Inside: Are you ready to clean out your closet? This guide has practical tips that will help you create a streamlined wardrobe.
Today, let’s dive into a topic that hits close to home: the dreaded closet cleanout. Trust me, I’ve been there—I used to be a full-blown shopaholic, unable to resist every cute dress or pair of shoes that crossed my path. But then, one day, I reached a point where my overflowing closet became too much to handle.
Can you relate? If so, now is the perfect time for a change.
After a decade-long journey to declutter and simplify, I’m excited to share the practical tips I’ve learned along the way. If you’re ready to conquer that mountain of clothes and create a more intentional and minimalist wardrobe, you’ve come to the right place.
Get ready because this game-changing guide will make your next closet detox a breeze.
Why Your Closet Cleanout Should Be a Closet Edit
If closet clutter makes getting dressed a chore, then you’re not alone. Studies have shown that many women wear as little as 10% of their wardrobe, and over 60% resort to buying something new because they can’t find anything to wear. It’s an endless cycle that leads to so much wasted time and money in the long run.
But I don’t have to tell you that. You’re reading this because you’re ready for a refresh, but maybe you’ve been there before, and it’s never worked out the way you planned. Perhaps you struggled to get rid of things (especially sentimental items or clothes that don’t fit), or you created space but were unable to maintain it. Those sale prices were just too tempting, right?
Look, there’s no judgement here because, as I mentioned, I’ve been there myself! But if you want to break the cycle of buying and purging clothes, you need to be intentional about decluttering.
Think of it as less of a cleanout and more as a closet edit, and take this much-needed opportunity to curate a wardrobe that suits your lifestyle and personal taste.
10 Closet Cleanout Tips You Should Know
- 1. Assess the situation + set your closet goals
- 2. Prepare the necessary tools
- 3. Decide what to do with your decluttered clothes
- 4. Declutter your clothes with intention
- 5. Do you have clothes you don’t fit?
- 6. When you have clothes you *love* but never wear…
- 7. Road test clothes you’re not sure about keeping
- 8. Consider the trade-offs of keeping clothing items
- 9. “Because you never know …”
- 10. Be honest about your lifestyle + what you’re willing to do for fashion
1. Assess the situation + set your closet goals
Before you dive in and start tossing your clothes into random piles, pause for a moment. The best way to begin is by taking a moment to step back and evaluate your current closet situation. It’s time to get real with yourself, my friend. Open those closet doors and take a good look at what you’re working with.
Make some time to think about:
1. What are your closet challenges?
Are you someone who buys a lot of clothes but then never wears them? Or maybe you’re not much of a shopper, but you keep everything you’ve ever owned? Whatever your situation, take a moment to jot down some notes about your struggles.
Why does this matter? Because if you’re not clear on the ways your closet frustrates you, how will you know what problems to solve? I know this might sound like strange advice, but trust me. Clarity is the first step to breaking old habits and crafting a functional wardrobe.
2. What are your closet goals?
Next, think about what you want to achieve. What exactly do you need from your closet? Does your lifestyle require a lot of fashion options? Do you need a lot of variety? Or do you just want to be comfortable and confident in your clothes?
There’s no one right answer, but it’s important to know what you want to achieve. Without clear objectives, it’s easy to get distracted by shiny object syndrome. However, when you know what you want, you’ll stay focused, motivated, and on track throughout the process.
Here are some other questions you might want to ask yourself to clarify your goals:
- Do you want to create a more minimalistic wardrobe?
- Are you looking to curate a collection of versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched effortlessly (aka a capsule wardrobe)?
- Or perhaps you aim to increase your closet space, so you can fill it with new clothes that truly align with your personal style.
2. Prepare the necessary tools
Before diving into your closet cleanout, it’s important to gather the necessary tools and supplies to make the process smooth and efficient. Having the right items on hand will help you stay organised and maximise the space in your closet.
Here are some essential items to consider:
- Trash Bags: Grab a trash bag (or ten) to easily dispose of items you no longer want. Separate them into donation, sell, and recycle piles, making it easier to handle each category. (Cloth bags or boxes work too if you want to be more environmentally friendly!) Just make sure you have something on hand to transport your unwanted clothes.
- Nice Hangers: While not essential, I find it nice to invest in some velvet hangers to replace those flimsy plastic ones. Not only do they add a touch of elegance to your closet, but they also prevent clothes from slipping off and help save space. It also makes the job more enjoyable, which makes it easier to stay motivated to declutter.
