You feel like you have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear.
You’re over trying to figure out what to wear everyday.
And, you’re tired of the clothes clutter.
My clothes declutter guide will help you edit your clothes and pare down your wardrobe. You’re going to love getting dressed again!
- What Does ‘Declutter Clothes’ Mean?
- Finding Motivation to Declutter Clothes
- When Should I Declutter My Closet?
- How to Be Ruthless When You Declutter
- How to Declutter Clothes
- How to Purge Your Closet
- How to Simplify Your Closet
This post may contain affiliate links to my favorite products and resources. To read my full disclosure policy, read here.
What Does ‘Declutter Clothes’ Mean?
When you declutter your clothes, you’re simply going through what you have, and making a decision about each piece.
It’s basically an editing process where you remove what doesn’t fit into your lifestyle and is no longer serving you.
Paring down your wardrobe does not mean you won’t have any clothes left to wear.
The truth is how many clothes you currently have is deceiving, because we typically only wearing about twenty percent of our wardrobe.
Once you get rid of that eighty percent, you’re looking at what you actually have.
Then you can go from there to fill in any gaps and create a complete wardrobe.
Finding Motivation to Declutter Clothes
I’ve found that motivation to declutter your clothes comes when you’re more tired of the clothes clutter than your are overwhelmed by getting started. In my experience, decluttering becomes a need that cant be ignored. When you reach that place, you might find yourself saying ‘I can’t do this anymore,” or “this has to change.”
That resolve, coupled with your vision for an uncluttered wardrobe, will likely be all the motivation you need.
If you realize you’re not motivated, dig a little deeper and ask yourself why. Is there an unspoken need or an unaddressed habit that needs attention?
Once you find the answers, take some time to meet yourself where you are. Doing this first means your decluttering efforts are far more likely to last.
When Should I Declutter My Closet?
I recommended going through your clothes when the seasons change. That gives you an opportunity to take a look at both the outgoing and incoming season’s clothing items. Doing a seasonal closet declutter should keep your clothes relatively clutter free.
However, if you notice clothes starting to pile up again, or that you’re not wearing what you have, go back to your goals and find where you’re falling out of alignment. Address that, then give your closet a refresh.
How to Be Ruthless When You Declutter
You’ve probably heard the advice to be ruthless when you’re editing your closet. I used to give that advice myself. But, I’ve since changed my mind. Because decluttering is an emotional process that can feel like you’re ripping away parts of you.
This is not a time to be ruthless.
Instead it’s a time for gentleness and grace as you take steps toward change.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t hold yourself accountable. You should.
I suggest before you remove anything from your closet, set intentions around your space. Some examples might be:
- My closet will be a true reflection of my personality and lifestyle.
- I will enjoy getting dressed in the mornings.
Keep your intentions front and center as you make decisions about each piece of clothing. Doing this will hold you accountable to achieving your desired results.
How to Declutter Clothes
It can be hard to let go of clothes that hold memories or remind us of someone, maybe even our younger or thinner selves. Or, we can feel guilt for getting rid of clothes that we spent a lot of money on, or that we never wore. So, today I want to help you create a clothes decluttering plan to give you momentum.
You’ll be sorting your clothes into one of two categories: Yes or No
The yes pile is simply the clothes we choose to keep.
How to Decide What Clothes to Keep
Once upon a time when I was a young teen, I wasn’t sure about a bathing suit I’d tried on. As I spun around in front of the dressing room mirror, Aunt Marilyn chimed in. She suggested if I was having doubts, not to get it. She encouraged me to wait for the yes.
I share my aunt’s advice to say the clothes you keep should be a definite yes, or with alterations have the potential to become a yes.
The rest of the your clothes will fall into the ‘No’ category. You’ll sort them into one of the following piles:
Donate – Donate items in good condition, that are no longer your style, or don’t fit.
Recycle – Recycle clothes with holes, thinning, stains, stretched out, or in otherwise bad shape.
Sell – You can sell name brand items or quality clothes in excellent condition.
Repair – These the clothes that fit and flatter but need to be cleaned, altered, or repaired.
Store – If you have a small closet, you can store the off-season clothes to create a spacious feel.
Supplies You’ll Need to Clean Out Your Closet:
- Go ahead and grab boxes or bags for donations and recycle items. We’ll talk about what to do with them a little later.
- You’ll put items to be altered, repaired or cleaned in your car and set a date on your calendar to drop them off.
- Gather clothes storage bins store off-season clothing
- You may also want a clothing rack to hang your clothes while you’re making decisions. You could use a shower rod, a door, or an indoor clothing line instead. Another option is to have a friend or family member hold clothes up for you.
How to Purge Your Closet
Now that we have a decluttering plan, we can start editing our closet. If you have the time and room, go ahead and empty everything out of your closet. If not, remove any items that don’t belong in your closet. Then, start to remove clothes by type: tops, bottoms, dresses, etc.
Before moving on, look at your empty space and pay attention to how it feels. What emotions arise? Where can you feel it in your body?
Being able to see a clean space helps us separate from any emotional attachment we have with the clothes and look forward to what our closet can be.
This makes letting go a little easier. We’re going to expand that separation just little more with the next step.
