Over dinner the other night, I discovered that one of my girlfriends was struggling to keep her room neat. It turned out that the issue was that she found the process of stuffing clothing back into her closet so unpleasant that they ended up… well… everywhere.
Been there! I spent all winter stuffing my wardrobe excesses into corners and struggling to get my closet doors closed. My summer stuff took up space in shared storage in the living room and hallway, so storing items in those closets was also a nightmare.
If you’re also sick of a never-ending closet Tetris game, here is my fool-proof closet clean out solution. At the end of it, I guarantee that you will have 30-60% less stuff, everything will fit comfortably in the same space, and you will STILL have a fabulous wardrobe.
Step 1: Clear space to be able to pull out all your clothing (both summer and winter).
This process will quickly devolve into a nightmare if you don’t have space to pile up everything you own. Take the time to sweep your bedroom floor and make your bed.
Step 2: Put everything you own (including accessories) into three piles: definitely donate/consign, definitely keep, undecided.
Definitely Donate/Consign: This is the critical pile. Be honest and aggressive. Most women only wear 20% of their closet, so why are you holding on to all that other stuff? This the pile for items that you like in theory (good brand, quality material, fashionable, pretty design, sentimental) but that you rarely wear. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself as you work through each item. If the answer is “yes,” it belongs in this pile
- Is the item uncomfortable?
- Does the item have an awkward cut?
- Is it a fashionable cut but unflattering on your figure?
- Is it too low/short/long/loose/tight?
- Does it requires a camisole (is the item transparent)?
- Is it in an aspirational (too small) size?
- Has it been more than thirty days since you wore it (in-season items)?
- Does the item have significant value if you consign it?
Definitely Keep. This pile is for those items you wear literally every laundry cycle, for the items that make you feel slim and attractive, and for items with significant sentimental value. This pile will probably include fewer designer items and more basics. Be conservative with this pile and honest with yourself. You only need 7 skirts/pants, 7 tops, a couple jackets, and a couple dresses to make a working wardrobe, so if this pile only contains 20 items when you are done sorting, that’s ok!
Undecided. This pile is for everything else.
Step 3. Put away all your “Definitely Keep” items.
Step 4. Put away your “Undecided” items, until your closet/dresser is filled, but not stuffed. This includes all winter storage capacity.
Step 5. Put any remaining “Undecided” into the “Consign/Donate” pile
Step 6. Split the “Consign/Donate” pile into Consign versus Donate items.
Consign items are the items in impeccable condition from higher end brands. To consign, I’m a huge fan of ThredUp.com. They are the largest consignment shop on line. They will ship you a “Closet Clean Out” bag with return postage for free and then take care of everything else. Commission is paid up front for everything except big ticket items, which earn a higher commission rate and pay out after they sell. So far, I have earned more than $200 using the site!!
Donate items are in wearable condition from less expensive brands. If you itemize your tax return, you can get a rebate on the value of the clothing you donate. Drop off at your closest thrift shop or other charitable organization
Step 7. Breath deep and enjoy stress-free use of your closet and dresser!