Decluttering clothes CAN be a relatively easy (and painless) experience!
Believe me mama, I know the prospect of decluttering clothes can seem overwhelming, especially if your closet looks anything like mine used to.
Four years ago, walking into my closet brought frustration and overwhelm on the daily! My closet was jam-packed with literally hundreds of shirts, over sixty pairs of shoes, and a ridiculous number of unworn pants and shorts.
To be honest, I often felt guilty when I took a good look at my closet. I knew there were SO MANY things that I never wore.
Most of those things were pieces I bought myself, so I felt badly that I’d wasted good money on them.
Other items were gifted to me by my relatives or friends. I felt that decluttering clothes my loved ones had given me would be dishonoring their kindness.
Finally, a few things were those wishful thinking pieces – the ones I wore as a college cheerleader, hoping that someday I’d find a way to squeeze my mom of five hips back into.
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You are NOT alone if you need to do some closet decluttering
Does my story sound at all like yours? Do you feel overwhelmed by your closet clutter? It’s okay, mama.
I’m here to tell you are not alone!
The average woman in America has 103 items in her closet, according to a 2016 study by ClosetMaid.
Of those 103 items, 33% are deemed unwearable or are unworn.
And beyond that another 57% of the clothes in our closets are described as being too tight or too loose. That’s 90% of our wardrobe that isn’t serving us well!
But here’s the kicker: of the 41% of women who report not being able to find something in their closet at least once a month, 66% of them go out and BUY MORE NEW CLOTHES to “solve” the problem.
I think you get my point: most of our closets are full to the brim of things we don’t wear.
The benefits of decluttering clothes
I want you to just close your eyes (but keep reading, too, okay?! :)) for a moment and picture your closet completely decluttered.
Just imagine how it would look. Your clothes would all have space to breathe and your hangers would be ordered nicely. Every item would have its proper place. (Speaking of hangers, these wooden ones are some of my favorites.)
You would be able to open your closet door every morning, take a deep breath, and feel that you were living mom life on purpose – right at the beginning of the day. And you’d be able to quickly chose an outfit that flatters you and makes you feel confident.
Ahh … isn’t that nice?
I am telling you from one friend to another, that it is WORTH it to declutter your closet. You are worth it. Repeat after me: I AM WORTH IT.
There are many psychological benefits to decluttering. In a 2018 Psychology Today article, decluttering is linked to increased confidence and competence. What mom doesn’t need those things, right?!
The very act of decluttering has proven to be energizing, helping us to make quicker decisions and act on the tasks before us.
I absolutely love the twenty life-changing benefits of closet decluttering, that Marie-Anne Lacour shares on her blog all about French chic style. Some of my favorite positive things that she mentions about decluttered wardrobe are:
- being able to save time getting dressed
- actually enjoy putting together an outfit everyday
- being motivated to start decluttering your life and home in other areas
Okay, are you ready to get started with decluttering your clothes?! Let’s do it!
Decluttering Clothes Step 1: Mental Preparation
Now before we get started with the actual physical work of decluttering your wardrobe, we need to do some mental work.
First, tell yourself that you ARE doing this!
You are capable of conquering your closet clutter! I’m serious. Say this out loud, okay?
Next, resolve to make quick decisions
The longer you allow yourself to deliberate over a particular piece, the less likely you will be to let it go.
Accept these three facts:
- Keeping an expensive item in your closet will not bring back the money you spent on it. The money is gone. If you don’t wear the piece, let it go too.
- You do not need to hold onto clothes to preserve a memory. If you are honestly worried about forgetting the person or event that you associate with that piece, first consider if you have any photos or mementos from the event or of that person. If not, take a photo of that item of clothing. Store all of these types of photos in a folder on your phone called “Memories from clothes.”
- If an item is more than two sizes too big or too small, it is likely that piece will be out of style by the time you work yourself back into it. I promise, I’m not trying to sound harsh. I just want to be honest with you – everyone needs a friend who will shoot straight even when it’s difficult.
Choose where to donate before you start decluttering clothes
Having a destination in mind for these items will help you to feel a sense of purpose and intention with your decluttering.
You can certainly take your donations to a thrift store or donations center.
But it may even be more helpful to think of a few specific people who would be blessed to receive the items you’ll be parting with that are still in good shape.
Decluttering Clothes Step 2: Physical Preparation
Okay, are you ready to get to work decluttering that closet?
The first thing you’re going to do is to put all of your clothes on your bed!
Yep, just dump ‘em all there. Remember, you’ve resolved to work quickly, right?
I imagine you want to sleep in that bed at night, so this is your insurance that you’ll get this project done. Tell yourself that you are DOING THIS! You are not going put any of these clothes on the floor at the end of the day.
