I couldn’t call myself a full-fledged minimalist — I love my extensive shoe collection too much and it’s nice to splurge on clothing from time to time. However, there are a lot of aspects of a minimalist lifestyle that I like and try to incorporate into my life. As someone who loves traveling, the knowledge that I can easily get up and go someplace is invaluable. It really is so much easier to go someplace when I have fewer things keeping me in one spot — and I’ve discovered that I usually wear only a portion of my wardrobe regularly. I’ve learned to appreciate having things that work well for me and can get a lot of use as opposed to having a ton of items that rarely see the light of day.
Believe it or not, I’m careful of what purchases I make (Do I need this dress? Will I wear these shoes more than a few times? etc.), and I’m also hyper-aware of what I already own and whether or not it’s getting use. A monthly clothing purge is especially helpful to me — I know what is in my closet, and whether or not something new is entirely necessary. Whether you’re wanting to whittle down your possessions to own less overall, or if you’re looking to make room for new, more true-to-you purchases, here’s how to sort through everything and do it right!
Be aware of your mood
This sounds ridiculous, but there are certain times that are easier for me to purge my closet than others. If I’m feeling particularly sentimental or unmotivated, then I’m way less likely to get rid of something I just don’t need. I’ll look at a shirt I’ve worn one time and I might burst into tears at the thought of giving it away.
Be aware of your mood and when you’re feeling especially unattached to material possessions then set aside your evening. The best way to put yourself in the right mood is to decide on your motivation for purging your closet. Have you lost weight and need some better-fitting clothes? Has your style changed? Are you strapped for cash and wanting a little extra money for some weekend activities? Setting your priorities straight can help put everything in perspective.
Make 4 piles
A lot of tutorials on purging your wardrobe say to make 3 piles. I say nay. Instead, strip down to your skivvies, try on everything you’ve got, and make 4 separate piles:
1) Clothing you wear regularly
This is the easy one: these items fit you well and get plenty of use. I have an American Eagle dress that I wear about once a week and has quickly become one of my favorite outfits. It’s my style, it fits me like it was made for me, and it’s in good shape.
2) Clothes to donate or sell immediately
This is also a fairly easy pile. These are pieces that are completely not your style or size anymore, are falling apart beyond repair, or (for whatever reason) you never wear and would rather do without. I’ve gone through many style phases, so when I first started clearing out clothing, this pile was huge! There were tons of things that I knew I wouldn’t wear. That’s okay, though — no sense in hanging onto something if it doesn’t fit into your life!
3) Clothing you want to keep but need to wear in the next month to justify hanging onto them
I get it, sometimes we get a little sentimental thinking about the first date we had in that pink cardigan we never wear, ever, or the itchy dress your mom passed down to you. You don’t have to get rid of those items right away if it’s too hard to part with them. Instead, place these near the front of your closet so you can try to wear them. Within the next month or so, if you haven’t found a chance to wear it, move it to your #2 pile.
4) Clothing you’re almost certain belong in pile number two but aren’t quite ready to part with
There are some things that I look at and think that I don’t really need but would like to hang on to because what if? What if something pops up and I need it? I see a lot of my simple shirts that are one color in this way. They certainly look nice, and I feel like I should want to wear them…but I love prints or patterns way more now, so in the end I’m pretty sure I won’t. To give myself the benefit of the doubt, I put them out of sight under my bed for a couple of months. If I haven’t thought about them for the next month, then the answer is clear: it’s time to donate or sell them.
Sell and donate
Once you know the things you are ready to get rid of, decide on what items (if any) you’d like to try and sell at consignment shops or other used clothing stores like Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads. Remain realistic about selling your things — you likely won’t make big bucks, and it will have to be the style that the store is currently buying. For this reason, stop by a few stores, since one place may pass on something that another place will purchase from you. Anything that’s leftover goes in the donation pile. Head over to Goodwill or Salvation Army and shed some closet weight!
If the first closet purge was a bit of a bust, then don’t fret! Part of what will really make it work is doing it often — I do this monthly, but decide on what works for you. It will remind you of what you own, what you’ve hung onto thinking you’d wear but didn’t, what is no longer weather-appropriate, and so forth. Once you get into a groove, you’ll find that you’re wardrobe will suit your life better and you will be dealing with less clutter overall.
Good luck, and have fun!
What is your process for weeding out old clothes from your wardrobe? What benefits and disadvantages do you see to constantly getting rid of things you don’t wear regularly? How often do you purge clothing from your closet?
This post originally appeared on HaveHeart Magazine.
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