What do I mean by a Closet Cleanout? I’m not talking about folding everything into Marie Kondo clothes-origami, although you should feel free to do that if it sparks joy.

Cleaning out your closet will help you:

  • rediscover pieces you haven’t been wearing
  • create new outfits, instead of buying more clothes
  • make room in your closet by sending ill-fitting items to the tailor, recycling, upcycling, gifting to friends or family, or reselling
  • clear out your mind too — making room for new ideas and plans

Ready to dive into this season’s wardrobe? So, you’ll need at least two hours to edit one season, and the patience for a try-on-a-thon.

How to Clean Out Your Closet:

1. Groups

Focus on just one season. Group clothing together by category and color. All pants together, all dresses together, all necklaces together. Leave as much in your closet as possible, but if the racks & shelves are too full, arrange a couple of categories on your bed. If your shoes are not stored visibly, bring them out of the closet & place them around the edge of the room. And if you have a (folding) table available, then place it in the room and organize your jewelry on it.

Now within each category, group together any items you don’t wear.

2. Paper Trail

Make Signs

What do you want to happen to the clothing and accessories you’re going to remove from your home?

I like to think backward, starting with, “What am I going to find?” Here’s my cheat sheet of possible scenarios & solutions:

Scenario / Solution

I Love It, But It’s Worn Out /  Replace

I Loved It, But Now I’m Sick of It  / Give Away or Sell

Rarely ever worn /  Make New Outfits or Give Away

Not really a fan /  Give Away or Sell

It Doesn’t Flatter Me (Style, Fit, Color) /  Give Away or Sell

It Doesn’t Fit /  Have it Tailored, Give Away or Sell

I’m Emotionally Attached /  Store (see ‘How to Let Go’ below)

Make a chart for yourself and make signs for your possible Actions (Solutions). After that, place the signs on the floor around the edge of the room.

Post-Its & Pen

You’ll need these to write down specific actions for specific garments, especially items that need to be tailored, or items you want to give away to people you know.

3. Try-On-A-Thon

It’s time! If in doubt, try it on.

Start with pants.

Remove any that don’t fit or that you don’t like.

Add those to your give-away pile.

Next pair them with something you don’t often wear, including accessories.

In this case, pair the pants with tops.

The Critical Three Questions

Here we are, at the essence of this process. I want you to ask yourself these three questions each time:

A. Does it Fit my Body?

B. Does it Fit my Personality?

C. Does it Help Me Achieve My Goals?

If it doesn’t fit, either have it tailored or get it out of your sight. If your body size fluctuates, then you don’t need to get rid of something just because it doesn’t fit one day. Note on a Post-It what needs to happen to each item to make it wearable.

If it doesn’t feel like you (fit your personality), then get rid of it.

Moreover, if it doesn’t help you achieve your goals, then you’re allowed to wear it around the house. Otherwise, get rid of it.

For everything that’s left: photograph any new combinations you come up with.

The Three Outfit Rule

Make at least three outfits with each garment. If you can’t do that, then you should consider adding it to the give-away pile.

Now, work your way through all your clothing items and shoes for the season, continuing to take photos of the new combinations you discover.

4. Ask for help.

Do you have better things to do than organize your closet? Do you hate the task so much that you would do anything to avoid it? The process goes much faster with two people. Could you use some help making objective choices about what to keep and what to let go? Are there a lot of ‘orphan’ items in your closet? Would you like help creating new outfits? I’m here to help. Believe it or not, this can be done remotely. Click here to plan in a quick call to discuss the options.

How to Let Go

A word about being attached to clothing and accessories… It’s normal to get attached, and it’s OK. If and when it becomes a problem, e.g. if you feel sad, guilty, or angry looking at all of those items in your closet, then here’s how to ween yourself off of them. Place them in a box or bag and write the date on it. Get the items out of your closet and out of sight. Store them under a bed, in another room, or even in someone else’s house. And if you haven’t returned to them within six months, you can let them go. I give you permission. 😉

Bonus Resources

What are your options for getting rid of clothes? There should be very little that has to go in the trash. If the items are completely worn out, put them in a textile recycling bin on the street if those are available to you, or Google ‘zero waste’ and the name of your town to find out what local options are. You can give items away to specific friends and family members. You can take them to a secondhand or swap shop. Or you can sell your top-condition items on consignment.

My favorite European consignment sites:

The Next Closet, Vestiaire Collective, Rebelle

A Helping Hand (and Eye)

Want some help navigating your wardrobe? Paring it down? Make new outfits with your favorite pieces and ones you rarely wear. Click here to plan in a quick call and discuss the options.

More Tips?

To have more tips like this delivered to your inbox regularly, follow me for free on Patreon. Moreover, you can also sign up at the bottom of any page of my website for the link to download your free guide How to Make More Out of Less In Your Closet.