7 Easy Ways to Pare Down Your Closet

posted in: Inspiration, Organizing 2

Have you been meaning to declutter your closet?7 Easy Ways to Pare Down Your Closet

Maybe you’ve been thinking about opening the doors to your closet, and pulling out flattering outfit, after flattering outfit that you’re absolutely thrilled to wear.

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?

In this post, I give some practical and inspiring ways to streamline your closet.

Chuck unwanted hand-me-downs.

Let me say first that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with hand-me-downs.

The problem is unwanted hand-me-downs.

You might have recently received a bag of clothing from a fashion-forward friend or relative, or have a collection of hand-me-downs sitting in your closet.

While the gesture was thoughtful, this doesn’t mean you have to hold on to the clothes until the end of time.

Select one or two good pieces that you absolutely adore.

If nothing fits you or catches your eye, pack up the lot, and donate to a local non-profit charity organization.

Test clothes using the “ouch” test.

Here’s a fun method of decluttering your clothes. All you have to do is inspect, or physically try on clothing. Anything that screams “Ouch” has to go. Feel free to use your imagination here and get wildly creative! This test can be used for a physical or mental “ouch.”

For example, this could be anything from:

  • Itchy or irritating fabric or material
  • Anything that pokes or prods you
  • A clothing fad that has long since passed
  • A piece of clothing that brings up memories you’d rather forget

Throw away damaged clothing without regret.

You can (and should) immediately trash any pieces that are: ripped, stained, torn, full of holes, threadbare, stinky, or otherwise damaged. Are you really going to wear that ketchup stained yellow shirt to your friend’s party, or a pair of beige slacks that have seen better days to that marketing meeting at work? Probably not. Besides, these pieces are taking up extremely valuable real-estate in your closet.

Take a deep breath. You’ll be doing yourself, and your closet, the favor of deep-sixing that damaged clothing. To make the process easier, grab a large trash bag and walk over to your closet. Pull out damaged items, place them directly into the bag, and take the bag to the trash can. Done and done!   

Favor flattering clothing.

You know that green t-shirt that you’ve been holding on to, well, just because? Yet, when you try the shirt on, you say, “Ugh. This does nothing whatsoever for my complexion.” Yeah, it’s time to let it go.

Go through your closet and pull out anything doesn’t flatter your complexion or skin tone. That means no colors or patterns that make you look less than your best. Make sure you’ve got sufficient lighting and a mirror nearby to confirm your suspicions. If something doesn’t look right, dispose of it.

Assemble outfits to help someone in need.

If you love organizing outfits, why not prepare outfits for someone else? Contact a local women’s or men’s shelter, or charity organization to see if they are in need of specific sizes, or clothing types, such as dress clothing for work interviews.

Let’s say you have several suits, shirts, and dress shoes, sitting in the back of your closet. You recently lost three sizes thanks to your new exercise and diet regime, so the clothes aren’t of much use to you. You can assemble outfits and donate to the charity. 


Get serious about sizes.

Following the above tip, there’s no sense in holding onto ill or tightly-fitting pieces, or clothing that is too large or small for your size. Doing so cuts down on the amount of clothing in your closet you’ll actually be able to wear.

Look at it this way, would you rather have a closet filled with 5 shirts that are too small for you, and only one that flatters; or a closet filled with 6 shirts that flatter you? I’ll let you answer that one…

And if you need even more inspiration, you can always go clothes shopping in the future. And yes, they will definitely have your size, no matter what it may be.

Come to terms with your stuff.

You’ve been making progress decluttering your closet, but the last ten pieces are ill-fitting, and you’ve somehow decided to keep them. It’s time for an intervention.

If you’re really serious about decluttering your closet and having a space that makes it easy to store and see your clothes, ask yourself this brief statement: “Headache or happiness?”

Do you want the headache of wrestling through mounds of clothes that don’t fit, or the happiness of having a closet filled with flattering clothes?

Do you want the headache of chastising yourself for not decluttering your closet, or the happiness that comes from putting in time and effort to finally streamline your stuff?

It’s your choice. Make it count.

How about you? Is your closet in need of some decluttering? Which of these tips do you think you’ll try out? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.
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2 Responses

  1. Betty Winslow

    Please don’t recommend that people trash no-longer-needed clothing. Even stained or torn things can be used by thrift stores; many of them sell bundles of wearable clothes and bedding to businesses as rags or other industrial uses. Check to see if one on your area does that, then bag, mark “unwearable” and drop off. Keep stuff out of the landfill.

    • Rashelle

      Good point, Betty. It’s definitely worth checking to see if a local thrift store (or even your local municipality, for that matter) participates in a recycling program for clothes. I had heard of one big box clothing store doing it (can’t remember the name right now), but hadn’t thought about the local thrift shops. Thanks for sharing that nugget of information.