Decluttering & Downsizing Your Wardrobe
Ready to purge your overstuffed closet and dresser drawers filled to the brim with
For many of us, keeping clothes we do not need or love, can fill up our spaces fast and unnecessarily. In this post, you will find guidelines to follow when it comes to evaluating your clothes. You’ll also discover some feel-good options for when guilt creeps in. And lastly, you’ll come upon tips for organizing and maintaining a clutter-free closet and dresser.
Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Before getting started, here are some suggestions to follow.
- If you have a huge amount of clothes, make sure you start early in the morning and plan to work on this task the whole day, and if need be, the following day too.
- Make sure that all your laundry is up to date. [You really don’t want baskets of clothing coming your way after you have decluttered and organized all your other clothes.]
- Be aware that throughout this post, I will only refer to your
clothing. So, if you plan on purging your spouse’s or kids’ clothingas well, wait until you have done your own first. This way you already know what to expect when you do take on their clothes and you can plan accordingly.
Evaluating Your Clothes
Gathering and Sorting Your Entire Wardrobe
Ok, so let’s get started. First, find yourself a nice clean spot to put all of your
Now, gather all of your
This means emptying your closets, chests, drawers, armoires, storage, and any other places you may be keeping your clothes. This includes anything you’ve put away seasonally.
As you lay out all of your items, try to keep the different types of
Guidelines for Evaluating and Discarding Pieces
At this point, you may have huge piles of clothes and you’re asking yourself if you’ve made a mistake. Don’t give up. We are now going to work on making those piles smaller.
First, have boxes and/or bags handy. Label and assign them as “donate”, “repurpose”, “sell”, and “trash”.
Now, pick a type of
Next, if any of the clothes you are evaluating fits the following criteria, they need to be sorted into one of the bags and boxes above.
Here are the five criteria:
- Items that do not fit
- Items you have not worn or used in over a year and/or items that still have price tags on them (ignore recently purchased items)
- Items that are clearly out of style
- Items that you have too much of
- Items that you are keeping for sentimental reasons
Reasons and Benefits For Not Keeping Any of the Above Items
I know, I know. There are some items we just don’t want to part with for one reason or another. But let me explain why you should part with those items above and how it can benefit you to do so.
Never hold onto clothes that don’t fit as a result of weight loss through dieting and exercising. Keeping larger clothes could actually work against your progress.
Keeping them “in case you gain weight again” is just setting yourself up to fail. Don’t do that. Prove to yourself that you can maintain your current size. So, ditch those bigger clothes.
There is one and only one exception to this rule. You can keep one item to use as a benchmark for your weight loss. Yep, I’m talking to you, pair of jeans I wore in high school. If you need to use an item as an incentive in your weight loss journey, you have permission to keep this item.
Don’t hold onto clothes you haven’t worn in over a year or still have price tags on them. Clearly, you don’t like them. They are only taking space you could use for items you do like.
And nix the guilt of having spent money on these items. You could make up for that in other ways that we will go over later.
Stop holding onto outdated clothes hoping it will come back in style. It usually will come back but not for years and not in the same form. It will look more like a Halloween costume then the current style. So ditch those clothes and don’t become that sad person who can’t seem to get over that particular decade.
Take inventory and count your like items. Ask yourself if the amount of this type of
So look for excessive amounts of
Don’t hold onto items for sentimental reasons. For some of you, this may not be an issue, but for others, it can be the thing that makes it hard to declutter anything including
I know this because it happened to me. When my dad passed away years ago, I held onto my wake/funeral clothes. I couldn’t let them go even when I dropped 50 pounds and they no longer fit.
Every time I looked at those clothes I could only remember my dad in the casket, never the good times we had. So, here I was holding things that only brought up bad memories.
It took me six years before I finally let them go. So, if you are keeping items for “memory” sake, don’t. That is what photos, journals, and stories are for. Keeping
Now, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule:
If you have a high school jersey from when your team won a championship game, it’s okay to keep this. However, I encourage you to display it in a case. This way you get to enjoy reliving those moments and tell others what that jersey meant to you instead of them sitting in a cardboard box in the basement.
Another exception is to save ONE piece of your children’s infant wear. This can be their christening suit or their very first onesie. Again, keep only ONLY one.
For more information on what kinds of clothes to donate and 10 places that will accept them, click here.
What to Do With Your Discarded Clothes
Feel Good Options
Once you’ve decided what needs to go, here are some suggestions for putting them to good use. It will also make you feel better about giving up your items.
Donate, Donate, Donate
For clothes that are in good condition, donate them to organizations such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army. If you have office
If your clothes are very worn, turn them into rags or click here to read Home Jelly’s list of organizations that will accept and repurpose them for a good cause.
For wedding dresses, I recently learned about ‘Angel Gowns.’ These are gowns specially made for stillborn babies. They are donated to hospitals, funeral homes, and grieving parents free of charge.
I can’t think of a better way to repurpose your gown and know that it is greatly appreciated. Click here to read more and make a donation.
And don’t forget that prom dress or bridesmaid dresses. These can also be repurposed and donated to teens who otherwise can not afford these kinds of dresses. And no teen should have to miss their prom because they couldn’t afford a dress. Click here to learn more and make a donation.
