When I first started helping people de-clutter their stuff, I hoped no one would ask for help with their wardrobe, because I am not a fashionista and felt ill qualified.
So when I got my first â€˜clothes jobâ€™ I was a little unsureâ€¦until I started and then I took to it like a duck to water. Now itâ€™s my favourite kind of job.
Because you donâ€™t need to know anything about fashion, or what looks good other people. You just apply the same principles as you would to anything else they own and ask one simple question:
Does it make you feel great when you have it on? If yes keep, if no, throw.
My method is at follows
STAGE ONE: try and work quickly making simple gut decisions. If you find yourself dithering or agonising, put the item in the keep pile and move onto the next one.
Empty your wardrobe completely, creating piles on your bed and floor as you go:
Pile one: the â€˜get ridÂ to charity shopâ€™ pile.
* Hate it, never feel good in it
* Shabby/worn out
* Canâ€™t fit in it and itâ€™s nothing special and havenâ€™t worn it for several years
Canâ€™t fit in it but really love it so much: putting these clothes to one side saves wasting energy agonising over them, so you can get on with the job in hand.
Try to keep these to a minimum, and then store them separately, with a diary note to re check them in one years time and see if you are ready to get rid of them then. Itâ€™s ok to keep things that feel precious even if you may not wear them again â€“ be kind to yourself, just try and limit the number. Just remember, when you have lost weight, styles will have moved on and you may want to treat yourself to something new.
Six more piles: clothes that have passed the 1st quick gut decision test:
*Blouses/tops/jumpers and cardigans.
Go though these six piles subdividing into smart/work/casual, assessing each one more carefully this time to see if it feels easy to let anything more go. Then subdivide the new piles by colours: reds/oranges, pinks/purples, blacks, neutrals and browns, blues, greens, yellows.
This should give you a good idea if you have 15 pairs of black trousers for work and you can really stop buying more now you can see what youâ€™ve got.
More questions to ask yourself:
Does your wardrobe reflect your current life style? Do you still need those 6 work suits with matching blouses?
There are 7 days in a week and 14 maximum (probably) between wash days: how many outfits do you really need in your life?
Are you hanging on to stuff because you â€˜shouldâ€™ feel great in it because itâ€™s gorgeousâ€¦but somehow you never actually wear it because the colour washes you out or it doesnâ€™t flatter your body shape? Time to ramp up the ruthlessness!
Now Â clean the inside of your wardrobe and then start hanging your clothes back up, keeping work, smart and casual in 3 separate sections. Hang them in colour order. As you handle each item, really be sure you really like the item and feel good in it before you re hang it up.
If you have items you are unsure if you look good in, now might be the time to invite a friend round whose clothes sense you like, to help you decide if you look good in something you are not sure of.
Some people love clothes and have loads â€“ thatâ€™s fine, if they give you pleasure: de-cluttering isnâ€™t about minimalism. This process will help you know what you have so you can wear all of what you have rather than just 20% of your wardrobe.
Otherâ€™s like me function much better with a capsule wardrobe, paring back toÂ as few clothes as possible but ones you love to wear. Since I created my own capsule wardrobe, I have found it so much simpler getting dressed in the morning!
If you come across things you love but never wear because you have nothing to go with it, start planning what you would need to buy to wear with it.
And some colours suit us better than others â€“ it took me years to realise that I looked completely washed out in pastels, but now I never give them a second glance in a shop.
Three Â excellent reasons toÂ Â face that spreading clothes mountain:
*Loving what you wear increases your sense of well being and confidence and other people pick up on this.
*An organised wardrobe saves a lot of time energy and angst.
*It contributes to a peaceful space to sleep in.
