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Whenever you feel like you have nothing to wear, it’s time to declutter your closet. I used to think it meant I needed some fresh new items, but I have learned that’s a temporary fix that doesn’t last long. It may be counter-intuitive, but by having fewer, but only fabulous items of clothing, you’ll only be able to reach for something you love AND feel fantastic wearing. My favorite thing about this process is that it doesn’t cost any money, and if done regularly, it doesn’t take very much time either. In fact, if you sell some of the items that you no longer wear, you may even MAKE a few bucks! I am sharing my whole process of how to declutter your closet in 5 simple steps, including how to organize what you keep and maximize the fun with what you eliminate!
1. Remove Everything
Take everything out of your closet, and this includes the pieces that have managed to invade OTHER closets 😉 (You can even include all of your purses and shoes if you would like!) This step cannot be skipped. Believe me, I’ve tried, but this is the foundation for an EFFECTIVE purge. Merely flipping through the hangers and removing what you’re willing to get rid of will create some extra space, but it won’t leave you with a wardrobe you love.
Lay everything out on your bed or wherever it fits. (Yes, when you declutter your closet, it gets worse before it gets better ;-)) As you remove everything from your closet, feel free to throw the items that you know you’ll be getting rid of into a pile – no sense in touching those items again.
Any stained or damaged items are definitely out and can go straight into the trash. Okay, okay, you can keep ONE grungy outfit for messy projects! Seriously though, you could end up a victim of your holy yoga pants like I did…. I kept them because they could still be worn around the house… only I accidentally put them on before going to my workout class. Black yoga pants with a patch of white skin sticking out on my BUTT was not my favorite moment.
I recommend waiting for naptime for this step, unless you can lock your kids out of your room. Kids swimming through your piles, making a bigger mess, is too discouraging.
Your closet will be EMPTY after the first step 😉 It’s a little strange, but TRUST ME! We must see and touch each individual item and feel it’s worth the effort of putting it back into our closet. (If it’s already hanging up, it takes less energy to leave it, so it’s more likely to stay. This does not help you declutter your closet!) Not to mention, you could literally discover pieces you love that got buried and you forgot about!
Now that all of our clothes are out of the closet, we can see them in context with one another. You might like a sweater, but when you see it next to five other sweaters, you realize it’s your least favorite of all of the sweaters and you could definitely get rid of it.
*Drumroll please* Every item will go into one of these three piles. Be ruthless and consistent!
- Seasonal/Special Occasion
I love Marie Kondo’s trick. Pick up each item individually, and as you hold it, feel if it sparks joy. Imagine what you felt like the last time you wore it (if you can remember ;)), and if you’re still unsure, try it on. (Sometimes trying it on isn’t quite enough, and you may need to wear a few items this week to see if they make the cut or not.)
Another fun trick to declutter your closet is from neuro-linguistic programming. It sounds fancy, but it’s mostly techniques that tap into the parts of your brain that are subconscious information that you’re unaware of because it does not communicate with the logic part of the brain, where thinking occurs.
Stand firm, with your feet a shoulder’s width apart, hold the item in front of you, and close your eyes….. what did you FEEL in your body? If you genuinely like an item, your body will LEAN FORWARD, seemingly involuntarily! If you don’t like the item, your body will lean backward and if you feel neutral about it, you won’t move. Don’t believe me? Try it! The first time I did this, I anticipated that if I liked an item, my arms would raise it up if I liked it- when my body leaned forward, my eyes shot open like “HOLY SH*T, it works!”
If you don’t have a strong intuitive feeling, try asking yourself these three specific golden questions about each item. “Yes” to all questions go into the KEEP (or seasonal/special occasion), and “no” to any of the questions go into the PURGE:
- Would I buy it again if I saw it on the rack today?
- Do I feel good when I wear it?
- Have I worn it in the last 12 months?
You could ask more questions, but they basically explain the “why” behind the above answers. The “why” may be of interest for you to keep in mind for future purchases. Maybe you have a habit of buying clothes that are cute but aren’t comfortable and then you don’t wear them? Perhaps this could save you from wasting your money next time:
- Does it fit?
- Is it comfortable? (I don’t know about you, but my idea of comfort changed when I became a mom. Everything needs to be a lot stretchy right now to accommodate chasing after a child!)
- Does it represent me and my style? There will always be new trends, but what resonates with you?
