How I decluttered my wardrobe

In my last Live simply post, I wrote about smart shopping tips for a minimal wardrobe. I got quite a bit of good feedback from it and I promised I would share my experiences decluttering my own wardrobe, getting it from a messy state full of clothes I don’t need, to a more organised state with less clothes.

If, like me, you feel like you need to declutter your wardrobe, you’ll have to consider a few things:

  • If you need to declutter, you have acknowledged that you have too much. (Good work!)
  • You need to face the reality that decluttering does mean getting rid of some things.
  • Be honest with yourself. I’ll probably write a lot of rhetorical questions in this post, but they’re for you to think about, so make sure you give yourself the honest answer. 🙂
How I decluttered my wardrobe

Reduce the amount of storage

I have several different places I put my clothes:

  • built-in wardrobe
  • chest of drawers
  • a dresser with drawers and a large mirror on top
  • a small bed side table
  • two standalone clothing racks

It’s not the best of situations.

A high-level aim would be to reduce the amount of storage spaces you have for your clothes. If you have one wardrobe, aim to have an amount of clothes that will all fit in your wardrobe. It might sound difficult, but that’s one way of making yourself realise that you don’t need all these storage spaces just for clothes.

Imagine if you tried to move all your clothes

Recently I have been thinking, if I wanted to move house and take all my clothes with me, how difficult would it be? How many trips would I take? Is that too many trips? Is it too much trouble? What if I just wanted to move it all to another room? Do I remember the last time I even looked in one of these drawers?

Giving these simple questions a bit of time can help you see just how much you have, and encourage you to consider whether it’s too much or not. My clothes racks are getting full. As they seem to overflow, I think of what is in my wardrobes and my drawers. Apart from the fact that I prefer some clothing to be hung up, why have I not put these clothes in the wardrobes or drawers? Is there not enough room?

Why isn’t there enough room? What is in there that I have forgotten about?

Reduce the amount of clothes

Once you bring your attention to how much space you use, try to think about where your belongings are actually located. What exactly do you store in the wardrobe? In the drawers? Is it clean and organised?

There is almost absolutely, surely, something lying somewhere or hidden somewhere that you totally forgot you had

If you have a hoarding problem with clothes, you will find that this has happened to you more than once. In my case, unless the item was a seasonal item (like a coat, which you can only wear during part of the year), I would let it go. It was difficult, but it did not make it into my daily, weekly or even monthly wardrobe cycles, so it was definitely not classed as a favourite.

Some examples of what I have discovered and discarded are:

  • Sweaters that I forgot about and grew out of anyway.
  • A pair of shorts that I wore regularly but completely stopped wearing for a long time because… I don’t even really wear shorts anymore.
  • A top that I didn’t like that much because it was too big and I had to wear a crop top underneath it to be suitable for wear. This was too much bother so I stopped wearing the top.
  • Another top that I tried on at home but didn’t like after one or two times wearing it. I kept it just in case.*
  • A shirt that I bought but never even tried on because I didn’t completely like it when I brought it home. Damn.

If you find yourself relating to the above, then you won’t miss that piece of clothing – it can be donated to charity or given away. Bag it.

You wear your favourites, and you know you wear them

The thing I completely dislike about fashion is the notion of ‘outfit repeating’. Outfit repeating is silly and makes us assume that we cannot wear the exact same outfit two days in a row – or even at all. This caused me to go through my entire wardrobe of clothes once and feel pressure to not wear the same thing again. This caused me to plan out my Fashion Friday posts so meticulously that I was trying to avoid wearing the same thing over and over.

But you know what? So what. So what if I wear the same boots. So what if you have seen me wear the same stripy shirt over and over. So what if I wear the same pieces of jewellery or the same jeans. So what if you have seen me wear the same bits and pieces. To me, personally, fashion is about having your own sense of style and being that girl with the heeled ankle boots, or that guy with the navy coat.

You don’t need to find your favourites because chances are, like mine, they are within easy reach. You find yourself wearing them over and over.

Embrace that, and put all your favourites all together in one place where you can revisit them the many times that you do.

*If you find yourself saying, ‘just in case’, that’s bad. So bad.

The hard truth is that even though we want to keep something because we think we will fit in it, we think we will gain or lose some weight, we think we can give it to a loved one later – it’s taking up space and we are admitting to ourselves that we don’t want it. Saying you want to keep it ‘just in case’ is saying that it’s not good enough for you. With that, you should be able to let it go for your own sake. 🙂

This applies not just to clothes but to everything you may own. Avoid keeping something ‘just in case’.

What kinds of clothes do you have?

