How Do I Objectively Clean Out My Closet?

by Anonymous

Pile of clothes

Pile of clothes

Do you have any tips on how I can get myself to be strict... Like a list of questions I can ask myself? Or criteria to guide me...? I threw out anything with a stain or hole that was unfixable.

I was trying to sort through my closet and get rid of the stuff that is unflattering or damaged somehow... It's really hard to be objective. I have all of these attachments to things I never wear - or that don't look good on me because I paid money (sometimes too much) and other reasons...

I'm trying to look more presentable and it doesn't come intuitively. Let's just say I like to be comfortable... Probably a little too comfy to look good and I'm working on improving that.

Any advice would be great!

P.S. Thank you for doing this. You have answered questions in the past for me - and your website is a real help to the fashion challenged (like myself)



Debating whether to toss or keep a garment is probably one of the biggest obstacles we face when organizing our closet :-) But to make your wardrobe work for you, you must be willing to toss anything that no longer serve you. We have to make a decision because if we kept every item with an attachment, you and I would be buried in clothes!

The goal here is to create a wardrobe that is streamlined and consists of pieces that are easy to combine. But if for some reason you want to keep useless garments that you know you won't be wearing they should be stored elsewhere, and not in your highly-functional closet where there is no room for fluff that slows down your day.

Keep or Toss

When you first start to organize your wardrobe, take all of your clothes out and start evaluating if you should keep or toss it. The first question you should ask yourself when evaluating the items in your 'Keeper'-pile is: Why Am I Keeping This Item?

You then divide this pile into 3 sections:

1) Need it: You need it to stay covered throughout the seasons. Or because it's a wardrobe essential. It could be a basic camisole or belt that seems to disappear and you forget about it. So that's why it is important to store it in a consistent and systematic way that reminds you that you have it in your closet.

2) Use it: Garments you frequently or atleast occasionally wear should be kept close to where it is used regularly.

3) Want it: This is usually the pile which has no function, whatsoever, in your closet, but you still want to keep it. Ask yourself: Is it a treasure or pleasure item? If it's a keepsake that you could imagine handing down or show off to your daughter, grand daughters, etc. then store it in a Memory-Lane Box. However if you're emotionally attached to the garment due to one or various reasons, purge it. Excess emotional baggage isn't healthy. Consider donating, selling or swapping it with something you'll likely wear. Make a decision!

Guideline questions when keeping and tossing

To make it easier for you, I've created a guideline with questions that will help you objectively decide if a garment is gold or garbage:

    Is it flattering for my body shape? Can you wear it in a way that flatters your figure? Like for example, if you have a couple of simple skinny jeans that you almost never wear because of your hips and thighs, consider doing the 'Enhance & Minimize' trick - wearing clothes to balance out your body shape.

    Is the fit perfect or fixable? You'll figure that out when you've tried the garment on. It shouldn't look too clingey nor baggy.

    Can I wear it with at least 3 other items in my wardrobe?

    Is the garment outdated?

    Is the color right for me? Usually, I wouldn't toss basic, versatile colors such as black, white and gray even if they don't flatter your complexion. That's because they work as building blocks in your wardrobe and you can easily wear another color on top of it to make it look good on you. However if it's a garment in a wrong color worn close to your face, toss it.

    Have I worn it in the last two years?

    Why do I never wear this item?

    Do I feel great when I wear it?

    Is the pattern right? See if the pattern disfigures or overwhelms your proportions.

    Is the garment comfortable?

    Have I outgrown this look? Is the hem to short or details too frilly and not you (which is one of the reasons why you knever wear it), then throw it to the curb.

    Is it still me? If you feel that everything is right with the garment (fit, color, size, etc.) but it is just not right for your personality or taste pass it on.

    Does it enhance my style?

    Basically, if you don't love or (rarely) wear a piece in your wardrobe you should re-evaluate it!

    The great thing about combing through your 'Keeper'-pile is that you'll develop a clearer picture in you head of what not to buy the next time you shop. You'll also know what essentials your wardrobe is lacking. Ideally, before you start shopping for a new round of clothes, the fluff should be out of your wardrobe before you put in the new stuff.

    Hope this can steer you in the right direction!
    August 2011 Update: Make sure to check out the step-by-step guidelines on closet organizing

    PS: Thank you for your kind words :-)



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    Comments for How Do I Objectively Clean Out My Closet?

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    Aug 01, 2013
    like cleaning your refrigerator out NEW
    by: Anonymous

    just keeping up with it helps a lot. do you put fresh bought food in your fridge while pushing the moldy stuff to the back? of course you dont! going thru your closets and dressers at least 4 times per yr (2x spring/summer and 2x fall/winter will keep you current and confident.

    Aug 01, 2013
    like cleaning your refrigerator out NEW
    by: Anonymous

    just keeping up with it helps a lot. do you put fresh bought food in your fridge while pushing the moldy stuff to the back? of course you dont! going thru your closets and dressers at least 4 times per yr (2x spring/summer and 2x fall/winter will keep you current and confident.

    May 28, 2010
    PERFECT!
    by: Anonymous

    THIS IS PERFECT!!! GREAT CRITERIA AND EXACTLY THE KICK IN THE ASS I NEED!!

    Click here to add your own comments

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