Next, grab 3 large bins, boxes or bags.
They can be 3 of the same type of container or 3 completely different containers. Use whatever you already have on hand. Go ahead and give them labels such as trash, donation, and wait.
Decluttering Clothes Step 3: Sort
Now we’re ready to sort through your clothes quickly. Remember, you need to work quickly and make fast decisions.
The longer you physically touch or hold onto an item, the harder it will be to part with it. We respond to physical touch and sensation in a deeper way than if we just observe something, so make it a point to not pick up each item and examine it for any real length of time.
Select your favorite items first
Go through the piles of clothes and choose all of your favorite items first. Simply put them back in your closet before they get too wrinkly.
These will be the clothes that you wear on repeat or the ones you often receive compliments on. Take these items off of your bed and and put them back in your closet.
Next, locate anything that is beyond repair and is not worth donating
Put these in the bin marked trash. These are the clothes you can quickly identify that are not serving you at all and wouldn’t be a blessing to ANYONE.
Is the piece torn, frayed, or stained beyond repair? Is it missing a button that’s been lost? Zipper broken?
Stop thinking you’ll get these things fixed. If you didn’t do it within the first two weeks of it needing a repair, that shows the item is simply not that important to you!
You trash pile will probably be a fairly small pile, so jump right in and get it done.
Let’s move onto the third pile: Donate
Now, the vast majority of people let themselves get bogged down right here, but not you!! You are going to keep pushing through, trusting your gut. Believe in your ability to make good decisions.
If you are feeling frustrated, take my FREE mini course to help you get rid of that clothes clutter! I’ll walk you through these steps in even more detail there.
Identify any item that you have not worn in the past year and place it in the donate box. Ahh! I know that seems hard! But, friend, it’s time to STOP holding onto clothes for those “just in case” moments.
There is a reason you haven’t worn that piece for a YEAR (or longer). If you don’t like an item enough to wear it right now, you don’t like it enough to keep it.
Questions to Consider
A few more questions to consider about whether to donate a piece are:
- Do you find yourself pulling and tugging at the neckline or hemline throughout the day?
- Have you wondered if the color is off for you? (If you have no idea about what color are best for you, I now offer color consultations in my shop!
- Do you wish the material was thicker, or less itchy, or less stiff?
If the answer to any of these questions is YES, donate these items too. For a list of 10 questions to help you get crystal clear on what to keep and what to donate, take my mini-course to help you declutter clothes the easy way!
Your pile on your bed should really be dwindling now. This is awesome!
Your donate pile will probably be quite large – and that’s a good thing. Do not be afraid to send very nice or expensive pieces out into the world. I believe that the good we give is always returned in one way or another.
The last pile: your fail safe
Now if you are having a hard time with some of your clothes and you just can’t decide what to do with them, I have a fail safe for you! It’s called the WAIT bin. Take all of the remaining clothes on your bed and put them here.
These are the things you kinda like and think you might wear, but you don’t love them. These are the things you’ve worn a few times in the past year, and that you don’t necessarily love. You could see yourself wearing them if you had at the right pair of pants or the right top to wear with it.
Put all of these in the wait bin and place that bin somewhere you won’t see it often. Under the bed, in the attic or garage, or in the guest bedroom closet would be perfect.
Now, if you find yourself looking for a particular piece, go back and get it out of the bin and return it to your closet. But only take that one piece!
Make an appointment
Finally, look at your calendar and set an appointment for yourself six months from now. When you see your reminder, get out your wait box. If you haven’t thought of any of the pieces inside this box, it is time to donate these too!
There will be things in there that you’ve completely forgotten about. If they haven’t crossed your consciousness in six months, give these away too.
Victory over clothes clutter can be yours!
Okay, friend, when you get through this process, it is time to celebrate!
You will feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose when you walk into your closet every morning for sure.
Now, if your closet is looking pretty bare, I have two options to help you refill it with intention!
- I now offer Personal Closet Consultations and Body Shape Analyses to help moms know exactly what clothes to buy to flatter their natural beauty. Go to my shop now to book yours!
- My online course, The Confident Closet, launches again in Fall of 2020. I’ll be teaching women just like you how to stop wasting time and money on clothes they don’t wear. We’ll identify your style, learn your perfect color palette, how to shop for your lifestyle, and learn how to buy the best clothes for your body shape and size. Subscribe to my newsletter below to get all the info about enrollment and discounts!
Final thoughts on decluttering clothes
I know this process of decluttering clothes can seem daunting! But I also know that if you are motivated, that you CAN DO IT!
Decide to focus on the benefits – and consider a Personal Color Consultation as a reward for all of your hard work! 😉