1 – Take your time
You’re gonna need time – take at least half or even a whole day for the project. You do not want to hurry and really be sure to keep and toss the right items.
2 – Create enough space and have the equipment ready
It’s best to get everything out of your closet at first, so make sure you have enough space and prepare your equipment: big bags for everything you have sorted out. I have made four piles: keep, sell, donate and recycle.
If you cannot decide if a piece goes on the sell or the donate pile, think about this: If you donated the piece to charity, would, for example, a homeless person make use of it right now? I go through the items I want to sell seasonally and donate everything that could be of use to charity.
Optional: A “to repair” pile. Sometimes, clothes and shoes are broken beyond repair and need to be thrown away, but sometimes they can be easily repaired. This rings especially true for shoes: Very often, only the sole needs to be redone and they can be worn at least for another year.
3 – Organize everything in categories
If you are starting with a really unsorted wardrobe, you might want to group similar items together first: All the shirts on one pile, all the t-shirts on another, the tops, jeans, skirts, you name it. This gives you great overview of what you have too much of and what might even be missing in your closet.
4 – Obey to the six-month rule
Easy: If you haven’t worn an item in half a year, it has to go. Exceptions are – of course – seasonal attire and evening wear. Given that most of the time we know when we have something special like a Christmas sweater or a ball-gown, these pieces can easily be stowed away into a box or another storage option.
Another exception to the rule are clothes you have an emotional attachment to. For example, I have a reasonable amount of vintage dresses that I don’t want to give away. I know I will not wear them in the near future, but I have and they make me happy. Maybe next time I am sorting through my clothes, they will have to go, but for now, I neatly folded them and put them in the box with the seasonal clothes.
5 – Be honest
Always be honest to yourself: A piece can be as beautiful as it can be, if it doesn’t fit or suit you, it has to go. Even if you have worn it within the last six months, but didn’t feel 100% comfortable, it’s better to re-sell or donate it. This can be a bit tricky for some items – so grab a good friend and decide over a glass of wine. Who knows, maybe she even wants to have one or two pieces and you can be sure to put them in good hands.
6 – Find similarities
You might have figured this out in step 3: Is there a category with an unreasonable amount of similar things? I, for example, had lots of white shirts, but didn’t wear most of the regularly. I have asked myself what makes me wear some of them more often than others and sorted them out accordingly.
What I have realized (but doesn’t have to be true for you): I used to have a lot of patterned clothing that I liked in the store but didn’t really wear once I had bought them. I got rid of most of them and now think twice before buying another piece with a (big) pattern. If you have a lot of patterned/colourful stuff that you really like but don’t wear as much, it might pay off to stock up on basics in muted colours.
7 – Re-organize and re-sort your clothes
You might want to plan ahead how you are going to organize your closet: No matter how you are going to sort your clothes, you should have an overview of what and how much you have and how to combine it. Consider where you want to put your t-shirts, if you want to hang or fold your jeans, etc. Hanging your clothes neatly saves your time ironing and makes your closet work for you in the longterm.
For me, it’s easiest to sort the clothes from light-coloured to dark. With my tees, for example, I have a superb overview ever since I have sorted them from white to black and even made a separate pile for printed and patterned t-shirts.
8 – … and repeat
It’s not done with detoxing your wardrobe once: Ideally, you repeat the above process once or twice a year. The more often you do it, the easier and faster it gets. Me, I am already at the point where I regularly sort out one or two pieces and really take the time to keep my closet tidy.
So, how does your closet look: Do you have the feeling of owning too much and really want to sort out and re-organize it? Or do you already have a really minimal wardrobe? If you have any other tips – or if my tips have helped you – I would love to read about it in the comments!