WHICH CLOTHES TO DECLUTTER? SIMPLE QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU DECIDE
Decluttering your clothes can make life easier and help you find what to wear with more ease and less stress. The question is though, how do you know which clothes to declutter? Here are some simple questions to help you decide.
WHY DECLUTTER YOUR CLOTHES?
First thing in the morning I’m in a rush, I’m short of time and I’m running on autopilot getting the dog walked and fed, the kids ready for school and myself ready for work. I don’t have a lot of spare time to do much at all, let alone spend a while choosing my outfit for the day so I look professional and put together!
If this scenario sounds familiar, then I encourage you to declutter your clothes and simplify your wardrobe. There are some amazing benefits that reach far beyond just what clothes you end up wearing for that day.
THE BENEFITS OF DECLUTTERING YOUR CLOTHES
When I was ruthless and decluttered my clothes I discovered some amazing benefits of a more minimalist, simplified wardrobe, including:
1. More space
Firstly and obviously, a decluttered, capsule closet has less stuff in it so I had more space. I could move the hangers along the rail so I could really see what was hanging there. I could fold my clothes and lay them out carefully and neatly in my drawers.
2. More care
As I had more space, I could store my clothes in a better way. Instead of stuffing them in, all crinkled and squashed, I could hang and fold them carefully. They don’t get pulled and stretched so they last longer too.
3. More organised
As I had more space and less stuff, it was easy to organise my clothes. Depending on what appeals to you, this could be by category, colour or season. If I hadn’t decluttered my clothes first, I would just be organising my clutter which takes up way more space and is much more difficult to sift through (and probably require more and better storage!).
4. More choice
Interestingly, I found that when I decluttered my clothes and had fewer of them, I actually had more choice! I probably wore only 50% of my clothes, maybe even less, on a day-to-day basis. The rest of my wardrobe was made up of clothes that I didn’t wear for one reason or another. When I decluttered my clothes, I kept only pieces that I knew I would wear and, as I could actually see clearly what I had, I felt I had more choice! In a backwards kind of way, having less clothes actually felt like I had a larger wardrobe!
5. Less decision fatigue
As adults, we make thousands of decisions every day and one of the first of those decisions is deciding what to wear. Many successful people have found that curating a more minimalist wardrobe following their own daily personal uniform and signature style is an easy hack to avoid decision fatigue. It’s easier and quicker to decide what to wear because you have less clothes to decide between. This, in turn, means you have more energy and mental space to make decisions on more important things in your day and life.
6. More time
As I could see what clothes I had and knew everything would look and feel good on me and that they would co-ordinate with each other, it was so much quicker deciding what to wear. No more wasted time faffing around trying to decide what to wear. This freed up more time for other things – especially important on a busy morning!
7. Less stress
A combination of all these benefits of a simplified wardrobe meant that getting dressed was easier and less stressful. Choosing my clothes for the day was a pleasure and something I looked forward to and that would give me confidence for a great day ahead.
WHY DECLUTTERING CLOTHES IS DIFFICULT
As I’ve been listing some of the benefits of decluttering your clothes and creating a more minimalist wardrobe, I hope I’ve been setting the scene and giving you some ideas about how well (or not!) your own wardrobe works for you.
If you feel your wardrobe needs downsizing, or you’d like to purge your clothes and try a simpler closet, I really do encourage you to give it a go. After all, we all need to get dressed each day so it’s helpful to make that process as stress-free and enjoyable as possible!
As great as a more simplified wardrobe might sound, I must admit that decluttering clothes isn’t always easy. Many of us struggle to get rid of clothes for lots of reasons.
Maybe you hold on to clothes:
- Just in case you might wear them again
- For when you lose weight and drop a size or two
- If you’re invited to a special event and need something to wear
- They remind you of past events, places and people
- You’ve never really thought about what’s squashed at the back of your wardrobe
- They were a bargain or didn’t cost much
- They were expensive and it would be wasteful to get rid of them
These are some of the reasons we hold on to clothes (and other clutter) and it’s difficult to overcome them. That’s why I think it’s helpful to ask some questions to help you decide which clothes to declutter. I’m sharing some of these in today’s article.
QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU DECIDE WHICH CLOTHES TO DECLUTTER
Here are some questions to help you decide which clothes to declutter.
