How to Downsize Your Wardrobe & Declutter Clothes

How to downsize your wardrobe & declutter clothes

Today’s post is all about how to downsize your wardrobe and declutter clothes. If you’re feeling nervous, overwhelmed or just don’t know where to start when it comes to decluttering your clothes and simplifying your wardrobe, you’re in the right place!

This simple, step by step guide will show you how to downsize your wardrobe and declutter your clothes. Including plenty of tips to make the process easier and more efficient.

Follow the steps in this post to get rid of the clutter in your closet, and create a simplified, clutter-free wardrobe you look and feel great in.

How to downsize your wardrobe & declutter clothes
Photo by Sarah Brown on Unsplash

Benefits of downsizing your wardrobe

Whether you want to massively downsize your wardrobe and create a capsule wardrobe. Or just simplify your closet and clear some of the excess, clearing the clutter from your closet can have a really positive impact on your life.

Before we dive into how to downsize your wardrobe, let’s talk about why it matters!

Reminding yourself of the benefits of clearing the clutter from your wardrobe can help you stay motivated and keep your momentum going as you declutter your clothes.

Here are a few of the awesome benefits of simplifying your wardrobe:

  • Getting dressed is faster, easier and less stressful when you only own clothes you love, feel good in and look good in.
  • You’ll feel more confident because your clothes make you look and feel good.
  • You’ll likely save money because you’ll know exactly what you have, what you like wearing and what works for you. This means you’ll stop buying clothes you don’t need or don’t work for you.
  • Your closet will be easier to keep tidy and organized. It will be easier to find items you’re looking for and put clean laundry away. You may even have fewer wrinkles in your clothes because they’ll have room to breathe!
  • You’ll wear and love the clothes in your closet! No more flipping past clothes you don’t like looking for your favourites. Instead, you’ll get rid of the clutter and only keep the clothes you love!

The 80/20 rule in your wardrobe

Did you know it’s estimated most people wear 20% of their wardrobe, 80% of the time?

In other words, most people wear the same small selection of clothes most of the time, rarely or never wearing the rest of their clothes.

Thinking about your current wardrobe, does the 80/20 rule hold true for you?

Remembering this statistic can make downsizing your wardrobe easier. Even with a much larger wardrobe, you likely wear the same small collection of your favourite items most of the time anyway. Might as well get rid of the filler pieces and only keep the things you love and wear often!

How does your wardrobe make you feel?

If your wardrobe is making you feel overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted, bad about your body, guilty or just plain frustrated, those are good signs it’s time to declutter your clothes and downsize your wardrobe.

Downsizing your wardrobe can help you get rid of the excess, the distractions and the things you don’t like or wear from your wardrobe. Leaving you a wardrobe that makes you feel happy, confident and stress-free every time you get dressed.

How to downsize your wardrobe: a step by step guide

Now let’s get to work! In this section, I’ll share exactly how to downsize your wardrobe and declutter your clothes with a step by step guide.

Let’s clear the clutter and simplify your wardrobe!

How to downsize your wardrobe & declutter clothes
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

1. Two different approaches for decluttering your wardrobe

There are two different approaches to take when downsizing your wardrobe. The first is sorting through all of your clothing at one time. And the second is sorting through your wardrobe a little bit at a time.

There are pros and cons to each. One method isn’t necessarily better than the other. Pick the method that will work best for you based on your timeline, lifestyle, goals, personality, preferences, etc.

Approach #1: Decluttering all your clothes at once

Gather up all the clothes you own – yes, every single thing – and put them all in one place.

Pros:

The shock factor of seeing every single item of clothing you own in one place can help you be more ruthless as you declutter your clothes.

It’s also easier to spot duplicate items and areas of excess in your wardrobe when everything is all in one place, so you know where you really need to pare down.

In addition, taking everything out of your closet means each item has to earn its place back into your closet. Nothing can be passed over or be left hanging in your closet by default.

Cons:

The biggest disadvantage of this method is you might not have enough time, energy or stamina to finish sorting through and decluttering your clothes all at once.

This can leave you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and with a big mess!

Approach #2: Decluttering your wardrobe a little bit at a time

This is a more gradual approach to decluttering your wardrobe. It might mean working on decluttering clothes for 10 minutes a day until you get through your whole wardrobe. Or decluttering one category of clothes at a time.

Pros:

This approach can be less overwhelming and easier to keep up with if you don’t have a full day to spend decluttering your wardrobe.

