Cleaning out your closet is a lot like a good check-in with yourself. It’s a good rule-of-thumb to comb through your wardrobe quarterly (once every season), so you can take stock of what you currently own and what you’re still actually wearing. In fact, a recent study shows that most Americans do not wear about 82% of their current wardrobe on a regular basis.
THE UNIFORM TEST
What is your everyday go-to uniform? Everybody has a few go-to outfits in their closet that they can easily throw on—and know it looks amazing on them. It could be an oversized button-down with leggings, an easy-to-wear dress or a simple tee and jeans. Whatever those items are, you should invest in multiples of them (in a few different color options) to keep on hand. The idea is to create multiple outfits with fewer items.
Then, there are the little extras (as I like to call them) that you can use as styling pieces to add to your everyday uniform. It's an easy way to change up your look with minimal effort. A few examples might include colorful hair scrunchies, a stack of bangles, silk scarves, cocktail rings and other accent pieces.
WHAT YOU SHOULD “TOSS”
Once you’ve figured out your go-to uniform style, it’s time to do the actual cleanout. Yes, that means pulling EVERYTHING out of your closet and going through it one-by-one. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you comb through your closet:
- Have I worn this in the last year?
- When I put this on, do I constantly try to make it look better but it just never fits right?
- Does it have any stains?
- Am I holding onto this item for sentimental value only? If you don't love it or use it on a regular basis, it may be time to part with it. You can easily retain a memory of a person or event without a physical item.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR DONATION PILES
Not that you need ANOTHER thing to do as you’re cleaning out your closet, but it’s important to separate your items the right way. First, you’ll have the wearable items that you just don’t wear anymore, but they might be a treasure-find for someone else—these are items you can donate to your local thrift store, swap or yard-sale it. Then you’ll have another pile of items that aren’t really wearable—but you can donate them to a place that converts the fabric into new items. These items should not (I repeat, NOT) go into the trash can or dumpster.
Why is it so important to not trash your clothes? When items begin the process of decomposing, they emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and Methane gas which is a major global warming issue. Plus, it could take up to 200 years for an article of clothing to fully decompose, because many of our items are made from materials like acrylic or treated with chemicals. So take it from us—trashing your items should never be an option!
WHERE TO DONATE
As you begin arranging your items into different categories, think about where the next stop on their journey should be. Here are a few places where you can take them:
For wearable items:
- Local thrift store
- Thred Up
- Buffalo Exchange
- Bottomless Closet (great for work attire)
- Hold a clothing swap with friends or neighbors
- Yard-sale it!
For non-wearable items:
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
Now that you’ve successfully gone through your entire closet and separated it out, you can begin putting everything back. This is a great time to re-organize your items by season, color or whatever works best for you. It's also a great time to take stock of how you feel after a cleanup—do you feel refreshed and/or energized? Getting rid of clutter and old items (that no longer serve a purpose in our lives) can feel like a powerful reset—and a simple moment to pause and realize that there is nothing tying us down to past, self-limiting beliefs. Use these decluttering moments as a way to stay in tune with your best, most-true self and an inspired way forward.
Blog by Allison Duncil (@allisone84)
Allison Duncil is Opus Mind's Content Guru with a background in Costume Design and Member of the New York Fair-Trade Coalition.
Cover photo by Alyssa Strohmann