Repurpose Your Clothes
There are so many ways to repurpose your items if you are somewhat crafty. Perhaps you can make a pillow out of that tie-dye shirt from years ago. Or you can turn a pair of socks into doll dresses.
For more creative ideas on repurposing your clothes, check out Pinterest. They have tons of ideas.
Caution: Please do not keep any
Make Some Moolah
Chances are you probably don’t have the receipts for items that still have their price tags attached. Go online and check to see if stores are willing to take back
Kohls is one store that I know of that will give you a refund or store credit without a receipt. If not, consider taking them to a consignment shop so you can make a little money back.
And don’t forget that you can also hold a yard sale or list items on eBay, Craigslist, Facebook, and Nextdoor if you have the app.
Get Rid of Your Discarded Clothes Quickly
Now, that you know what to do with your discarded clothes, you need to take care of this immediately. If you are unable to do so right away, then get them boxed up and place them in your car trunk until the next day.
You don’t want these clothes around. It is so easy to change your mind and start digging for items you’ve decided should go.
Folding, Hanging, and Storing Your Keep Pile
By now, you should only be left with
Personally, I separate my clothes into two: spring/summer and fall/winter. If you’d like to separate them for each season, that is up to you.
However, I found that dividing them into two categories saves a lot of time. This way I only have to change out my
Once you have your off-season clothes sorted out, go ahead and put them away. A great place where I keep my off-season clothes is under my bed. I have a bin like this one that is just perfect for fitting under my bed. And it has wheels making it easy on one’s back and knees when it’s time to change out the season.
Folding Your Clothes
Like some people, I learned how to properly fold my clothes when Marie Kondo and her Konmari ways hit the U.S. back in 2015. I was amazed not only by how much space her folding method saved but also how convenient it was when it came to picking out the day’s clothes.
I no longer had to sift through and unravel a few items just to find the one I wanted. And removing the item left the rest of the clothes unphased. No more unraveling of shirts as you pulled one out from the bottom of the pile.
So, my suggestion to you, especially if space is a concern, is to fold any
You can also find loads of videos on Youtube, like the one below, demonstrating how to Konmari your clothes.
Hanging Your Clothes
Despite my recommendation for folding your clothes the Konmari way, I have to be honest and say that I do not fold my current seasonal tops this way. I keep these hung up in my closet instead.
One reason I do so is that after I did a massive decluttering a few years ago, I realized that I didn’t have enough clothes to really need a dresser or chest. My closet was all I needed.
And the other reason is that folding my tops caused crease lines that I had to now iron out. And I hate ironing.
So, instead, I hang up my tops and keep my jeans, shorts, and pants folded in one of those vertical hanging organizers like this one.
And what about sweaters that should never be put on hangers? Well, I found a video years ago where this woman hung her sweaters on hangers without damaging them or getting those “shoulder nipples.”
I couldn’t find that video but the one below shows the same method if you would like to keep your sweaters in the closet. I also found that sweaters take up a lot of drawer space so hanging can now be an option for you if you prefer.
As for items like underwear and socks, I purchased these bins from Michaels.
They are perfect for placing in a closet and holding smaller items. I waited until they were on sale and had a coupon that made them a steal!
Maintaining Your Wardrobe
Below are a few ways to maintain your newly slimmed-down wardrobe.
- After every load of laundry, put your clothes away immediately. Do not let them sit in the dryer, in a basket, or elsewhere. Fold and/or hang them up right away. It will also prevent wrinkles from happening.
- Be mindful of your shopping habits. A good rule to follow: if you buy something, then you have to give up a similar item from your closet.
- Schedule two or four days out of the year to cycle through your seasonal
clothing. As you switch out your clothes, evaluate them to see if you really want to keep and store something you may not want to wear the following year.
- If it has been more than a year since you’ve worn a particular item, donate or repurpose it. One way to determine if you have or haven’t worn an item within a year is to hang the item in your closet with the hanger head facing the opposite way. If after a year you find the hanger still facing this way, then it’s safe to say that you have not worn it in a long while.
Final Thoughts on Dealing with
I know this may seem like a lot for some of you, but you can do it. It really is a lifestyle change for a lifetime. Take your time and watch your spaces transform into something you love and not loathe.
- If you have lots of clothes, schedule a whole day to do this.
- Really evaluate your pieces and make sure you are not holding onto items unnecessarily.
- Do some good with your clothes by donating. It will make you feel better too.
- Get creative and repurpose some pieces or make a little money on the side by selling them.
- And finally, fold, hang, and store your clothes properly. If you have an item you are unsure about, type it in the Pinterest search bar. You’re bound to find lots of ways to store your clothes.
Useful Articles to Help With Your
- How to Organize a Stuffy Master Bedroom Closet
- How to Simplify Your Laundry Routine
- How to Create a Simple and Pretty Bra organizer
Save This For Later?
Want to save this post for later? Hover over the image below and click on the pin icon to save it to your favorite Pinterest board.
Organizing clothes has been one of our chores as parents and it’s really challenging. Thank you for these ideas! I now have ideas on how to fully organize our clothes!