So you’re looking to declutter and organize your closet. Chances are, this isn’t your first attempt. And you may be reading this with skepticism. But I promise you, this isn’t like the other “keep/sell/donate” sorting methods you’ve tried. To learn more about my method and the reasons behind it, check out the intro to this series.
First, I’m going to give you the big picture – my overall approach to a simplified wardrobe. In Part Two of this series, I will explain the first sorting method, in Part Three the second sorting method, and in Part Four I’ll explain how purging becomes built into a routine that slowly and intentionally simplifies your wardrobe and eventually keeps it that way.
“There’s little point in owning the latest bag or dress if you can’t find it in your closet when you’re getting dressed. A clean, well-organized wardrobe—instead of a confusing, jumbled mess of clothes and accessories—means you’ll maximize all your sartorial purchases, and come up with polished, carefully considered outfits even on hectic mornings.” – Tiffany Tse for Who What Wear
Here are the basics of my method:
- I only keep one season’s wardrobe in my closet at a time.
- I have a limit on the number of hangers/items of clothing I allow in my closet.
- I do not count outerwear, shoes, socks, undergarments, or accessories toward my limit.
- I change out the wardrobe in my closet every three months to coincide with the seasons.
- When I do that seasonal wardrobe change out, I do another sort/purge.
- I also have clothes in drawers, but these are clothes I generally don’t wear on a typical day. They are clothes I LIKE to wear, like sweats, yoga pants, old T-shirts; but I am trying to actually dress presentable every day (but that is for another post!!). Every morning when I get dressed, I make myself choose something from the closet. Drawer clothes are only for lounging, exercising, or doing dirty work (yard work, cleaning, etc.).
This is why it works for me:
- When my closet is jamb-packed with clothes, I ironically have a greater feeling of having nothing to wear. This is largely because my clothes are so smashed in that I can’t spread them out and really look at what I’ve got in my closet.
- Having a limit on the number of clothing items allowed in my closet makes that space prime real estate. I’m not just going to let any old thing in there. This makes me much more cognizant of what I purchase or choose to make part of my wardrobe. (For more on why I care about this, read this post).
- Changing things out with the seasons gives me a feeling of renewal and makes my “old” clothes that were packed up feel new again. It is almost like going shopping in my own bedroom. (Funny thing – this works with my kids and their toys too!)
- I can hang onto things I am not sure about getting rid of.
A few other notes:
- When I started this, I was only working to simplify my wardrobe, not working toward a minimalist wardrobe. But after a year of using this method, I’ve come to only include about 33 items in my wardrobe!
- I ultimately want to cultivate a personal style that transcends “Fast Fashion” trends that cycle every couple of months.
- This is intentionally a long process. This is for those of us who cannot just do a quick sort and dump half our wardrobe in an attempt to simplify or declutter. It is designed to allow you to learn what you like and don’t like about your CURRENT wardrobe and make purging decisions based on what you learn.
- This is an evolving process. Don’t get too hung up “rules”. Think of these more as guidelines and make it work for YOU. For example, maybe you live in a region that doesn’t have four distinct seasons. You can modify the guidelines to fit your needs. Although, I would still encourage a 3 month cycle, because I think cycling items in and out of your closet keeps it fresh and helps you continue to feel as if you have “new” things to wear without going out and buying new clothes all the time.
Getting started can be intimidating, so I’m going to share with you step-by-step how I’ve done it. Next, I’m going to share Part Two, which will describe how to sort your clothes for seasonal wardrobes. Part Three will give you the process I use for sorting the rest of your clothes once you’ve got your seasonal wardrobe selected. Finally, Part Four will explain how you can build this process into a routine that will help you work toward a simplified wardrobe.
Quick links to the rest of this series: