10 Steps to Decluttering Your Closet

Maybe you’re like me and your closet is full of things that you used to love (and maybe you’ll love them again someday?) or used to fit into (and maybe you’ll fit into them again someday?) 

My body shape has changed after each of my four pregnancies, so even after returning to a somewhat normal size, some things just never went back to fitting the way they used to.

And yet, I still have items hanging in my closet that I purchased before I even had ONE child. They don’t fit in the chest, they don’t fit in the waist… what the h-e-double hockey sticks are they still doing in there? 

If you’re ready to get down to biz and start clearing the clutter from your closet, these are the steps that are helping us:

  1. Start by taking everything OUT and laying it on your bed so you can see what you have.
  2. Divide your clothes into 4 piles.
    • The throw-out pile
    • The give away pile
    • The repair pile
    • And the I’m-super-attached-to-this-and-I-can’t-emotionally-get-rid-of-it-yet pile.

    Get rid of the clothes in the first two piles and take the clothing in the repair pile to a tailor. If you don’t have the time or the patience to repair – just be charitable and donate them with the rest.

    Try to let go of personal attachments. There are some things that we may never be able to bring ourselves to get rid of (especially if we’re talking about our children’s clothes) – and that’s okay. I have a whoooole lotta baby clothes and a few military homecoming dresses that I may never be able to bring myself to get rid of. The emotional attachment is just too strong. I find it’s helpful if I have a picture of myself wearing it, looking happy and feeling great. It’s easier to let go of the actual garment and hold onto the picture (and the memory).
  1. Identify your dominant season(s).
    We’ve lived in places where there’s one season all year long (Hawaii), two-ish seasons (San Diego), and 4 very different seasons (Virginia). Give yourself permish to let go of what you won’t use in the foreseeable future (2-3 years) and only buy it if you need it again.
  2. Consider your lifestyle.
    Ten years ago I came home from work to be a stay-at-home mom. My Michael Kors was quickly replaced by Target shirts that were spit up on daily, and all the poshy poshy designer stuff went into bins. I kept it all around for years –– hauled those bins from house to house, state to state, because I loooooved what was inside. Problem was, none of it fit (see above: four pregnancies, four body changes)

    There are some items I’ll love until I die – and those select few I’ll keep around forever. But what I need as a mother right now is good quality, hearty shorts and shirts that stand up to my life and make me feel good about myself!

    If you’re a working mom you might need those 15 pairs of slingback heels more than you need the casual shorts and shirts! Know your needs and build the majority of your closet around your lifestyle.
  3. Consider fit and fabric.
    If it doesn’t currently fit and flatter, have it altered or say goodbye!

    Some quick tips:
    • Only buy and keep clothes that fit well. No gaping, pulling and no sucking in your stomach! No buying clothes that will fit once you lose 10lbs. If you lose weight have your clothes altered or buy new ones. Don’t purchase something too small as motivation to lose weight.
    • Buy long-wearing fabrics. A nice wool sweater will last many years with proper care, unlike an acrylic one which may not last the season. Keep quality in mind when making your decision.
  4. Identify your personal style.
    Only keep and/or purchase pieces that make you feel like a million bucks. Don’t purchase a dress simply because it’s $6.99 on the clearance rack. I’ve been the victim of clearance rack buyer’s remorse many times. Something’s cheap, looks “good enough” and then sits in the back of my closet because I never really liked it to begin with. We might as well just throw that money into the garbage. Know your personal style and be willing to pay a little more for something that makes you feel good!

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I sell my stuff?
Is it worth your time to sell your things and are you really going to do it? 

Use discernment. Ebay and Marketplace make it really easy to post something and set it aside in a designated spot until it sells. Maybe put a cap on it – if it doesn’t sell within 3 weeks, it gets donated. Then you’re at least giving yourself the opportunity to throw some extra cash into your savings or onto a minimum payment.

I love putting things out on the street with a “for free” sign. It feels really good to bless others. 

Should I give my stuff to someone else? 

Be honest… is it actually going to leave your house and do they really want it? Try your best not to clutter up someone else’s life. If you know they’ll use it – offer! If the answer is no, donate it.

What if other people in my household are responsible for the clutter? (i.e. kids, partner, roomate, etc.)

If you want to bring permanent change to your home then make decluttering a family and/or household affair. Sit down together and discuss a plan of action and some small changes that you can each make to work toward your collective goal.

My kids get super jazzed if I mention that they can sell their items and keep the cash. Money is always a good motivator, but make sure they know why they’re selling or donating – and what the end goal is.

This small act of continual decluttering can also teach your kids responsibility and charity – i.e., every six months the entire family sweeps and donates.

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