4 Simple Steps to Cleaning Out Your Closet
This is part of our series on Building a Capsule Wardrobe. In this post we will be talking about the best way to clean out your closet, in four easy steps.
Once you have designed your ideal capsule wardrobe, the next step is to clean out your closet! Normally people clean out their closets item by item, without a vision of what they want their wardrobes to look like as a whole. That can leave you with a wardrobe that isn't as cluttered, but still may not have the building blocks for great everyday outfits. You want to end up with a closet that you can mix and match, and create tons of outfits, so that it's easier to get dressed every day and feel your best.
If you haven't yet, download our free guide to building a capsule wardrobe!
STEP 1: PREP
Set aside 3 hours or so, so that you're not rushed. If you end up not needing all that time, consider it some scheduled relaxation time! Get a few trash bags or boxes. Bring your ipad or laptop into the room and pull up your "Wardrobe Style Guide" Pinterest board (see the Define Your Style Blog Post) and your list of outfit recipes. Put on some music that makes you feel happy and energized.
STEP 2: SEPARATE INTO GROUPS
The first step is to go through each item one by one and assign them to one of three groups: yes, no, or maybe. The easiest thing is to leave all the yes's in your closet, and then put the maybe's on the bed (still on the hanger) and no's on the floor (off the hanger). It's a little less intimidating than taking every single thing out of your closet. That being said, a LOT of things will be coming out of your closet, so just be ready for that.
Go through each item and ask yourself, "Would I want this in my ideal wardrobe?" If the answer is yes, then leave it on the hanger. If the answer is no, move on to the next step. Don't try to talk yourself into anything. The only things left in your closet in the first round should be items you really love. The maybe pile isn't going anywhere so if you're not sure about something, put it in the maybe pile.
If you haven't worn the item in over a year, it's not flattering, it's falling apart, or you don't like it anymore - anything that's a clear no - throw it in a pile on the floor.
If it's not a yes or a no, then it's a maybe! Keep it on the hanger and lay it on the bed. This will probably be your biggest group. Most of us have a lot of things in our closets that we're not sure we want to keep, but we're not ready to give away.
If there are any items in drawers or hanging in other closets, make sure to include them in this process as well.
STEP 3: 'MAYBE PILE' SORTING
Now look at your closet. All the things left in there should give you a happy feeling. But there's probably not much in there! Now it's time to go through the maybes.
Keep these three things in mind:
Fit: there are certain silhouettes that really work for you, and others that you're not a huge fan of. See the Fit Guide.
Lifestyle: depending on what you do every day, you will need more dressy vs casual clothing, so keep that in mind as well. See the Lifestyle Guide.
Outfits: Most importantly, keep your "outfit recipes" in mind as you're going through your closet, because in the end we're trying create a closet full of cute outfits.
Go through your 'maybe' pile one by one, trying them on with 'yes' items to make outfits, using your Pinterest board as a guide. This will either give you new inspiration for the item, or make you realize that you just don't like it, no matter how you wear it. Throw it in the 'no' pile or hang it up in the closet, depending on what you think.
If you still can't definitively say yes or no, put it in a box labeled 'store.' Avoid putting something back in your closet that isn't working, because the goal here is for you to be able to reach into your closet and every single thing hanging there is capable of making an outfit that you feel good in. So if this item isn't cutting it, but you're not ready to give it away, then put it in the 'store' box. Do not put it back into your closet. In a couple months, go through the box and see if you've missed wearing anything. At that point you may be ready to give more of these items away, or you may be ready to wear them again.
STEP 4: 'NO PILE' SORTING
Now, everything should either be hanging in your closet, in the 'no' pile, or in the store box. For the no pile, take out any item that can't be resold (ie items in really bad condition, underwear, or old gym clothes). Put it in a bag labeled 'recycle.' There are places you can take these items that will recycle the fibers and turn them into other things like insulation.
For the items in good salable condition, you can either sell them in a consignment store, sell them online, have a clothing swap party, donate them to a charity second hand store, or some combination.
See our blog post on How to Sell, Donate, and Recycle Your Old Clothes for more tips!
You now have a closet full of outfit-ready clothes, and getting dressed in the morning will feel a lot easier. We recommend keeping the outfit recipes page of your capsule wardrobe worksheet in your closet, so that you can reference it whenever you get stuck getting dressed. You have the building blocks, now you just need to put it all together!
This is part of our series on Building a Capsule Wardrobe. Here is the full list of posts in this series:
4 - Align your closet to your lifestyle
5 - Design your ideal capsule wardrobe
9 - Shop thoughtfully
PS - We'd love for you to keep reading, and download our free worksheet below to follow along. It’s a great asset to print out and keep handy as you're building your wardrobe!