One of the questions I get asked more than anything is how purge my clothes. I shared a little bit about the process here, but that was pretty early on in my capsule journey, so I wanted to add some things that have helped me along the way.
Empty out your closet/drawers.
This is the most essential step. As soon as I started emptying everything out and piling it all up at once it totally changed my approach to purging. It doesn’t seem like it would make a difference, but instead of selecting which items to purge it becomes selecting which items deserve a spot in your wardrobe. Changing to that mindset always helps me be a little more picky about what I let in. Just the way it should be.
Clear away all of the definite nos.
First, address the obvious nos. The items that don’t fit, are uncomfortable, haven’t left their hanger in years, are ripped or stained, or that just aren’t ‘you’ anymore. Let them go. If they’re in good shape, send them off to donation center or consider selling them on eBay, Poshmark, or Thred Up.
Separate out all of the things that are definite yeses.
Now go back through and pull out everything that you could never live without. The items you love (and I mean LOVE). The jeans that fit like a glove, your favorite boots, the sweater you throw on that always feels and looks great. Fold them up nicely and set those aside. They’re keepers.
Now, the hard part…everything in-between.
Inevitable, it seems most of my items fall in the dreaded in-between. I really like them, but I’m not sure it’s love. They fit and are comfy and look good, but I don’t know that they’re essential. I don’t actually like wearing this, but it was so much money. These are the hardest ones to decide. Here are a few strategies I have for the ‘maybes’.
Try them on.
I have found that a lot of times when I try something on and really focus on how it feels I find I am able to let them go. Don’t just try it on for fit. Try it on to really feel it. Any tugging, adjusting, itchiness, questionable fit, hard-to-style, items are out. The more I wear clothes that I feel great in, the easier it is to identify the ones that I don’t. Personally, it took some practice to be able to tell the difference between “it fits and I like it” and “I love it and am excited every time I wear it.”
Does it fit your ‘style’ or ‘style goals’?
I think most of us have an idea of how we’d like to look, whether it’s an image we want to portray or from inspiration we’ve gathered in magazines, on pinterest, or elsewhere. Keep these style goals in mind. Will this item fit those goals? If you love the laid back, casual, cool vibe, do the multiple gingham check button-down shirts for layering under sweaters fit that? (asking for a friend)
Do you have something similar that you like to wear better?
Often, we keep the maybes ‘just in case’ we need them. What is the ‘just in case’ scenario? Think about the items you love to wear, is there something else that you could wear for the same occasion that you like better? If yes, let it go. Or, are you keeping multiple items? Choose your one or two favorites and let the rest go. For me, realizing that I was keeping a lot of items for some possible future occasion and discovering that I plenty of options that I could wear for that occasion (that I love to wear) gave me permission to let a lot more go.
So what if you just can’t let it go?
Any time I struggle with letting something go, but also recognize that I never really wear it I pack it up and send it to the basement. I have a box (used to be many boxes) down there of maybes.
As time goes on, I usually realize…
a) I haven’t missed the item(s) at all and I’m totally ok letting it go.
b) I have plenty and even though I like the items(s) I like my leaned out closet even better.
c) I really don’t like this item(s) and am not sure why it was a maybe in the first place.
d) it’s something I’ve been missing and I want it back.
One of my biggest struggles when I was going through bigger purges in the beginning of my capsule journey was the wasted money. I knew I didn’t need all of those clothes, but I thought of all the money that was piled up on the floor. One thing that really helped was listing my items on Poshmark or eBay or sending them into Thred Up. Selling my ‘maybes’ made it easier to let them go. It is definitely time consuming, but I just posted a little each weekend and over time made quite a bit of money back, which is what I’ve used to buy some of my new investment pieces.
Let go of past cost.
On the other hand, I read a tip in Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up that helped me with my purging process. Realize that the cost on the item is already spent, so hanging on to it but not wearing it isn’t recouping any of that cost. Instead it’s a reminder. It’s costing you more in energy to keep trying on and casting off an item that you really don’t want to wear. Give it a positive twist, think of passing it along to someone who will love it and be able to put it to good use. Not to mention, the tax deductions from donations are pretty generous.
Give yourself time.
Don’t get down on yourself if your quest to cut your wardrobe in half only results in a purge of 20 items. Or 10. Enjoy the little bit of space that you have created and then go through another round in another month or two. My closet clean out goes in waves. Sometimes I struggle to part with things, but then I find two months later when I still haven’t worn it, I’m a little more ready to accept that I can let it go.
Slow down your consumption.
A big part of keeping a lean wardrobe is not continually adding to it. I still have my fair share of additions each season, but I don’t find myself coming home with new clearance rack hauls each weekend and re-filling up the space I had just emptied. Wear the items you love over and over again and get the most out of them.
I hope that helps! What is your favorite closet clean out strategy or success story?