Decluttering your closet can be terrifying and overwhelming. Many of us get attached to our clothes for various reasons: maybe it’s sentimental value, maybe it’s because we spent way too much money on it, maybe we use it as inspiration to lose weight, maybe we just keep it even though we don’t like it because someone special bought it for us… or maybe it’s for a different personal reason. Whatever the reason may be, clothing seems to linger around taking up space in our closet making it frustrating to find anything or even to get dressed in the morning. Although it may be hard to part with your clothing, we must do it. I’ve included some of my favorite closet clean out tips as well as a firsthand look into my cleaning process and a peek into my pretty pastel wardrobe!
Simple Closet Clean Out Tips
Table of Contents
Step #1: Take Everything Out of Your Closet
Literally everything. Try it on…all of it. Every.Single.Piece. Then place each item in it’s designated pile (as discussed in step 2). While you are trying on clothing, keep a few things in mind.
- Does it fit?
- Is it too long?
- Is it too short?
- Is it flattering?
- Is it true to my style right NOW?
- Does it make me feel good?
- Have I worn it in the past year?
- Are there any stains or rips evident?
- Does it make me smile?
Your answers to these questions will help you decide which pile each garment belongs.
Be sure not to rush through this process. Mine took about 2-3 days, but it was worth it.
Step #2: Sort Through Your Clothing
You will have seven piles to organize your clothing.
- The I-can’t-live-without-it Pile
- The Repair Pile
- The Donation
- The Give-Away Pile
- The Sell Pile
- The Throw Away Pile
- The I-don’t-know Pile
The I-can’t-live-without-it Pile
This is designated for those items that make your heart skip a beat. They make you want to dance up and down the street like Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 500 Days of Summer. These items are flattering, fit well and make you feel good. They are true to what your style is NOW and make you feel most like yourself.
To make this a little less heart-wrenching, I think that it’s essential to know what your personal style type is and the things that you tend to be drawn to. If you’re having trouble figuring out your style type, make sure to take my Style Quiz. I share all kinds of resources and additional exercises to help you find out exactly what your personal style is!
The Repair Pile
This pile is designated for those things that you LOVE and would, otherwise, be in your I-can’t-live-without-it Pile if it just had something fixed. This can be alterations of any kind…in my case, it’s way too long and I have a pile of things needing to be shortened. Maybe it has a small flaw that you can fix yourself: straps too long, a small hole that is very fixable, some loose embellishments that need to be re-sewn. Make a plan to get the repaired asap.
Now that we have honed in your specific style, maybe there are some garments in your closet that don’t currently reflect that. Maybe they are off-trend, maybe they haven’t ever been worn, maybe they just aren’t “you” anymore. Although, it can be sad to depart from your old clothing, it’s something that must be done. This is very tricky and definitely my biggest struggle. To help you determine what to do with your leftover clothing, read on.
The Donation Pile
I donate A LOT of clothing every single time I go through my closet. I usually opt for the homeless shelter but in the past I’ve also donated to Dress for Success, Good Will, and Salvation Army. Donating makes me feel aa lot better about getting rid of my clothes. Many times, I’m parting with some old favorites and it can be difficult. It helps knowing that it not only goes to someone that needs it but that may also cherish it the way that I did. It just doesn’t make sense for it to take up space in your closet when someone else could use it and love it!
The Give-Away Pile
I reserve this one for family or friends that are the same size as me. Every time I go through my clothing, I always invite my mom and sister over for some “shopping” hehe!
The Sell Pile
This definitely helps with when parting with those more expensive unworn items. I only sell my higher end items since it takes a bit more time to create a listing. Poshmark has been a good platform for this but I also know that some people use Mercari, Depop and eBay. Most recently, I’ve been taking items to the local consignment store and while I don’t get as much as I would if I were to sell them myself, it has definitely saved me on time and space, which are both important to consider.
Items to include in these piles:
Our body changes with time. We gain weight, we lose weight. Our body changes shape and what worked once, may not work now. You should not keep items that are unflattering or ill-fitting because you hope to fit in it again or because you can “make it work” some way. Everything in your closet should make you feel good and if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t deserve a place in your closet (ie. old jeans that don’t button anymore, pants that are so baggy that they fall off your hips, a dress so tight that it hurts to sit down, a skirt that you are constantly pulling down because it’s too short). Give it away to someone that will love it and wear it.
Very Expensive Items That You Bought But For Some Reason, Never Wear
We all have those moments. You saved up many paychecks to buy the “it bag” only to have it sitting around in your closet unused. Or maybe you found a highly sought after item that was just too good of a deal to pass up. Or maybe you saw someone else wearing that amazing designer coat so you had to have it too. Whatever the reason is, sometimes we make mistakes. Yes, it cost you a lot of money, but it does no good sitting there in your closet unused.
If it is still relevant to your style and you love it, why not add it in to your wardrobe rotation?
If it’s not relevant to your style, it needs to go. For more expensive items, you may prefer to sell it instead of giving it away. I love using Poshmark and other sites like Ebay, Mercari or even a consignment shop for this purpose and although, you will likely not get back what you paid for it, you will at least get something to ease the guilt. Forgive yourself for this purchase and from now on, tell yourself “no more expensive impulse buys.” Lesson learned.
Items That, For Some Reason, You Never Wear
Maybe it’s an item that you try on every now and then and put it back in your closet. Perhaps it’s an item that you always skip over when searching for an outfit. Maybe it’s an item that stays in your closet because you have “nothing to wear” and would rather find something in your laundry basket.