- Something for sorting small items: Keep a few plastic bags or some type of box handy for storing items such as accessories, scarves, or seasonal pieces. These will protect your items while keeping them easily accessible.
- Dresser Drawers: If you have dresser drawers in your closet, make use of them! Utilize these drawers to store folded clothes or smaller items, helping to declutter the hanging space. (*If you don’t have any, consider adding some small ones!)
- *Specialty Racks: Consider adding extra racks or hanging solutions to maximize your closet’s storage capacity. These additional racks can be used for items like shoes and handbags or even displaying your favourite accessories.
*Important Note: If you don’t already have these items in your home, I highly recommend that you declutter your closet before you buy any nice-to-have items. As a general rule, you want to minimise first and organise later.
3. Decide what to do with your decluttered clothes
It’s crucial to have a plan for what you’ll do with the clothes you get rid of. Making these decisions in advance will prevent them from piling up in your car or sitting in trash bags for months. Here are some considerations to help you navigate this process:
- Selling: If you’re considering selling your clothes, keep in mind that it may not be as lucrative as you think. Selling second-hand items takes time and effort, and the return may not match your expectations. Consignment stores or online platforms can be good options, but weigh the practicality and decide if it aligns with the time and energy you have available.
- Donation: Donating your clothes is a great way to give them a new life. Research local donation centres or charities that accept clothing in good condition. Consider organisations that resonate with your values and support causes that you care about.
- Recycling: If the clothing items are no longer suitable for donation, recycling can be a sustainable option. Look for textile recycling programs or facilities in your area. They can process textiles to be repurposed or turned into new products, reducing waste and environmental impact.
Keep in mind that there are no perfect options when it comes to disposing of old clothes. While it’s important to be mindful of waste and the environment, don’t let fear hold you back from taking action. Sometimes the best you can do is write off the loss as a learning experience and then make better decisions moving forward.
Related Post: How to Stop Buying Clothes You Never Wear
4. Declutter your clothes with intention
If you want a functional and clean closet, it’s important to act with intention.
And I know that sounds like some buzzword, but I promise—this is essential if you want to break the cycle of shopping and purging!
Don’t just randomly sort clothes into toss or keep piles. Asking yourself if you like a piece of clothing is not enough because here’s the hard truth: if you were good at making decisions about your wardrobe, you probably wouldn’t need a cleanout in the first place.
Instead, reflect back on the big picture and your goals. Before you sort, get curious about your closet and look for patterns!
For example, if you decide to declutter a dress, ask yourself specifically what you don’t like about it. Take note of these insights to make better decisions about the rest of your clothes.
Understanding what works and what doesn’t will help you curate a wardrobe that reflects your personal style and, more importantly, one full of clothes you genuinely wear.
5. Do you have clothes you don’t fit?
This is something I’ve struggled with, and I know I’m not alone. What do you do with your clothes when your body keeps changing sizes?
It’s a tough one because no one wants to be reminded of clothes that no longer fit, but at the same time, no one wants to waste money repurchasing clothes if your body changes again. It’s a fine line, and everyone has to find the balance that works for them, but here are a few tips that might help:
- We put a lot of focus on the cost of replacing clothes, but what about the cost to your well-being? If keeping clothes that are too small (or too big!) makes you feel bad about yourself, then maybe it’s worth letting go—even if you have to purchase them again later.
- What stories do you tell yourself about getting rid of your clothes? Does it feel like a failure or giving up? Challenge your limiting beliefs, and remember, your self-worth has nothing to do with your clothing size.
- Does your body regularly fluctuate? Mine does (especially after kids), so I’ve made changes to my style to accommodate this. For example, I wear more flowing dresses instead of the tailored ones of my youth. (Click here if you want to peek inside my closet and see this in action.)
6. When you have clothes you *love* but never wear…
If you have clothes that you love but never wear, it’s probably due to one of two things:
1. You’re confusing the clothes you like on yourself with the clothes you like on other people. It’s a subtle but important difference, and it’s often why we end up with clothes we don’t wear in the first place.
To help you differentiate between the two, try reflecting on these questions:
- Do I genuinely love wearing this item, or am I drawn to it because I’ve seen it on someone else?
- Does this piece reflect my authentic self and make me feel confident when I put it on?
- Am I holding onto clothing items simply because they’re trendy or popular, even if they don’t align with my personal style?
2. Alternatively, sometimes we talk ourselves into “loving” clothes because we feel guilty or ashamed that we bought them.
Have you ever spent a lot of money on a single item and then never worn it? It’s a hard pill to swallow, right?