A really simple way to get to the bottom of your clothes is to categorise them. I’m going to go through different types of clothes that I own and how I pared down the amount I have. You may feel differently about your own, but see if you can gain from my experience.

This is also the potentially boring part, so feel free to jump straight to the tips at the end.

Underwear

Underpants amusingly make really good rags if you are looking for a one-time-use cloth to wipe down an old dusty shelf or large piece of furniture. 😜 If I wouldn’t mind using a pair of underpants as a rag, it’s a sure sign I don’t like it anymore and it’s time for it to go. There are probably some pairs in the back of your drawer that you haven’t worn in a while because you continue to cycle through wearing your favourites, or the ones that are newer. Just get rid of the old ones – you only really wear one pair a day anyway.

Shirts, blouses and tops

Last year, I bought a lot of similar tops in one hit. I loved them all and wore them regularly. I went through my clothes and found anything that was similar in style, and bagged it. There was no need to have more than one of the same type of item.

T-shirts

I used to buy a lot of band shirts. Every time I went to a concert or gig, I left with a band shirt. The thing is, most of those got demoted to wear-at-home status, something many people are familiar with. Some of these hold sentimental value because, for example, I can’t get the Smashing Pumpkins’ Australian Oceania tour shirt again so it was practically deemed ‘rare’.

I have stopped buying as many band shirts unless I really love the print, because I was initially doing it just to support the band even if the shirt was ‘only OK’. That helped. Because I value band shirts a lot, I chose to get rid of other t-shirts. Now practically all my t-shirts are band shirts. 😛

Skirts

I had a lot of skirts. I took a similar action as I did with the shirts. If any two skirts were similar, I got rid of one. Because I realised I had a lot of skirts, I was able to pick out my favourites and choose to keep the ones I was able to mix and match more easily.

Shorts

Shorts? Well, I stopped wearing shorts so frequently so I went from about seven pairs down to just two. If you stop wearing a certain item of clothing, just cut down.

Jeans

I don’t wear jeans that much. Because of that, I was able to focus on purchasing jeans that I was sure to like. It helps to be picky sometimes. Some jeans wore out – stretched too much, got torn, stitching came loose – I just got rid of them.

Pyjamas

I can’t stress this one enough. You don’t need more than a few pairs of pyjamas, perhaps a couple for the warm season and a couple for the cold. I often bought cute pyjamas overseas on trips to Asia, only to later find, many years later, that some of them were hardly worn. Some people don’t even wear dedicated pyjamas and just wear a shirt and pants. Go for it. Perhaps you don’t even believe in fancy sleeping clothes.

I got rid of about two bags of pyjamas. Sad, but true. I just didn’t wear them all.

Pantyhose/tights

It was hard to do this, but anything that had a hole or ladder that was visible (in at least the middle section of the leg) had to go. Pantyhose are essentially rendered useless when they tear. Isn’t that amazing.

Socks

I grabbed every single one of my socks and gave them a little tug. If they lost their elasticity, off they went.

Shoes

I wore the heels out of many shoes and other low quality non-leather shoes tore at the edges. Shoes should be durable as we walk in them all day. I just got rid of anything that I had clearly worn out.

Quick tips on decluttering your wardrobe

9 things you should get rid of

  1. Anything that doesn’t fit, whether it’s too big or too small. You should always buy and own clothes to fit and to wear now!
  2. Anything that you are keeping ‘just in case’. You don’t want to do that. Trust me. 🙂
  3. Anything you bought and came home to discover you didn’t like it that much, but kept it anyway.
  4. Any items that you have held onto in the hope you will find something to match with it. Any clothes you already love will already have complementary items in your wardrobe. If you haven’t found something to go with that yellow shirt, then it’s time for it to go.
  5. Anything you haven’t worn in a while. Put it aside for a few months, and if you have no interest in wearing it again, you can let it go.
  6. Anything you discover that you completely forgot you owned. Don’t bask in the sentiment.
  7. Anything that was your style before, but isn’t now. You’ll know when you see it. Although it may go back in style, it may not be your style. You can always buy new clothes later.
  8. Anything that you used to wear because it was trendy, but stopped wearing because it stopped being trendy. If you only bought it for the trends, you won’t want it anymore.
  9. Anything you have too many of. You will know because you wear certain skirts/shirts/jeans a lot more than others.

6 things to keep

  1. Find your favourites. Anything you wear at least once a week. Put them all together and make them easily accessible.
  2. Anything you wear at least once a month. Thirty days is a lot of days to get an opportunity to wear something.
  3. Anything seasonal – at least wait until the season ends to decide whether it is worth keeping for another season.
  4. Anything that you have been able to easily match with a good handful of clothes.
  5. Anything you feel comfortable wearing and that never bothers you. Definitely keep!
  6. Anything that makes you feel good and look good.

