
The key to a successful closet clean out is being honest. How long has it really been since you wore the sweater? Did you really love the way it fit? If you’re not honest you’re just going to end up sabotaging your own efforts. You’ll be done going through your closet and realize you only got rid of 3 things. Epic closet fail for sure.
Recruit a buddy to help
I can clean out my closet by myself, but a lot of people can’t. My mom, for example, cannot do it without my help. Basically because she comes up with all these (ridiculous) reasons why she should keep stuff that she really shouldn’t. With me there, I can be her voice of reason and call her out when one of her reasons for keeping something is a stretch.
Grab a friend who knows you and knows your style. That way when you want to keep a short, sparkly, club attire mini skirt she can remind you that your 26 and married and have never even been to a club in your life. Point made; the skirt goes.
Questions to ask yourself
Does it fit/do you like how it fits?
With guys, when something doesn’t fit they just toss it to the side and don’t think twice about it. With women if something doesn’t fit we start worrying why, and start picking out parts of our bodies that aren’t “normal” or are ugly. Then we start plotting how if we turn this way, or wear it this way people won’t even be able to tell it doesn’t fit just right. Please just stop. Life’s to short to wear clothes that make you uncomfortable.
Is it damaged, stained, or ripped in any way?
If the answer is yes. Then ask yourself this: will you honestly put in the effort and pay the cost to get it professionally cleaned, sewn, or fixed? If the answer is no then it’s time to part with it. What’s the point of having something not in wearable condition taking up space in your closet?
Have you worn it in the last year?
I live by this rule. If I have made it through all the seasons and an entire calendar year and haven’t worn something, what makes me think I’m going to wear it again? Seriously I could usually eliminate a third of my closet just by answering this question.
Is there a time in the foreseeable future when you would wear it?
I’m not talking about “someday”. I’m talking about: I have a coffee date with Megan on Thursday, I can wear it then! If you can’t think of a time in the next month when you can or will wear it, it probably needs to go.
Have you forgotten about it?
Sometimes I find stuff in my closet I haven’t worn in a while. I’ll pull it out and be like, “I love this top! Why haven’t I worn it!?”. For me, it’s honestly usually that I just get caught up in always wearing the same comfy shirt. I like routine and comfort so I typically have like 5 to 6 shirts that are always my go-to. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it just means some of my other clothes I know I like fall by the wayside (or in this case get shoved to the back of the closet).
When something like this happens, I make it point to move those clothes I haven’t worn to the front of my closet. Then like the point above, I pick out an occasion in the foreseeable future when I can wear it. If it comes to that occasion and I pass on it again, then it might be time to get rid of it. If I actually wear it and fall in love with it all over again, it’s like having something new in my closet without the price tag of shopping. Woot Woot!
Do you have other things you can wear it with?
Versatility is what we’re going for here. Sometimes I’ll pull out a skirt or a top, and I know I like it, but I’m just stumped about what I would pair it with. If I have a super cute top but nothing to pair it with on the bottom; what good does that top do me?
In this case, I’ll go through my existing closet and find 3 other things I can pair it with to make 3 different outfits. If I like the piece and can make 3 different outfits with it then it can stay. If I can only make one outfit, and it’s not even an outfit I really like, then it’s time for that piece to go.
Is it still “your style”?
About a year ago I realized I still had a ton of clothes from college. I graduated in 2014 so that’s really not too bad, but I really didn’t like a lot of it anymore. In college I loved bright pinks and blues and lots of different colors in my wardrobe. Now at 26, I love me some blacks and greys. I am all about the neutrals, and bright pink is just not something I typically wear a lot of anymore. My style has changed over time. I found myself getting rid of a lot of clothes that were in good shape, but just weren’t my style anymore.
Does it have sentimental value to you?
When my grandma passed away a number of years ago we had a field day going through her old things. There were of course some pieces that were too special to part with. Her favorite sweater I always remember her wearing, the beautiful dress she wore as a bridesmaid to her sisters wedding in the 50’s, the Jackie O inspired dress suit she sewed by hand. Those are all things that have meaning to me, and all things I knew I wanted to keep. These types of things I don’t typically keep in my regular every day closet. I usually have them stored away in an extra closet in the house or folded up in a rubber bin where I know they’ll be safe from damage.
Do you need a “think it over pile”?
Even after getting through all of those questions there is still usually a small pile of things I’m just not sure about. Usually each time I clean out my closet I make a “think it over pile”. I put this pile right in the front of my closet. Honestly, I usually end up getting rid of these things when the next season hits. I just usually need the clarity of having them be front and center in my closet and knowing that I willingly passed over them.
What to do now
Pass it on to a friend
Sometimes I am totally done with something, but I think it might be my mom or my sister’s style. Before I donate I typically ask them if their interested in anything I no longer want. Usually they’ll pick out one or two things. Some of my moms favorite clothes are ones I passed on to her! I love seeing her wear something that used to be mine too!
If something is still in good shape please think about donating it to a place in your local community! Places like St. Vincent De Paul, Goodwill, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Salvation Army, and The American Red Cross are super awesome organization that do great work. Most of these places (if not all) are 501(c)3 non-profit organizations, meaning all of your donations are tax-deductible. Woot woot for a tax break!
So many of our landfills are full of clothes! And over 95% of textiles and clothing can be recycled! Look for ways you can recycle clothes that are no longer in useable condition. There are now a handful of stores that are allowing shoppers to donate old clothes to be recycled. Places like H&M, Puma, The North Face, Levi’s, Gap, and Madewell offer clothing recycling options or special events throughout the year. Some of these stores will even offer you a coupon or discount on your next purchase at their store in exchange for your donation.
Now tell me…