on getting rid of clothes

As I’ve been in the process of moving and without an actual internet connection this past week, I’ve had a lot of time to think about this whole clothing thing. I was going through a lot of the shirts, pants, sweaters, and outerwear I’ve been wearing for the past several years, and wondering which, if any, pieces I will have for the years to come.

I’ve also been exploring the ideas of minimalism put forth by people like Leo of Zen Habits and Everett of Far Beyond The Stars. I can’t say I’d do well following every single bit of their advice (after all, this is a site on clothing and style), but I’m the type to take heed when a lesson is taught, practice what is applicable to my situation, and discard the rest.

Here are several ideas I’ve adopted and learned to apply:

Get rid of stagnant things

Discard, donate, or somehow get rid of things you no longer wear. If it’s been eight months since you’ve touched that shirt, get rid of it. These things just clutter up your closet and they aren’t even being used.

Sort through seasonal wear

With the change of seasons, we accumulate new pieces. Before you make the rotation to warmer wardrobe (at the start of Fall) or cooler, lighter wardrobe (during Spring), make it a point to sort through the past season’s stuff. If it’s not in line with your current personal style, no longer fits, or you just don’t want it anymore, get rid of it. If it’s a standard, evergreen-type piece (a basic that never really goes out of style, like a navy crew neck), feel free to hang onto it… but if several seasons go by and you still haven’t touched that piece, just get rid of the thing!

Be honest with yourself

Tastes change all the time. A shirt you thought looked amazing when you first bought it two years ago might not be that amazing anymore. It’s okay to get rid of things and make room for new things.

When I was younger, I was more experimental with my personal style. I wasn’t sure what suited me best, so I tried a lot of things. In the end, when I had a better idea of my style, I was left with a ton of unusable clothing. I held onto it for years, letting it clutter up my closet even though I knew I’d never touch these things again.

If you’re still at that stage trying to figure out what suits you best, keep trying new things. But once you have a better idea of your own style, empty your closet of things you’ll never wear. You’ll instantly feel lighter, both physically and mentally.

Buy quality pieces

Now that you’ve gotten into the habit of regularly purging your closet of unused goods, it’s only natural you will find something you like and will want to buy. At this point, be mindful of what you look to purchase. Will you use it for years to come, i.e. is it an evergreen piece? Will you utilize it next season, or will you find yourself tossing it out? Doing so is a waste of money, space, and time spent shopping.

Make sure you buy new pieces that will stand that test of time. Imagine yourself wearing it in three years, even if you don’t usually do that. Can you picture yourself still putting it on? Be as objective and honest as possible. More often than not, if you can’t see yourself wearing it after this season, or even a few seasons down the road, it isn’t worth buying.

Look for classic, quality pieces you can wear for years. You may spend more money up front, but will save a ton in the long run, only having to repair and replace pieces instead of purchasing new wardrobes every season to keep up with trends.

Put these simple ideas into practice, and soon you’ll have a streamlined closet filled with pieces you actually enjoy wearing.

What do you think?

Is there anything I’ve missed utilizing this process? Would you add anything to my list? Let me know in the comments.

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10 Responses

  1. Drew on

    A good argument for doing this: it allows you to make a better decision about what you will be wearing that day. When you don’t have ‘unliked’ stuff messing with your head, you’re likely to make a better decision about what to wear that day. When you know you look good wearing what you’re wearing, you’ll be happier, more confident, and more successful.

    • Barron on

      Hi Drew,

      Great point. When you have several great pieces, instead of many, many mediocre pieces, it’s much easier to make decisions. Additionally you’ll question yourself a lot less regarding the choices you made earlier in the day.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • Barron on

      Thanks Jason! It really is tough; we tend to have emotional connections to the things we buy, or at the very least, feel bad giving something away that we hardly ever touched. Overall it’s best to clear things out and treat that wasted piece as a lesson learned.

      Appreciate you reading!

  2. Helen on

    Here’s a fun tip: beginning of a new year turn all your hangers in a closet in one direction. Every time you take a garment out to wear it, when putting it back, do it the other way. By the end of the year, those garments you have’t worn – and therefore, haven’t turned over the hangers – are ready to be thrown out!

    • Barron on

      Helen,

      Great suggestion. Another one I heard is that so-and-so moved all his clothes from his main closet to the closet in the spare bedroom. Every time he wanted to wear something, he went to the spare bedroom, pulled it out of the closet, wore it, and hung it back in his main closet. After several months, his usuals ended up back in his main closet. Everything that remained untouched in the spare closet, he donated, sold, or gave to Goodwill.

      For those of us without the luxury of plentiful closet space, yours is a great tip. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Helen on

    All of those tips on how to clean out your closet of the clothes you don’t actually wear also help to improve the way you look in all. After some time you begin to notice what styles, fittings and colors are the ones that really suit you and make you look great, so you probably will buy garments that match the rest of your clothes and make less and less impulsive purchases from then on. I’m not sure if this would work for a woman, though:)

    • Barron on

      Helen,

      Well-said. And really, that’s the whole point: to be more mindful of your purchases, and to make them count.

      Thanks for your comments!

  4. organize your garage on

    Getting rid of clutter can mean that everything you keep is organized in a way that you can find it when you need it or want it. It brings great peace of mind to be able to find something when you need it and not have to search for it; which wastes time and is so frustrating.