12 Reasons We Keep Clothes We Don’t Wear and How to Move Past Them

12 Reasons We Keep Clothes We Don't Wear & How to Move Past Them

In last week’s post, I told you about my best trick to purge your closet, plus 6 questions to help you purge and create a wardrobe you love. However, a lot of us, myself included, have a hard time letting go of some of our clothes, even though we no longer love or wear them. So I started looking at the reasons why we keep clothes we don’t wear anymore.

I realized there are some common reasons why we keep clothes we don’t wear anymore. I think a lot of people face these common stumbling blocks when trying to purge their closet. They can make it difficult to let go of what you no longer love and wear and create a minimalist wardrobe you love.

Understanding why it’s hard to let go of clothes you no longer wear is the first step. Once we understand what’s making us want to keep clothes we don’t wear, it’s easier to move past these mental blocks and effectively purge our closets.

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Why we keep clothes we don’t wear and how to move past them:

12 Reasons We Keep Clothes We Don't Wear & How to Move Past Them
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

1. The item is new or barely worn and you feel guilty about wasting money on it.

Sometimes you buy something you think you’ll love and wear, but it just doesn’t work for you. Maybe it shrank or lost its shape in the wash. Or it doesn’t match with anything else in your closet. Maybe you bought something trendy, but never feel comfortable in it. Or you wanted something new but settled for something that was just ok, rather than waiting to find something you love.

Whatever the reason, it’s in your closet but you aren’t wearing it. It’s time to let it go, the money is already spent. Keeping it in your closet will not get the money back. In fact, keeping it will only prolong your negative feelings, making you feel guilty every time you see it. If it’s not something that you love, you are never going to wear it anyways. It’s just taking up space in your closet. Let the item go. Use it as a lesson for how to make better choices when shopping in the future.

2. It’s something you are “supposed” to have in your wardrobe.

Sometimes we allow ourselves to be restricted to someone else’s rules. Maybe you’ve heard there are certain classic wardrobe staples everyone should own, like a little black dress. But when you try on your classic black dress, you realize it actually doesn’t fit quite right. Don’t keep something that doesn’t look and feel great just because it’s a classic staple you should have. If you don’t love the way it looks and feels, you won’t wear it anyways.

Your wardrobe should reflect your lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to make your own rules. If you don’t need or want a little black dress, let it go. If having a little black dress fits your taste and lifestyle, but you don’t love or wear the one you have, let it go. Then shop thoughtfully for a new one. Take your time to find a replacement that really suits your body and needs.

Another example of following someone else’s rules is with color. I like to wear a lot of dark neutrals like black, navy and grey. But I had it in my head that wearing mostly neutral, dark colors is against the rules and you should include brighter colors or patterns. But I realized I don’t actually LIKE wearing bright colors or bold patterns.

Let go of trying to follow someone else’s rules and figure out what works for your body, preferences and lifestyle. That’s how you’ll end up with a wardrobe you love!

3. You tried a new trend, but it doesn’t work for your body or life or is already out of style.

Maybe you bought something trendy to update your wardrobe, but the item isn’t working for your body or life, so you never or rarely wear it. Or the trend quickly passed and it’s already out of style.

Try to figure out what your signature style is, meaning the types of clothes you look and feel best in. Think about your favourite kinds of outfits, or your go-to outfit choice when you want to look and feel great. For me, I feel best in skinny jeans, a longer loose-fitting top, a cardigan and a pretty necklace or scarf to finish it off. That’s my signature style.

Once you figure this out, it’s easier to resist trendy items and stick with what works best for your body and life. Let any trendy stuff go that’s no longer working for you, it’s just taking up space. Figure out your signature style and shop for those kinds of items when adding to your wardrobe.

4. Your weight has changed and you have clothes in multiple sizes

I think you should only keep clothes in your closet that fit you right now. Having clothes in sizes that don’t currently fit, adds to the visual clutter in your closet and makes deciding what to wear more difficult. Plus, if your weight change is not something you are happy about, seeing clothes that no longer fit can cause negative feelings.

If you want to keep some clothes in different sizes than you are wearing right now, I recommend being VERY selective about what you keep. Only keep the items that you absolutely LOVE and would feel excited to wear again. Rather than storing them with your current wardrobe, box them up and put them out of sight. Or keep them in a spare closet if you have one.

For example, if you’re planning to lose weight, you’ll probably want to treat yourself to a few new items to celebrate when you do. Only store the items you currently own that you absolutely love, and then add a few new pieces as needed.

The great thing about a minimalist wardrobe is that you don’t need many pieces to have a complete wardrobe. You can easily have a versatile wardrobe with 30 pieces or less. By saving only the pieces you love and adding in a few new pieces if your weight changes in the future, you’ll still have a functional capsule wardrobe without storing boxes and boxes of clothing in various sizes.

5. You’re keeping an item for a certain type of event or occasion.

Sometimes you have an item you rarely wear but are keeping “just in case” a certain occasion arises. Instead of keeping something you rarely have occasion to wear, try to think of alternatives you own that you could wear for that occasion, but also wear other times. Versatile pieces are essential to a minimal wardrobe.

