Whether you are a style-obsessed shopper or a total minimalist, all of us have some clothing we leave tucked away in our closet, unworn and unloved for years. From decades-old tattered gym T-shirts to pants that have never fit, it’s easy to accumulate clothing that no longer serves your life.
Although decluttering and organizing a closet can be a daunting task, a streamlined wardrobe can transform your mornings and can even add more style to your day-to-day. Whether you have a stack of graphic tees from every event you’ve attended or a collection of leather jackets from a different era of your life, it’s time to dive head-first into your closet and declutter.
1. Identify your goals
The first step in any decluttering or reorganizing process should be to identify your goals. Is your goal to find things in your closet that fit your body? Do you want to streamline an office-ready capsule wardrobe to make your weekday mornings run more smoothly? Do you want to identify which styles or types of clothing you’re missing? Or do you simply want more space in your closet? Ask yourself these questions to identify your reasons for decluttering and creating a more manageable wardrobe.
2. Try everything on
This tip cannot be more clear. Try. Everything. On. Set up a full-length mirror near your closet before you begin taking each item out and don’t put anything back until you’ve tried it on. Without wearing the pieces of clothing hanging in your closet, it’s impossible to tell if you really feel good wearing the item. Whether an item is too big or too small, or the color isn’t the right fit for you, the best way to assess the item is by seeing how it feels and looking in the mirror when you wear it.
3. Be honest with yourself
A great way to accumulate clothing you don’t need is to shop for your “imaginary self." The “imaginary self” goes to events you don’t go to in your everyday life or visits places you’ve never been. Although it’s great to have goals, shopping for the person you aren’t can lead to a closet filled with items for a life that isn’t yours. Instead of shopping for that person, make a list of places you visit often, events you have to go to, and vacations you might take this year. When you shop for your reality, you’ll become a more stylish person in your everyday life.
4. Store seasonal items
Large coats, beanies, rain boots, summer dresses, scarves, gloves, and other seasonal items can waste precious closet space when not needed. Instead of keeping all four seasons in your tiny apartment closet at all times, divide your clothing into seasons. This will better allow you to declutter seasonal wardrobe pieces once the seasons change. Another big plus of organizing your closet this way? Every time the season changes, you can open a new storage box filled with clothes you already love. That’s the best shopping spree anyone can ask for.
If you need some clothes storage boxes, see our favorites below.
$13.64 for 2
This uber-affordable Amazon under-bed storage bag comes in a set of two, and it's complete with handles and zip closure.
Want easy, practical access to your sheets? With the zip front on these boxes, you can easily rotate your sheets (and clothes) without having to get the boxes in and out of your closet every time.
Complete with built-in handles for easy transport, this is a hardwearing choice with a fuss-free design.
5. Sell clothing that's more difficult to part with
If the reason you can’t toss an item of clothing is because of how much you paid for it, then consider listing the item with a secondhand site (like Poshmark or The Real Real). Not only are you making back some of the money you spent, but you are giving the item a new life in someone else’s closet. Make a rule for yourself that if the item doesn’t sell within a certain number of months, you must donate it.
6. Plan for the future
Although you’re no longer dressing for your “imaginary self”, you should still consider what items in your closet will be useful for the near-future. Whether you are changing jobs, going on vacation, or planning to have a baby, big life events require certain wardrobe items. A big decluttering allows you to see which items are missing and make a succinct shopping list.
7. Make a mending pile
If there’s an item or two in your closet that you’ve been meaning to mend for years. From boots with worn soles to ill-fitting pants, take this decluttering session as an opportunity to take those immediately to a specialist. It can be common to lie to yourself about whether or not you’re going to take the action steps to fix an item of clothing. If your mending pile seems too daunting to handle, try donating anything that won’t serve your wardrobe even once it’s fixed.
8. Let it go (by donating it)
At the start of any decluttering process, open up a box or large bag. This is going to be where you place everything you want to donate. For items that no longer fit, need too much mending, or just simply no longer serve your life, add them to the bag. Rather than make a pile, which could lead you to end up keeping more unwanted items as you spend more time seeing them, put these items immediately out of your sight by stuffing them into the donation box or bag. As always, never donate clothing that hasn’t been cleaned, and avoid donating anything that is in bad condition.
9. Group styles together
When it comes to placing the items you want to keep back in your closet, try and group similar items together. If color coding brings you joy, then place all the dark-colored clothing on one side of the closet and all light-colored clothing on the other. For bright colors in between, use the order of the colors in a rainbow to guide you.
10. Use similar style hangers
The typical closet might have a mish-mash of various hanger styles, whether you’ve borrowed a few from a roommate or have acquired retail hangers over the years. To gain a better view of everything in your closet, consider switching to one single hanger type for everything. For those with limited space, opting for velvet hangers will free up space. For those with more space, wooden hangers allow you to better view your clothes and give your closet a curated appeal. Think about your other closet organization picks, too, like boxes and baskets. Creating a visually appealing closet can lessen your need to declutter more in the future by reducing any impulse to purchase what you already own and giving you a new lease on your wardrobe.
Here are some of our favorite hangers, not just for your clothes...
These racks can be used horizontally or vertically, depending on how much space you have. Each rack doles out enough room for five pairs of pants, so this pack of two could be the new home for 10 pairs!
$12.99 for 4
Each hook has space for two purses, and it rotates to make the whole thing even more convenient when you're in a rush.
This super cheap shoe storage idea will fit neatly in your closet, and features a quirky little carousel feature which means that you can spin your shoes and accessories around in the morning while you choose what you want to wear that day.