Tips for Getting Rid of Clothes
While I don’t hold to set rules for cleaning out your closet, I do follow some general tips. These tips serve as a guideline to bring a measure of objectivity and clarity to what can otherwise be an emotional process. So, let’s start simple by pulling out items you can easily identify as:
- fitting poorly
- a regrettable or impulse buy
- a gift you don’t like
- something you don’t feel confident in
- no longer your style
- a duplicate
Now that those easy no’s are taken care of, you can go back through your remaining clothes with a few helpful questions in mind.
What to Ask Yourself When Getting Rid of Clothes
We asked the first two questions in the initial round of decluttering, but since it was a quick process, there will inevitably be clothes that made it through the first wave that need reconsidering, this time with a more intentional filter.
- Do I feel confident wearing this? It may seem silly, but whether you’re dressed for sitting on the bleachers at your kid’s games, going on a date, or attending a cocktail party, the right outfit will make you feel confident. And you’re worth it. So, don’t settle for meh.
- Does it fit well? Nothing is worse than wearing tops or bottoms that don’t fit well. Ain’t nobody got time for tugging and pulling. You deserve to have well-fitting clothes. If a clothing item doesn’t fit well, but you like it, set it aside to be altered.
- Does it flatter my shape? Rather than hiding behind clothes, use them to accentuate your beautiful body shape. If you’re not sure what you’re body shape is, try this Body Shape Capsule.
- Is it my style? Fashion is a form of self-expression. So, you’ll want the clothes you keep to be a reflection of your lifestyle; how you live and who you are. If you need help finding your style, this quiz might help.
- Can I style this piece in a few different ways? Ideally, your clothes will be versatile so you can maximize your wardrobe. The exception to this would be special occasion clothes. In that case, ask yourself how many types of events you can wear it to. For ideas on multiple ways to style one piece, I highly recommend Outfit Formulas.
Try on any of the pieces you’re not sure about. Then, get rid of anything that isn’t a yes.
If you have some sentimental clothes like concert t-shirts, ask yourself what you value more…the space in your closet, or the t-shirt (or whatever the clothing item is.) There’s no wrong answer.
Also, ask yourself if a photo will sufficiently preserve the memory.
If you prefer to keep the clothes, store them in a bin and keep it somewhere easily accessible for when you feel like going down memory lane.
What to Do With Clothes That Are Too Big or Too Small
Sometimes clothes are a little loose or too tight just because our weight fluctuates throughout the month or when we eat certain foods. So, keep those size clothes.
Pro Tip: Use divider tags to separate your clothes by size. The tags don’t have to be fancy. Post-it notes or washi tape will work just fine.
Now, let’s talk about the clothes that are several sizes too small. They represent another time in your life.
Looking at your past everyday sends a negative message to your brain, suggesting who you are now isn’t good enough and keeps you from enjoying the present.
Do yourself a favor, and start living in the moment. Letting go of clothes that are too small blesses someone who needs them right now.
If you do lose enough weight to wear that size again, treat yourself to some new clothes.
What To Do With Clothes You Don’t Wear
After you’ve pared down your wardrobe, there may still be some clothing pieces you don’t wear, but want to keep. First, consider the reason you haven’t worn it, then make a final decision.
4 reasons we don’t wear certain clothes:
- it got hidden and lost in the shuffle
- you’re not sure how to style it or what to wear it with
- it’s a special occasion piece
- it’s out-of-season
If you discovered an item you hadn’t worn because it was lost in the shuffle, hang it with the hook facing backwards. When you wear that item, hang it with the hanger facing the right way. If, after three to six months, depending on your climate and how long seasons last, the hanger is still hanging backward, it’s time to donate the item.
Special occasion pieces are only worn every so often. As long as they meet the guidelines, keep it. For example, I have a dress that I only wear to weddings and funerals. So it stays in my closet.
If you’re not wearing something because it’s off season, consider storing seasonal clothing items in bins on the top shelf of your closet, under the bed, or in a spare bedroom closet. Especially if you’re closet is small or short on space.
For the pieces you’re not sure how to style, look online for inspiration or try a Seasonal Capsule Wardrobe.
What to Do With Clothes You Don’t Want
Recycle old cotton t-shirts as cleaning rags.
Repurpose sentimental clothes to make a quilt or a piece of art.
Exchange – Some brands do an exchange allowing you to bring brands they carry to their stores. Some stores offer a credit, some a discount, and others recycle the clothes for you. A few of the brands to look into are:
- The North Face
I recommend going to the brand’s website to get the details on their program.
Where to Donate Old Clothes
I like to donate my clothes to resale shops that benefit women’s shelters. You can also donate clothing to animal shelters where they will repurpose it bedding or toys.
Pro Tip: Hang a reusable shopping bag on a hook or hanger to collect donations, or keep a bin handy in the basement or garage. When the bag or bin is full, take it to be donated.
Places to Sell Your Clothes
You can list your clothes on Facebook Marketplace, Thred Up, or Posh Mark.
If you choose to sell, give yourself a deadline. If the clothes don’t sell by then, donate them. Otherwise, you’re still making space for clothes you don’t want.
How to Simplify Your Closet
Now that you’ve sorted and decluttered all your clothes, you can simplify your closet. I’ll walk you through the whole process in How to Organize Your Closet Like a Pro ,and then I’ll help you Create a Wardrobe You Love.
If you would like help with clothes decluttering, contact me for a decluttering session. I offer both virtual and in person sessions. I’d love to help.
And for more general decluttering help, read How to Declutter Your Home and Life.