For example, I had a few dresses that I only wore when we were on a tropical vacation. Because of the style or cut of them, I didn’t usually wear them at other times. I also had a few dresses and skirts that I could wear regularly and also wear on a tropical vacation. I realized I only need to keep the ones that I could wear for more than one occasion.

Try to limit the things you keep in your wardrobe that are very specific to one event or occasion. Keep things that are versatile enough to work for a variety of different occasions in your life.

6. You’re keeping an item “just in case” or as a back-up.

My thought process was something like “What if I can’t do laundry for 45 days in a row? Shouldn’t I make sure I have enough clothes so I can wear something new for all 45 days?!” In reality, I do some kind of laundry almost every day. And if we ever are without laundry for more time than usual (away on holidays, our washing machine breaks down, etc.) even if I only had 7 shirts, I could wear each one twice and be decently clothed for two weeks.

Another thing I often found myself doing was overstocking. I thought “if I like to wear black t-shirts I better make sure I have 10 so I always have one available!” Again I reminded myself that I can do laundry and have an item clean again very easily.

12 Reasons We Keep Clothes We Don't Wear & How to Move Past Them
Photo from Max Pixel

Sometimes rationally thinking through these “what-if” scenarios was all I needed to do to let go of this scarcity mindset. Think about what you actually need and wear in your wardrobe. Chances are you don’t need as much as you think.

7. You don’t have anything to match or wear with an item.

Sometimes you buy something you like, but for some reason, it doesn’t work with the rest of your wardrobe. You try to convince yourself that the item will work…as soon as you find the right pants/bra/sweater/scarf/accessories/whatever.

The key to a smaller, but more loved and useful wardrobe is the ability to mix and match the pieces. Keep things that you can wear in lots of ways, with lots of other things you own. If an item is already causing you trouble because you don’t have the right pieces to make it work, that’s a sign it’s not a good fit for your lifestyle or your wardrobe. Time to let it go. Stick with pieces that easily work with the rest of your wardrobe.

8. Some things look and feel good, but you’re tired of wearing them.

Sometimes you have things that still look and feel good on, but you’re tired of wearing them. This can even happen with things that used to be your favourites. You used to wear an item often, but now find yourself tired of it and not wearing it anymore.

When this happens, it’s ok. You got your use out of the item, now let it go and let someone else love wearing it.

9. You know you don’t wear an item, but you are having a really hard time letting it go.

These items can be tricky. Sometimes the best way around this situation is to make a “maybe box”. Put anything you are having a hard time letting go of in a box. Seal the box and mark it with a date in the future, maybe 2 or 3 months from now. Put a reminder in your phone for that date. If you haven’t thought about or wanted any of the items from the box when the reminder goes, donate the box.

Having a “maybe box” gives you a safety net if you’re worried about purging too ruthlessly and then regretting your decisions.

I often use a “maybe box” when I’m having a hard time letting something go. I have even retrieved a few items from my “maybe box” on occasion. However, each and everything I’ve brought back from the “maybe box” was always donated shortly after. There was always something that made it go in the “maybe box” to begin with.

Trust your instincts when deciding what to keep or get rid of. But if there are a few items that you’re struggling with, try creating a “maybe box” to take the pressure off yourself. It can ease the fear of regretting any of your purging decisions and let you be bolder with what you are willing to try living without.

10. Something was a gift and you feel guilty getting rid of it.

Remind yourself that whoever gave you the gift gave it to you to make you happy. They wouldn’t want it to be making you feel bad or guilty now. The gift was given, you appreciated it and thanked the giver. What you do with the item now is up to you. If it no longer makes you look and feel great, it’s time to let it go.

11. It’s something that holds sentimental value and is hard to let go.

Be intentional and selective with what you keep for sentimental reasons. Maybe set a limit for how many sentimental items you will keep. Only keep the things that are really important to you.

There are lots of creative ideas you can do with sentimental clothing. There are t-shirt quilts, framing a small piece of the fabric, transforming a special item into a pillow cover, taking a picture of the item or you wearing the item, etc. If you’re really struggling with too many sentimental items, this might be a way to honour the memory without taking up space in your closet. Just be selective with these ideas too. You don’t want to transfer sentimental clutter from your closet to unfinished projects in your craft room or décor items that add clutter to your home.

12. It’s something you’d wear in your past or future lifestyle

The clothes in your closet should reflect your lifestyle NOW. If your lifestyle is different from what it was 5 or 10 years ago, let go of the clothes from your past lifestyle. The same goes for the future. Don’t fill your closet with things in anticipation of a future lifestyle you want to live. Unless there are concrete plans for what you’ll need and when you’ll need it, make your wardrobe a reflection of your current lifestyle, not one that may or may not occur at some time in the future.

Think about your life, right now. How do you spend your time? What types of clothing do you need for those activities? Keep the clothes that work for your life, right now. Be realistic about what you actually need in your wardrobe and get rid of the things that don’t fit with your lifestyle.

