I spent yesterday cleaning out my closet and chest of drawers.  And when the dust settled, I had one bag of stained, torn or otherwise unusable clothing, and THREE bags of giveaway stuff.  What’s left? Almost nothing.  Which means I’ve been wearing a lot of stuff that doesn’t fit or I just plain don’t like.  It also means I need to go shopping.

There’s lots of advice out there about how to clean out your closet, but 90% of cleaning out your closet comes down to being honest with yourself and following a few basic rules.  Here are my rules for what to get rid of (and the ones I tried to follow yesterday):

Anything that needs a repair that, even when repaired, I still won’t love.  A corduroy Anthropologie jacket that was super cute and trendy when I bought it, was also missing a button.  What I should have done is returned it ages ago.  But I didn’t, thinking, I’ll take it somewhere to get a button put on. I never did and about nine seasons later, it’s not in style and it’s still missing that button.  Into the bag it went.

Missing button. Three years later, button still missing. Still not wearing it. Still make me look vaguely Christmas elf-ish. Adios!

– Clothing that just doesn’t quite fit right.  I get keeping a favorite pair of jeans or something that you know you’ll fit into again soon.  But if you’ve got a large percentage of “when I lose ten pounds” clothing, you need to take inventory and be ruthless.  If you do lose that ten pounds, then you can treat yourself.

– Clothes for a job I don’t have and probably won’t be getting anytime soon, because I’m not an attorney. I used to have lots of work clothes – nice pants, some blazers, pencil skirts etc.  But much of the work I do is from home now and while I’m not advocating working from home in sweats (as appealing as that may be) I don’t need to be in heels and some dorky pant suit I bought five years ago.  I’m also in a part of the country (Silicon Valley) where people aren’t terribly formal at work anyway.  If you find you are going to work in jeans because everyone else is as well, then spend the money on nice jeans that fit well, don’t spend the money on skirts and tights – unless of course, that’s what makes you happy.

– Undies, bras, sleepwear, tights, etc. that have seen better days.  It’s easy to hold onto underwear and bras and sleepwear for longer than you should.  But if the bra looks pretty in the drawer but less so on you, get rid of it.  Same for undies – faded, elastic giving way, lace coming unraveled and so on, those need to go. Also, you don’t need to be sleeping in your husband’s pit stained t-shirts, so get some nice PJs too.  The absolute best place for underwear (and sometimes bras and sleepwear if you are the right size) is Marshall’s I’ve found.  Prices are good and you can find lots of good brands – Honeydew, Calvin Klein, DKNY, Betsey Johnson etc.

– Clothes that make you say “meh”:  This is a harder rule to follow, but it’s probably the most important one.  Not following this rule is why my closet if full of clothes I am not even moderately pleased with.  If you keep passing over clothes in your closet (unless, say everything else is dirty) then that’s your cue that those items need to exit stage left.  If it doesn’t make you look good or make you feel good, it’s gone.

– Shoes that don’t fit or were designed for someone else entirely:  The same rules above apply to shoes.  I have had a pair of Sam Edelman platform booties for about two years.  I have worn them once.  Why? They’re too freaking high and I feel like I’m on stilts.  Sure, they look fantastic in my closet but that’s where it ends.  So they’re going too.

Off to the Goodwill! Three bags of clothes I didn't wear, didn't like or were otherwise dragging me down.

The next step of course is to drop all the bags off at the Goodwill.  If you are inclined, have the time and have some expensive items, you can sell them on eBay of course.  I’ve done that with things like expensive shoes.  I’d recommend looking at doing a search for the brands of clothes you’d like to get rid of and searching “completed listings.” This will tell you if it’s worth your time to sell the some of the items.  I’ll probably try and sell the Sam Edelman boots, since I only wore them once, still have the box and they are still gorgeous, just not for me.

So here’s what’s left of my shirts.  Uh oh.

May need to go shopping...

Next post I’ll tackle the OMG-NOW-I-HAVE-NOTHING-TO-WEAR conundrum, with shopping tips and how to take inventory of what’s left, so that you can figure out what you need, what you want, and what will look good on you.




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  1. This is really such a fantastic idea! I just have the WORST time getting rid of my clothes though…I think that’s mostly due to the fact that I’ve sewn most of them and I love each and every creation so I cant seem to bring myself to get rid of it! I may have to go through my things though…I’m getting married so I’m sure I won’t have a huge closet all to myself anymore and therefore won’t have room for everything I own lol.

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  2. elizabeth says:

    Read your post and it inspired me to do a whirlwind run through of my closet. I got rid of a TON of stuff. And my husband got inspired to fix our shoe rack, which kept dumping all our shoes on the floor, making it impassable in there. Exhale. Thank you!