Closet Week Day 1: Clear Out & Classify

Organizing your closet is big job, which is why I’m incredibly excited to walk you through the project, step by step.

As the title of this post suggests, the way to begin is by clearing everything out of your closet. And I mean everything: hung, folded, crumpled in the corner- remove it all and transfer it to some place you can sort through it (if you have a spare or guest room that would be ideal so that you can continue to work during the coming days).

Once you’ve done this, its time to examine each item of clothing individually. This is a time-consuming process, I am aware. It is also a very necessary one in order to create a wardrobe that really works for you.

During this initial sort, place items into one of four categories:

– Giveaway/ get rid of it (for now this can include charitable donation items, things you want to give to friends and family, and clothing you plan to sell- more on this category tomorrow)

– Gotta have it

– Get it fixed

– Garbage

If you need reminding about how an item of clothing fits or looks on you, then by all means, try it on! Even better if you can call in some support in the form of an honest companion who will tell you that dress looks heinous on you get rid of it immediately it’s hurting my eyes- for instance.

Lucky for you, I’ve put together a little chart to help you get through this most difficult decision-making process.

Here are some further explanations/ elaborations about the “Ditch It” qualifications:

It’s foul: everyone needs a couple of items that are grungy for days when you’re attending to dirty tasks. But there is a limit. You’ll really only need one such outfit, any more than that is just a gross garment yucking up your closet.

It looks wretched on you: I’ll bet if you looked into any given person’s closet right now, you would find at least three items of clothing which clearly just don’t fit them. Why the need to keep such things? The simple answer may be vanity: if you’re keeping a pair of jeans that are two sizes too small, you may believe you’re holding onto the possibility of being thin enough to fit into them. Keeping the under-sized garment becomes therefore a connection to that envisioned-self. But here’s the truth: you are who you are, and you’re working with whatever body you’ve got. Generally speaking, be real about outfitting yourself with clothing that fits you now, that accentuates your current form.

It’s archaic: People love to hold onto things that are sure to come back in style. If you can afford space-wise to keep some things you reasonably believe will make a comeback in the coming year, then go on with your bad self. But fashion cycles are long, and it can take up to a decade for a trend to make a reappearance. When it finally does, it will be altered in some way. Appraise with a critical eye when it comes to style trends, that’s all I’m sayin.

– It’s pointless: This one is pretty self- explanatory. If you haven’t worn it in a year it’s just closet clutter.

– It’s hypothetical: There is a line here. For instance, I live in a colder climate, but own bathing suits “if I visit someplace warm.” That’s an acceptable hypothetical. The more outlandish the hypothetical scenario, the more unacceptable it becomes to keep it. If and when you ever get that job fishing in Alaska, you have my blessing to go out then and there to buy some new gear.

It’s a guilt garment: This is an especially tricky topic, and believe me, I understand. I, too, have splurged on expensive items of clothing which I never actually wear. It’s a totally regrettable scenario. On this note, I wanted to share with you all a very wise nugget via Harriet Schechter. On the subject of “clutter-causing regret,” Harriet mentions, “the regret that you spent money on the thing in the first place.” Here’s where it gets good:

“(Anyone who’s ever had an expensive, never-worn garment, with the price tag still attached, hanging forlornly in the closet for years knows what I’m talking about.) This can cause you to try to justify your choice subconsciously by holding onto it. See, if you get rid of it, it’s like admitting you made a bad choice- horror of horrors, a mistake! And for some people, that possibility is just too painful to acknowledge…If you find yourself resisting the letting-go process, stop for a moment and take stock of your feelings…Perhaps on a subconscious level you sense you are being made wrong in some way. But letting go of past choices doesn’t necessarily mean that you made bad or stupid choices or that you were wrong for having chosen them. It just means that you have outgrown them and are now ready to move on. Accept that choosing to let go of something now is not an invalidation of your original impulse.”

Of course ultimately it is entirely your choice whether an item stays or goes. Truth be told, it really is no skin off my clothes whether you hoard ill-fitting blouses, or get rid of your whole wardrobe and start from scratch. I can only hope that I have helped lay the groundwork for you to execute these kinds of decisions.

After you’ve completed your master sort, you can go ahead and feel awesome and incredibly proud of yourself. Then go treat yourself to a latte. You deserve a reward.

Tomorrow we’ll cover what to do next with all those piles. Stay tuned..

Image credits: Fabsugar, Robert Ballew, my chart, She Knows, The Cherry Blossom Girl, A Pair And A Spare



  1. Wonderful tips! I’ve just done a fairly through cleaning but will do a second run through when time allows to find donations/discards! Have a wonderful day.

  2. Another great post Annie! I love your tips!

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