 

If you’re having a hard time letting go of clothes you no longer wear or love, I hope this list helps you make some progress purging your wardrobe. Often once you’ve identified the reason why you’re struggling get rid of something, letting it go becomes easier. Check out this post to learn more about the best trick to ruthlessly purge your closet, plus 6 questions to help you create a wardrobe you love.

These are some common reasons we keep clothes we don’t wear. Do you find yourself struggling with any of them? What holds you back from getting rid of clothes you know you don’t love or wear? What has been your biggest struggle when it comes to purging your clothes? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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96 Comments

  1. Ok I totally needed this!! I’m always going through my wardrobe to clear it out but always seem to keep things I don’t need! I’m definitely guilty of keeping gifts because I’d feel bad getting rid of them. Thanks for such a great post. 🙂

    1. Thanks Sarah! Letting go of clothes can be tricky sometimes, I totally understand! Sometimes once we understand WHY it’s hard to let them go, it makes it easier to let go. Thanks for reading, I’m glad you found it helpful!

    2. I accumulate a lot and give away a lot and after my husband died I didn’t want anything so gave too much away I regretted later and had to re-buy a lot of the things I got rid of so now I feel more cautious to part with things in case I can’t get over the regret. But I also re-cycle unwanted gifts I don’t use and I don’t feel guilty about this because my mindset is that that it is given to benefit others.

      1. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. I agree that you need to find a balance in decluttering that works for you. It can definitely take some trial and error. I like the idea of focusing on the benefit you can give to others by getting rid of unwanted and unused items. That’s a great perspective! Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights, and thanks for reading 🙂

        1. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter. You have my most heartfelt sympathy. Giving away things that belonged to a loved one who has died is very difficult and I’m sorry you are regretting giving away her things. Thank you for reading and please take care <3

  2. It is great to hear more and more bloggers/writers/influencers referring to the “why”. We do need to clear that up first, before we start unnecessarily acquiring more stuff, clothes and books at the top of the list. Great tips!

  3. The multiple sizes of clothing is so true! One of the ladies I go to the gym with is down to a size 8 from a size 20 (massive yay’s for her!). And she still has 2 size 20 outfits in her closet. She can’t tell you why she has them. The closest we’ve all come up with is that they’re a reminder to not let herself get that big again.

    1. Wow, good for your friend, that’s amazing! If you’re weight is fluctuating it’s easy to hang on to clothes in different sizes, even if you don’t mean to! I think it’s important to be intentional and take out anything that no longer fits before you add new clothes in a different size.

      In your friend’s case though, if keeping a couple of things to remind her how far she has come and to keep her motivated it maintain a healthier weight, I think that’s great! Even though she no longer wears those items, they are serving a purpose to keep her motivated. As long as they are a positive reminder for her and it’s only a couple of things, if it works for her, that’s great! Thanks for reading and for sharing 🙂

    1. Yes, those are tricky ones and I think a lot of us hang on to clothes for those reasons! Sometimes acknowledging WHY you’re keeping stuff you no longer wear is enough to give yourself permission to let them go. Thanks for reading, I’m glad you found it helpful!

  4. Haha. I totally related to this today. Ive been putting this off for months. I finally sorted everything the other day with the intention of getting rid, but theyve ended up back in my bed draw 😂 Ive done exactly the same with my little boys clothes that hes outgrowing. I cant bring myself to get rid of his baby clothes!! 😒

    1. Yes, even with the best of intentions some of these roadblocks can make it really difficult to let things go! Hopefully recognizing WHY you’re having a hard time letting things go will make it easier to actually give yourself permission to get rid of some things. Thanks for reading!

    1. Yes, those things can be hard to let go of for sure! Just remember that the money has already been spent, if you’re not wearing it, it’s just adding clutter to your closet and making you feel guilty about not wearing an expensive item. It can be hard to let go in the moment, but it feels so much better once it’s gone! Thanks for reading! 🙂

  5. My biggest problem is I have gained weight and they don’t fit….but….of corse I think I will get into them again. NOT

    1. Weight changes can certainly make things challenging. I think it’s best to only keep the clothes that fit you RIGHT NOW in your closet. You can store your favorite items in different sizes for when/if you need them again. But that way you feel good knowing everything in your closet looks and feels great on you. Thanks for reading!

  6. One of the smartest approaches to a common problem I’ve read recently. You’ve helped me think of everything that is sensible when I approach hangups that keep my closet too stuffed. Job well done. Thanks.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Liz! I really appreciate it! I’m so glad to hear this post helped you. I hope it will make it easier to let go of things you don’t love or wear in your closet. Thanks for reading and thanks again for your support!