Cons:

You might be less ruthless with your decluttering decisions because you won’t get that big-picture look at your entire wardrobe all at once.

Whichever method you choose to downsize your wardrobe, the next steps to declutter your clothes will be the same. The only difference is if you do it all at once or a little bit at a time!

2. Gather your supplies

You don’t need much to get decluttering, except a few garbage bags or boxes for clothes you’re getting rid of and maybe your favourite playlist to make it a little more fun.

3. Sort your clothes into categories

Before you begin decluttering clothes, start by organizing your clothes into categories.

It’s a lot easier to declutter clothes when you work through one category at a time. Seeing what you have in total in each category makes it easier to notice duplicate items and areas of excess to help you be more ruthless with your decluttering decisions.

Categorize your wardrobe in a way makes sense for the types of clothes you have, such as:

  • Tops: short sleeve, long sleeve, sleeveless/tanks, dressy, blouses, sweaters, layering pieces (cardigans, jackets, etc.), dresses (causal/dressy), loungewear, workout tops, etc.
  • Bottoms: jeans, pants, dress pants, skirts, workout pants, loungewear, etc.
  • Pajamas
  • Undergarments: socks, underwear, bras, camisoles, slips, etc.
  • Swimwear
  • Outerwear
  • Shoes: casual, dressy, boots, workout, sandals, etc.
  • Accessories: jewelry, hats, scarves, purses, etc.

4. Do a quick sort

Once your clothes are organized by category, do a quick sort of the clothes within each category.

Pick up and assess each item of clothing in the category and put it in one of three piles:

Pile #1: Definitely get rid of

These are the things you know right away that you want to get rid of. For example, things you don’t like, don’t fit, never wear, are damaged or worn out, etc.

Pile #2: Definitely keep

These are the items you love, wear often and feel great in.

Pile #3: The maybes

These are the items you don’t love, but also don’t hate and aren’t sure if you want to keep or not. (But don’t worry – we’ll figure that out!)

Look for trends in each pile

Before we tackle the maybe pile, take a minute to look at the clothes in pile #1 (definitely get rid of) and pile #2 (definitely keep). Look for any trends or commonalities, in terms of style, color, fit, etc. among the clothes in both piles.

This will help you get clearer about your personal style and preferences in clothes. Not only will it make sorting through your maybe pile easier. But it will also help you make better purchases in the future.

5. Sort through your maybe pile

Now you’re ready to tackle the maybe pile. Here’s how you decide what to keep and what to get rid of as you downsize your wardrobe:

Try each item on & ask yourself some key questions

Trying each item on can be a big game-changer. Sometimes we think an item looks or feels good on. But when you try it on and honestly assess how it looks and feels it can sometimes be a different story.

As you try each item on, ask yourself some key questions to decide if the item really belongs in your wardrobe or not:

Does it fit well today?

Aim to only keep clothes in your closet that fit your current size and shape. It’s ok to keep clothes in multiples sizes if your weight fluctuates or is likely to change in the future.

But! Only keep items you absolutely love and would be excited to wear again in each size to avoid ending up with a cluttered wardrobe and too many clothes.

Then, keep the clothes not in your current size out of your closet or in a less accessible spot so you don’t have to sift through clothes that don’t fit to find clothes that do when you’re getting dressed.

Is it damaged, stained, worn out, needing repairs or alterations, etc.?

If something isn’t in good shape, get rid of it. Give yourself deadlines to get repairs or alterations done so items don’t sit awaiting repair or alteration indefinitely.

If you don’t want to bother repairing or altering it, get rid of it!

Do you feel good in it?

Keep clothes that are comfortable and make you feel good while you wear them.

Do you look good?

Make sure the color and style of items you’re keeping flatter you.

When was the last time you wore it?

For most items, if you haven’t worn it in the last year, you probably don’t need it.

Would you be happy wearing it for the rest of the day?

Plan to wear something you’re unsure about today, tomorrow or in the very near future. Then pay attention to how you feel when you’re wearing it. If you don’t love it and feel great in it, get rid of it!

Do you have duplicates of the same or similar items?

Keep your favourite(s) and get rid of the duplicates!

Would you buy the item again? Would you pay full price?

Sometimes the idea of getting a bargain makes you want clothes to work more than they actually do.

Does it suit your preferences and lifestyle?

