I’m back with a REALLY long post this time. So hope you’re in for some reading, if not, be sure to save this article in your reading list and make some time for it, because I believe it can help you a lot in clearing out your own wardrobe.
When it comes to my clothes, some people would say I’m obsessed, yet I spend way less time than others deciding what to wear, what to pack, what to keep and I do way less laundry. My wardrobe is now a smooth functioning machine that saves me a lot of time and worries.
Looking into my closet you will see that it is rarely ever cluttered and you won’t find me pulling out an item that I haven’t worn for over a year. Everything you see in my wardrobe is worn with such love and that is because I do a lot of wardrobe clear-outs.
So if you want to save time in the morning, always want to know what to wear and better yet, never regret what you bought, you should definitely keep reading.
First of all, there is no ‘easy way’ to clear-out your wardrobe. This is a serious proces that you have to go trough. It’s an experience where only you can learn what works for you and what doesn’t. You’ll learn more about yourself, which will only benefit you in the future.
And in order to have a high succes rate, you should think this through. With these 10 steps I want to help you guys to find the wardrobe you love.
Photo by Lauren Mancke on Unsplash
1. Do your research
Cleaning out your wardrobe isn’t the easiest thing to do, so you’ll have to make some preparations by figuring some stuff out. So the first step is to sit down and take some notes on following questions:
What do you want to gain out of this?
Is there a specific goal you want to reach? Maybe you want a Pinterest-worthy wardrobe consisting of only neutral colors? Or maybe you want to buy less in the coming months and make it easier to find your own style. Make sure you really think this through and keep asking yourself questions on what motivates you to do this. Once you know, you’ll have a better view on where you’re going.
Think about how you want to look and feel
Maybe you’re not quite happy with how you’re dressed these days and you want to do a style change. It’s very important to know how you would love to look and who your style-examples are.
Personally, I look a lot at other bloggers and Pinterest. Some of my inspirations are Mademois-elle.com and Fashion Jackson. They have a style I always can relate to and the items they feature are the ones I usually buy myself. And they have the same sizing as me, which makes it a lot easier.
So it’s important that you find your own style inspirations and in no means do they have to be mainstream or thin or whatever. You have to find people you admire and who make you feel good about yourself. If you love floral prints, make sure to find inspiration with someone who does as well.
Set a challenge
Having a tidy, small wardrobe hasn’t always come natural to me – au contraire. I used to have so much stuff that my closet collapsed at some point from all the weight. I had about 100 pairs of shoes and more than 100 t-shirts (who needs that much?!). Once I decided enough was enough, I started challenging myself with Project 333. Here you can have 33 items for 3 months and you have to combine and re-wear your outfits. The first one wasn’t the biggest success, but after a full year of P333 I could say my closet paired down a lot.
This was such a great help!
Of course there are other great challenges, like the 10×10 challenge or more on capsule wardrobes. Find what works out best for you and don’t be sad or disappointed when it doesn’t work out from the beginning. Like I said, this is a proces and it took me about 3 years to find my ‘zen’ in it. Yet, it still is a trial-and-error thing and I still ‘mess up’ a lot. So just be nice to yourself and find the joy in this challenge.
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
2. Set a date
Once you know what you’re starting it’s time to set a date. I prefer to plan a whole day for it the first time – or maybe two days. But make sure you won’t be interrupted while doing this. I also prefer on doing this alone – with no distractions – but you can do it if you have the right help. And by that I mean someone who will be honest with you and who won’t start talking about their problems while you’re cleaning out your closet. This is a full-focus task you’re starting and you have to take it serious in order to work.
3. Prep yourself
When you start, you have to take a couple of things in mind to make this a nice experience. Make sure you set some rules for yourself and come to an agreement with your inner critic. It’s important to make this a nice experience, so you will keep doing this in the future. Don’t make it too exhausting by limiting yourself to only a couple of hours to complete the task.
