Cleaning Out Your Closet (Literally)

Darling Days

Aug 17

the darling detail

We’ve heard it a million times: So many clothes, but nothing to wear. Right?!

Clutter, excess, overabundance = words that haunted me as I grew my business as a fashion major at UT, dressing up on the daily for my job in retail at Kendra Scott HQ, and scavenging the racks of Zara for blog shoots on Sunday. There’s something about all that mess of a closet that makes your eyes glaze over and has you turning away from all of the pieces you keep on spending money on. Again it’s that “so many clothes, yet nothing to wear” syndrome.

Fast forward a year or two and I’m excited to be the one known for the cleanest closet out of all of my friends (not bragging, but kind of bragging because that’s #talent). When we look into our closets, we should feel inspired. We should have clarity into our personal style and what makes us feel good, and we should feel blessed – not overwhelmed.

After publishing this post about what I’m currently working on, I got so many requests to write a post on cleaning out your closet (literally) that it was only necessary to share with you guys how I maintain a fresh wardrobe that keeps me coming back for more. So I’m going to share with you the process that I’ve been working on in hopes of reducing excess in my wardrobe. This may not work for everyone (I have more clothes than the status quo, of course) but I do believe that it takes a rigid process to get the job done.

Step 1: Mind over matter (literally) – Prepare yourself mentally. Be ruthless. Grab a glass of wine if you need to, or a bestie (they will be honest – if you’re not).

Step 2: Focus on the present – I clean my closet by seasons and phases. In today’s case (August) – I would suggest focusing on summer and pre-fall clothes ONLY. You can then repeat this process for your fall and winter clothes when the time comes. Don’t’ rush the process, it takes time and it comes in phases.

Step 3: The questionnaire. Reach for your first piece and go! – If you get a no – let it go and stop right there. Toss it in the giveaway pile. If you get a yes, keep going through the Q’s until you reach the finish line.

Ask yourself…

  1. If I were shopping right now would I buy this?

Our styles develop and change. Sometimes we hold on to things just because we’ve seen someone else rock it well – BUT it’s time to be true to yourself and honest with your own style. This is where you are given the chance to be unique; our personalities, character, style of expression, and phases of life are always changing, and with that – your wardrobe does too!

  1. Is it comfortable?

Oftentimes clothes look good and fit well, but they’re incredibly uncomfortable – so we hang on to them for the “idea” of what-we-will-look-like in that piece. Comfort = confidence. So if you’re not comfortable – say sayonara.

  1. Have I worn this in the last 3 months?

In my mind, I’m going “oh, but I’ll for sure wear it eventually,” when I know I won’t. You can also re-word this question to: if I only had a wardrobe of 7 things, would I want to wear this piece, this week, if the occasion arose. Make to sure to be honest with yourself and make sure you’re not tempted to keep something just because there is a memory tied to it. Memories are wonderful because they last forever, but clothes don’t. Ready set: Grab that glass of wine, inhale memory (this is where you smile, reminisce, or maybe even tear up a bit about whatever cheesy moment you had in your ole LBD) and now exhale. Now try this: think of that piece of clothing perfectly fitting someone in need. And let go.

If you got a “no” in any of the last 3 steps, it’s time to say bye, Felicia. If you got a yes – hang on to it! You’re one clothing piece closer to reinventing your staple wardrobe.

Step 4: What to do with all the no’s. – This is important. If you’re not careful, the excess can also live on in your home, even if it’s not in your closet. Be sure to get it out right away before it haunts you in other ways.

  1. Give it away. To be honest – this is the most fulfilling reason to clean out your closet. Giving back to the community will always feel more purposeful than glorifying your own needs, so this is an exciting one. My family always donates to Goodwill or a church food/clothing pantry… but do your research and find a local way to stay involved by giving back to the community.
  2. If it’s designer and you want to make some cash – sell it! Poshmark is my favorite online selling platform (super easy to use), and Plato’s Closet, and Buffalo Exchange are great brick-and-mortar stores.
  3. If it’s un-commisionable and just way too old or worn out to donate – trash it! (Only if it’s *that* old) You don’t want purposeless items laying around.