  7. I’ve been purging my dressing room, lots of clothing for occasions- yoga, gym, cruising, evening, shopping, house and garden clothes etc… Literally bags of clothes gone, not replacing them but still more to purge – the ‘hard’ things, thats where your brilliant article will help. The reasons why we keep things- how obvious but have not read this before and it makes perfect sense. Am looking forward to revisiting my clothing armed with your 12 reasons! Thankyou Melissa for writing this inspirational and commonsense approach to minimising a lifelong accumulation of clothing clutter.
    P

    1. Wow, that’s awesome Linda! Good for you!! I’m so glad you found my article helpful. You’re totally right, clothes have a funny way of accumulating and it can be tricky to let some of the “hard” ones go. Sometimes once we figure out WHY we are keeping things, it’s makes it easier to let them go. Thanks for reading and sharing your progress. I’m so happy I was able to help and inspire you!

  8. I read this article this morning and got rid of quite a few cloths in my closet. I’m sure if I did a second round I’d find more stuff to depart from!
    Thank you for the insdpiration!!!

    1. Thanks Megan. Good for you for letting go of more than half your wardrobe, that’s awesome! What prompted you to do your big declutter? I’m always interested to hear what inspires people to take the plunge! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who had too many back up items! 😉 Thanks for reading 🙂

  9. I have done 3 separate Konmari passes. Each time I find more that just don’t spark joy. The amount is smaller but still more to cull. I’m at the point that everything I have sparks joy in the sense that it fits, looks, good, great shape BUT…I have so many in that category that the volume is not sparking joy.
    Ex: I have 4 pairs of knee high boots, 2 pairs of Uggs (old comfy for heavy snow and new cute shoe boot comfy cuteness). I have 11 pairs of short boots all colors and good brands (Born, Frye, Ralph Lauren) hiking boots, water shoes, flip flop TEVA, Keens, 2 running, gym show, several Keds 4 Sandels. Over all near 40 pairs of shoes. I tend to wear my cognac Frye and black combat boots the most. Should I just cut the number in half just to get the number down. I’m heading towards ‘cozy minimalism’ and think 40’pairs of foot wear is too much. Today was the first day all winter that I wore the tall gray boots.

    My question is do you get rid of nice well fitting items for the sake of reducing volume?

    1. This is such a good question Susan, and a really tricky part of decluttering. It can be hard to decide what to do with things that look and feel good, but you just have too many. I think when you say the volume you have left is not sparking joy, that’s your answer. All the “stuff” we have in our homes and closets adds weight to our lives. Even if it’s neatly organized and out of sight, it’s still there and weighing on our mind.

      If the amount of clothing and shoes you have in your closet is causing you stress, or even just not bringing you joy, I think it would be worth it to try to reduce it further. You could even try boxing some of it up and storing it somewhere outside of your closet. Set a reminder for yourself for a few months in the future. If you haven’t needed, wanted, or even thought about the things in the box you could donate them and feel confident that you won’t miss them. This would be a great thing to try with your shoes. Box up half of them and store them somewhere with a reminder to revisit them in 3 months. See if having fewer items makes you feel happier and more at peace with your closet in the meantime. If at the end of 3 months, you haven’t needed or wanted the shoes, get rid of them!

      It can be really hard to get rid of things that are in great condition and fit you well, but if you’re not wearing them often anyways, they are just adding clutter to your closet. Keep the things you love and wear often. I hope this helps. I’d love to hear an update about what you decide to do and how it goes! Thanks for reading 🙂

    2. Susan, I’ve got more shoes than I’ll ever NEED, but I’ve also got a ton of shoes that I love and wear, even if it’s just several times a year. And I wear them all at some point. If you purchase good items that are not trendy, enjoy your shoes as long as you want. No rules. It’s your closet. I’ve got shoes that make me happy to wear and are decades old. One thing that helped me stop being overwhelmed with the amount of shoes is that they’re all in dollar store plastic boxes, stacked neatly and labeled so that I know exactly what I’ve got. Sometimes I find that organized cures the stress of numbers. One can un-clutter successfully and happily without being a minimalist or molding into someone else’s idea of what they should own.

      1. Yes, I completely agree Peggy! It’s very important to find the amount of stuff that feels right to you. Your version of minimalism doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s because you get to decide what works for you and what is too much. I think finding that balance is such an important part of minimalism. Deciding what “enough” is for you and your life is the key. Thanks for reading and sharing your insights!

        1. I know this is an older post/comment but I agree that it’s finding what works for you. I can live with fairly little clothing (I tend to wear the same kind of look most days), but don’t try and pry my shoes or scarves away from me! They’re what make me feel happy and what put my outfits together in ways that look different. I know my wardrobe will always have more accessories than clothes, but that’s my happy balance 🙂

          1. Yes, you’re exactly right Ali! The most important part of creating a wardrobe you love is figuring out what works for you. Rather than trying to follow someone else’s wardrobe rules or what works for someone else. I love that you’ve figured out what you like and need to feel happy with your wardrobe and have found balance. That’s awesome! You’re right – balance is key! Thanks for reading and sharing your insights!

      2. Good tip. I tried this and it works. Especially if you are finding it hard to part with them. Nine times out of ten you will not put them back in your wardrobe/closet. Here in the U.K when Grenfell Tower burned down. People took clothes out of their closet and ran to the centre to give them to those who needed them. Did they stop to think. NO. There was a greater need. Another tip is to have possessions but not to allow them to possess you. This is when it becomes hard to let go of clutter. I am practising detaching myself from what I own. It then becomes easier.