â€œIf we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think weâ€™d beÂ happy withÂ more?â€ â€” Unknown
Today’s Mini Mission
Declutter some items that are past their used by date. This could be make-up, lotions, perfume, medications, adhesives that have dried up, food itemsâ€¦
Eco Tip for the Day
The only thing you need to clean your car is a bucket of water a hose and a selection of microfibre clothes. One outdoor mitt for cleaning the car, one glass cloth for the windows and a multi purpose
For a full list of my eco tips so farÂ click here
Declutter some items that are past their used by date. This could be make-up, lotions, perfume, medications, adhesives that have dried up, food itemsâ€¦
Deb J says
Doodle, you have some good points about clothes. I have a capsule wardrobe. I love that what I have I really like and am comfortable in. It sure makes a difference.
Thanks Deb. It really does make a difference doesn’t it: I found it completely liberating to have far fewer clothes.
I took a long time to conquer the wardrobe and another tip I’d recommend after a good cull is to put everything back on hangers but turn the hanger around so it is hung the “wrong” way on the hanging pole. As items are worn and returned to the wardrobe, hang the right way around. After a couple of months there will be a clear indication of what gets worn and what doesn’t.
I did Project 333 a year or so ago and have more or less stayed on it. At the moment my wardrobe is a bit on the low side, I need to find a few dressy items.
I love project 333 Moni – I did it a few years ago too and have keep loosely to the principles ever since.
The hangers tip is always an excellent one, thank you.
Thanks for posting this. We are getting ready to build a closet for our new master bedroom and have been trying to decide what size to make it. I told my husband the other day I had a few things I could get rid of but never took them to do it. I made today the day! Two stacks of clothes out of my closet (its been almost a year since I wore them last so I know I won’t miss them) AND given to someone who will use them! Now to convince my husband that he has things to get rid of… He owns at least 3 times the amount of clothes I do!
Yay, brilliant! Well done you. Funnily enough, my husband owns at least 4 times the amount of clothes I do as well 😀
I’m with you on the capsule wardrobe – I am definately getting there (been on a use it up challenge with old clothes/shoes for a while 🙂 ). Having less choice is totally liberating and I find myself enjoying my clothes a lot more.
And I’m with you re hubs having more clothes than I do, lol.
It’s funny how more choice has been sold to us as a great thing over the years fruitcake but I’m not sure it always is I struggle in big supermarkets when faced with a wall of differing toothpastes!
Sounds like quite a few of us break the stereotype of women having more clothes than men 😀
Colleen Madsen says
Great post Doodle, thank you. This is a great guide as to what to keep and what to eliminate. And as you say, you don’t need to be a fashion expert to help make these decisions. You are also very right about the fact that a sorted, decluttered wardrobe saves a lot of wasted time. Ones bedroom can get in such a mess by people pulling garments out trying to find the right thing to wear. Having a wardrobe with only clothes you like to wear arranged in an orderly fashion eliminates this problem.
I have a pair of jeans the don’t fit as well as I would like but am waiting for just the right pair to be available at the thrift shop before decluttering them. They’ll do for now but one day they will be out of here. Aside from that I am quite happy with my wardrobe.
Thanks Colleen. I’m waiting for our change of season in a few months time and then I’ll probably be de-cluttering a few clothes that will have reached the end of their life over this summer(which for us in the UK is now of course). Won’t replace until our spring in 6 months time.
Earlier this year I stared a slightly different system in my day to day wardrobe. I colour co-ordinated my clothes and to the far right of the wardrobe I hung up a thick woollen cardigan that I use now as a divider.
Once I’d worn and washed an item I placed it on the right side of the cardigan, and colour co-ordinated again. After a few months of this it was easy to see that any clothes on the left hand side of the cardigan have not been worn during all that time. I realised that some of this was due to the season so I made sure my holiday clothes were moved to a different place and now the clothes that I have not worn amount to about 20% so I will soon check these out to see why I haven’t chosen them and most likely will take to the charity shop. Then I will begin again, but first I know there are some clothes that I wore and wasn’t happy with and should not have replaced them in the wardrobe. So I will remove them too.
My second wardrobe now has holiday clothes, also coats and jackets, dresses more for evening wear or bought for special occasions ( I hardly ever wear these) and clothes that don’t fit at the moment. I need to deal with all of these as some things I haven’t worn for a very long time. One dress was expensive and bought for a wedding – I looked awful in it (I was at my heaviest) Now I wonder whether I will ever wear it again.
