I can be guilty of allowing my closet to lapse into utter chaos. I keep things for sentimental reasons and, I admit, I am often too lazy to weed through the clothes I am not wearing. However, allowing clothes you are not wearing (for whatever the reason) to take up space means more time searching for pieces you truly want to be wearing. Actually seeing what you have allows you to choose from the clothes you like and helps you to understand what you don’t have; as a result you become a more targeted and savvy shopper.
In the continued spirit of “Wearing What I’ve Got”, below are 5 tips to help you purge your closet of the clothes you are not wearing and, ultimately, appreciate the clothes you do like to wear.
1) Try everything on. You wore (fill in the blank) endlessly…5 summers ago. This doesn’t mean it’s worthy of remaining in your closet – styles change and so do you. Try clothes on and be critical. Ask yourself several questions: Would you wear this now – no really, right NOW? Would I buy this item today? Where and how am I going to wear this?
Only keep things you LOVE. Listen to your inner voice and trust yourself. If you need a second opinion, send a picture to a friend or invite one over to help you assess. And, don’t keep things due to “sunk costs.” Whether you wore it years ago and loved it then, or you never wore it – whatever the reason – if you’re not reaching for it now, then it’s taking up space and mind share in your wardrobe.
2) Create 3 piles for the clothes you do not return to your closet:
- Alterations: these are clothes in good condition yet they require a small repair or minor fit adjustments. It’s amazing what a good tailor can do; taking a mediocre piece and making it a truly timeless treasure with the perfect fit. However, be selective – it may not be worth the expense to alter an inexpensive piece that won’t withstand the test of time.
- Donations: these clothes should still be in relatively good condition. Find a charity you would like to support and take your clothes there (Dress for Success or women’s shelters are always great places to contribute).
- Consignment: selling your clothes is a great way to earn money to purchase new ones! Clothes should be in good condition and current (within the past couple of seasons). Feeling guilty about purging a sweater you have never worn? Perhaps consider selling on eBay. For designer pieces, seek out a designer-specific consignment boutique, as they will appreciate the value of the item (and you will be compensated more appropriately).
3) Continue to assess. Return things you plan to keep to their hangers, but turn each hanger the opposite direction (as seen below). When you wear an item, then turn the hanger to the correct position. Give yourself a time frame (for seasonal clothes you need to allow enough time for them to get worn) – I suggest a minimum of 6 months to a maximum of 1 year. At the end of the given time period, be ruthless. Simply pull the items you have not worn from your closet…do NOT try on. These items have not been worn in a year and should no longer be in your closet.
Exceptions to this rule include: formal attire and special occasion clothes (including that interview suit), and sentimental items. However, these pieces should be stored in the back of your closet or, better yet, placed in a storage box out-of-sight. You want to keep grandma’s hand knit Christmas sweater but it shouldn’t be taking up valuable real estate.
4) Display your shoes. For years I had my shoes in boxes and, while they were safely stored within their cardboard confines, it was impossible for me to see, let alone quickly grab a pair to try (especially those that ultimately ended up at the bottom of the pile). Shelves are great but if that is unavailable, try shoe trees or shelves placed on the floor. Only shoes such as winter boots and special occasion heels should be stored in inaccessible areas.
5) Neatly fold and stack clothes that you wear often. However, be careful of how many things you include in the stack. If the stack becomes too large, you will never see or reach for the items at the bottom. Like the hanger trick, try attaching a small sticker to each item in the stack. Remember to remove the sticker once you put the item on and, after a specific time period, purge those items with the stickers remaining.
Finally, for those of you (like myself) who have A LOT of stuff – be sure that you also rotate your wardrobe seasonally (in addition to weeding). Each spring, I store my winter sweaters and coats – sending them to the dry cleaners then storing them in cedar-lined storage bags. I do this same exercise in the fall; reviewing summer garments for wear and then repairing and laundering as needed prior to storing for the winter. Make sure you always store clean clothes (this will help keep moths at bay in addition to maintaining your clothes). When you retrieve your stored pieces, it’s like you have a new wardrobe when you pull out your carefully folded items and can easily transition them directly to your closet.
I’m eager to hear if you have any tricks for purging or are faced with challenges I did not address. Also, tell me if you are “Wearing What You’ve Got” – what are your best practices for keeping your favorite items front and center in your wardrobe? Please leave a comment to let me know.
Thanks for reading!