Remove every item of clothing from your wardrobe. Try it on or hold it up against you and consider how you’d answer these questions for every single piece. Depending on how you answer the questions, keep the item or donate, recycle or sell it.
1. Do you wear the item regularly?
If not, can you recall when you last wore it? If you’re still not sure, try this little experiment. Next time you’ve worn it and are putting it back in the wardrobe, hang it up the wrong way round. Over time you’ll build up a picture of what you wear and what you don’t.
If you don’t wear an item regularly, apart from seasonal or special occasion items ( for example, like party dresses, maternity clothes, heavy cold-weather coats), do you think it deserves a place in your wardrobe?
I try not to think of my wardrobe as a storage facility. I don’t have (or want) endless closet space so I like to be as selective as possible about what deserves a place in my wardrobe and this is mostly for items that I wear often.
2. If you have multiples of the same item, for example, jeans, do you find yourself only wearing a few of the selection and never wear the rest?
Try the same experiment as above and stress-test your multiples. When you wear a pair of jeans, put them back in the wardrobe the wrong way round. What do you notice over time? Perhaps you have some items that are your favourites and you always reach for them but you never actually wear the rest.
If you find yourself always reaching for the same couple of pairs then assess whether you really need the others. If your favourites wore out, would you be happy wearing the other duplicates in your wardrobe or would you shop for replacements? If so, do you really need to keep the multiples?
3. Does the item feel comfortable to wear?
If you’re not sure whether a piece of clothing feels comfortable, try wearing the item for a day and see how you get on. Does it scratch? Do you like the fabric it’s made in? Do you find yourself tugging at the sleeves or neckline? If it feels uncomfortable to wear and you wouldn’t choose to wear it anyway, do you need to keep it?
It may be worth you assessing your clothes for comfort regularly, perhaps at the start of every season. As our bodies and feet change, our clothes and shoes need to adjust too, so what may be comfortable a year or two ago, might not be so comfortable now!
4. Does the item have sentimental value?
I kept my wedding dress for years because it held sentimental value. In the past, I’ve also held onto an old sweatshirt from university days and a shawl I bought on holiday ages ago but haven’t worn since. Sentimental clutter can be very difficult to let go of and even those of us who are confident in decluttering can find it tough to deal with clutter that evokes memories and feelings.
In a nutshell, I would encourage you to think carefully about whether you really need to keep the item to remember that person, place or event. If so, pop it in a special box, a memory box, and store it elsewhere.
Your present life requires you to show up for it in the best way possible, dressed in clothes that make you feel the best version of you! Make your wardrobe a space for clothes that fit you and your lifestyle now.
5. Does the item have multiple uses?
A simplified wardrobe has less clothes but the clothes you do have need to work hard for you. They need to be versatile and offer you flexibility for different outfits and occasions. Does the item co-ordinate with other items? Can it be worn in a variety of ways, dressed up or dressed down, layered?
For this reason I have very few really thick, heavy sweaters. When the weather is cold, I tend to layer my clothes so I feel warm. I found that bulky sweaters were only good for a few days, weeks at most, of the year but took up lots of space in my drawers. On the other hand, I have a black skirt that I can dress up or down with many different tops and shoes to create a variety of looks but they’re all based around this one versatile black skirt. If it was a bright neon orange skirt, my outfit options would be more limited!
These are just a couple of examples from my own wardrobe. Take a look through your clothes and see which ones can be used in different ways to make as many outfits as possible.
6. Does the item stand the test of time?
Some items we buy to follow the seasonal trends don’t last long. Will the item look good for time to come, will it still be fashionable or suit your style in a year or two, maybe longer? There’s still space in your curated wardrobe to follow current fashions but if you’re not likely to want to wear the item past this season, do you really need to allocate space to it?
If you want to follow this season’s trends then a minimalist, simplified wardrobe will still allow you to do that. Capsule wardrobes aren’t just for people who don’t like clothes and don’t care what they look like! You can still be unique and stylish and have fun with your wardrobe, just with less clothes (or at least, clothes that take up space and you never wear!).
If you’re not sure whether an item will stand the test of time, think about these seasonal items in a different way. Instead of keeping this season’s latest big bold floral print trench coat, what about just keeping the same patterned scarf? Again, this is just an example but you could keep following the latest trends to smaller accessories that take up less space rather than big investment pieces.
7. What would happen if you didn’t have the item?
Would you really miss it or would you just wear something else that’s similar instead? Does it give you an extra option or choice? Or might you forget you ever had it and move on? If you’re not sure, try popping the item in a box and see if you miss it in the next month or so.