Do you have frequent occasions to wear the item in your day to day life? Are you willing to take care of higher maintenance items, like dry clean only pieces?

Work quickly, trust your gut & be ruthless

Evaluate each item one at a time. Nothing should be allowed back into your wardrobe without earning its place.

But as you evaluate each item, work quickly and trust your gut. Your first instinct about an item is usually right. Don’t let yourself talk yourself into keeping something because it was a gift, expensive, “should be something you keep”, etc.

Be as ruthless as possible when you declutter your clothes. The more clutter you get rid of, the more benefits of a simplified wardrobe you’ll enjoy.

6. Use a maybe box for the items you’re really struggling with

If there are items you’re really struggling with deciding whether to keep them or not, try using a “maybe box”.

Here’s how a maybe box works. Put items you’re struggling to get rid of in a box, seal it and put it somewhere out of sight. Then, put a reminder in your calendar for 1 to 3 months in the future.

During that time, see if you miss, need or even think about anything in the maybe box. When you get the reminder, donate the box and know you didn’t need and won’t miss those items.

A maybe box is like a decluttering safety net, letting you be more ruthless with your decluttering decisions, without being afraid you’ll regret letting something go.

Sometimes a little time and space away from your clothes help you discover if you really love something or not!

7. Organize what you’ve decided to keep in your wardrobe

Now that you have downsized your wardrobe and cleared the clutter, it’s finally time to get organized.

It’s important to remember that trying to organize your wardrobe before you declutter your clothes will never work to keep your closet organized. You’ll end up wasting time, energy & likely money because you’ll be organizing clutter.

Instead, get rid of what you don’t love or wear first. Then organize the things you do love and wear that are left. As a bonus, it’ll be a lot easier to get organized – and stay that way – when you have less stuff!

8. Maintaining your newly downsized wardrobe

Now that you have downsized your wardrobe and decluttered your clothes, there are a few simple ways to keep it that way.

Re-evaluate your wardrobe frequently

Aim to only keep the items you wear and love. Keep a donation box or bag in your closet to make it easy to remove items you want to get rid of.

Pay attention to what you’re wearing and what’s not being worn

Pay attention to the clothes in your wardrobe and how often you’re wearing each item. If you’re not wearing an item often, it may be time to let it go.

Easy ways to do this are paying attention to what’s always left hanging in your closet on laundry day. This helps you spot items you rarely choose to wear.

You can also try turning your hangers backwards, and flipping them the right way after you wear an item to help you identify items you aren’t wearing.

Buy fewer clothes!

The best way to keep your wardrobe simplified after decluttering it is by being intentional about what you add to your wardrobe and buying fewer clothes overall.

Make sure any items you’re adding are well thought out so they will be something you will wear often.

You can also keep your wardrobe simplified by using the “one in one out rule”. Every time you add a new item, remove an old item to keep your wardrobe from growing.

Downsize your wardrobe & declutter clothes

I hope these steps help you learn how to downsize your wardrobe and declutter clothes in a way that is simple, effective and as painless as possible!

Clear the clutter from your closet and start enjoying the benefits of a simplified wardrobe today!

How to downsize your wardrobe & declutter clothes
Photo by Alyssa Strohmann on Unsplash

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7 Comments

  1. When I worked, I was required to wear black pants and a collared white shirt every day. After I left that job, I donated everything that wasn’t stained or that I would not wear myself to a shelter.
    Now I am editing my wardrobe as to what I want to wear now. I have an assortment of pants and tops that mix and match, and very few dresses. This suits my current lifestyle.
    I went through my shoes and donated those pairs that I had not worn in quite some time. that freed up spack for the pairs I still wear.

    1. That’s great Karen! Good for you. And that’s what it’s all about – creating a wardrobe that works for you and your lifestyle in the season of life you’re in right now. Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing your experiences!

  2. When I worked, I was required to wear black pants and a collared white shirt every day. After I left that job, I donated everything that wasn’t stained or that I would not wear myself to a shelter.
    Now I am editing my wardrobe as to what I want to wear now. I have an assortment of pants and tops that mix and match, and very few dresses. This suits my current lifestyle.
    I went through my shoes and donated those pairs that I had not worn in quite some time. that freed up spack for the pairs I still wear.

  3. I’ve been working on decluttering my wardrobe assessing what I won’t wear again and donating beautiful clothes to charity. I use the 1 in 1 out approach also. It is very freeing! Thanks for the tips!

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