While doing this, chances are you’ll have some bad thoughts on your past actions. Like ‘why did I buy this’ or you’ll be confronted with items of sentimental value. Don’t feel bad about you feeling bad about this. It’s normal to feel these things, even though it’s ‘just clothes’ there always is some kind of psychological matter to it. Don’t knock yourself up over it.
And as last, don’t feel obligated to follow ‘rules’ of some challenges. When you participate in P333 you don’t HAVE to have only 33 items. You settle for something that feels good to you. And don’t feel obligated to get rid of a certain amount of items. You can also stock them in the attic if you want to play it safe.
This is a learning proces and only by time and experience you’ll find a routine that fits you.
Picture from Unsplash
4. Get everything out of your wardrobe
First get EVERYTHING – yes you heard me, everything – out of your closet. This may sound very time consuming, but trust me, it’s necessary. I always compare it to a white blank canvas when you start painting, an empty wardrobe shows you possibilities.
A tip for first-timers is to put everything in another room, because this can be very time consuming and I do want you to be able to go to bed….
5. Make piles
Once you have all your items on one big pile – or in one chaotic room – you can get to business. I would strongly advise you to take a break between the ‘getting everything out’-part and this step. Chances are you might feel overwhelmed by all the chaos you’re surrounded with and if you’re a neat-freak as me, you’ll want to start immediately, which can lead you to rushing too much into it.
So make sure your feel quite ‘zen’ before you start making piles and deciding, because you shouldn’t underestimate the effect of your mood on your decision making.
Grab that cup of coffee you enjoy so much and take 15 minutes to get motivated by watching a YouTube video on wardrobe clear outs like this one. When I started this whole mindset, Light By Coco was the one who inspired me. Unfortunately she ended her channel, but there still are so many amazing video’s out there.
Okay, ready for it?
Instruction number 1: Take your time, but do it quickly.
Every item needs to go through your hands before you decide on what to do with it. You need to feel if a particular items still does it for you. Like the Kon-mari method says, does it still spark joy?
Instruction number 2: Make 5 piles
So now we have some ground rules, it’s easier to start with the real business. I advice you to make 5 piles to quickly go trough everything. The evaluating part comes next, so no need to worry about it too much right now. Just follow your instincts and first thought.
I’m a great fan of making more piles and cut the proces in smaller steps. Sometimes I can’t easily decide wether to keep an item or toss it away. I know when I’m doubting to long I kinda get stuck in it and find it harder to make decisions about the next item. So make sure you don’t think about it too long. If you really don’t know, toss it on the ‘I don’t know’-pile and go back to it after you finish the rest.
Items that don’t fit anymore or are too big, as items that have holes in them or are worn out should be stacked on the ‘toss it’ pile immediately. No doubt about that one.
- Love: These are the items that you absolutely love. Those pieces that never make it to your wardrobe since you are constantly wearing them as soon as they get out of the laundry. This pile also contains the items that you may not be wearing as much as you want, but give you sooooo much joy and happiness when you see them.
Disclaimer: Make sure you don’t see all your items as love. Always ask yourself, would I buy this again immediately, even if it’s € 50 more expensive?
- Basics: These are the items that are probably not the most exciting ones, but you need them as basics. I’m thinking about tees, classic jeans, leggings, … Of course, items that still fit you and that bring you joy.
- Want to wear more: We all have those items that we kind of like, don’t want to part with but aren’t getting the wear out of them. Make sure you have a pile for items to wear more often in the future.
- Hate it, toss it: This one speaks for itself right?
- Doubt: Not only for items that you’re considering of throwing away, but also the items that you can’t exactly put on another pile. Maybe you don’t want to get rid of it yet, but it sure isn’t a love, neither is it a basic and you’re not sure if you really want to wear it more often. Yup, the doubt-pile.
Instruction number 3: Evaluate your troops
Take a step back – hell, why not take another cup of coffee?
Now look at those five mountains of clothing.
Is there something that stands out?