Simplifying life is sometimes about trade-offs. We can’t want a clutter-free home and life and then decide to keep everything just in case we need it in the future. Whether it’s decluttering kitchen appliances or DIY tools, it’s a question of deciding whether the benefit of not having that extra stuff to look after outweighs the disadvantages of possibly needing it in the future.
How you decide these trade-offs is a personal choice but given the benefits of decluttering my own home, I would prefer to have less stuff! On the odd occasion I’ve needed something after I’ve decluttered it, I’ve always managed to find an alternative from around my home, borrow, rent it or just make do.
8. Does the item fit you?
Your wardrobe should make you feel great so clothes that make you feel sad, frustrated or depressed aren’t what you want to see every time you open your wardrobe doors. Your clothes should fit you now.
Store away, donate, recycle or sell clothes that don’t fit. You’ll feel happier having clothes to choose from that make you look and feel good now, not when you’ve lost a few pounds. And, even with all best intentions, what happens if you don’t lose those few pounds? Why wait for a time that may not come when your body is doing amazing things now and every day to look after you. I’m sure it deserves to look and feel good now!
9. Is the item seasonal?
Seasonal items such as bikinis, shorts or big sweaters and heavy coats can take up valuable space in your wardrobe even if they’re only used for a short time each year. How much of your closet is given over to seasonal items? Could you store these somewhere else or get rid of some of the multiples to create space?
10. Is the item stained or damaged?
Can it be repaired? If not, do you really need to keep it? As above, you deserve clothes that present the best version of you. Maybe ask yourself why you’re hanging on to it? Is it out of habit, because it reminds you of something, sometime or someone? If your clothes aren’t looking great but you’re holding on to them, maybe it’s time to question why.
11. Do you keep the item just in case?
What are you keeping it for exactly? Are you keeping that little black dress just in case you have a special occasion? If so, when did you last have an occasion like this? Try the item on and see how it looks and feels. Would you still be happy to wear it on a special night out even if it’s been sitting in your wardrobe for years? As I mentioned above, our bodies and tastes change so you might not even decide to wear it.
12. Do you love the item?
I love my simplified wardrobe and every piece that’s in there has deserved its place. It’s taken me a few years to curate my collection so it feels just right to me but a good litmus test on whether an item is good enough to stay is whether I love it or not.
What’s the point of keeping clothes that you don’t really like? You’ll probably skim past them anyway when you’re choosing your clothes for the day so do you really need to keep them?
13. Does the item make you feel great?
This is probably one of the, if not THE, most important question. If the item doesn’t make you feel great then why keep it? Clothes that make you feel amazing don’t have to cost a lot. You can pick up some great pieces in charity shops or with some savvy sales shopping, for example.
If the item doesn’t make you feel great then it doesn’t deserve to clothe your wonderful body. And, of course, that’s not just about that little black dress hanging in your closet, even sweatpants and a sweatshirt can make you feel great!
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
I’d love to hear from you if you have any thoughts to share on which clothes to declutter. Do you find decluttering clothes difficult? Is there anything you get particularly stuck on? If you managed to purge your closet, did this make your life easier? What did you learn from the experience? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.
MORE RESOURCES TO HELP YOU DECLUTTER CLOTHES
Here are some more articles and resources to help you declutter clothes:
- How to declutter clothes in 10 easy steps
- How to purge your closet quickly
- Seasonal clothing declutter: 5 tips to declutter clothes each season
- The benefits of a capsule wardrobe for reducing waste
- How to create your own personal daily uniform
- How to simplify your wardrobe
- Courtney Carver’s minimalist fashion challenge Project 333
SIMPLIFY YOUR HOME
If you found this article helpful, I share many more decluttering tips and advice in Simplify Your Home. This is my guide, workbook and checklists to help you declutter your entire home and keep that clutter away.
Practical advice, easy-to-follow steps and lots of moral support. It’s all laid out for you to help you clear your clutter so you can see and feel the benefits of a clutter-free home that’s easier to manage.
GET YOUR FREE WARDROBE DECLUTTER CHECKLIST
To help you declutter your wardrobe and get rid of clothes that you don’t love, want or need, I’ve created a free Wardrobe Declutter Checklist.
Pop your details in the box below to get your copy straight into your inbox…