        1. That’s a great point, Doreen, thinking about others who need your unworn clothes more than you do is a great motivator to let go. So is working towards becoming less attached to the things you own. Thanks for reading and sharing your insights, you shared a lot of value!

  10. Great post, I’m going to have another go at purging this Easter weekend. I often go to de-clutter my wardrobe and end up only getting rid of one or 2 items! my wardrobe is bursting at the seams! One thing I’m trying is that I’ve put all the hangers one way and then change it the other way if I’ve worn it. Those that have not changed after 6 months are going! I did this in January and there are still so many things I’ve not worn. This post has definitely helped! Thank-you 🙂

    1. Turning your hangers around is an awesome way to see what you actually wear on a regular basis. I’m glad the post has helped as well! I find letting go of clothes can be a tricky thing for a lot of us. Good luck as you do another purge this weekend, I’d love to hear how it goes! Thanks for reading 🙂

  11. I find it helpful to think of people that WOULD wear and enjoy the clothes that I don’t. Lots of thrift stores are thrilled to get stylish clothing, and many put the proceeds directly back into the community. It always makes me feel good to drop off a trunk-full of unneeded clothing, and they can usually give you a receipt to use as a tax deduction! It’s a win-win for all parties!😊

    1. That’s such a great mindset Dawn! It does make it easier to let go of clothes you aren’t wearing when you think about the people who will benefit from them. Thanks for reading and for sharing your excellent advice!

  12. Your list inspires me to further declutter my wardrobe. The comment about clothing for the present so valid. That’s my weak spot – forget I no longer need business type outfits. Thank you.

    1. That’s great Cynthia! I’m glad you found it helpful! It took me a long time to let go of my work clothes as well. Not only had I invested a lot of money in building that area of my wardrobe while I was working outside the home, but it also required some mental letting go of that part of my life. Thanks for reading!

  13. I would have one more category: I love this item and don’t want to wear it in case it gets ruined. I have many items I love, but rarely wear because they are “too special” or “too nice.” My life revolves around going to a job where I might be outside loading boxes to inside the office in airconditioning answering emails and so I dress to lower common denominator never quite feeling “put together” but then again never wanting to look overdressed. As a minimalist, I don’t want to purchase new things only to find they don’t fit my lifestyle but I have yet to find a look or style that works for tropical weather/indoor/outdoor/professional mostly male workplace. (I am the a rare female missionary bush pilot.)

    1. Wow, what an interesting career! That is another good reason why clothes sit unworn. My philosophy is to wear my favourite items and enjoy them. If they get wrecked or damaged, I’ll be sad, but at least I got a chance to wear and enjoy them. If you aren’t wanting to do this, perhaps another solution would be to put together a work clothes capsule wardrobe, with pieces carefully selected to work for you job and make you feel good as well. And wear your nicer clothes during your off time. It may take some thinking, planning and searching, to find items that will meet your requirements, but it’s an idea! Good luck as you figure out what will work for you. Thanks for reading and for sharing!

  14. Thank you so much for this article. It is sPring (August ) in Zimbabwe, I am putting all my winter clothes away, and pulling the summer clothes out . You have really nailed it . I am guilty of all of these …….you made today so much simpler. I feel so much lighter.

    1. I’m so glad you found the post helpful Andrea! Sometimes once we realize why we’re struggling to let go of clothes, that’s all we need to be able to let them go. Thanks for reading, I’m glad to hear it helped you!

  15. I realise now that I work and have a uniform I need fewer clothes. Last week I went shopping with friends and didn’t buy anything for myself. I was proud of myself. Last year I had finally decided I’d accept my weight and bought a lot of nice clothes that fit. After seeing photos I started a diet that has worked. I’m down 2 sizes…so the past year I have had a few closet clean outs. The nicest things are in the attic. I’m scared I’ll gain weight again and have nothing,

    1. Good for you Lara, it sounds like you are becoming very intentional about your wardrobe. And good for you also about your weight loss, that’s great. I hope you continue to enjoy your carefully selected wardrobe. Thanks for reading!

  16. I never really comment on blogs, but this is the best post I’ve read since I started becoming minimalist 😉
    I can´t wait to go home and let go of these pieces that are hanging in my closet because I might wear them next summer…
    Thanks Sara!

    1. Wow, thank you Julie! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the post and found it helpful. I’m glad to hear it inspired you to continue decluttering your wardrobe. Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts!

  17. I think my biggest issue in cleaning out is that right now I don’t have the financial ability to replace. Probably 75% of my closet, I never wear, but if I get rid of that much, I feel as though I’ll have nothing. It’s a very strange feeling!