Like maybe all your ‘love-items’ are black and white and your doubt-pile is filled with colour. That was the thing when I first started doing this. I truly looooove colour, but I rarely wear it, so why did I need all these colored items?
You can learn so much by evaluating every stack. Maybe you should right down what stands out the most, what are your thoughts on all of this? Really examine every detail that defines why you don’t like certain pieces. Maybe it’s the shape or the fabric from which it’s made. This is such valuable information for the rest of your life, because now you will know what you like and don’t like, leading you to more thoughtful purchases in the future.
Instruction number 4: Do it AGAIN
Now, go through each of your little mountains again, knowing what you’ve just learned about yourself and your wardrobe. Take every piece in your hands and ask ‘Is this the right pile for this item?’ If not, put it somewhere else. If so, leave it and let the item wait for the next step.
6. Plan outfits
By now you will probably have rediscovered some lost-loves and want to blow some new life into them.
A way to do this is to already plan outfits. Not too much, just one or two outfits per lost-love is enough, that way you can get these outfits on repeat and get the most wear out of them. You can also plan other go-to outfits for when you have to go to work, have a day off or have to go to an event. Make sure you have about two outfits on the go for every occasion. By doing this you’ll have a quick option when you don’t know what to wear.
If you want a Pinterest-worthy wardrobe, you’ll have to put some effort into it by ironing all the clothes you put back in – and fold them in a nice way. Storing your clothes the right way will make them last longer and will give a nicer look when you open your closet.
Your clothes will also look better when they’re ironed and it will make you want to wear them.
8. Fill your closet
Now you can finally start filling your closet again!
Visualize how you want your closet to look when you open it – or when you walk into the room if you have an open dressing. Do you want items to be stored from dark to light colors? Or do you want all tops together, away from the pants?
It speaks for itself that now you can start to put everything back inside.
9. Get rid of the rest
There is absolutely no use to hang on to clothes you don’t wear or don’t feel great in. So everything that isn’t in your wardrobe should leave you. I recently wrote an article on how you can part with items you don’t love, you can read it here.
10. Tips to make it easier
Ever since Project 333 came into my life in 2014 I’ve been developing my clear-out proces. Throughout the years I’ve found some helpful tools that make it so much easier to maintain a clean (capsule) wardrobe that feels light and gives me a happy feeling.
Keep everything in a spreadsheet
I’m the kind of person that LOVES to make lists and track almost every single thing in my life. I used to be more compulsive in this matter and nowadays I’ve let go most of my lists and such. But one of the only tracking that has remained is a simple spreadsheet where I keep – on a daily basis – what I’ve worn.
It actually comes to this – and some of you will call me crazy (I’ve heard it before) but I have this Numbers/Excel-database which contains every piece of clothing I owned since late 2010. Per piece I keep track of how many times I wear it during a year.
This file has developed a lot since 2010 and with some simple formulas it gives me great stats on my clothes. For instance, I can track that I hardly ever wear that jeans of which I think I wear it all the time. Or seeing that you’ve only worn that top 10 times before you decided you’re bored of it… It’s kind of eye-opening to see your wardrobe in numbers.
An app that gives me the more visual experience of my wardrobe-database is Stylebook. I don’t know if this app is still available for download since I’ve had it for so long, but there are many other great apps with the same purpose.
These apps will give you the opportunity to put all your clothing in it with pictures and use every piece to build looks and put them on your calendar. It also has a ‘stats’ feature, but for me this still is kind of limiting, since I want to get the most data out of everything. Something I can do best with my own spreadsheet.
Using both is kind of time consuming, but it’s something I love to do and has become a daily habit of mine. Setting up the database takes a few days to be honest, but once everything is in there it’s just keeping track of what you wear daily and only takes up about 3 minutes.
I hope you guys found some inspiration in this post. It may be kind of overwhelming at first, but the result is amazing. I love hearing others talk about there closet clear-outs, so let me know in the comments below how you did it or if you have any tips!