The Ultimate Closet Cleanout Guide
1. Take Everything Out!
The easiest step to a closet cleanout is to start off by emptying your closet and drawers completely, allowing you to start with a fresh space and organize the pieces you want to keep without clutter and the distraction of other pieces in the way. I recommend taking all clothes, shoes, and other accessories out of your closet and drawers, and off the shelves, and placing them on the bed or floor. I also take this time to sanitize and clean my closet and dresser drawers, as well as vacuum and clean the baseboards before putting things away which adds to the freshness of a decluttered, organized space. By removing everything it also gives you a chance to be more mindful in deciding which pieces to keep, and possibly rediscover a piece you completely forgot about.
2. Start Purging!
This is where the hard part begins – deciding what to keep and what has to go. I recommend making separate piles for items to keep, donate/sell, trash, and if needed a pile for items that you want to keep but need repaired. Start out with the items you grab for on a regular basis as those will be easiest to sort. As far as items to get rid of, there’s several scenarios that may come into your decision of what to do with it. If you haven’t worn it in a year and it’s still in good condition you can sell or donate it, or pass it on to a friend. If it’s not your style or doesn’t fit you anymore, donate it. If it has holes, worn out elastic, or stains that cannot be removed, trash it. If it has a broken zipper/button or needs minor alterations but is a staple for you, put it into a pile to repair. For a few items you aren’t quite ready to part with and think you may possibly wear, keep them in an area of your closet that you can revisit in a few months. If those items have not been worn since your original closet cleanout, get rid of them at that time. The one exception is an item that has sentimental value to you; however, those are very few items which can get put away into a box and stored. And don’t forget to do the same with your bras, socks and shoes!
I also recommend getting rid of any “motivator” or “goal” pieces you have kept in your wardrobe – a piece that is too small but you have hopes to one day wear again. While it may seem like keeping an item to motivate you is a good idea, it can lead to unhealthy habits and trigger feelings of shame about your body. Our clothes should make us feel empowered and confident, and seeing that “goal” piece every day as you get ready can have a negative effect on your progress and self-image. Plus, if you do reach that milestone, you can always reward yourself with a shopping trip!
Deciding What to Purge:
We know how difficult it can be to get rid of clothes in fear that once it’s gone you’re going to wish you had it for that one outfit. After all, you can always keep it a little longer and then the next cleanout part with it, right? The problem with that is then we find ourselves saying that about too many pieces, leading to a cluttered and disorganized chaos of a wardrobe. Consider purging things that you have in excess; that one bodysuit in 4 colors, 10 pairs of mom-fit jeans, sweaters, basics and t-shirts. Think about how many of these items you actually wear and start by clearing the extras that rarely get used or aren’t a necessity for the climate you’re in. Hard-to-match separates that never seem to match anything else you have are also a good indicator of a piece to part with. Stick with matching sets and low-key separates that can easily mix and match for countless looks in your wardrobe.
One of the easiest criteria to consider when deciding what stays and goes is comfort. Those uncomfortable boots or painful high heels? Donate. That jumpsuit that rides up or is constantly needing adjusted throughout the day? Let it go. Just remember to also consider the condition of each piece when looking at the comfort; that one bra that is the most comfortable you own but has been in your closet entirely too long should be replaced. And that pair of leggings that you have worn every day possible for the past 5 years but have stains and tears in places they shouldn’t should also be replaced. Find pieces to replace the tattered ones that match the comfort and versatility of your style without the worn-out look [with the exception of pieces that actually look better that way.]
3. Begin the Organization!
Now that you’ve decided what pieces you want to keep and what to get rid of, it’s time to organize. Look at the layout of your space, decide what pieces to hang or what to put in drawers. If you have shelves, decide what items you want to display there as well. Personally, I like to use bins on my shelves to store items like swimwear, intimates, and seasonal accessories that I don’t reach for daily. The top shelves I use for storing luggage and handbags that I rarely need to reach for, as living in a small space I need to utilize every inch possible. I use my dressers for loungewear, leggings, socks, and items that are mainly worn around the house. For my everyday wardrobe I like to have everything hung to easily see what I have and choose my outfit. Hanging work attire and dresses also helps prevent too many wrinkles. When it comes to the specific organization of pieces, everyone has their own method. Some color code, others arrange by type of garments [dresses, long sleeves, sweaters, pants, tops], and some have no organization system and just hang things wherever. I like to combine color coding and piece separation to make for an easy morning outfit choice, but the method of organization is entirely up to you and what works best in your space.
Tips to Keep Your Closet Organized:- Closed storage keeps a clean and clutter-free look
- Fold sweaters to prevent stretched shoulders
- Slim hangers make room for more clothes
- Hanging cubbies can act as a dresser and maximize every inch
- Mesh storage lets you see what’s inside
- Mesh shoe hangers maximize space and air out shoes
- Dedicated dividers & bins to store socks, belts, and intimates
- A hanging rack with S Hooks makes the most of the closet doors
- Shoe organizers with customizable dividers allows versatility and maximizes your space
Once everything is organized and has a designated place, keeping things organized becomes much easier. If you live in a climate with drastic weather changes per season, keep out of season items out of reach during the months they won’t be worn to minimize clutter and to prevent digging for an outfit each morning. When the seasons change, rotate your pieces to have them in reach to fit the appropriate season. If you live in a warmer climate like me, your pieces won’t change very drastically per season. What I’ve found works best is to keep jackets and sweaters that will only be reached for a few times a year in the back of my closet, or in a separate space altogether. Having outerwear pieces separate allows to create my outfit with my everyday pieces, and on the way out the door choose a jacket or sweater appropriate for the day and outfit I have chosen.
Another tip to keep things organized and prevent clutter is to consider replacing old pieces with new purchases. Personally, I don’t get rid of one item for every new item each time I make a purchase. Instead, after each new purchase I will go through my current wardrobe and see which items haven’t been worn or which items are needing replaced due to wear. Not every purchase will lead to me purging an item, but I find often times after a shopping trip I will be able to look at my current pieces and find one or two that I am okay parting with for the new pieces I have gained.
The final, probably easiest yet most difficult tip to keeping an organized wardrobe is to hold yourself accountable in putting things back in their place immediately. It’s easy to do a load of laundry and simply leave a pile to “put away later,” but let’s be honest that most times that pile ends up staying where we leave it and items are picked from the pile and worn rather than ever being put back in their place. Taking the extra few minutes to put things away immediately will keep things organized and make choosing outfits much easier since everything will be within reach.
4. Create a Wardrobe You Love!
The final step in organizing your wardrobe and purging items that don’t work for you any longer is to then create a wardrobe in which you love. Discovering your style and staple pieces will allow you to create an array of outfits that bring out your confidence and empower you, while simultaneously allow you to part with old pieces much easier. Whatever your overall style is, find several pieces that you love and make those your staples. Branching out with new trends can be fun and you may even find a new staple in experimenting with different looks, but I find keeping my overall wardrobe to my staples and accenting it with a few trendier looks works best when deciding what pieces to pair with each other. Too many different style pieces can create chaos and easily take you back to the “I have nothing to wear” mindset. Personally, I would rather have a closet of a few staple pieces I love and reach for regularly than an abundance of pieces I don’t truly love or feel confident in. At the end of the day, our goal for our wardrobes should be to easily create the outfits we love and feel confident in. Style is unique to every individual and being confident and happy with your wardrobe, regardless of current trends, should be your #1 goal with your closet cleanout.