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How To Purge Your Closet


Article by Molly Buchanan

Photography by Molly Buchanan

Try to hide your shocked face...I love clothes. Clothes, shoes, jewelry, handbags, I love it all. But the other day, when I came home from a shopping trip and went to hang a shirt in my closet only to realize that I already owned the EXACT SAME SHIRT, I knew it was time for a LONG overdue closet purge.

Purging your closet is hard! We attach emotions to clothing, so letting go of things can be quite the task. But purging your closet will not only free up and organize your space, but it will help you to further define your style. I have put together a few steps to help you with your own purging process.

Step One: Empty Out Your Closet.

Yes, I'm dead serious. Take it all out. Painful, I know, but necessary. 

Step Two: Try On Everything.

Yes, again, serious. Again, maybe painful, but again, necessary.

It's important to try on everything so you can make informed decisions about what you plan to keep in your closet. Trust me, even clothes that I thought fit me, did not.

Step Three: Ask Yourself, "Does This Serve Me?"

Yes, a little Marie Kondo-ish, but very powerful. So what does it mean?

Does this make me feel good? Do I feel like me? Do I feel comfortable? Do I get compliments when I wear it? Is it flattering? Does it fit properly? If the answer to any of these is "no," it goes. Is it damaged? If you won’t take the time to fix it, it must not be that important. 

Step Four: Could You Wear The Item At Least Three Ways?

Yes, there are the occasional statement pieces like a gown or cocktail dress, but for the most part, versatility is key. If an item cannot be worn multiple times or multiple ways, chances are, you won't.

Pro Tip: Take pictures of outfits and save them to a Pinterest board so you don't forget the ideas you had during your purge. This will ensure you wear your items and will save you from a creativity slump. 

Step Five: Does It Have A Future?

Have you worn it in the last year? Will you wear it again? If you can't remember the last time you wore it and have no use to wear it again, get rid of it.

I like to use the hanger method--Hang all of your hangers in one direction. After you wear an item, flip the hanger in the opposite direction. At the end of the year, get rid of all clothes that have hangers that haven't been flipped.

If an item has sentimental value, you don't have to get rid of it. Just limit it! I have one storage box that houses a very few items that I cannot let go, and that box is in our basement storage room, rather than taking up space in our closet. Another option is to take a picture and then get rid of the item. 

Step Six: Keep. Trash. Donate. Sell.

After you've done your try-ons, separate your items into four piles: Keep, Trash, Donate, and Sell.

"Keep" are the items you will be putting back in your closet.

"Trash" are items that are damaged, or are used intimate items. (Check the rules for proper trash disposal in your area.)

"Donate" items that you don't intend to keep or sell. Find a local charity that is accepting clothing donations. I am a big fan of donating to local women's shelters!

"Sell" high quality items. You can sell clothing that is in good shape, of high quality, and in style. In person, try the resale shops in your area, like Clothes Mentor or Plato's Closet. For Online, try eBay, ThredUp, or Poshmark. You can also do a yard sale or clothing swap with friends.

Bottom line when deciding what is coming back into your closet: Be ruthless.

Step Seven: Simplify Your Life

Now is the fun part: Putting your items back. You can finally organize your closet to fit your needs and lifestyle. I recommend separating items by type and color. It saves so much time, and you're more aware of what you own.

Now that you have these helpful tips, spend some time over the weekend to commit to a closet clean out. You'll be so happy you did!

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