I had a shock earlier this week as I am due to go on holiday and realised that quite a few on my holiday clothes do not fit. I have resisted the urge to buy more – except one new pair of linen trousers. I have 5 pairs which do not fit but are just one size too big so I hope to fit into them next year.
Diana – I used to have ‘holiday’ clothes too but now I get something prior to travelling so it fits and is suitable and isn’t ‘tired’ looking.
Hi Diana – your system sounds great too. The important thing with systems is to find a simple one that works for ‘you’.
Fluctuating weight can be a an issue and it’s an individual judgement on how long to hang on to them for before recognising the return to our original weight is not coming any time soon. I tend to waver between 2 sizes in any one given year.
I’ve been enjoying your posts and I think I am close to my own capsule wardrobe and have used the hanger approach too. I have sent this onto to my Mum which she has replied – “Good stuff! Cost is not mentioned â€“some people find it hard to get rid of things that cost a lot if they canâ€™t afford to replace them.”
I know I have problems decluttering clothes (or other items) that have cost a great deal. I’ve not got a work around for this yet, do you ? (she says hopefully :o) )
Katherine – I remember the topic of costly items was talked about here in the recent past – I can’t remember who, but someone said something that was a lightbulb moment for me. The money isn’t ‘lost’ when you let go of the item, it was a sunk cost when it was bought. Keeping the item doesn’t re-coup the money spent.
Hi Katherine, and welcome to 365. Thanks for posting: glad you enjoyed the post.
As Moni says, the things about cost is that the same principles apply – if you don’t feel good in an item of clothing, so never wear it,what is the point in keeping it however much it cost: the cost is already spent and gone. It is hard overcoming that sense of waste, but by removing the items you can then forget about it more easily because it’s not in your face reminding you all the time.
In the UK, if you are a tax payer, there is a scheme where charities can claim back the VAT ( sales tax) so your donation is worth more. Once a year the charity will write to you to tell you how much your donations have made. Therefore when I give items to the charity, I know I’m in effect giving a financial donation. When I get the letter that tells me how much money has been raised, it gives me a warm glow and the pain of “wasting” money from the original purchase is gone. Might be worth thinking like that to get over that uncomfortable feeling.
Thanks for reminding us of this Salley – appreciated. I so agree that it really helps if you can see getting rid of stuff as a worth while charity donation in lieu of actual cash.
Good advice. I used to do the take all the clothes out as the seasons change, but just haven’t had time this year. Several years ago my shape had changed, and when I tried all the slacks on, I ended up taking about 10 pair to the thrift shop–they were still very nice looking, but I didn’t think I would ever wear that style again. I quit wearing pastels, too I not only looked washed out, they made me feel washed out. lol. No blah colors for me. Even our baby girls didn’t look good in pastels (years ago–people dress them different now, much more vivid colors).
So thanks for reminding me I need to do this.
You’re right nana, when I was growing up in the 70’s, you could only buy pastel colours in the spring and summer months, there was no other choice. Now we have so many more options across the year. My favourite season is Autumn for buying clothes as I’m an ‘autumn colours skin tone’ person, and there is so much more choice then.
Great post. I don’t have that many clothes compared to some of my friends, however I still have clothes that I do not feel as good wearing. I have been contemplating getting rid of these items, but would need a couple of replacements. I also laughed about the comments of the men in our lives having more clothes than the women. That is also true in my case. My husband did sort out some clothes last week to go to Goodwill, so things are moving in the right direction there. I have him on the one in, one out plan, so it is always great when a few more items go out than come in. I like to for my clothes by items and color. All pants & jeans together and sorted by color.
By colour looks so attractive on the eye in my opinion – gives me pleasure just looking at them!