    1. I think a lot of the time we hang out to things out of the feeling of security they give us. Even though you don’t wear them, you still feel safer knowing they are there. That’s a tricky situation for sure! One thing I suggest is moving the clothes you aren’t wearing to another closet or even boxing them up and putting them away. That way you haven’t got rid of them, but you might also see that you really don’t need them after all. Sometimes we need far fewer clothes than we think we do, it’s just hard to take the leap and try it. I know it was for me! Just something to think about! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

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  19. Very helpful post. I have more clothes then i can possibly wear but a hard time letting go. Its hard to throw out torn and tattered when my job is such that everything gets ruined so i only wear the bad clothes to work. Save the nice stuff for special occasions or when going out. Except i do neither so that stuff never gets worn. And 14 yrs later I’m still the same size i was in HS so I’ve still got all those clothes too.

    1. I’m glad you found the post helpful Brittany. It might be helpful for your to have a work capsule with clothes you don’t mind if they are ruined at work. And then a non-work capsule with clothes you wear when you’re not working that you narrow down to your favourite items. Clothes can be tricky to declutter for sure. I’m glad you found the post helpful. Thanks for reading 🙂

  20. Oh my gosh do I ever need this article right at this very moment in time!! I spent the last 2 days going through my closet taking a photo of every item to post in an app to help me create outfits. I’m already at 117 “tops”, 30 “bottoms” and 32 “dresses”. And I haven’t even gotten to my tshirts, shorts, purses, outerwear, athletic wear, etc that aren’t in my closet. I thought I would pull out more items to donate/toss but instead I found things I wanted to keep or had forgotten I bought. I’m in a period of dieting (dropped a size over last week) so I was happy to find stuff that I’ve not been able to fit into for a long while (mostly jeans). I still fit in most of the “larger” stuff too and some of it is among my favorites. But there is a ton of stuff that I can now see the possibilities since I’ve been looking at outfits and how to put them together, I am having trouble letting go of them. I can’t “LOVE” all of these items so I need to just bite the bullet and start pulling out those things I’ve not worn in years. I have to think of it like that unopened bottle of salad dressing that has been in the back of the fridge for a long time; it might still be good but I know I’m never going to use it and I just need to toss it.

    1. It’s so true Tammy. It often seems like we can talk ourselves into keeping just about anything if we try hard enough! If you’re hesitant to ruthlessly declutter, a great experiment to try is to take everything except the items you absolutely love out of your closet. Store everything else in a spare closet or boxed up somewhere. Come back to those items in a month or two and see if you missed any of them or wanted to wear them in that time period. Often some time and space away from our items can help clarify if we really want to keep them or not.

      I like your salad dressing analogy! It sounds like you’re already on the right track simply because you are recognizing that some things need to go. Keep at it! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

  21. I heard once that everything in your closet should be able to pair with 4 other pieces. What are your thoughts here? And, maybe more importantly, where do you start that – with the everyday essentials or with the statement pieces?

    1. I have heard of that idea as well. I think it’s a great goal to aim for when choosing what to keep in your wardrobe. I personally prefer and wear a lot of neutral items. So most of my wardrobe is quite interchangeable because of that. For me personally, I don’t like making new outfit combinations, instead tending to wear the same outfits I love on rotation. It might be boring to some, but it works for me. I can get dressed easily and quickly and know I will like what I’m wearing. However, if you’re someone who enjoys putting together different outfit combinations and having more variety in your wardrobe, I think this would be a great way to help you decide what to keep in your wardrobe. Keeping the most versatile pieces that can be worn with many other items in your closet would be a great way to ensure your clothes will give you a lot of variety without needing a lot of clothing items.

      If it was me, I would start with the everyday essential items and build a base wardrobe first. Then once I had my core wardrobe put together with my everyday essentials and basics, I would add the statement pieces in from there. Once you have your base wardrobe established, it would be easy to add a few statement pieces for variety and interest, again without needing a huge amount of clothes. I hope this helps! Thanks for reading 🙂

  22. This is truly wonderful. I have been following the one in and one out rule with clothes and footwear for sometime and it really helps. I think it should be applied to everything that comes to the house.

    1. Thanks, Shuchi! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the post. I completely agree, the one in, one out rule is such a great way to prevent clutter, for clothing and everything in our homes! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

  23. Great post! I believe I’m the second person to remark that I’ve never commented on a post before. I just downsized to a Home that’s 60% the size of my previous home. My weakness is believing that a particular item cannot be replaced – like that cool cordoroy jacket I never wear but have never found one like it again. Do you have a cure for this phobia? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jen, I’m glad this post is inspiring you to join the conversation! That’s amazing that you’ve been able to downsize so much, good for you! I think if you’re struggling to let go of things that are unique and you are worried you’ll regret getting rid of, first remind yourself that if you never wear it, it’s just taking up space in your closet but not adding any value to your life. Then, a great way to help let these kinds of items go is to box them up and put them out of sight. Add a date in your phone for a certain amount of time, say 1 to 3 months. If by that time you haven’t wanted the item (or even thought about it!) you can get rid of it knowing it wasn’t something you missed anyways. I hope this helps! Thanks for reading 🙂

