Minimizing Your Wardrobe Can Be Easy

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be confined to one season. Whether you’re inspired by the KonMari method or are sick of sifting through your closet feeling like you have “nothing to wear,” decluttering is a good idea any time of year. Within our consumer culture, closets easily fill up these days and cleaning out wardrobes will take time, energy, and thoughtful decision making. While it may not be a breeze, the end result will have you walking on air. (Sorry, not sorry.)

Once you’ve decluttered, here are our favorite ways to keep our closets organized.

1. Set Aside Time

“[Someday you’ll] wake up to a wardrobe full of only pieces you actually like and will wear. ”

If cleaning and organizing are not your favorite activities, it’s only natural that you’d want to get this process over quickly. However, in order to complete the job well and keep yourself from going through the same steps a month from now, you’ll want to set aside time.

Maybe the thought of overhauling your wardrobe in one day overwhelms you—break it up into sections and schedule a time to declutter each section separately. Or, you can make it a social event and bribe a friend to give moral support with a delicious drink.

However you choose to clean out your closet, make sure you are prepared for a time-consuming process so that you have the ability to be extremely thorough. Decluttering veterans recommend going through every item, evaluating it, and sorting it into piles. This commitment to your closet will pay off in the long run, when you wake up to a wardrobe full of only pieces you actually like and will wear. The end does justify the means in this case.

2. Consider Your Circumstances

Just like creating a wardrobe mood board, finding your personal style, or organizing your closet, decluttering looks slightly different for each individual. Three things to consider when sorting through your wardrobe are where you live, what your lifestyle is, and why you have each item in your closet.

Consider the weather where you live and what garments make sense for the seasons which occur in your area. I use this example far too much, but it is effective: I don’t need to buy heavy jackets when I live in Los Angeles, because even though I absolutely love outerwear, it makes no sense for the place I live.

Next, take a step back and look at your lifestyle. Do you work in an office? Are you home most of the day? Do you attend many events? Are you often running around with children? Questions like these should inform your wardrobe because it’s important for your closet to be functional as well as fashionable. For example, I attend very few events or activities which require formalwear, therefore I have no need for more than one or two fancy dresses and heels for the few times the occasion calls for it.

“Have you worn it in the last three months? Can you create three outfits using the item?”

It’s not worth it to hold onto pieces that have no purpose in our wardrobe. We invest not only money but emotions in our clothing, as they are often an extension of our identity. So, while it makes sense to hold onto some items that mean a lot to you, other garments must be let go for the sake of sanity.

The last two questions to ask yourself involve why you own these pieces: “Have you worn it in the last three months?” and “Can you create three outfits using the item?” Obviously, if it’s August and you haven’t worn a scarf in three months it’s reasonable to keep. Otherwise, it may be time to toss that dress you keep meaning to wear but never pull out of your closet.

If you find yourself at a crossroads—you haven’t worn the piece in a while, yet you feel really attached to it—it’s time for a little exercise. Take said item and attempt to create three different outfits with it and other garments already in your wardrobe. If you successfully create these outfits then you are officially allowed to keep it. Although, every outfit must be something you really would wear. Now is not the time to fantasize about the kind of person you wish you could be. Embrace your unique life, personality, and personal style.

3. Properly Dispose of Items

Long gone are the days when throwing unwanted “junk” into a box and dropping it off at Goodwill was acceptable. While this is obviously still a possibility, evidence shows that carelessly donating clothing is wildly ineffective in curbing textile waste. To properly get rid of your used clothing, you’ll have to sort it yet again into piles for mending or upcycling, selling or swapping, and recycling. There may be a handful of pieces that could be as good as new with a little mending. Use techniques like hemming, patchwork, and embroidery (if you’re creatively inclined) in order to save your beloved garments. Don’t be afraid to learn some basic sewing so that those pants can grace the dance floor again!

“If all else fails, and you’re staring at a pile of hole-ridden undergarments or terribly-stained shirts, there are programs working to give textiles a second life.”

In some instances, pieces in your “no” pile may just be wrong for your lifestyle. Companies such as Swap Society have now made it easy to rid your closet of items which are still of good quality, though no longer fit your personal look. Another option is selling these kinds of pieces on resale sites. You may get more bang for your buck than a thrift store and from the comfort of your own home.

If all else fails, and you’re staring at a pile of hole-ridden undergarments or terribly-stained shirts, there are programs working to give textiles a second life. Brands like Subset, Patagonia, and Levi’s have systems in place to take in clothing and recycle it for future use. Sometimes this means denim will be turned into insulation, and other times it results in true upcycling. A handful of other brands have take-back programs specifically for used clothing from their company, like EILEEN FISHER. Find the program right for your old clothes in this article, though be wary of H&M’s greenwashing.

Now, take a deep breath and let it out in the loudest yoga-like way possible. You can do it. With a little preparation and a whole lot of decisiveness, you’ll have yourself a joyous closet in no time. Find peace in the decluttering of your closet!

Audrey Stanton was born and raised in the Bay Area and is currently based in Los Angeles. She works as a freelance writer and content creator with a focus in sustainable fashion. Audrey is deeply passionate about conscious living and hopes to continue to spread awareness of ethical consumption.