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How to Declutter Your Closet for Good and Organize Anything

I'm fresh off the heels of Betsy's closet declutter so everything I want to say about decluttering your closet for good is still on my mind. And hopefully in a way that helps you do this big project just one time and not have to make it a constant battle. The key, of course, is not bringing in more things that would end up clutter in a couple months.


How to Declutter Your Closet

Track Favorites and Least Favorites

So how can you make smart purchases in the future? By knowing what you like and don't like, which you won't if you don't pay real attention during the declutter process.

Start by opening your closet and pulling out the easy favorites. Things you know you love and wear all the time and couldn't dream of parting with. Not the same thing as the stuff you wear all the time because you have no other options. Just the things you truly adore.

Then, pull out the easy declutters. I'm sure you know without even opening the door which items have been hanging out that you think of decluttering every single time you see them. The 'easy wins' you start with when you tackle any declutter project. But before you chuck them into the donate pile, track these things too. What do you not like about it? The fit, color, fabric, neckline, hemline, sleeves, etc? Write it down.

It'll be very eye-opening to see just how many reasons your likes and dislikes have in common. And to see how much you really don't wear. As you gather those favorite items, it can be helpful to start to define your personal style, or what you'd like it to be. This can include how you want to feel in your clothes, the styles you're drawn to, and any elements you want to see more of in your closet.

Ask These Questions

Does it fit? I know Marie Kondo says that 'does it spark joy' is the only and therefore most important question, but I think 'does it fit' is much more informative, especially if you already did the tracking exercise above. Keeping stuff that doesn't fit just makes you uncomfortable and sad. Every item should fit at every part of your body, including when you're sitting down, walking, bending over, etc. What's the point of keeping an item if you have to constantly be thinking about it and adjusting it while you're wearing it?

Would you buy it again? We're all guilty of keeping things just because, well, they're already there. But if you want to curate a minimalist closet you love, there's no room for these kinds of items. So if you wouldn't buy it again at full price if you saw it on a store shelf tomorrow, it's a declutter.

When can you wear it? Now, this is a bit tricky since options are limited in our current environment, but keep in mind when you can wear an item. Our lives change, and we just might not live the lifestyle any more than requires tons of formal dresses or office clothes. Sure, you may want to keep one or two nice dresses for weddings, but do you need 12? Probably not. No need to keep a wardrobe of 80% loungewear when your actual life is 80% business casual office, and vice versa.

Are you willing to take proper care of it? I don't dry clean. Life rule. I have no patience for it so if an item is truly dry clean only, I will not buy it. Will you dry clean? Hand wash? Hang to dry, iron, remove pills on sweaters, etc? If you're not willing to do all the proper care steps that something needs, declutter it.

Why did you buy it? A lot of people shop emotionally, especially for clothing. Did you buy it to make yourself feel better? Does it have negative emotions attached to it? Let it go. We're also guilty of 'fantasy self' shopping. Buying an item because some fantasy version of ourselves would wear it - matching yoga outfits or three piece suits or ballgowns. Or something two sizes too small. But that's not your current self or one you ever will be. Let them all go.

How do you feel when you wear it? Fabulous should be the only reaction. Comfortable and fabulous is an option too but if you feel anything less than your best in a piece of clothing, get rid of it. Trust me, you will find a whole wardrobe of fabulous items once you shop with intention and let go of anything less than the best.

Moving Forward

If you want to ensure you don't have to do this big declutter project ever again, go back to the lists you made of favorites and least favorites. Those common threads? Memorize them, or at least reference them before you do any clothes shopping ever again. When you know what you're looking for and what you're unwilling to accept, it becomes significantly easier to find the right pieces. And as always, I recommend letting your closet and lifestyle dictate what you need to acquire, not a store window or a magazine.

How to Organize Anything

I love organizing and I love reading about organizing. There's so many great books and blogs and different systems to check out. But it's only fun when you already love and understand the topic. Otherwise, it's an overwhelming area.

The KonMari method is hugely popular, and for good reason - it works. It also gives you a nice framework of questions to ask yourself while sorting items when you really don't know what to keep.

But I prefer to keep it as simple as possible. There's just three steps in my strategy: inventory, separate, and put away.

Inventory

When taking inventory, you're just getting all of your items into one large pile. This works for an entire bedroom, a set of things like your wardrobe, or just a single junk drawer. As long as it's just your stuff, never make judgments for someone else's items.

Separate

This is very subjective, but just start separating the items into distinct piles. I recommend having a trash can next to you as well as a box or bag for donations/give away/items to be sold. You want to make order out of what's right in front of you. So for the items you're really thinking about and deciding to keep, just group them into piles of like items. As you do so, really think about where these things are going to go. 

Put Away

And the final step after you have all your separated piles of like items is putting everything away. Just because you got these items out of a certain location doesn't mean they need to go back there. Create storage space where it makes sense and just be certain that every item has a proper place. This is why I don't believe in junk drawers - don't keep junk. You can have a drawer where you put away pens, post it notes, and the tape measure, but it's by no means a junk drawer. Be intentional when putting items away and you'll have less work to do in the future!


That's it. The system really does work for any area in your home because it's boiled down to the simplest components.


I know normally at this point I would show off my own minimalist wardrobe but it's not ready. It's actually too minimalist, because I lost weight and nothing fits outside of like 3 things. But I'm not buying new clothes until I hit my goal weight and let's be honest, I'm not going anywhere anyway so I don't even need more than 3 things. But I will share it as I rebuild! I'll have another post on building a minimalist wardrobe in general and then once I start shopping around for my own pieces, I'll keep you updated.

Are you working on your closet this spring? Share your decluttering and organizing tips in the comments.

declutter closet