How to be Ruthless When Decluttering Your Wardrobe

How to be Ruthless When Decluttering Your Wardrobe

Decluttering your wardrobe can be difficult for many different reasons. Maybe you feel guilty about getting rid of clothes you’ve hardly worn. Maybe you don’t know what to get rid of and what to keep. Or maybe you have so many clothes you don’t know where to start!

Whatever the reason, if you’re ready to be ruthless when decluttering your wardrobe, today’s post will help!

Dramatically and ruthlessly declutter your wardrobe

In today’s post, I’m sharing 12 tips and tricks you can use to learn to be more ruthless as you’re simplifying your wardrobe.

The tips in this post are not meant to be used for a slow and steady approach to decluttering your wardrobe. Instead, these tips will help you dramatically declutter your wardrobe and be as ruthless as possible.

If you’re looking for a less ruthless and dramatic approach to decluttering your wardrobe, check out this post. But, if you want to dramatically declutter your wardrobe and be as ruthless as possible, this post is for you!

How to be Ruthless When Decluttering Your Wardrobe
Photo by Andrej Lišakov on Unsplash

Benefits of decluttering your wadrobe

There are many benefits to simplifying your wardrobe.

A smaller, simplified wardrobe lets you get dressed quicker, easier, with fewer decisions and less stress.

And knowing you can wear clothes you love every day that make you look and feel great is another good reason to clear the clutter from your wardrobe.

When you clear the clutter from your wardrobe, you get rid of the clothes that don’t fit, aren’t comfortable, you don’t wear and don’t make you feel your best.

Leaving you with a wardrobe you love where you can get plenty of use out of everything. Instead of only wearing a small selection of clothes from your wardrobe.

If you’re ready to ruthlessly declutter your wardrobe, use the tips in this post to make it happen!

1. Get in the right frame of mind

If you want to ruthlessly declutter your wardrobe, getting in the right frame of mind is important. In order to ruthlessly declutter your clothes, you’ll need to be ready to make decisions and be ready to let things go.

Make sure you are rested, fed and have some time available to work on decluttering your wardrobe.

Read articles or listen to podcasts that inspire you and give you a boost of motivation to declutter. Turn on a playlist or podcast that you love to make the process more enjoyable. Bring water, a snack and maybe a glass of wine to keep you going.

And when it’s all done, reward yourself with something you love! Maybe order takeout from your favourite restaurant, relax in a bubble bath, veg out watching your favourite show for an evening. Whatever you enjoy! A reward can help you stay motivated to work hard and be as ruthless as possible.

2. Set a limit for the number of clothes in your wardrobe

A great way to be more ruthless when decluttering your wardrobe is by setting a limit for the number of clothes you want to keep.

Give yourself a set number of hangers

An easy way to do this is choosing a set number of hangers for your closet. Then only keeping that many items. For example, if you only have 40 hangers in your closet, you have to be very particular with the amount of clothing you choose to keep.

Decide on a limit for each category of clothing

Another way to set a limit for yourself is by deciding on a certain number of items you’ll aim for in each category of clothing. Or a certain number of items in total in your wardrobe. Decide what will work for you, your lifestyle and your preferences.

For example, maybe you’ll aim for 15 t-shirts, 7 pairs of pants, 3 pj sets, 5 workout outfits, etc. Or maybe your limit will be 35 items of clothing in your wardrobe in total.

The numbers will be specific to you, your lifestyle, your preferences and your laundry routine. But the key is to give yourself a limit to follow to help you be more ruthless when decluttering your wardrobe.

Sometimes giving yourself a visual or number limit to follow is a great way to give yourself an extra push to be more ruthless. The limit isn’t meant to make you feel overly restricted. Instead, it’s a tool you can use to encourage and motivate yourself to be more ruthless with decluttering your wardrobe.

3. Keep track of what you’re not wearing

Another way to be more ruthless when decluttering your wardrobe is by tracking what items you never or rarely wear. Then getting rid of those items.

Turn your hangers around

One easy way to do this is by turning all the hangers in your closet around to hang backwards. When you wear an item, hang it up with the hanger hanging the right way. At the end of the season or after a set amount of time, get rid of any clothes still hanging backwards.

Track your wears

You can also keep track of your wears by listing out every item in your wardrobe and tallying every time you wear it during a season or set amount of time. If you don’t wear an item or wear it very few times by the end of your tracking time, get rid of it.

Make a point to wear every item you own

You can also make a point to wear every item in your wardrobe before re-wearing something you’ve already worn.

This a great way to test how much you love each item you’re keeping. Simply because it forces you to wear all your clothes and decide if you really love wearing them or not.

Try separating your closet in half. One side for clothes you haven’t worn yet and the other side for clothes you’ve worn. After wearing something from the unworn side, return it to the worn side.

