While the beginning of spring is often deemed the time when it’s necessary to roll up your sleeves and deep clean your entire house, I like to start that process in January. Like I discussed in my earlier post, there’s something about the first morning in January that fills me with excitement and anticipation for the year to come. It’s also the time when I like to take inventory of my closet and get rid of anything that I haven’t worn in the last year or two.
Like many people, I used to have a difficult time getting rid of clothes that still fit (“But what if it comes back in style?!”). That attachment, coupled with the fact that I spent five years working in retail during my high school and college-aged years, meant that I owned enough clothes to open up my own boutique. However, after moving across the country several times in one year when I finished grad school, it became quite easy for me to let go of things that I didn’t use or wear on a regular basis. I found that hanging on to a bunch of stuff I didn’t need was weighing me down, both figuratively and quite literally (if you ever move into an upstairs apartment in July in Louisiana you’ll get unemotional about the nonessential things you own very quickly).
When it comes to tackling my closet, these are the steps I take:
- Organize items by color and type. This first step is definitely the most labor-intensive and time-consuming, but it is absolutely worth your time and effort, as it helps to streamline the rest of the process. Organizing my closet this way helps me to see what colors I most favor (lots and lots of neutrals), as well as what essential pieces I already own and therefore no longer need to purchase (while a crisp white blouse is necessary for any wardrobe, six of them can be a bit much).
- Pick out anything that doesn’t fit well or is starting to look worn or discolored. Being 5’2, it took me most of my life to find jeans and pants that actually fit well without having several inches of fabric pooling at my feet. As a rule of thumb, I don’t keep anything that doesn’t flatter my frame or height. Similarly, during my early 20s, I went through a bit of a self-tanner and bronzer episode (who didn’t fall victim to that early 2000s trend?), which caused many of my white and lighter pieces of clothing to become permanently stained. Thus, I throw away any piece of clothing that has begun to look dingy.
- Pick out anything that I haven’t worn in the last 1-2 years. This step is the most difficult one in the whole process, as it goes against my nostalgic nature. However, logically, I know that if I haven’t found an excuse to wear something in the last or year two, I probably won’t find an excuse to wear it in the next year or two, so it’s best I donate it to make room for new purchases.
- Turn around the hangers of any items I’m still unsure about parting with. If the logical part of my brain can’t prevail in step three or if I can’t remember if I’ve worn a certain piece of clothing in the last year, I turn around the hanger. This acts as a visual reminder that I haven’t worn the item in a while. If I decide to wear it in the future, I’ll place the hanger back the right way. If I go the entire next year without moving the hanger, I know that I should donate it to make room for new purchases.
- Arrange shoes and purses to be aesthetically pleasing. One of the things that makes the clothing and shoes in stores so appealing is how they’re presented. When I worked in retail, I spent many hours arranging displays whenever we got a new floor set. Applying this concept to my closet helps me to more easily visualize outfits when I’m getting dressed in the morning.