This is why, sometimes, it’s easier to say that we just haven’t had a chance to wear something than it is to admit to ourselves that we wasted money on clothes we now regret. It’s not always the case (and sometimes we’re not even aware it’s happening), but I’ve had this experience more than I’d like to admit.
Be kind to yourself, let go of the shame, and at the end of the day, you’ll find it easier to let go.
Related Post: How to Declutter When You Regret Spending Money
7. Road test clothes you’re not sure about keeping
Are you on the fence about an item of clothing? Maybe you have a pair of jeans in the back of your closet that only sort of fits … but it feels wrong to get rid of it?
If so, here’s a simple tip that will force your decision: wear it! And I don’t mean just try it on, I mean to wear it all day.
Go for a walk, do some chores, meet up with friends—and if you feel any discomfort or resistance, that is a sign to clear it out of your closet.
Don’t overthink it. If your clothes don’t feel good, then you’re always going to reach for something else. Or you’ll wear your uncomfortable item and regret it all day, which is the last thing you need.
The Simply + Fiercely Show is a podcast for women who want to clear their clutter and create space for freedom and joy. If your life keeps getting bigger—but not better—then it’s time to declutter from the inside out. LISTEN NOW
8. Consider the trade-offs of keeping clothing items
I might identify as a minimalist, but I’ll be honest with you: I LOVE fashion.
I love beautiful clothes, I like experimenting, and I think a lot of fashion trends are really fun. But do you know what I love more?
Feeling effortlessly confident in my clothes, doing minimal laundry, saving money and not thinking about getting dressed.
I reflect on this whenever I’m cleaning out my closet or when I’m shopping. Everything in life has tradeoffs, and personally, I know that having too many clothes will weigh me down and causes stress.
You might not feel the same, but regardless; you’re still exchanging time, money and space in your home for something to wear. Make sure the trade-off is worth it.
9. “Because you never know …”
This tip comes from a conversation on the Simply + Fiercely Facebook page. We were talking about the challenges surrounding decluttering clothes, and one person’s response was: “4 words: Because you never know…“
I had to smile because I’ve had that same conversation in my head many times, but here’s how I get around it.
Yes, you may never know if you need your old work clothes or that pair of pants that you haven’t worn in years. But you know what else? You may never know how much easier your life will be with fewer clothes and a tidy closet.
Or here’s another way to put it: you can look for solutions, or you can look for problems. Yes, you might need certain clothes items one day, but so what? What else could you wear instead?
One of my best tips is to actually write a list of ways you could make do, and a lot of the time, that’s all you need to feel comfortable getting rid of your clutter!
10. Be honest about your lifestyle + what you’re willing to do for fashion
And finally … sometimes we keep clothes for the life we wish we had or the life that we once had.
I understand because this is yet another problem I’ve struggled with myself. I used to work in marketing—a lovely job where I would travel and wear tailored dresses—and now I work from home most days.
It’s hard because I still love the styles I used to wear, but I had to get real about how I spend my time these days. I don’t need as much formal wear because I don’t attend many special occasions (I have two young kids, and I rarely leave the house after 8 pm).
This doesn’t mean I don’t care about how I look or that I never get dressed up, but I just don’t need the same proportion of “going out” clothes as I used to. I also had to accept that I just don’t have the tolerance for uncomfortable clothes anymore, no matter how cute they are.
Of course, your priorities and such will likely be different! But what matters is that you look at yourself and your wardrobe and make sure that the clothes you wear make up the majority of the clothes you own.
Need More Help to Purge Your Closet?
Hopefully this blog post helped you understand how to clean out your closet, but if you need more encouragement, here are some additional articles and resources you might find helpful:
- Have you considered dressing in a personal uniform? And no, you don’t have to wear the exact same thing every day! But there are systems you can implement to make getting dressed easier.
- Do you want to create a minimalist closet? If you want to go beyond the purge and really simplify, here are 20 minimalist wardrobe tips that will help you get started.
- Shopping Tips From a Minimalist: How to Buy Less But Better – This article will help you be mindful with your future additions because you don’t want to be doing another closet cleanout every six months, do you?
And finally, if you read this and you still feel overwhelmed, I have a step-by-step program—the One Day Closet Cleanse—that has helped hundreds of women tackle their closets (even when nothing has worked in the past). It also includes a bonus workshop on how to stop buying clothes you never wear, so check it out!
I hope these simple tips will help you clear out your closet with clarity and confidence! But if you have anything else to add, let us know in the comments! x