A streamlined closet can make a big difference in how you begin your day! To have a low-stress, hassle-free morning (in the clothes department, that is), a decluttered closet is the way to go. Read on to learn how to declutter your closet in just 5 simple steps.
Before we dive into the closet, I’d like to let you know that this post is one of many in a series on How to Declutter Your Home.
STEP 1 | Get Serious About Decluttering
Maybe you’ve tried to declutter your closet before. After all, it is a highly searched term on Google, so there must be enough people attempting it. Well, now is the time to get serious about it!
The harsh reality is that most of us only wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. So, the goal is to have a closet that is 80% full of clothes that you wear 80% of the time. So, there will be 20% of your wardrobe that is worn 20% of the time (special occasions, swimming, etc.).
In learning how to declutter your closet, there are different decluttering approaches. Choose the one that works best for you. Maybe implementing a few approaches simultaneously will reap the best results for you.
How to Declutter Your Clothes
The 1 year Approach
Start by decluttering the clothes you haven’t worn in at least a year. The ONLY exception here is if you’ve had a baby in the last year. Yes, that includes the “just in case I lose 10 pounds” clothing.
Consider your current season in life and if the clothing that you have is appropriate and functional for the stage that you’re in. If not, what items could you use more of?
The Hanger Trick
In considering how to declutter your closet, you may want to take a slower approach. The hanger trick is where you turn your hangers around as you wear your clothes. After a predetermined time period, you check back to see which clothes still have hangers facing the opposite way. This indicates the clothes that were never worn.
The Capsule Wardrobe
A capsule wardrobe is a great way to minimize the total number of clothes in your closet and still have clothes that you look and feel great in! You can even create a capsule wardrobe for each season. Project 333 offers more detailed instructions on creating and maintaining a capsule wardrobe. And no, you don’t have to spend a fortune. Just start with what you already have!
The Box Approach
Now, if you absolutely cannot whatsoever part with a few maybes, I would recommend putting those items you can’t let go of in a box or bin with tape on it.
If you don’t use them or can’t remember what’s in the box after the season changes (say 6 months) then you truly don’t need them. You can take the box straight to Goodwill for donation. If during that time, you do in fact need an item of clothing, you can always retrieve it from the box. No harm done.
The Packing for a Trip Approach
This is my favorite approach. Packing for a trip is the tell-all of what our tried-and-true favorites are. When we pack for a trip, we choose clothes that we will be comfortable in, don’t mind wearing in pictures, or look good on us in pictures.
Another reason that I love this approach is because most of us keep much more than we truly need. Perhaps we feel guilty about getting rid of it, wish it fit better, wish it looked better on us, or have another underlying emotional reason as to why we can’t part with it.
To get over that hurdle, consider what you would bring on a 14-day trip for a particular season of clothes. I say a 14-day trip since 2 weeks is an adequate time frame.
You wouldn’t bring the clothes you don’t truly love since you want to wear what’s most comfortable and what you look and feel your best in, right?
Use that as a gauge for what to keep and what to purge.
Regardless of what approach you use to declutter your clothes, remember, YOU’RE the boss of clutter. It’s NOT the other way around.
STEP 2 | Tackle Occasional Wear & Accessories
Occasional wear is a particular area of clothing you’re faced with when you consider how to declutter your closet.
Swimsuits, business suits, dressy clothes, and activewear are all examples of clothing that is occasionally worn.
For some, they may wear clothing in these categories quite often. But, for most of us these items won’t be worn 80% of the time.
Yet we still need them. Exactly how many of them is a question we have to pose during the decluttering process. According to where we live and how often these items are worn, we should only keep what we realistically need and use.
Someone who wears a suit to work every day will need to keep more suits than someone who only wears one every once in a while. A person who teaches swim lessons will own a different number of swimsuits than someone that swims occasionally.
Consider the number that’s right for you and keep no more than is necessary. Take the same approach in decluttering accessories (hats, sunglasses, jewelry, scarves, gloves, etc.).
STEP 3 | Shoes – oh my!
Now we come to shoes. Oh, the shoes. A common sticking point for many women. Most of us cannot dedicate a closet solely to our shoe collection. So, declutter we must.
Sort through your shoe collection.
Can all of your shoes fit into their storage area?
Are there certain shoes you wear more often?
Do you own shoes that are overly worn and should be replaced?
Could any special occasion shoes be stored separately from shoes that are worn daily?
Get rid of the shoes that aren’t your style or aren’t comfortable. You may even need to declutter shoes that no longer fit your lifestyle or current stage of life.
STEP 4| Addressing Seasonal Storage
In considering how to declutter your closet, it’s necessary to keep seasonal storage in mind.
We live in southern California, so “seasonal” here is really just 2 seasons compared to the typical 4 seasons.
In the picture above is one example of how you could store seasonal closet items. The flexible laundry baskets from Walmart helped me store seasonal and miscellaneous items.
If there isn’t room on a top shelf in your closet, you could store seasonal items under your bed or in your garage or a storage closet.
Keep in mind, though, that the goal is to be as clutter-free as possible. It’s important to still keep the seasonal storage minimal and only what you actually wear.
STEP 5 | Assess the rest.
Once you’ve decluttered the clothes and identified your favorite items, assess what remains.
Consider the cuts, fabrics, textures, colors, and patterns that you gravitate toward or enjoy wearing.
Going forward, this can help you to not purchase clothing that doesn’t fit within those parameters. You could even make a list of these items or take pictures of them, so you have a way to easily match them when you’re out shopping.
This way, you can appreciate a particular style without needing to own it since you know you won’t wear it nor feel great in it. Which can help your wallet, too!
Hopefully, your closet is in tip-top shape, streamlined to hold only your favorite items so that you love getting dressed in the morning!
Need closet organization inspiration? Here’s how to Organize a Small Closet in 5 Simple Steps.
The trick to maintain an organized space is to leave 20% EXTRA SPACE.
A space that’s packed to the gills doesn’t have adequate wiggle room, making it easy for any organization system to unravel.
EXAMPLE: The Simplified Closet
After I had my first daughter, I was frustrated by my closet. I literally only had about 5 items that truly fit me postpartum.
To make matters worse, my closet was full of clothes that didn’t fit my new lifestyle as a mom even if I could fit into them.
It was time for an overhaul!
The picture above is what my closet looked like after I did a complete overhaul, only keeping my favorite pieces that fit my new lifestyle and that I truly enjoyed wearing.
What you can’t see in the picture to the left is that the closet is deeper on the left-hand side where my shirts, dresses, and jackets are hanging. This is to say that there are more clothes that are unseen in the picture.
Nevertheless, I was ruthless and honest about simplifying my clothes, so my wardrobe was fairly minimal.
We’ve moved several times in the last couple of years, so my closet has gone through different iterations. I no longer store my shoes in the same way (they’re in the entryway closet now), but having a pared down closet always worked well regardless of where we lived.
In fact, decluttering before moving is a game-changer. When we downsized, I realized how freeing it was to have a decluttered closet. It was much easier moving with less stuff. It’s amazing how much we accumulate but never really use.
The Shared Closet
If you’re sharing a closet (walk-in, sliding door, or another style) with someone else, it’s important to discuss how you will share the space. Divvy up the sections and shelves within the closet so each party knows whose is whose. Set specific parameters, like keeping floor space cleared, in order to mitigate frustration.
Enjoy Your Decluttered Closet
Those are my tips on how to declutter your closet in 5 simple steps. If these tips helped you, let me know in the comments below! Or, if you’re struggling to declutter your closet, let me know in the comments below!