  24. This was good for me to read because I still have clothes from when I was skinnier…cute cropped jeans and tops that made me feel great, younger, and in better shape. Now they just make me sad. But I feel if I give them away (and I am pretty good at donating clothes) I am giving up on ever being smaller again. Sigh…

    1. I’m glad you found it helpful Carolyn. The thing about hanging onto clothes that don’t fit anymore is they just make you feel bad everytime you see them. We should feel happy when we look at our clothes, not bad. I’d say get rid of those clothes and keep the things that make you feel great right now. I think it’s so important that our clothes make us feel great whatever size or shape we are. If you don’t have things you feel great in right now, maybe plan to slowly and carefully start adding pieces you love and make you look and feel great. Let go of the clothes that make you feel sad and let go of the negative feelings associated with them. Make room for the things you love and make you feel great! I hope this helps. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

  25. Great common sense advice!:-) I’ve become determined to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle and have been going to several consignment shops in an effort to make some money in order to ease the overwhelming guilt and fear I have of one day hitting bad times financially and not being able to afford the very type of clothes I am now purging my closet of. A lot of the items no longer fit as comfortably as they once did, and I am struggling with the idea of holding onto some of these clothes and just losing some weight if I ever hit those ‘bad times.’ 🙁

    1. Good for you Cynthia, it sounds like you’re making awesome progress! I found once I really thought through and understood why I was hanging on to clothes I didn’t wear or love, it helped to let them go. And just remember, we really don’t need a closet full of clothes to have plenty of outfit options and variety. A smaller wardrobe made up of things you love to wear and look and feel great in, will make life so much easier as compared to a closet full of clothes that no longer fit or you aren’t wearing anyways. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience. And good luck with your decluttering 🙂

  26. Hi there, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your tips and advice on decluttering and purging our wardrobes. Twice a year I sort through my wardrobe and bag up clothes, shoes, belts and handbags I no longer use and donate to charity. Some items have never been worn with the tags still attached. I used to feel guilty at the expense of not wearing a dress that cost so much yet now my view is different. If I can pass it on to someone else to make use of, that makes me happy. Also, the money made from selling the item goes back to charity. I do have one dillemma about a mink fur shawl I was given by my family from my deceased grandmother. It’s genuine and in great condition but I have no desire to wear it. Most importantly, I am sickened by the thought of a beautiful fox being killed to obtain the fur for this purpose. Can you suggest what I should do with it? I am embarrassed to have it in my wardrobe (hidden out of sight) and given my views it would not be right for me to encourage anyone else to wear it (i.e. give to charity). Any suggestions please? Thank you.

    1. Good for you Deanne. It sounds like you’re doing a great job of keeping your wardrobe in check. I love that you’ve changed your mindset and let go of the guilt. That’s wonderful!

      As far as the fur shawl goes, that is a tricky situation. I have the same way of thinking about fur as you, but in this case, I think I would lean towards donating it. Even though you feel strongly against the use of fur in clothing, it’s already done, the shawl has already been made and now it’s in your possession. To me, I think I would rather know it was being used and loved by someone else as opposed to sitting in storage or thrown in the garbage. I would rather know that since the animal was already killed for the fur, at least it’s not going to waste now and someone is using and enjoying it. I hope that makes sense! I have no experience with furs myself, and I can definitely see why this would be difficult for you. That’s just what I think would feel the best for me. I’d love to hear back from you about how you decided to handle it.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your experiences and challenges!

  27. I like collecting coats and jackets. When I lived in Oregon I had several heavy coats as well as lighter jackets. I brought all of them with me when I moved to Arizona 6 years ago. Although there is snow in the mountains of Arizona, I never go there so there really is no need for any of my heavy coats, which there are probably about 6 of them, so they have been hanging in my coat closet all this time and never been worn once while here. I need to not only purge my regular closet, but I really need to purge my coat closet!! Thank you for a great article!

    1. You’re welcome Rose, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this post! It’s funny how we hang onto things sometimes, even though we don’t use or need them. I often find once I notice and recognize what I’m holding onto but don’t actually wear, it’s easier to let them go. It sounds like you’ve got to that point too – that’s awesome. Good luck as you tackle your closet and your coat closet! Thanks for reading 🙂

  28. 1, 2 and 4 are so much me! I recently completed a major closet purge and I was surprised by how many things I was holding onto that I didn’t wear. I did my first closet purge about 5 years ago and thought I did an okay job by not letting too much in. I decided to pull everything out for spring and count how many pieces I owned, and I was blown away by how much I had. It was tough but I forced myself to sell or donate items that I wasn’t wearing anymore. Thanks for sharing this great list!

    1. That’s awesome, Amy! Good for you! I think it’s surprising for most of us to see how much clothing we have when we gather it all up in one place. But seeing it all in one place is a great way to motivate ourselves to declutter too! It sounds like you did great! Good for you! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience 🙂

  29. This is absolutely the best article I’ve read on how to get rid of clothes, although I feel like it could be applied to all my stuff (like all those cookbooks people keep giving me for Christmas that I’ve never even opened?? Outta here!). I love the one about holding on to things that people say you “should” have. I feel this way about even going minimalist. I feel like I’m finally ready to say, minimalism is not for me, I like my clothes and I don’t feel particularly burdened by having more than 50 pieces in my wardrobe. There are pieces weighing me down for sure that I can get rid of, but this article finally made me realize that I can be ok with my 200 piece wardrobe if I don’t feel burdened by it. I really love this article and can’t wait to share it with my friends!!

