The holiday season is a great time to exchange gifts with the people we love. But that also means we end up with more stuff. And stuff has a habit of becoming clutter—sentimental items, old tax returns, that bagel toaster we know we’ll need as soon as we throw it away. This is especially true of the clothes in our closet: clothes we hope we will fit into again or that just might return to fashion someday.
But let’s get real. The average person wears just one of every five items in their closet. That means day after day you choose not to wear 80 percent of your wardrobe. Why keep anything in your closet that you don’t love and look great in, and delight to wear? Now I know what you’re thinking: “What if I throw it away and I fit into it again/it comes back in style?” Fashion does go in cycles, but no fashion resurfaces in exactly the same style, so your old clothes won’t quite meet the mark. There’s also the more important point that as we age, our body shapes and complexions gradually change. What looked good on us at 20 can be quite unflattering at 50 or 60. And many older adults still have clothes from their twenties hiding in their closet! Since your wardrobe and appearance can make you look older or younger, competent or clueless, vibrant or vacant, it’s important to get everything in your closet right.
How to Declutter Your Closet
Go big, edit bold
You can do better than throwing out one or two things! Go big on your cleanout. If this feels tough, remind yourself that your clothing is not the same as your sense of self. Let’s make room for who you are now and who you are becoming. Why would you spend money on new clothes that highlight your beautiful new stage of life if they’re only going to drown in this forsaken sea? Be relentless! And make a few boxes to help you prune: DONATE, STORE, and SELL.
Try stuff on
Doesn’t fit? Do you have to tug/pull/pin it to make it look right? Itchy or uncomfortable? Dated? Toss, toss, toss! But that’s only Step 1. When an item does fit, think about how it makes you feel. Do you love it? Do you feel fabulous? Would you reach for this item as a go-to? If not, toss those too. Your closet has no room for anything that doesn’t fit and doesn’t make you feel like a million bucks. A trusted friend can be invaluable during this process to help you choose only the items that best fit and suit your body, personal brand, lifestyle, and goals.
Consider your feelings
You may associate certain emotions with your clothes, good or bad. These can be positive feelings from past accomplishments, adventures, or joys, such as the socks you wore when you had your first baby; or these can be negative feelings, such as the tie you wore when you were laid off. Are your “skinny” clothes inspiring you to lose weight or making you feel bad for having gained it? Say good-bye to clothes with a negative connotation. For nostalgic items you don’t actually wear, consider packing them away in a keepsake box, or taking a photo and then donating the item. A photo will help you declutter your closet while calming your fear of forgetting these special memories.
Use your boxes
Whatever clothes that don’t fit great and make you feel amazing should now be in one of your three boxes. Your STORE box is for those special keepsakes. Your DONATE box is for items you can give to a local shelter, church, or charity. You can even put damaged items or intimates in here, as charities like Goodwill accept ALL textiles, in any condition (except wet or contaminated with hazardous materials), so they can be reused or recycled into new products. And what about your SELL box? If you’re feeling industrious, you can try to sell your clothes at the local consignment shop or on websites like eBay. There are many guides online to demystify the selling process!
A declutter-your-closet conclusion
When you declutter your closet, getting dressed gets easier—actually fun! Now you’re on your way to creating the classic, ageless closet that highlights your personal brand. So what gems lurk in your closet and what should be donated immediately?
If this process feels overwhelming, let’s work together in a Closet Audit & Wardrobe Consultation. We’ll go through your closet and keep the items that best flatter your body type, style, and goals. Then we’ll “shop in your closet” to discover new ensembles from the items you already own, with complementary pairings you might not have thought to put together. At the end of your session, you’ll receive a custom shopping list that details the items you’re missing to round out your wardrobe. No more worrying about a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear! I’d love to chat and schedule an appointment to meet you. Looking forward!
I’m Kay Hunter, Orange County image consultant for men and women over 40. I transform mature professionals, active adults, and seniors into more successful and confident versions of themselves. By expressing yourself through style and fashion, you’ll get that boost of confidence, visibility, and value you need to get to the next level. Enhance the joy of living—because great style is ageless!