What are some of your favorite tips for cleaning out your closet? Would love to hear from you below… XOXO

All images via pinterest; sources 1 / 2 / 3

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  1. Rachel

    These are such great tips! I just cleaned out my closet last week and it was the best feeling ever. I agree about donating to charity, I would much rather someone have the clothes that needs them. So true about not wanting purposeless items laying around, it just turns into clutter!!

    xo, Rachel
    A Blonde’s Moment

  2. Vanessa @ Living in Steil

    I need to go through my clothes and make some room. I definitely plan on donating a bunch of pieces. Great post!

  3. Rena

    Thanks for your tips! Honestly I think it is absolutely important to clean out the own closet regularly!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  4. Robin Paris

    Wow. Good job. I printed it out… it will be my guide this weekend as I continue my gleaning process.
    Really good stuff. I like your “Questionnaire” especially. My stuff goes to “The Sharing Center”, which raises money for ministry to homeless.

  5. Bonnie

    Thanks Jessi! Your question about -would I buy this today- totally gave me a new approach to “letting go” that will make it so much easier! Last week I took 15 pieces to the meals on wheels thrift store. Gonna try to beat that number today!

  6. Tamara

    Before every new season I do a major clear out and it’s kinda therapeutic !


    Tamara –

  7. Meghan

    I definitely purge through my closet once a year, but honestly since I have started blogging I have been buying more and more clothes. I also need to make the point to wear a few things a couple more times before I give it away. I should also look into Poshmark when it comes to selling those designer items too!

    Meghan |

  8. stylemelauren

    You’ve totally inspired me to clean out my closet! There are sooooo many pieces I have that i love because they were expensive, whatever the case may be but i just dont wear anymore. I’m really feeling the need to clean otu so thank you for the inspiration!!! xo


  9. Morgan

    My mom and I literally just had a conversation last week about me “sizing down” with my closet. I have a style blog as well and have been feeling (for lack of a better word) overwhelmed lately with all this STUFF! In the coming weeks I want to take your advice and do a massive clean out!

    How 2 Wear It []

  10. Jenni Ukkonen

    Literally THE post I needed today – I’m starting to pack to move from one country to another (with a different climate too) and I absolutely have to ruthless with the clothes I pack with me. I’m so using the questionnaire! Also, I think at least H&M is doing a good thing in (most of their) stores, where you bring a bag of old clothes you don’t need or want – they can be as used as they are, even old socks and underwear is fine – and for that you get a small gift voucher. I think they try to use the materials for something new, instead of them just piling on the garbage yards 🙂

    xx Jenni /

  11. rosie

    oh cleaning out my closet always seems to take a whole day or two . . . I am so sentimentally attached to all my clothes . . . these tips are great!

    Life is just Rosie

  12. Yana

    Awesome tips! I am definitely using these next time I clean out my closet. 🙂

  13. American Beauty

    Finally…a fresh look at a well-worn topic. Great tips, including the wine! I never thought, “would I buy this today?” nor of attacking current-season attire. Tks for the smart inspiration, Jessica. You are always simply…amazing!

  14. Marisa

    I love poshmark too! It’s amazing what you can get rid of in a weekend!

  15. SARAh M

    To add on to Step 4’s #3, instead of trashing it, here in Austin we have Simple Recycling which will do curbside pickup. If it’s too old to be wearable, they’ll process the clothing for raw materials if possible. From their site, “ All of the materials are graded and sorted locally and/or regionally based on quality and condition. The top quality materials will be resold to local thrift outlets, mid grade is exported to international markets and “unusable” items are processed for raw materials.” You could also compost clothing made from 100% natural fibers as long as you tear it up a bit before putting it in your pile ? @sustainyourshit had clothing as the weekly topic a few weeks ago. Plenty of options on how to be more sustainable, including donating stuff you don’t need or buying secondhand. Thanks for the great post!

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