You’re one of those self-aware people who just knows that they have way more clothes than they need. That’s great, but now we have to do something about it. One would think that a large wardrobe selection is a wonderful thing—the more variety, the more outfits, the more choices.
But actually, it’s kind of exhausting. It’s more to keep track of, more to wash, more to keep organized, more to coordinate.
How to downsize your wardrobe
Downsizing your wardrobe affords you lots of extra closet space that you can use for storage. It also makes getting ready in the morning so much faster.
It eliminates the time you spend sifting through hangers for your favorite blouse or trying outfits on. When your closets are only stocked with a few reliable garments that you like to wear and feel good in, it reduces the choice-factor and ensures that you look great every time!
Take your time deciding what you want to keep and what you want to throw away. If you speed through it, you might end up unsatisfied with your selection. In this process you’re going to get the chance to examine your closet piece by piece so don’t try to do this in a time crunch.
Compare sizes, colors, brands, prioritize, deprioritize; making sure you feel good when you leave the house is a form of self-care, so take care to do it right!
The Ultimate Guide to Downsizing Your Wardrobe: 10 Easy Steps
The goal of this guide is to walk you through how to narrow down your closet selection in a reasonable manner that ensures that you’re satisfied with what you choose and all your new closet space!
We’re really going to break down every step so if you follow along there’s no way you won’t see a change in your wardrobe accessibility and daily routine! Focus on doing each step, one at a time. It’s best to do this process right after you’ve done your laundry so everything is clean and present.
You’re going to want to allot three piles: clothes to sell, clothes to donate, and clothes to throw away. You can grab some bags, bins, or baskets to keep the groups organized, or just sort them into piles.
Put on some comfortable clothes. Grab some hot tea (or a glass of wine). Play some music or a podcast, or put on a movie. This isn’t something intensive, so take steps to make it enjoyable.
2) Remove everything from your closet.
Take every single piece of clothing: every top and bottom, undergarment, accessory, and shoe out of your closet, dresser, bins, bags, shelves, wherever you keep clothes.
Lay them all in one common place, this can be a bed, couch, chair, or anywhere you have enough space. (Note: Shoes can dirty up furniture so keep them on the floor.)
3) Take out anything that is in poor condition.
Tops with stretched out collars. Pants that have shrunken. Cracked belts. Broken zippers. Shoes that are falling apart.
Anything missing any buttons, embellishments, or matches. Anything with rips, holes, frayed straps, discoloration, or that’s just falling apart. In other words, the farther it looks from how it did when you bought it, the more reason for you to consider letting it go.
(Note: None of these or anything in poor condition should be sold or donated. Consider recycling shirts that are beyond repair by cutting them into strips and using them as cleaning rags.)
4) Take out anything that doesn’t fit.
Take out articles of clothing that aren’t your size. Shoes that pinch your toes, hats that squeeze your head, belts that are too loose. Shirts that strain around the bust, underwear that digs into your hips. You shouldn’t continue to wear things that make you uncomfortable.
5) Take out duplicates.
If you, perhaps, have more than one purple shirt, two pairs of flower pants, and three pairs of running shoes, then you have some to spare!
Take out like articles (pieces of the same kind, color, and style) and take as long as you need to compare the two and scrutinize the minutest of details in order to conclude which is the best one. Then keep the best and toss the rest!
7) Take out things that aren’t versatile.
Try to limit the articles of clothing you have that are hard to match with anything. Any complex patterns, uncommon colors, or extremely flamboyant pieces. This will ensure that you have access to more outfit combinations.
8) Take out anything you haven’t worn in over 12 months.
If you haven’t worn it at all in a year’s worth of seasons, chances are you won’t miss it if it’s gone (unless you have a legitimate reason for not wearing them like pregnancy).
9) Sort through sentimental clothing items.
Wedding dresses/suits, our kids’ first baby clothes—some of life’s most wonderful things are connected to our most cherished memories.
Sentimental clothing is okay to keep, as long as it’s connected to good moments that make you happy. Don’t keep something because you think you should or because it was gifted to you.
10) Place everything back in your closet in an orderly fashion.
What’s left in the pile is your new wardrobe! Neatly arrange shoes in pairs. Hang tops on one side of the closet and bottoms on the other. Get a bin or small basket to use for accessories. Make sure everything has a place and is clearly visible.
What you should be left with is a neat closet full of articles that appeal to you, are in good condition, and that you wear on a regular basis. As all closets should be! Few things feel better than a well-organized wardrobe.
Now it would probably help to know how to keep your closet in this refreshed state of minimal bliss.
Tips to Keep Your Wardrobe Minimal
- Get a closet rack: If you want to micromanage the size of your closet, keep your clothes on a closet rack instead of in your closet. A closet rack is smaller and open so you always have a visual on how much clothes you accumulate. There are also no nooks and crannies, so no clutter! Use your normal closet, instead, for storage space.
- Only get something new to replace something old: If you have a long-sleeve shirt that was recently ripped, go shopping only for a new long sleeve shirt. This will keep the amount of clothes you have consistent.
- Take a shopping hiatus. Set a period of time where you’re not allowed to purchase anything other than food and home essentials. If you don’t know where to start, try prohibiting yourself from making extraneous purchases every other week.
- Swap clothes: Not with other people! If you do decide to buy a new piece of clothing, discard a piece of clothing you already own before you place your new item up in your closet. This also works well for keeping your closet’s quantity low and balanced.
- No spontaneous spending: Don’t give into a “50% off T-shirts” sale sign. We often fall victim to purchasing things on sale thinking that we’re saving money, when really we’re just spending money we wouldn’t have otherwise spent had that sale sign not been there. If you don’t need it, ignore it.
- Coordinate clothes with the seasons. Take out clothes that aren’t appropriate for the weather. Put them away in storage bins or in your dresser. Then there will be less in your closet to look at and sift through, and you’ll be appropriately dressed and comfy when you leave the house.
Maintaining a downsized closet doesn’t just keep you organized but promotes better spending habits? Perfect! It’s a great idea to ask yourself whether you have too many clothes in your closet.
Not only that, but downsizing your closet is a great gateway to sorting through the rest of your possessions. In whatever you wish to declutter, the process is essentially the same.
You’ll want to lay out all your options in front of you in one place, discard what is no longer good or doesn’t fit your criteria, then put it all back in its proper place neatly.
We should all try to do a closet sweep bi-yearly (more often— perhaps every three months—if you shop frequently; less often—maybe once a year—if you rarely go shopping).
If you’re a real fashionista and want to be thorough about your selection, don’t toss your “donate” and “sell” piles yet. Experiment with the pile that you’re keeping—lay it out and put outfits together.
Play around with color and texture. See how many outfits you can put together. Through this process, you might discover that a piece actually isn’t particularly working and decide to discard it or swap it for something else.
Most importantly, take this opportunity to make your closet a reflection of you. Keep your closet occupied with clothes that reflect who you are and where you want to be in life.
What you have on doesn’t just reflect how you feel, it impacts how you feel. Stick to things that make your confidence and beauty radiate!