Let’s face it: closets can be scary.
Clothes are one of the most common things for both men and women to over-buy, and going through them sometimes requires us to come face-to-face with our self-perception – which can be uncomfortable.
Add to that the fact that it’s a large decluttering project, and the sheer intimidation that can come with that. A lot of clutter experts will even tell you that you’re only allowed to handle an item once, and that you have to make a decision “right now”.
That prospect of having to make a bunch of “final decisions” under stress causes many people – myself included – to mentally shut down.
So rather than putting ourselves in a scenario where we know we’re going to have issues, we just don’t deal with the project at all.
Closets aren’t a place to add more intimidation and stress to the mix. While only handling each item once is much more efficient, there are other ways to accomplish the same goal.
Let me show you how to deal with your closet while minimizing your stress and keeping your sanity.
1. Assemble Your Materials
At a minimum you’ll need a place to put donations, and a place to put trash. If you have a lot of clothes in your closet from when you were significantly larger/smaller, and you plan to return to those sizes (pregnancy, weight loss, etc.), you’ll want a place for those clothes as well.
These can be as simple as some large garbage bags, or if you have some cardboard boxes/totes hanging around you can use them. Don’t fall into the temptation of thinking you need to run to the store to buy some fancy sorting system before you can start!
2. Touch everything in your closet.
Pull everything out, and physically hold each item in your hands. You don’t have to pull everything out at once, and you don’t even have to do it all in one sitting – but you do need to handle everything at least once.
Looking at it on the shelf isn’t enough. Take it out, and inspect it.
If you start at one side of the closet, you can even work in batches over the course of a few days. Just make a note of where you stopped.
3. Cull The Obvious Junk.
Some items will likely be obvious junk. Anything that’s stained, in poor repair, massively out of style, fits you poorly, or that you know you don’t wear should be gotten rid of.
If anything is “two (or more!) sizes ago”, either get rid of it or put it in the appropriate container for storage. If it’s in good repair but you don’t ever wear it, consider donating it to an appropriately-sized friend or a thrift store. If it’s in poor repair, you can throw it away.
Bottom line? If you can’t or won’t wear it any time soon, it doesn’t belong in your closet!
If you’re not sure about something, don’t spend too much time stressing about it. Anything you’re unsure of, you keep. Seriously – don’t stress yourself out. Move on to the next thing.
4. Replace everything else.
Put everything else back into your closet, with the mentality that you’re going to re-visit your closet in a few months and think about what you have and haven’t worn.
Here’s an easy idea for your clothes on hangers. Replace all of your clothes in your closet with the hangers facing backward. That means you’ll have to put the clothes back on the bar backwards, with is a really unnatural way to do it. As you wear things, you’ll naturally replace them on hangers the correct way.
If you’re a folder rather than a hanger, try something different. Take some pieces of brightly-colored paper, and cut them into large strips. Tuck each of those strips inside a folded garment (in such a way that it won’t fall out accidentally).
5. Pack Up & Pitch
Haul anything you’re throwing away out to the trash. Take the donations out to your car.
If you’re keeping clothes from when you were larger or smaller than you are now, label those bags or boxes appropriately and tuck them away somewhere. It’s even okay if they stay in your closet on a shelf or on the closet floor – as long as they’re packed up!
6. Revisit In 3, 6, and 12 Months
In a few months, open up your closet again. Check the hangers, or look for slips of paper. That will tell you what you’ve worn and what you haven’t. If you do this over the course of a year, you’ll have gone through every season and every holiday at least once.
Anything you haven’t worn in a year is a really, really good candidate for donation!
You Can Do This
Closet decluttering can be stressful. You’ll get no argument from me there. But by easing in and giving yourself the tools to make informed future decisions, you’ll minimize a lot of that stress.
Dive in and start, and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it gets.
And if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line!