How To Clear Out Your Wardrobe
An overflowing wardrobe can mean a million and one wonderful choices, or (more likely) a daily headache about what to wear and where to find it.
It’s time to sever the emotional ties to your old t shirts and the shoes you can’t walk in, and clear out your clothes for good, leaving nothing but the best-fitting garments and most versatile pieces to create a new and improved capsule wardrobe.
Making space in your wardrobe is beneficial to you, your clothes, and others:
- Fewer items = more space to store them carefully instead of cramming everything in, and more room to see what your options are.
- Less choice, when done right, can also mean a fine-tuned mix and match clothing machine – fewer pieces, more combinations, and less time spent staring into the wardrobe abyss every morning.
- If you give those unwanted (but still in good condition) clothes to charity, you’ll be benefiting others.
Before you start, compactly store any off-season items in vacuum bags until you need them again. But give them a once-over while packing to check you like them still and they’re not damaged.
The aim is to divide your clothing into a few sections. Go with your gut to get through the decisions, be honest with yourself, and don’t get defensive about why you need to keep anything (you’ll come to that later).
Let the de-cluttering begin!
Remove everything from your wardrobe (or drawers, or wherever you store your clothes) and create a series of piles: keep, donate, get rid, and limbo. Here’s what they mean:
The Keep Pile
Congratulations to these lucky clothes, they made the cut! No ifs or buts, your keep pile should only be things you like and still want to wear, and they need to fit you properly, right now.
The Donate Pile
Check the clothes are in good condition, clean, and can be worn without and mending required. Bag them up and head to your local charity shop to give them a happy new life with someone else. Some high street clothing retailers offer a gift voucher in return for your unwanted second-hand clothing, so keep an eye out. If you own anything that cost a lot of money, you might not want to hand it over for free. If it’s only been lightly used and it’s simply a matter of it not fitting, or no longer being your sort of thing, try selling it online.
The Get Rid Pile
This is for any items you no longer want because they don’t suit your style or simply do not fit, and aren’t in good enough condition for anyone else to enjoy.
It can be hard to add to the donate and get rid piles, but just remember that getting rid of something doesn’t erase the memories you’ve made with them, and if you love the look but not the fit, wave bye bye to this particular piece and make it your mission to find something similar that works for your shape.
The Limbo Pile
Anything that you cannot immediately commit to one of the above belongs here. The kind of clothes that might end up here are items that fit but you don’t love (and don’t hate either), anything you like but is unwearable because of one missing button and lot of laziness, and those garments you adore but need some extra work, like being taken in, dry cleaned, etc.
Once you’ve organised your clothing into these 4 sections, revisit your limbo pile and give it a closer inspection. Piece by piece, decide which of the other 3 sections your limbo items belong in: keep, donate, or get rid.
To help you decide, ask yourself these questions:
- Does it fit?
- Does it suit your current style?
- Have you worn it in the last 6-12 months?
- Will you wear it in the next 6-12 months?
- Is it in good condition? If not, can you and will you get it fixed in the near future?
- If you didn’t already own it, would you buy it now?
- Do you feel good about yourself when you wear it?
If you answer any of these questions with a firm no, it’s probably time to say goodbye. Unless it qualifies for…
The Sentimentality Loophole
For anything you cannot part with on grounds of sentimentality, but also can’t wear in it’s current state, or have dyed or altered to suit your style – stop thinking of it as a garment, and start thinking of it as a display piece. Get it framed, turn it into a cushion cover, or hang it over the fireplace. If you love it that much, it deserves to be seen!
Don’t like this method?
If you don’t like the idea of decluttering your wardrobe so harshly or you swear you need everything in there, try this longer-term method:
- Have a preliminary clear out of anything that doesn’t fit your body or your style anymore, donate or upcycle what you can.
- Check any seasonal items still fit and are in good condition, then store in vacuum storage bags.
- Refill your wardrobe with everything that’s left, placing all of the hangers in the same direction.
- When you’ve worn something, turn the hanger the other way. Then in a couple of months, see how much of your wardrobe actually gets used. Still confident you need it all? Try another couple of months. How many hangers are still unturned? If you haven’t worn an item in over a year, you’re probably not going to wear it. Let it go.
Still not your thing?
If sentiment is holding you back, maybe this last idea will work for you. With the exception of essential items of clothing, take a look at everything else and ask yourself if it makes you happy. If the answer is no, donate it or throw it away. By only keeping the items you adore, you’ll always enjoy whatever you’re wearing. If this approach leaves you with minimal options, fill the gaps in your wardrobe with new purchases that fill you with the same sense of happiness. Buy for long term love and wearability, and enjoy your wardrobe more than ever!
If you’ve read this far and you’re still thinking there’s no way you can cut down any more/at all, maybe you need to give up on cutting down and try to be better organised instead. Start by investing in extra storage.