Lol, yes I’ve tried the one in and one out approach with my husband too… with I think it would be fair to say, limited success 😀
Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore says
I still have tons of clothes, but less than I started with at the beginning of the year (though you can’t really tell that by looking in my closet). Now that there’s less clothes and I’m on a regular washing schedule, every 7 days, I can more easily tell what I’m wearing and what I’m not. I somwhat disagree with your thoughts on how to re-hang the clothes though. Much of my wardrobe is versitale – can be dressed up or down for work, casual, or an evening out – so instead, I choose to hang my clothes in 3 sections: tops, jackets, pants and skirts. Within the sections, I always hang the just cleaned things to the back so that I am constantly rotating through my clothes. If something is hanging at the front the section, meaning it’s that items turn to be worn, and I pass over it time and time again it obviously needs to go.
Kayla – it sounds like a good system for you and most importantly your clothes are all getting used, therefore they are not clutter – well done you.
The hanger method is used especially for people who have ‘what if’ and ‘just in case’ clothing items. In my case I have three teenagers who take up a decent bite of the clothing budget and so there was a tendancy to hang onto items for myself. I liken the hanger method to putting an expiry date on something. The funny thing is that I would see items hanging in my wardrobe that I knew were coming up to D-Day and all I had to do was just wear it and it would be ‘safe’ but I just didn’t wear them – I’d even tell myself out loud “just wear it!” and finally I’d admit as we got closer to the deadline that I just didn’t like it, or it didn’t look good on me. It forced me to say what I actually did and didn’t want for me, rather than what I felt I should do. It was a visual demonstration of what I did and didn’t want in my wardrobe.
Hi Kayla, it sounds like you have been working hard on streamlining your wardrobe: well done.
As for a system – absolutely what matters is finding one that works for you. My method was merely a suggestion for anyone who doesn’t know where to start. It’s never a good idea to impose a system on someone: we all work in different ways and the trick is getting a feel for what will be successful for each individual.
Hi Doodle! Thanks for an informative post. I’ve been working on streamlining my wardrobe for a couple years now, happily, it’s in good shape. I was reading the comments and laughing to myself that quite a few of our husbands have more clothes than us! I’m definitely in that category. My husband has gotten a little better and tries to do the one-in-one-out thing. When we travel he packs 3 times what I do!!
Hi Barbara, sorry for ther late reply – but yes, we are not alone 😀
Such good reminders here! I’ve pared down my closet a lot but still have a few things I’m on the fence about.
My husband and I found another way to declutter clothes recently. We each packed a few pieces that were on their way out along with some of our usual favorites for a two week holiday. We also brought a few pairs of less that fabulous socks and underwear (along with the good stuff). After we wore these lesser loved items (mostly t-shirts and one pair of shoes) we would leave them behind in the hotel rooms on check out day, usually draping them over the trash bin so they would know we meant to leave them. That way if the cleaning staff could make use of them they’d get a second life. Or if not, they would be disposed. (We always just disposed of the worn socks and underwear.) So this way we lightened our luggage as we traveled and hopefully left a few items here and there that someone else could use. This made it easier to part with some things we were on the fence about at home. We both really love traveling with light luggage so it was a win win! Time for another holiday!
Hi Claire, thanks very much for your post,sorry for the late response. Sounds a very workable idea that enables you to travel light and let go a little easier. All these little ideas we all contribute all will help someone out there.
Ahh clothes! This is where my decluttering journey began. A large cull one day was devoted to only clothes that did not fit me anymore. I kid you not, that amounted to 15 large boxes of clothes that were donated promptly to charity. It made me realise, How many of us hoard clothes that don’t fit? That are associated with memories? Let them go. Take a photo of it and donate it. Photos take up less room. I love the freedom of less every morning. No frantic digging anymore!
Hi Sarah, thanks for this. Yes, the release from that frantic morning dig is marvellous isn’t it! Photos are such a great way to remember things but let go of the physical space they take up.
You certainly had a lightbulb moment that day to suddenly cull 15 boxes of excess clothes. I bet you don’t hoard any more but take much quicker decisions on getting rid of clothes that don’t work for you any more in one way or another.