Decluttering your clothes can be a difficult journey, but once you start to find and are able to get rid of what you don’t like, it can be quite therapeutic. You’ll be clearing out space, and you might even get a bit addicted! 😉

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Comments on this post

Thanks so much for these tips, Georgie. I have a bazillion dresses in my wardrobe and quite a few of them I haven’t even worn yet, and not sure when I will wear, and so I’m thinking some of those will be the first to go (although, I have a really lovely dress I haven’t worn yet, because it’s designed for a formal event, so I’ll keep things like that!). I have quite a few ill-fitting dresses that MUST go. I’ll take them to charity.

I relate to you about band shirts!! 😄 I have heaps of them, and yes, some of them are rare. I have too many t-shirts… I got rid of some when I moved into my house but I need to purge again…. I think I’ll do some spring cleaning in the next few weeks! 🙂

You’re welcome, Jess! Yes – I would definitely keep dresses for special occasions, they also fit under the ‘seasonal’ category, so something you wear at a certain time. It was very liberating tossing a lot of my pyjamas into those clothing bins!

I have never really had a problem with owning too many clothing items. Probably because my closet is smaller than a hallway closet, and I only have one 5 drawer chest in my room (I got rid of the other one to make more room for my desk) and I had to do a major cleaning when I removed the other piece I used to have. Take a regular door, cut off one fourth and then attach a box with a high ceiling and one bar with a shelf. That is my closet, and after years of struggling to design my own organizer for it, (since none of the pre-made ones fit it) I finally have the perfect solution. Its also hard to get rid of clothes because in the winter is is -40 Celsius and in the summer it is + 30 Celsius here. Instead I have a big Tupperware container I fill with all my winter clothes in the summer and vice versa and I have a spot in the basement for it. I think that is something I will continue to do once I move out. It really makes it feel like a new season when I get to switch out my wardrobe. Really great tips though! One thing I would recommend is that to keep your wardrobe clean regularly sign up for the calling/mailing list for a charity that collects clothes. For us the Diabetic Association calls every 4 months so we can look around the house and really determine what we really still need.

Sounds like you already have it down pat, Domenica! I like the idea of storing seasonal clothes away and then bringing them out again. It stops them from taking up much space in your room. That’s something I definitely want to do in the future.

I definitely use council/community clean-up days as excuses to find things I no longer need, not just clothes! 🙂

I absolutely love this post! I actually went through my wardrobe a few months ago and sold a lot of my older clothes. I find that my style has evolved a lot so I got rid of all the dresses that “little me” would wear, I too don’t wear shorts much anymore so I only have 3 that I wear in the summer – that is a BIG achievement for me seeing as I used to have about 30, mostly unworn & old 😆

That is such a good way to make me feel better about cutting down my wardrobe! I’d rather be “that girl with that beige coat” or “that girl with the heeled ankle boots” and having my own style than having tons of unused clothes which just take up so much space!

I can relate to being addicted to the clothes reduction – when I started decluttering my wardrobe by selling them on eBay etc. I got a bit addicted and my wardrobe shrunk so much – but I don’t regret it at all because the pieces I have now are staple and my faves! ♥️

That’s awesome to hear, Pauline! I’m glad you feel the same way I do about keeping those favourite pieces and getting rid of anything else you don’t love as much. People at work noticed that I wore skirts a lot, and commented on certain items of clothing that I liked to wear often. That made me feel good so I made sure I got rid of anything that didn’t have the same effect. I also don’t regret getting rid of clothes, because I don’t miss them and still have heaps of clothes I still wear and love to wear. 😄

I love this post so so much!!

The reason why I had to reduce the amount of clothes I own is the lack of storage in this flat. I have a tiny wardrobe and one draw in the chest of draws, and so this forces me to declutter often. My wardrobe is split into categories with labels denoting different sections, because I’m an organisation freak.

When I moved out of my parents home I left half of my clothes at home and just took essentials with me to Liverpool. I recently threw out all the clothes I left at home because I figured that if I hadn’t worn them since I started uni (3 years ago!!) I would probably never wear them again.

I am so guilty of avoiding “outfit repeating” and I have no idea why I worry so much. Nobody really cares that much if you wear the same top or jeans two days on the run.

Decluttering is highly addictive, I agree! Once I start I end up decluttering the entire flat!

