How to Purge Your Closet

messy closet

Depending on where you live, wardrobe-transitioning time happens one to four times per year. That's when you need to go through your closet, taking out items that are from last season and bringing in the clothing that you will wear over the next few months. While this is a great time to purge items that you no longer wear, many people simply pack clothing away without thinking about whether they want to keep it for another season. Over time, this can lead to a case of closet clutter. If you are having a hard time transitioning your wardrobe for lack of space, then it is probably time to take the next opportunity to purge your closet.

If you were to take a good look at everything that you own, you’ll probably find that you wear only a portion of your clothing with any regularity. If you apply the Pareto Principle, you might even see that you wear about 20% of your clothing about 80% of the time. While it would be difficult to purge 80% of your clothing items, it’s definitely something to think about: Why keep a closetful of belongings that you rarely use?

If you are ready to go through your closet and whittle down your wardrobe collection, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Find a friend to help you.

If your closet is bursting at the seams, then there’s a good chance that you tend to hold onto things for sentimental reasons, or because you think that they will come back into style (or that you’ll finally lose that weight, or a host of other reasons). A sensible friend can help you look at the situation with fresh eyes. Are you really going to fit into the clothes that you wore before you had your first child ten years ago? Do you really want to save those blazers with big shoulder pads? Ask your friend to help you make these decisions if they are difficult for you to make on your own.

Plan on donating items that you won’t be keeping.

Determine ahead of time where you would like to donate your gently used clothing items that you won’t wear anymore. If you don’t have a place in mind, then you might be tempted to keep them around until you can find the perfect place. Simply pick one of the thrift shops in your area, or choose a battered women’s center, a shelter or some other charity. It might help if you call first to find out what they will actually accept; some thrift shops will take nearly anything, and others are more selective. Do make sure that you only donate clothing that is clean, unstained and in good repair.

Set aside time for repairs before you begin.

You may find that you have blouses that are missing a button, a sweater that has loose stitching in a seam and other clothing that has easily repaired issues. If you have been saving these items for “when you have time” to fix them, then the time is now. Dedicate a few hours on an upcoming weekend to repairing these problems. Then you can put the items back in your closet or donate them; either way, you won’t have unusable clothing taking up valuable space in your closet.

Make this a regular thing.

The semi-annual wardrobe change is a great time to do a mini-purge of your closet. That will help keep things under control, and will eliminate the need for an overwhelming purge at some point in the future. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that if you haven’t worn an item for an entire season, then you probably don’t need to keep it around anymore. Exceptions include special occasion clothing that you will wear again to the next wedding or funeral, and also if you are pregnant or recently postpartum, because your body is changing and you really might wear your pre-pregnancy clothes again.

Instead of dreading this task, put on some music and treat yourself to dinner out or a special dessert later: After you purge your closet, you’ll deserve it!