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. (True story: I once had over a hundred pairs of shoes and used my entire spare room as a closet. I had piles of clothes 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.
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 flash back 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 are too many?”
Signs You Have Too Many Clothes
Instead, I find the following 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 overflowing 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?
- Does it take you ages to get dressed?
These are just a few signs that you have too much clothing, and it might be time to let go.
How To Decide What Clothes to Keep?
Right, so once you’ve decided that you’d like to have less 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 a thrift store or charity shop that will likely end up throwing them 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 a term used by the fashion industry, 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. Instead of tossing random clothes into a trash bag, you can be intentional about creating a wardrobe you love.
For more closet decluttering tips, check out this blog post: How to Declutter Your Closet For Good: An Ultimate Guide.
“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 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, your clothes spend most of their time in the back of your closet! 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 clothes.
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 do with fewer clothes to achieve what matters most to you.
“I Keep Buying Too Many Clothes…”
Decluttering is a great starting point, but the best solution is to stop what’s coming in. This means you need to get your shopping under control, or 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:
- 4 Reasons Why You Can’t Stop Shopping + What To Do About It — Are you always buying new clothes? Maybe you can’t pass up a good deal? This post will help you understand why you shop, and how you can go about changing your habits.
- How to Stop Online Shopping (Tips From a Former Shopaholic) — Do you have a full closet thanks to online shopping? Read this before you click add to cart.
- How to Stop Buying Clothes You Never Wear — It’s one thing to have a lot of clothes, it’s another to have hundreds’ worth of unworn clothing. Apparently, the average woman only wears 20% of their closet, but there are things you can do to break the cycle.
- 7 Signs You Have A Shopping Problem + What To Do About It —Frequent buyer’s remorse is one telltale sign you have a shopping problem. Read this post to learn six more, and what you can do about it.
Other Ways to Reduce Your Number of Clothes
Obviously, decluttering is the best way to create valuable space in your closet, but there are ways to “ease” into having fewer clothes and/or simplifying your wardrobe.
- Project 333 — Project 333 is a minimalist fashion experiment where you dress with 33 items of clothing for 3 months. It’s a great way to “test drive” dressing with less before committing to a full wardrobe overhaul.
- Experiment with a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe — Don’t just declutter. Instead, create a capsule wardrobe, which is a versatile collection of clothing items that are easy to mix and match. This guide will walk you through the process, step by step.
- Dress with a Personal Uniform — A personal uniform is a good idea if you’re overwhelmed with wardrobe choices and have a hard time getting dressed. If you feel pressure to always wear a new outfit, try this instead.
Do you identify as having too many clothes? What are your biggest challenges with letting go?
9 thoughts on “What To Do When You Have Too Many Clothes”
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!
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!
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.
Hi Chelsea! Thanks for your comment. 😊 I don’t have firsthand experience with this because I’m in Australia, but this might work for you? https://declutter.diabetes.ca/what-we-ll-come-pick-up There are a few more Canada specific ideas in this article: https://www.closettcandyy.ca/post/how-to-recycle-clothes-that-can-t-be-repaired-donated-or-resold. Good luck!
Vinted works really well in the UK and having checked, works in many other countries too. Give it a try!
I have found it easy to sell without being tempted to buy!!
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!
100% this! 🙌🏻
totally agree with this, and going with what makes us feel good when wearing is definitely the way to go. thank you for such an honest piece x
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! 🙂