I’m sure your parents were glad about that, too. That’s awesome. I can imagine when I move out, I will only be taking the ones I wear often, and anything I am happy to leave behind will surely go. It’s interesting how our situations can encourage us to focus more on having less clothes and more of what we love. Three years is certainly a long time to not wear something, too! 😛

Nick wore the same shirt two or three Fridays in a row and that made me laugh because when I think about it, I used to cycle through all my shirts and wear some of them on specific days too. The notion of ‘outfit repeating’ is very silly if you think about it. 😆

You basically listed out my entire philosophy on my wardrobe. I only have a closet and a couple drawers of clothes, but I go through regularly and give stuff away as I notice I haven’t been wearing it. Actually, as I was reading this, I thought of a few things I should get rid of, including most of my bin of shoes.

This is such a great post, so informative. My wardrobe and drawers used to be SO cluttered and I literally cleared out about 2/3’s of it just by getting rid of stuff I never wore anymore – I didn’t even realise I never wore that many of my clothes, it’s crazy!

Sadly, I don’t have this problem. I’ve never really had a ton of clothing. A few pairs of jeans and t-shirts along with socks and underwear, etc. DO you plan on giving your old clothes away to a charity or something? Here in the US, we have this store called Good Will. They have tons of gently used clothes and household items for really cheap. Maybe someone in your family would want them?

I wouldn’t say it’s a sad thing, Vanessa. It’s good that you don’t have this problem, I guess it just means you can’t relate to my post. Some people would envy your situation! 🙂

I thought about the fact that someone in my family might want them, but I mentioned in a comment to Domenica on my last post that a lot of my family live overseas and I only see them every four years so there isn’t much point in waiting so long just to donate some clothes. I donate my old clothes to the local charity store (we have ones called The Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul’s) or in a clothing bin that will eventually go to the needy.

These are great tips! Storage was part of my problem. It’s pretty common for master bedrooms in TX to have gigantic walk-in closets. Since I had so much room, it was easy for clothes to add up. I had to make a “no more hangers” rule, so that if I run out of hangers, I force myself to donate some things instead of buying more hangers to use.

I really like your list of things you should get rid of. I was definitely guilty of #2 and #4. I had to get over those recently when deciding on clothes to donate. That’s also a good idea to set something aside for a bit to see if you have any interest in wearing it again. I decluttered a bit recently, and it felt good!

I absolutely love your no-hangers rule. My family just buys more hangers, it’s so bad. I want a walk-in wardrobe in the future when I have my own house but I might have to employ your tactic. 😉 I mean, walk-in wardrobes should have enough room for you to still… walk in? 😆

I have been ordering some of my clothes so I can clearly see which clothes I wear less. There’s also a tip that tells you to turn your hangers the opposite way, and if you wear something, put it the right way. Then after a few months, get rid of anything that hasn’t been turned around the right way. You might like that tip too. 🙂

This is a really great post. I don’t have a problem with too many clothes but I could definitely see how these tips could apply to other areas of clutter. It’s really easy to hold onto things because of sentimentality or “just in case I need it” when actually, its just going to end up taking space and never getting used. Sometimes you have to be tough with yourself! I am curious though – what did you do with your old clothes?

Thanks Catherine! 🙂 I donated some of mine to the local St Vincent de Paul’s, which is like Goodwill, The Salvation Army, etc. Those were still in good condition and someone else may have liked them. Other times I just go down to the clothing bin near my house, which specifically gets donated to poor families. If it’s something like torn stockings, then I’m sure no one would want them, so things like that can be used as cleaning rags or go straight in the bin.

Minimal wardrobe is a happy wardrobe on sight and to the bank account 😆. Getting rid of clothes you don’t need and keeping your count consistent is definitely a good way to go. There’s nothing worse than an overflowing closet with clothes you barely wear! I know with the amount of clothes I have, it can probably all fit in my car with no room for anything else @__@.

This is a perfect guide! It’s okay to wear the same clothes over and over. Clothes are meant to be worn and as long as you wash it regularly, it’s fine. My mom has a habit of saving clothes “just in case”, except we have a boxes stacked up due to it @__@.

Thanks for the tips 😉

I am not even sure if all my clothes can fit in my car! It’s a worry. It can be hard when people we live with have bad habits (not just in this regard) but the best thing we can do is accept them and try to encourage them to take actions that can get rid of those habits. My mum often asks for my opinion about items she has kept ‘just in case’, and I simply tell her that we haven’t used it in a while and likely won’t any time soon. I hope it rubs off on her. 😛

I’ve had many clothing purges, the most recent was when I moved into my new flat.

I definitely have favourites, items of clothing I frequently wear and a few seasonal or special occasion pieces. Unfortunately, I now have a few gaps in my wardrobe where I got rid or tired, stained or otherwise damaged clothes but haven’t found replacements. :-(