I believe in the philosophy of eliminating something every time something new enters: one in, one out! Admittedly, this comes easier to me as I do love organizing spaces, but I think most people can agree that spring cleaning just feels good! When you clean out your closet, you feel lighter as you watch the excess and unnecessary items disappear. I know for some of you this task is daunting—how could you possibly part with that ’93 Aerosmith concert tee?!—so why not start with these big ten items to toss out now? I guarantee eliminating these ten will make a marked difference in your closet, not just in space, but in how you approach getting dressed each day.
Top Ten Things to Remove From Your Closet
Items you haven’t worn in the last year
Let’s not take “the last year” super literally in this time of jammies and athleisure, but think about the last time you wore each item in your closet. Was it recent, or was it during the Reagan era? If it isn’t a specialty item (more on those later), it’s probably not bringing value to its space in your closet. There’s also a strong chance if you haven’t worn it in the last year, you never will. Consider tossing or donating these space suckers.
When I am conducting closet edits, it’s the top reason clients give for keeping an item they do not wear: “But it was so expensive!” We’ve all done it, bought an expensive item that didn’t work out. Maybe you never even wore it, yet you keep it year after year because you paid so much for it. It hurts the heart and the wallet to admit, but if you haven’t worn it by now, you’re not going to. There’s no sense continuing to fund a bad investment. Give yourself grace, cut your losses, and learn.
Items that don’t fit or that need fixing
So many of us have dreams about our old clothes working for us again: The shoes that don’t fit post-pregnancy, the wardrobe from a size you hope to return to, the too-big items you haven’t altered, the underwear no one should see, and the shoes that need new heels. (For me, it’s the zillion bras that either don’t fit, are not comfortable, or are totally stretched out.) It might be time to let those (pipe) dreams go. If it doesn’t fit, it most likely never will, and if you haven’t altered or repaired it timely, you most likely won’t do that either. I’m giving you permission to let the item(s) go and reclaim your closet space.
Books, magazines, electronics, and more
I’m not saying to throw these items out of your home; I’m suggesting you get them out of your closet. When you “shop” in your closet, it should be like an organized and serene boutique, not a Best Buy. Place your books, magazines, and electronics where they can be more readily used in your home.
Free tote bags
If a stash of tote bags is taking up space in your closet, why? They’d do better in your car, where you can easily access them when you grocery shop. Only keep as many tote bags as you’ll actually use in any given shopping trip, then donate the rest.
Shoes that hurt
A top offender we just can’t seem to let go: super-cute shoes that squash your toes, cause blisters, hurt your heels, or make you wobble when you walk. Shoes are tough because we can’t always know how they will wear until we spend time in them. But will we never learn that no matter how cute, uncomfortable shoes always ruin a perfectly fun night? Gather up those pretty-but-painful pumps, give yourself some grace (see Expensive Mistakes, above), and say good-bye. Life is too short for bad shoes.
Dresses you wore once, costumes, and seasonal items
I’ll start by saying not all of these items should be tossed, but ask yourself if they need to occupy your active closet space. Consider storing your costumes and seasonal items (ski clothes, wetsuits, and such) in an attic, basement, or storage unit. Sentimental items, such as wedding and bridesmaid dresses, can be particularly hard to let go because they represent a meaningful event. Especially when it comes to your own wedding dress, consider taking it to a specialist to clean and safely pack for storage. For those bridesmaid dresses, though, think it over. If you know in your heart you won’t wear a dress again, take a photo of it, and then consider donating it to a charity that deals in bridesmaid and prom dresses.
Many people find an item or look they enjoy, and they repeat it in multiples. If it worked once, right…? The challenge with this is they end up with a closet full of clothes that all look the same. They have nothing to mix and match, and never have an outfit that feels great. Having ten pairs of green underwear is one thing, but having ten blue tops that are basically the same is quite another. Fill your closet with options!
Remember those free tote bags? Well now we have free T-shirts, a common giveaway from college campuses, corporate offices, and at 10k races, which is why so many of us have a huge stack of them. A walking advertisement is rarely a good look, but those free shirts can be great for working in the yard, lounging around the house, or sleeping. So if your stack of free tees is taking up too much space, keep the best ones (that are in your color palette) and donate the rest.
One of the easiest things you can do to make your closet feel more spacious and luxurious is to upgrade your hangers. (I prefer velvet hangers, which take up far less space than wood hangers.) Investing in nicer hangers can also serve as a volume checkpoint. When you run out of hangers, it’s time to purge a few things from your closet—don’t even think about buying more hangers!
You will be amazed at how much brain space opens up once you clean out your closet. I hope this list will give you the jump-start you need to get rid of those old items and make room for fresh new pieces that liven up your wardrobe and mood! Why not start this weekend?
PRO TIP: Make a “Maybe” Box
When I moved the last time, I was at a point in my life that I didn’t quite know how my social and work life would look, hence I didn’t know what I needed to keep in my closet. Would I be playing golf? Would I be going to a lot of charity or cocktail events? You get the picture. My “maybe” box came in handy to help me decide.
Here are some guidelines to make your own:
- All “maybe” clothes must fit well and be in good repair.
- Put your “maybe” clothes into a box, seal it up, then mark it with a date six months from now. Put the date on your calendar.
- When those six months are up, open your “maybe” box and evaluate how much you actually missed these clothes while they were away. Be honest!
- The “maybe” box is a good trial run for deciding on clothes you’re just not sure about. If you missed an item, keep it; if you didn’t really notice, then you’ll feel better about getting rid of it.