If you come across anything you don’t want to wear, or didn’t look or feel good while wearing, get rid of it!

4. Use a maybe box

A maybe box is one of my favourite decluttering tools to help you be more ruthless when decluttering. Without the fear of being too ruthless holding you back. It’s like a decluttering safety net!

Pack up any items of clothing you’re not sure if you should keep or not in a maybe box. Seal it and put it somewhere out of sight. Set a reminder in your phone for 1 – 3 months in the future. If the reminder goes and you haven’t needed, wanted or even thought about the items in the box in that time, get rid of them knowing you’ll be just fine without them.

A maybe box is a great tool to help you ruthlessly declutter your wardrobe because it lets you try living with a smaller wardrobe and see how it goes. Often, after living with fewer clothes it shows you how great a smaller, simplified wardrobe can be!

5. Try a capsule wardrobe

Another great way to try and experiment with a smaller, simplified wardrobe is by trying a capsule wardrobe.

A capsule wardrobe is a small selection of clothes that you can mix and match together to create a variety of outfits with a limited number of clothes.

Try putting together a capsule wardrobe and dressing with only those clothes for the next 1 – 3 months. Put everything else in your wardrobe away somewhere else if possible and only dress from your capsule wardrobe.

Use it as an experiment to dress with fewer clothes and see how it works for you, your preferences and your lifestyle. After using a capsule wardrobe, you may be able to be more ruthless when decluttering your wardrobe because you experienced (and hopefully enjoyed!) how freeing a smaller wardrobe can be.

You can read more about how to create a capsule wardrobe here. And while I am a big proponent of creating your own rules for a capsule wardrobe, sometimes following a more defined and stricter set of rules and guidelines can be helpful. Especially if you are new to capsule wardrobes.

Project 333 is a great way to start using a capsule wardrobe. And this guide from Unfancy is another good resource.

6. Gather all your clothes in one place

If you want to declutter your wardrobe ruthlessly, a great way to tackle the process is by doing it all at once.

Gather every article of clothing you own and put it all together in one place. It can be quite an eye-opening experience to see all of your clothing together at once. And maybe even a little bit shocking.

Use the sheer amount of clothing you have and any shock you feel, in your favour to increase your motivation to simplify more ruthlessly.

After gathering all of your clothing, first pull out anything you don’t love, don’t wear or know you’re ready to get rid of. Bag those items up to be donated.

Then pull out any clothes you love, wear often and are your favourites. Those can go back in your closet.

Next, deal with everything that’s left. These are the things you neither love nor hate, and you need to make decisions about.

Try each item on. Then ask yourself these 6 questions to decide what to keep and what to get rid of.

The other great reason emptying your closet and drawers completely can help you declutter more ruthlessly is because each item of clothing in your wardrobe has to earn its place back in your closet or dresser. Nothing can be skipped over or kept by default. You have to intentionally decide to put each item of clothing back in your wardrobe.

7. Get rid of extra storage furniture

If you are serious about being as ruthless as possible when decluttering your wardrobe, a great way to be extra ruthless is to get rid of some of the furniture you store clothes in.

If you have fewer places and less space to store clothing, you’ll have no choice but to be more ruthless when deciding how much to keep and how much to get rid of!

8. Trust your gut

As you’re decluttering your wardrobe, notice and pay attention to your first, immediate reaction to each item. Ignore when you try to justify keeping something because of guilt, money spent, telling yourself you “should” like it, any “just in case” or “what if” thoughts you’re having, etc.

Trust your gut and your first reaction to each item. If you don’t immediately love it, get rid of it.

9. Imagine wearing each item and running into someone you like to look and feel your best around

Another way to be more ruthless when decluttering clothes is by imaging yourself wearing it and running into someone you would want to look and feel your best around. Maybe that’s an ex-boyfriend or an acquaintance you feel slightly intimidated by.

If you ran into that person, would you be happy wearing the item? Or would you cringe to be “caught” wearing it?

The point of doing this isn’t to make you feel bad about your wardrobe, bad about yourself or like you’re not good enough. Instead, it’s to show you that if an item of clothing doesn’t make you feel your best, it might not be worth keeping in your wardrobe.

10. Use these “tests” and questions to be more ruthless when decluttering your wardrobe

Next, use this list of questions and exercises to test items from your wardrobe and help you decide if you should keep them or not. If you want to declutter your wardrobe ruthlessly, each item of clothing should be able to pass these tests!

Does it fit you well today?

Each item in your wardrobe should fit you well at the size and shape you are today.

If you’re expecting your size or shape to change, keep only your absolute favourite items in different sizes. But store them away from your current wardrobe.