    1. Thanks, Katy! I’m so happy you enjoyed this post and that it resonated with you! I think you’re right – these ideas really could be applied to a lot of the stuff in our homes!

      I love what you said about minimalism and I completely agree that not everyone is interested in the same version of minimalism. I think the word “minimalism” can be kind of misleading actually. Being a minimalist doesn’t require only having 50 items of clothing. It just means you get rid of the things you don’t use/wear/love and only keep the things you do use/need/love instead. However that looks for you is your version of minimalism. Lately, I’ve been moving away from using the term minimalism as much because of these preconceived notions the word carries. And instead using words like simplifying or living intentionally. Because I think that’s what it all comes down to – deciding what you value and enjoy in your home and your life, then getting rid of anything that doesn’t align with that! However that ends up looking for you is what is right for you!

      Thanks for reading and sharing your insights – you brought up so many great points!

  30. It’s hard to get rid of clothes and shoes when you live in a state that has four seasons, from coats to jackets, sweaters to tank tops, boots to sandals, etc. What are your thoughts to organizing a closet when you need so many clothes?

    1. I completely understand this! I live in central Alberta, Canada and we definitely have 4 distinct seasons (sometimes all in one week lol!). This is how I handle seasonal clothes:
      1. I only keep clothes for the current season in my closet. I keep out of season clothes and outerwear in our spare bedroom closet. This helps reduce visual clutter from out of season items in my closet.
      2. At the end of each season when I switch my clothes out, I look through everything and decide if there’s anything I didn’t wear or don’t want to keep anymore. It’s great to do this at the end of the season because then it’s still fresh in my mind what I actually wore and what I rarely wore.
      I hope this helps! Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any more questions, I’d be happy to help if I can!

  31. the way for me to get rid of clothes was i decided i wasn’t going to wear any clothes that were bad for the environment because then they must be bad for me! i got rid of almost all of my synthetic clothing, it was amazing. this season i have 3 pairs of pants and 5 sweaters for work.

    1. That’s a great way to pare down your wardrobe. I think deciding what is important to you in your wardrobe and your whole home is a great way to get clear about what you want to keep or get rid of. Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing your insights and experience. I love the way you decided what is important to you and then let that be your decluttering guide. Great work!

  32. I used to think that it makes sense to buy more of the types of items I wear all the time. But I realised I was overdoing it and I’m only ever going to wear so many striped shirts etc. I also realised this week that I’ve been hanging onto clothes I used to love and wear all the time.

    1. Yes! I used to do the same thing, I thought I needed to have back-ups to my back-up favourites! But you’re exactly right – you don’t really need that many clothes! Letting go of old favourites is hard too. But I find we do get tired of things after a while, especially if we wear them all the time. Best to let them go so someone else can enjoy them! Thanks for reading and sharing your ideas!

  33. I’m so glad that I kept reading until I got to this question. It is also my issue. I can get rid of clothes that don’t fit, are worn out, don’t suit my style, but I am left with many that do tick the right boxed and so I still feel cuttered and look at my clothes and wonder what to where – too many choices. Putting them away for a while and seeing if you miss them is a great idea. I did it with shoes, it’s only been a few weeks but haven’t missed a pair and the ones I kept are truly the ones I go to all the time and its easy!

  34. How do you deal with the fact that you don’t want all of your clothes to look the same? I know what I like and what looks good on me – I have just become a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom again after years of working – but I do like variety in my fashion…..any advice? Thanks, Kimberly

    1. For me personally, this comes down to learning to feel content with less. When I was used to having a closet full of clothes, I worried that I would get bored with fewer clothes. But the big shift for me was realizing that I was already wearing only a small selection of my clothes to begin with – even when I had a closet full of clothes. This helped me let go of the fear of having a boring wardrobe.

      Also, just because you have fewer clothes, don’t mean you can’t have variety. For example, you could make 4 seasonal capsule wardrobes and swap your clothes out seasonally. That means every 3 months you’ll have a new set of clothes, which might help give you some variety. Or you could use accessories to add variety to your wardrobe. A few scarves, pieces of jewelry, etc. can really help add a lot of variety into a basic wardrobe. Pick the things you love wearing first for your wardrobe. Then you could even add in a few extra items of clothing to add a bit more variety when mixed and matched with your favourite items.

      Focus on keeping the clothes you absolutely love. For me, only having my favourite items in my closet makes it easy to get dressed and feel good about my wardrobe because I love everything I have. When you only have your favourite items in your closet, it’s fun and easy to get dressed every day.

      I hope that helps! Thanks for reading. Let me know if you have more questions or are looking for more guidance! I’m happy to help if I can!

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