What To Do When You Have Too Many Clothes

Have you ever looked in your closet and thought, “I have too many clothes!” … but then felt completely confused as to what to do about it? 

Yes? Me too! As a reformed shopaholic, I know exactly how it feels to have more things than you know what to do with. At one stage, I had over a hundred pairs of shoes and a closet overflowing with items that I never wore (many with the tags still attached!). 

These days things are pretty different. I’ve embraced a minimalist wardrobe, and I’ve learned that less really can be more. If you have too many clothes and don’t know what to do, here are some tips that will help you get started.

"What To Do When You Have Too Many Clothes" in a white box with tan and white clothing laying in the background

How Many Clothes Is Too Many?

As a minimalist, I know many people expect me to say, “you should only own 30 items of clothing” or something ridiculous like that. But this actually couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Instead, I firmly believe that there’s no “one size fits all” answer to how much is too much. Some people need more clothes than others, which reflects lifestyle, environment, values, and priorities. 

For example, as the mum of young, messy children, I need to change and wash my clothes often. Owning less right now would mean stressing about getting laundry done or running out of things to wear. 

But let’s flashback a few years; I had no kids, and I lived in a small studio apartment. (Oh, how quickly things change, haha!) It would’ve been stressful if I had as many clothes then as I do now because there was physically nowhere to put it all. 

Plus, I didn’t need as much because I could actually wear things more than once between washing. No sticky fingers or snotty noses to deal with! 

All this to say—what’s right for you might be too much for your neighbour or not enough for your sister. We’re all different, and things change, so stop worrying about “How many clothes is too many?” 

Instead, you might find this question more helpful: “Is the cost of keeping all my clothes greater than the value they add to my life?”

Pay attention to the impact of your wardrobe:

  • Does your closet stress you out?
  • Do you struggle to find what you’re looking for?
  • Do you feel sad or guilty because you have things you’re not wearing? 

These are just a few signs that you have more than you need, and it might be time to let go.

How To Decide What Clothes to Keep?

Right, so once you’ve decided that you have too many clothes, how do you decide which clothes to keep? 

First, you can start by clearing out the obvious stuff like damaged or worn-out clothes. (In many places, you can recycle these instead of donating them to charities who will just end up throwing it all away.) 

Once you’re done with that, it’s a question of identifying your personal style. And there are varying opinions on how to do this, but what has worked best for me is as follows. 

Don’t worry about trying to put a name or a label on your style, and stop looking at magazines or Pinterest for inspiration. Instead, get curious about the clothes you already have. 

What do you love wearing? What do you never wear? And what do these things have in common? Look for patterns in fit, fabric, hemlines, colours, patterns and more. 

You’ll start to learn that there are certain things you always turn to and certain things you turn away from—and ultimately, this is a reflection of your style. It might not fit into a tidy box or be something you see described in fashion magazines, but it’s what you genuinely like to wear. 

Embrace it, and use this information to decide what to keep and what to let go of.

For more closet decluttering tips, check out this blog post: How to Declutter Your Closet For Good: An Ultimate Guide.

Tan and white clothing laying on a white surface with a white frame overlay

“I Have Too Many Clothes But I Like Them All!”

This is a common problem I get asked about all the time. There are a lot of people who are struggling with too many clothes, but they’re not sure what to do about it because they like them all. 

If you can relate, let’s start with an important question: are you actually wearing all of your clothes? 

If not, then here’s a hard truth. You probably don’t like them all—at least not on you

This is an important lesson that it took me a long time to learn. You can love a style, admire it on other women, and save it to your Pinterest boards, but this doesn’t mean that you like how it looks on you. 

The proof is in the pudding. After all, you’re not wearing your clothes! Maybe you don’t like the fit; the colour doesn’t suit your complexion, you’re not comfortable with the hemline, or something else just isn’t right for YOU. 

On some level, you might already know this, but sometimes it feels safer to say “I love all my clothes” than to accept our lifestyles have changed or to feel guilty about spending too much on something that never gets worn. It’s not easy, but facing these truths head-on is the first step to letting go. 

Now let’s look at the other scenario. What if you genuinely love and wear all of your clothes? 

The question to ask now is why you want to downsize. Are you running out of space? Do you feel overwhelmed by your closet? Be specific about your motivation for decluttering. 

When you’re done, compare the joy of achieving these goals with the pain of letting go of a few special items. I know it’s not always an easy decision, but realise that sometimes you have to make a few sacrifices to achieve what matters most to you.

Learn to say 'no' to the good so you can say 'yes' to the best. - John C. Maxwell

“I Keep Buying Too Many Clothes…”

Decluttering is a great starting point, but if your shopping is out of control, then you’ll continue to struggle with too many clothes. 

If this is a problem you can relate to, then here are a few blog posts that you might find helpful:

Do you identify as having too many clothes? What are your biggest challenges with letting go?

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7 thoughts on “What To Do When You Have Too Many Clothes”

  1. As a minimalist, decluttering clothes is always on the list. And these are the questions which I find important: Does your closet stress you out? Do you struggle to find what you’re looking for? Do you feel sad or guilty because you have things you’re not wearing? Thanks for this great article Jennifer!

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  2. I’m so happy to hear you say that there is no right size ardrobe that ill meet everyone’s needs!! I have about fifty pieces of clothing for every season and I have to really ork at keeping it this lo!! This isn’t counting P.J. or underpinnings. I also hhave a great deal of accessories. I have only about 25 pairs of shoes and I don’t see myself buying too many anytime soon. I’m planning to buy a pair of cork sandals that go ith everything and a pair of loafers that are just as versatile!! Also a purse in dark bron,one in camel and a strabag for summer. I don’t on a tote and I’m praying about getting one!. I’m giving up purses to bring those into my closet!

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  3. Good article Jen! I always enjoy reading your content. My biggest hurdle with parting with my clothes is not the initial step of pulling it out of closet and deciding to let go, it’s actually more so the physical action of leaving my home. We do not have any good options for donation or textile recycling facilities where I live. So usually what happens is one of two things, my clothes either sit in boxes forever and take up space in my house collecting dust or They stay in my closet forever and I try to convince myself to get some wear out of them because I have no other option – but I never do. I’ve tried listing my new to like new pieces online for sale but again, in a small community that does not find much value in quality brands, it’s a very hard and slow process to move pieces that I cannot part with for nothing. I am the type of person that does like to explore new brands (ethical eco friendly brands) and tend to do a purge seasonally but struggle a great deal now to do those purges when I just don’t have any options to move them. Any suggestions of online places I can mail my clothes to ? Either for donation or purchase? I live in Canada.

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  4. Great points Jennifer! I loved the point that you might like a style on other people but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. I feel that way about flannel shirts. They look so cute on everyone else but I just can’t make them work for me!
    We have to accept who we are, what types of clothes make us feel our best, and stop torturing ourselves with anything less!

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  5. I spent the last two years really going through my wardrobe (using many of your tips!) to only have clothes that I actually like and wear. Part of my problem was that I got stuff at the thrift store just because it was cheap, and part was that nearing 30 I am changing my style and how I want to present myself.

    Now I am a lot more selective of what I buy (is it the kind of fabric I like? Do I have pants that work with this shirt?), and I am learning what color palette I actually wear. Now it actually sparks joy looking at my clothes, and I feel comfortable wearing them all. It really makes a huge difference tackling this one area of your life! 🙂

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