Decluttering Your Closet: A Step by Step Guide

For me, one of the hardest parts of my journey to minimalism has been decluttering my closet. I wouldn’t say I’m a fashionista quite yet, but I love to put together cute outfits and dress appropriately for every occasion. However, I still feel overwhelmed by the amount of items I have hanging in my closet despite it being a lot less than the average closet currently has. So yesterday, I spent the majority of my day decluttering my closet–and while it was a daunting task that took quite a few hours out of my day, it was extremely satisfying and worth it in the end. Here are the steps I followed to minimize my wardrobe:

  1. Divide your wardrobe into categories. It’s easier to declutter when you segment your closet into sections. Start by categorizing by season, then by where you would wear these clothes, and finally by specific clothing item. For me, I first created two areas: one for summer and one for winter. Then I further divided those seasonal piles by everyday casual clothes, business clothes, workout clothes, and casual loungewear such as sweats and pajamas. Finally, I divided those sections into tops, pants, skirts, shorts, jackets, etc. Now your decluttering project is a lot less overwhelming! Instead of staring into your closet abyss, you have smaller areas to work with.
  2. Take each section out of the closet one at a time. This is a simple step–yet critically important. If you work through your clothing while it’s still sitting in the closet, it’s less likely to come out. Take everything out and only what you really want and need will find its way back in.
  3. Try every single item on. After all of the clothes are lying on your bed or floor (try not to get them super wrinkled if you can!), put each one on your body as if you were going to wear it out. Put the full outfit together to see if you can truly envision yourself wearing this piece of clothing. It might even help to take a few pictures of yourself in each outfit to see if you feel good about how you look in it.
  4. Ask yourself 3 questions. While you have the clothes on, ponder upon these 3 questions: If all of my clothes were clean, would I choose to wear this? Do I feel comfortable and confident when wearing this item? Have I worn this item in the previous season? (ex. since we are rounding the corner of winter, if you didn’t wear that sweater in the past 3 months, it’s likely you won’t wear it when November rolls around next year). If you answer yes to all of these questions, then congratulations! The item can stay. If you answer no, put it in the declutter pile. If you’re not quite sure yet, feel free to create a maybe pile that you will return to later.
  5. Organize the yes, no, and maybe piles after each section. After you try on every item in a certain category (ex. winter tops), organize and review your three piles. If you wait to tidy up until after a few more categories or even the end of the try-on session, you’re likely to get tired and overwhelmed with the messy space. Fold up any clothes that you are getting rid of and put the rest back on their hangers and in the closet.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 for each section, then return to the full maybe pile. After your initial try-on party ends, come back to that maybe pile and evaluate if each item deserves to have a place back in the closet. Look at what you’ve already kept and see if these items spark the same amount of joy that the yes items do. Most likely, you should end up parting with 75% of the maybe items. Also, feel free to try the items on again to get another look and feel for the piece.
  7. Hang up all yes clothes, organizing as you go. If you haven’t done so already, put all of the yes items back in your closet and organize them based on where you would wear them. For example, I put all of my casual clothes together, my workout clothes in their own section, and business clothes in another. That way, when you have somewhere to go, you will know exactly where to go to find your perfect outfit. Within each category, I like to group by color–this doesn’t make too much of a difference for me considering I have a very colorful closet and not many items of the same color, but for others it can be more satisfying.
  8. Categorize no items and box them up immediately. After taking a moment to be proud of the items that you are getting rid of, deal with them appropriately. Divide them into piles based on where they are headed–donation, sell, family or friends, or trash–and get them out of your house ASAP. If you wait too long, you might not fully finish your closet decluttering project and pull back some of the items that you decided you truly don’t need.
  9. Stand in awe of your newly minimized closet. Don’t forget this last step! Decluttering your closet is a big accomplishment. It takes time, patience, and willpower to get through. Feel the relaxation flow through your body when you look inside your closet and only see your favorite items. No longer do you have to feel guilty about not giving certain items any love or attention–someone else will do that now, making much better use of them than you ever could.

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