Here’s the hard truth. You haven’t worn it and you won’t wear it. It’s taking up space. Make someone’s day and give it away.
Items That You Keep Because Someday It May Come Back Into Style
It’s no secret that fashion recycles itself every now and then. Right now, retro looks are all the rage and I am loving every second of it. With that being said, I probably wouldn’t pull out all of my mom’s old clothes or even some of mine from *gasp*…junior high to re-wear lol! The thing about this is that when things come back into style, they usually come back re-imagined with slightly different design elements to bring it into the present. It’s inspired by the past but it’s not *from* the past. The only exception would be a great vintage item but of course, that’s dependent on your personal style and what you deem as being special.
It may be that you have some items that did not make the I-can’t-live-without-it Pile because they are work related. However, depending on your occupation, you may need those work clothes so don’t give them away just yet.
Think about your work environment. Do you work in an office? A school? A radio station? A bank? Grocery store? *(Side note: if you wear a uniform to work, obviously you will need to keep that.)* Your work place determines how casual or how dressed up you need to appear. Of course, you want to be taken seriously as a professional, but that doesn’t mean that you have lose your personal style.
I won’t lie. I am not partial to traditional work wear: blazers, suit pants, pencil skirts, white button up shirts…..that’s just not who I am. But when I worked as a bank teller many years ago, everyone else was wearing these items and I was encouraged to do so as well. It definitely was not “me” and I did not feel good in these items. Years later, I kept a few blazers for “interview” looks or “just in case I needed them down the road,” but you know what? My dresses, the ones I feel comfortable in and most like me, are both work appropriate and interview appropriate. Not to mention that office jobs just aren’t my thing, so I never needed these other items down the road.
One more thing. Work clothes do not have to be the opposite of your style. It may be slightly different, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t inject elements of your style that you love. Wear a fun piece of jewelry. Carry a bright bag. Polish off your hairstyle with a beautiful hair clip. Wear some amazing shoes. Wear a printed button up shirt with your pencil skirt. There are options for bringing your personal style into your work attire and more than likely, you will be more excited about getting dressed each morning.
So even though, work wear might not be completely your thing, you still have to look appropriate but that is not to say that you need to wear things that are uncomfortable or unflattering. If you like it, it fits and is professional, keep it. If it makes you feel bad about yourself, give it away.
This is hard. This pile may consist of your prom dress, that old high school sweatshirt, a pair of shoes that your grandma gave you that aren’t your size, a t-shirt from your mom’s 50th birthday bash, etc. Do you NEED these items? No, but we hold onto them for sentimental value. They serve as reminders for our favorite memories and people that we are close to. When we see that item, we remember a certain time, a certain person, a certain smell, a certain song. However, these sentimental items take up A LOT of space and I am guilty for this as are most people. We are afraid that if we get rid of an item, then we will forget about that memory or think it’s because we don’t care and that’s simply not true. If it’s too painful to give them away, then choose to keep only a set amount of your favorites, up-cycle to give them a new life or put them on display to show them off! 🙂 Heirlooms are an exception, of course. And if something is special to you, keep it. There are things that I just would never get rid of including my wedding dress and a few of my great-grandmother’s items.
The Throw Away Pile
Is it stained? Does it have unrepairable holes? Does it smell funny? Throw it away or better yet, use it as a cleaning rag (depending on the material) or recycle the fabric for a craft project. Personally, I don’t throw things away but to be honest, my clothes don’t ever get in such dire condition. I take great care of them so when it does get to the point where I’m ready to part, they still look brand new.
The I-don’t-know Pile
We all have those items that we just don’t know what to do with. They are the “maybe” items. You still like it and it fits. It could be relevant to your style. But you just don’t wear it very often.
What I suggest doing is keeping these items in your closet for a month or two. If you still don’t wear them but just can’t part with them yet, put them into a box and put it away. If you haven’t reached into the box at least once after a month or two to grab an item, it’s time for them to go. Take your box elsewhere for donating, but don’t open it. Opening it will only make the pain worse and entice you to keep these items. Chances are that you have already forgotten what is in the box and this will make getting rid of these items that much easier.
I’ve tried this method quite a few times and it works!! Ir’s one of my favorite closet clean out tips 🙂 I used to have a really hard time parting with my clothing but after seeing that I didn’t actually need these items anymore and that there were still plenty of items in my closet afterward, it made it much easier. It also made me feel better about my evolving style and I didn’t feel so bad about parting with these items.
I know that cleaning out your closet can be a scary thing. I clean out my closet once a season and sometime it can be difficult for me to get rid of clothes. This time around, I did an extreme wardrobe declutter and got rid of a huge portion of my closet – it feels great! My closet is not as confined and I can actually find things that I’m searching for. I love all of the garments and they are very much true to my personal style. I ended up with four large garbage bags full of clothing for donations and consignment, five items to take to the tailor, a small box for Poshmark and a few items to give to family and friends. 🙂
Watch the video above to see my extreme wardrobe declutter firsthand, get more closet clean out tips anddd get a peek into my pretty pastel closet (something I’ve never shown before)!
I hope you loved watching my video and I hope that these simple closet clean out tips help you with your own wardrobe declutter.
Do you have any closet clean out tips to add?
Let me know below!
Shop the Post
Also, remember that yummy Breakfast at Tiffany’s cake that I made for my birthday? I’m sharing the full recipe on Review Australia’s blog today! It’s super easy to make and oh so delicious! Plus who doesn’t want a Tiffany blue cake? And while you’re there, check these darling Audrey Hepburn inspired pieces!