The first thing you need to know about how to clean out your closet is… you must try everything on. Yes, that’s right. You must put every single garment on your body before you decide to keep or donate it. (I have a list of great donation and recycle options at the bottom of my general recommendations page here.) Now that you know that you must try on every single item you own, understand that you need to try on your wardrobe in categories. Try on all your skirts at once, all your dresses at once, all your pants at once, and so on. Don’t jump around between categories or you will lose track of what you own.
How To Clean Out Your Closet – Ask Yourself The Right Questions
Now, let’s go over the two main questions you will need to ask yourself when evaluating each and every garment:
- Would I buy this today?
- What is wrong with this item?
If you would not buy the garment today, donate it. If the garment passes the first question, then start looking for flaws. The questions below will reveal what is wrong with a garment. It is these 12 questions that will show you exactly how to purge your closet. Follow these steps and you will be shocked at how well you actually know what you should and shouldn’t keep.
Is it comfortable?
How To Clean Out Your Closet 101 – if it’s uncomfortable, just toss it. You don’t need to be uncomfortable. Our happiness is directly connected to our level of comfort. If it is comfortable, move on to the next question.
Are there construction or wear issues?
Does it pucker at the left side seam? Does it ride up when you wear it? Does it stretch out too fast? Droop at the crotch? Is there excessive pilling? If so, toss it.
Is it good quality?
Does it look cheap? Is it obvious you got it at a fast fashion store or Ross? You don’t need to look like you dropped a lot of money on your clothing, but you also don’t need to look like you didn’t. You want to look priceless. Skip anything that cheapens your look.
Is this a good color on you?
There is a right and wrong shade of every color for everyone. Make sure you have all the right hues, which can be difficult. Sometimes the wrong shade for your skintone happens to be beautiful. Yes, that nude color is gorgeous, but does it wash you out? Everyone can wear nude, but it needs to be at least three shades darker or lighter than your skin tone. Make sure your nude-colored clothing qualifies. Also, black is extremely overrated. It’s best to have a minimal amount of black garments in your closet.
Do I already have something just like this?
Often we have numerous garments that are very similar and pair with the same items. Try on all these copy cats one of after the other and compare them. Pick the one or two most versatile, joyful, and flattering versions, also known as your “favorites,” and pass on the rest.
Is this a good fit for you?
Is it too tight in the chest? Too big in general? Is it too short or too long? Bad fits are the worst and although some issues can be fixed, many cannot. If the sleeves or hem length is too long, take it to the tailor. As long as the garment is not too much bigger on you, most garments can be tailored to your body. The shoulder area is the only real problem a tailor will have a hard time fixing. If you love the piece, and nothing else is wrong with the item, get it fixed and keep it. If a shirt is too short, this cannot be remedied, so toss it in the donate pile. As for too tight, if you are absolutely sure you will get smaller soon and you adore the garment, keep it. If you’re keeping small clothing due to assured weight loss, box up the too-small clothing and store it elsewhere. Your closet does not need unwearable clothing hanging in it to quietly mock you. If you are just hoping to get smaller with no real plan, reason, or ambition, please, toss it.
Does it have an outfit?
You have now graduated to “How Clean Out Your Closet” advanced questions! Let’s do this… Is the garment’s only problem a lack of partner? If you have a shirt you love, but don’t have the bottoms to go with it, pursue the missing pieces. Create a shopping list. Every time you come across an awesome and beloved garment that doesn’t have an outfit, add its missing components to the shopping list. Does this top need a tan pant? Does this dress need silver heels? Does this slim pant needs slim sneakers? Would grey slacks wake up your business casual tops? Add it to the shopping list and either go shopping with your list in hand, or refer to the list when you happen upon a shopping excursion.
Is this my current personal style? (Essential “How To Purge Your Closet” question!)
You may have loved it in the past, but do you love it today? Ask yourself again, if you saw this garment in a store today, would you really buy it? Perhaps your style is evolving. You should dress for the person you are today. Pass on the past.
When can you wear this?
You used to be a party girl. You raged with the best of them and have all the dresses and high heels to show for it. Although you still love them and they fit great, you are now a lawyer with three daughters. Keeping a fabulous sexy dress or two is a great idea, but holding onto another lifetime is not. You don’t need 20 mini dresses with your current life. Keep your top 2-3 and make sure your schedule this year requires such a frock. Plan the outing yourself if you have to.
Obviously, this also goes the other way. You used to be in the corporate world and now you make candles in Puerto Rico. Keep your top two professional looks, and donate the rest of that “business.”
Why haven’t I worn this?
If you try something on, find it to be great as well as appropriate for your lifestyle, and yet haven’t worn it in two years, do not just put it back in the closet. Wear it this week. Yes, this week or next — make it happen. Every now and then this test reminds you of a fabulous piece that accidentally fell out of rotation, but often, you find it just doesn’t feel right. In that case, now you can toss it with confidence.
Are there stains, rips, or ugly buttons?
Som stains can be removed! If you adore a garment, google what to do with this type of stain or have your Dry Cleaner give it a whirl. If you have tried everything from home remedies to the dry cleaner, toss it. Is there a tear at the seam? If you love this garment and there is nothing else wrong with it, put this in the tailor pile. Perhaps the buttons are cheesy? This is easy for you or your tailor to switch out. If you love the garment and nothing else is wrong with it, head to the fabric store and pick out the appropriate size of more suitable buttons.
Is this an exception?
There is the occasional item that can be kept even if it seems silly. If you are big into Halloween or costume parties, that 70s dress can stay. That crazy fur stole your grandmother gave you — you may never have the occasion to wear it, but go ahead and keep it if you adore it. Just make sure you throw it on when you’re hanging around the house every now and then. Note: you really shouldn’t have more than five exceptions. When the exceptions pile goes past five, start asking yourself which one you would rather keep.
You’ve Learned How To Purge Your Closet!
Now that you have tried every single thing on and asked yourself all the right questions, your closet should only have garments that make you feel amazing, work well with your lifestyle, feel great, and fit amazingly. Your donation bag should be filled with items you are not wearing or that make you feel blah. I know it is hard to get rid of things, but it is even more difficult to miss rarely used mediocrity. Good riddance! Now, time to donate your castaways and organize that closet.
How To Clean Out Your Closet With Professional Help
Short on time and style knowledge? Then the best answer to how to clean out your closet is hire a professional. If this article was far to overwhelming, you don’t have the time for such closet introspection, or this is just too far outside your skillset, hire a personal stylist to assist you with your closet purge. They will ask the questions and tell you what to do far faster than you can talk to yourself.
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