The Closet Cleanse

A few weeks ago, I went through a major closet cleanse. I’ve held this event semi-annually, but this year I kept myself honest and really took the axe to my wardrobe. As a true impulse shopper, I have always held out the hope I’d actually wear the tops that still have tags on them from H&M, those one-wear shoes from Target, handbags I got at 50 percent off. As the “discard” pile grew, the reality of my problem was staring at me in the form of a gigantic mountain of hardly worn items. It was the first time I really took a look at the collective mass of my wasted money. That night I decided it was time to cut the impulse-shopping habit.

I’ve fallen off the bandwagon a time or two since. When I get the urge, I try to remind myself of that mountain of hardly worn clothes. While there are many hard-and-fast rules for closet consolidation, these three tips helped me take away the two-thirds of my existing wardrobe that I considered excess clothing baggage. The tips also help when making a new purchase.

1. Get honest with yourself.
Does that blouse really hang right? Do you feel great wearing those pants? Does that skirt from college really need to make an appearance now? Your clothing doesn’t define you, but it does give you a way to express your personality. Make sure you’re ready to take a good look at what’s important to you.

2. If it’s got a rip, stain, or looks tired and worn—it’s time to throw it away.
I had a really hard time with this one, considering there are memories associated with many of my sweaters, T-shirts, and jewelry. I kept a few sentimental items in a box, the way you do with notes from old friends. Be sure to take notice of staple items you are tossing so you can replace them with quality pieces that will last for years. A few items I’m replacing: white button-down shirt, black slacks, tall boots, cream sweater, and nice socks.

3. How many wears can you get from it?
I want 80 percent of my closet to be versatile for mixing and matching. By versatile, I mean it can be paired with four or more items already in my closet (such as pants, skirts, blouses, jackets, etc.), and it must create a unique look with these existing items. I kept a few dresses as stand-alone pieces, but versatility is the first presiding attribute when purchasing a new item of clothing.

What ways do you keep your wardrobe free of excess baggage? Any tips you’d like to share?