3. Keep: Sort & Organize
Sort and organize the fabulous pieces that you love so that it’s easy to find precisely what you need when you need it. It will also make your closet a beautiful calming place that you enjoy. It’s essential to have a plan and order as you put items back in your closet. You can organize any way that you like, as long as it’s consistent and works for you. Here’s what I do:
Like items go together. Tops: Sweaters by cardigans and other, shirts by short and long sleeves. Bottoms: pants and then skirts. Dresses and jumpers are in a separate section. Visually it’s nice to sort heavier and darker to lighter and brighter, from left to right. I sort my work wardrobe, casual clothing, and workout clothes in separate sections. (I don’t want to sort through button-down tops to find a t-shirt for around the house.)
- Heavier to lighter materials, typically from left to right
- Colors by rainbow red (pink), orange, yellow, green, blue, purple with black and gray at the beginning and white at the end. (In the past I’ve tried to branch out and add more color to my wardrobe, but I’ve since learned it’s a waste of money – apparently, I only like to wear black, gray, pink, blue, and white :-P)
- Darker shades to lighter
- Solids to pattern
Buy matching hangers! They will make your closet look much more cohesive. I highly recommend these ones! Clothes don’t slide off, don’t poke weird shapes into your clothes, and they are super thin (not for cramming more in, but for creating visual space ;-)) They’re just $23 for 50 hangers- such a deal! Additionally, if you want extra credit, you can limit yourself to only keeping 50 items on the 50 hangers. I was able to do it, BUT only when workout clothes and jackets stayed on the old hangers 😛
Good organization will make your closet a place where you feel great because it’s peaceful and looks terrific. These great feelings will continue as you become excited to dress in beautiful clothes that you feel great in! Who can’t use an extra few moments of feeling fantastic each and every day?!
This is going to sound strange at first, but bear with me. Hang all of the hangers up BACKWARD, so that the open part of the hook is facing toward you. After you have worn items and washed them, hang them up the proper way. Make a note in your calendar at a predetermined interval; one year is probably good. Next year you’ll know exactly which items you haven’t worn for a year, and next year this process will be easier!
Would you like a little help with some of your many other chores? Definitely check out this FREE Guide! 5 Quick Wins to Make Every Day Easier for Moms!!!
4. Seasonal/Special Occasion: Store Separately
I have very few seasonal items, as I live in Alaska, and winter items can be worn all year long. I do put a few summer items away and allow myself one bin. This also makes it handy to have everything in one place when I go to pack for our mid-winter tropical vacation 🙂
I don’t like wearing the color red, I never have. Perhaps it’s too bright and I prefer to blend in 😛 However, I have a lovely red blouse that I ONLY wear during the holidays because it’s festive and fun. It’s helpful to have a few dresses on hand for special occasions, too. I don’t want to get rid of these items, even though I wear them rarely. I store these items in a separate closet, but you can store them in the back of your wardrobe in a small designated space.
5. Purge & Make it Fun
This project can feel overwhelming and daunting. It may take a long time to go through everything and you may have an emotional attachment to things in a way you didn’t realize. Additionally, it can seem wasteful to get rid of perfectly good clothes. It’s time to get rid of that limiting belief because keeping the clothes is doubly wasteful because you are not wearing them, and they are taking up precious mental and physical space. But by selling donating, or giving to friends, you’re giving clothes to others who will love and wear them!
If you need extra motivation and inspiration to take on this project, find a way to give yourself a deadline and make it fun!
- Host a clothing swap with your girlfriends! It’s far more fun to declutter when you know others are doing it, too – not to mention, you’ll get to exchange items you never wear for some new ones that you LOVE!
- Sell items online and see how much money you can make! Bribe yourself by making that amount your budget for buying new items that you love, or maybe treating yourself to a spa day
- Bribe yourself by buying one new item that you love for every 10 things you eliminate or getting a Stitch Fix! (Click here for $25 off!)
- Make custom baggies for girlfriends with a few treasures you think they’ll love and bring them to your next mamas night out
- Donate your clothes to a local women’s shelter and think about the others in your community that you’re helping.
When you’re staring at a huge closet full of stuff, it can be intimidating. It’s not as hard as you may expect, when you break it into 5 easy steps. Simply remove all items from your closet, evaluate each one, put the keepers back in your closet in a beautifully organized way, pack away the seasonal items, and find a fun way to celebrate the items that you are eliminating! Decluttering is the key to a functional wardrobe that you love and feel incredible wearing! Less truly is more!