Not only will you reduce visual clutter in your closet. But you will also be able to get dressed faster and easier when you don’t have to weed through clothes that don’t fit right now.

Is it damaged, stained, needing repair or lost its shape?

Get rid of anything damaged or stained beyond repair. As well as anything that’s lost its shape or stretch.

If items need repairs or alterations, set a deadline to get the alterations done. If an item isn’t important enough to repair or alter promptly, you probably don’t need it.

Do you feel good in the item? Is it comfortable?

Everything in your wardrobe should feel good when you wear it.

Do you look good in the item? Do the color and style flatter you?

Everything in your wardrobe should make you look and feel good when you wear it because the color and style flatter you.

When was the last time you wore the item?

If it’s been more than 6 months or year, get rid of it.

Does the item work with your current lifestyle?

If you want to ruthlessly declutter your wardrobe, get rid of any clothes that don’t work for your current lifestyle.

For example, the clothes you needed for a past lifestyle. If you used to work in a corporate setting, but are now a stay at home parent or retired, you can get rid of the corporate work clothes you no longer need.

Get rid of duplicates

When ruthlessly decluttering your wardrobe, get rid of as many duplicate items as possible.

For example, if you have multiple black t-shirts, keep your favourite few and get rid of the rest. Or if you have the same t-shirt in multiple colors, keep your favourite few and get rid of the rest.

Get rid of anything older than 1 or 2 months with the tags still on

Unless the item is a seasonal item bought out of season if you haven’t been excited to wear a new item after 1 or 2 months of buying it, get rid of it.

It can be hard to let go of never worn clothes, but don’t keep things in your wardrobe you’re not wearing. Accept the loss and use it as a lesson to shop more thoughtfully moving forward.

Get rid of anything you try on often, but don’t wear

A good rule of thumb is if you try something on, but don’t wear it more than twice, get rid of it. Something about that item is obviously not working for you if you try it on multiple times but never choose to wear it.

Also pay attention and get rid of anything you wear but don’t look or feel great in. Notice how you feel in your clothes each day and get rid of things you don’t look or feel your best in rather than putting them back in your closet.

Wear items you don’t usually wear

If you want to keep an item, but rarely wear it (aside from special occasion clothes), plan to wear that item tomorrow or within the week.

Then, as you’re wearing it, pay attention to how you look and feel in it. If you don’t look and feel great in it, get rid of it.

11. Donate clothes you’re decluttering from your wardrobe ASAP!

Bag up anything you’re decluttering from your wardrobe and donate it as soon as possible. Don’t give yourself a chance to second guess your decluttering decisions.

12. Declutter your wardrobe again often

If you want to be ruthless when decluttering your wardrobe, declutter your wardrobe again often. Each time you declutter, you will likely be willing and able to let go of a little bit more.

Not only will you prove to yourself that having a smaller, simplified wardrobe has benefits and makes life easier, helping you declutter more. But realizing you don’t miss any of the clothes you got rid of can also encourage you to get rid of more.

Decluttering your wardrobe ruthlessly

I hope these tips and tricks will help make it easier to declutter your wardrobe as ruthlessly as possible.

Decluttering clothes can be hard, but with a few tips, tricks and tools it can be easier to let go. All so you can enjoy a simple and streamlined wardrobe your love!

Do you struggle to declutter clothes? Which of these tips are you going to try to ruthlessly declutter your wardrobe? Leave a comment and let me know!

How to be Ruthless When Decluttering Your Wardrobe
Photo by Amanda Vick on Unsplash

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4 Comments

  1. Funny that you’ve come out with this, at this time! I am currently redoing my wardrobe because during the COVID 19 virus with all the close downs, I have been forced to face the fact that my real hair color is white! Because of that I’ve realized that I need to take the neutral colors out and replace them with some brighter items. The neutrals make me look very washed out and no longer compliment me with this white hair! I have no problem with keeping a small wardrobe, (The benefits are many!) and I do as you suggest, go through it every so often, but I do want what I have to compliment me. Just posted a comment on the site yesterday about this….. perfect timing as always Melissa❣️

    1. That’s great, Cheryl. I’m glad this post was helpful for you! It sounds like you have a great plan to go forward with your wardrobe. Good for you! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience 🙂

  2. Completely agree! This article was so helpful and timely! I am making use of lockdown to go through the very many clothes that I have accumulated over the last decade of childbearing/rearing so I am having to be very ruthless. Thanks for the great advice, it‘s helped to remove the guilt/attachment I have been dealing with whilst decluttering!!

    1. That’s so great to hear! I’m glad it was helpful for you! I agree, while we’re all spending extra time at home, it’s a great time to tackle some of these kinds of projects. Thanks for reading and happy decluttering!

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