I loooooooooooove cleaning out closets – my own and my clients’ alike. It’s so fun, because it’s freeing. It creates space, good energy, and even room for a few new things to boost your wardrobe.
Cleaning out your closet is an important step in developing your personal style, because it allows you to keep your wardrobe in tip-top shape. I have a bag of to-go items in my closet that I’ll sell or donate all the time to make sure my wardrobe stays up to speed with my life.
If you haven’t done this in a while or are unsure if you’ve gotten rid of the right things in the past, a big sweep is just what you need.
Cleaning out allows you to do a mental inventory of what’s in your closet. This means you’re much more likely to use all you’ve got in your wardrobe going forward, which one of my main goals with all of my clients: to help you use 100% of your wardrobe.
When doing the closet clean out, make sure to follow these guidelines:
Cleaning out your closet can feel overwhelming, which is why it’s essential to focus on one thing at a time. Put your imaginary blinders on to make sure you don’t look around and get distracted by your entire wardrobe at once.
Go section by section (i.e., pants, shirts, shoes, etc…).
This helps you feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction after a type of item. “Shirts off the list! Check!” This path also gives you optional stopping points after each section or two when a wine and chocolate break is essential.
To begin this process, lay out all the items from one section on your bed. If you’re overwhelmed with what section to begin with, start with pants.
Then ask yourself these 10 questions for each section of items.
Does this item fit?
This is probably the most difficult question you’ll have to ask yourself over course of the clean out, because it means you need to not just embrace your style, but also your body.
As women, we are frequently taught to feel shame and guilt surrounding our bodies. After years of working in my field, I can confidently say almost every single woman experiences fear and anxiety around her body for one single reason -- we are taught to feel that way!
We are taught to feel bad about the shape, size and 100% natural tendencies of our bodies. These ideas come to us through media, family, friends, and co-workers. This ideas saturate our society and, unfortunately, our selves.
The truth is though that there’s nothing wrong or silly or gross about your body. Your body is the way it should be, because that’s exactly how it is!
Your body is a powerful, beautiful tool you can use to feel sexy, confident and commanding.
It’s time to look in your closet from the perspective of loving and embracing your body right now. From that point of view, get rid of things that don’t fit. And yes, this includes those goal jeans!
For this step, only deal with the pieces you know don’t fit that don’t have to be tried on.
Leave the pieces that you aren’t sure if they fit for later on – we’ll get to those in a later question.
Do I feel happy when I put this piece on?
When answering this question, go with your gut. Choose a simple “yes” or “no” to sift through what you don’t want and what you couldn’t bare to part with.
What is the condition of this item?
A. Falling apart at the seams
B. Crappy as hell
C. A-Okay, but could use a replacement
D. Looks good and feels great
E. Brand spankin’ new!
On things you answered “A” or “B” to, you know what to do – get rid of them! You don’t have the space, time, or patience to sift through these things each morning to get to the good stuff.
“D” and “E” are keeps, and with “C,” it really depends on the type of item you’re looking at and the frequency with which you wear it that dictates if it should stay or go.
For example, if it’s in the shoe category, and you use the shoes on a bi-weekly basis for work, you may want to hang on to them until you find a replacement. A-Okay is not good though, so be fast with finding a replacement within the next few weeks.
Is this item pilling?
This question also deals with the condition of the item, but I’m addressing it in particular, because pilling is a specific issue that all of us can see, but don’t always want to face.
Pills are those little balls you get on shirts and sweaters that make a piece look raggedy. Many items nowadays are made with a combination of synthetic and natural fabric, and unfortunately, pilling is often a result of two different fibers rubbing together. Even if you’ve only worn a piece a couple times and it’s pilled, it’s time to cut your losses and get rid of it.
Pilling distracts from your professional endeavors and can make it look like you don’t care enough about your job to invest in quality clothing.
If giving away a nearly new piece is just too much heartache, put it into the “wear around the house” pile.
To avoid pilling in the future, wash clothes inside out and hang dry for a longer life span.
Jewelry only: Has this piece turned?
Like pilling, turned jewelry is about the condition of the item, and requires you to take a closer look at each piece of costume jewelry.
For this question, I’m referring to when jewelry oxidizes and changes color to a not-so-pretty orange, green or bronze.
If the answer is “yes,” it’s time to let the piece go. Polishable silver doesn’t count though — you can set that aside to spruce up with cleaning later.
Does this piece have holes in it?
This question may seem basic, but these sneaky little monsters pop up all the time in places you wouldn’t normally check, like the back of the neckline on your shirt or the bottom of a skirt. Make sure to give each piece a thorough check to ensure you haven’t missed any spots.
Does this piece have stains on it?
These are just as sneaky as holes, and if you have kids, they can end up all over your wardrobe.
For this step, create two separate piles of stained pieces: wash and dry clean. Once you’ve gone through each section in your entire wardrobe, throw the wash pile into the washer, and take the dry clean only pieces to the dry cleaner.
Once they’re clean, evaluate the keepers and goers.
Am I comfortable in this item?
When I say comfortable, I mean physically and emotionally.
For example, you may have once loved something your ex-husband gave you, but now it brings up negative feelings – time to let it go.
For physical comfort, this is a bit different from the “Does this item fit?” pile, because these pieces are in the grey zone – you need to try them on to know if they fit or not.
Some examples that won’t work for your wardrobe include:
· Jackets that are too snug for your shoulders
· Itchy fabric that will distract you at work
· Too high heels that make you wobble when you walk
Is this piece outdated?
Of the items that are left in this section, outdated pieces will require you to take a harder look and a bit more time to decipher than others “yays” and “nays.”
This question requires reflecting on who you are now vs. who you once were. Yes, you may have loved a particular piece and worn in to death 10 years ago, but how long has it been since you’ve felt that love?
An easy test to also apply when considering each piece is to go by how long you’ve had a piece.
Anything over 10 years old that isn’t a classic (i.e., a black blazer or a navy dress) or so outlandish that it’s for absolute fun and fabulous sake, put it in the go pile.
Does it fit my lifestyle?
You’ve been through a lot in your life, and your closet should reflect this current place and moment you are in.
If you don’t need a piece, it shouldn’t be there. Examples of pieces you may not need include:
· Business suit – For many industries in Austin, the business suit has become obsolete. Rejoice in that fact and send it to the go pile.
· Heavy winter jackets – If you moved to Austin from a cold weather climate, you may have these tucked away. While we may get some light snow, heavy jackets aren’t necessary for our overwhelmingly hot climate.
· Trousers & stuffy button-downs – These are similar to the suit in that most industries don’t expect you to wear something this conservative anymore. Express your creativity through a printed stretch pant, and ditch the khakis.
· Sky high heels – Not only are they not as fashionable nowadays, but if comfort is something you really appreciate, then these are over.
Now I would love to hear from you!
What pieces in your wardrobe did you once love or served you well, but now don’t fit your lifestyle and have got to go? Leave me a comment below and tell me about your personal journey with cleaning out your wardrobe and creating a closet your love.