6 Steps to Declutter Your Wardrobe and Curate a Closet You LOVE
Updated: Sep 22, 2022
Letting go - even of a shirt we do not even like - can be debilitating. We have to acknowledge it as a loss. Money spent. Weight we did not lose to fit into it. A gift from a friend or family member. A reflection of a size we used to wear (note that I did not write a "size we used to be" - I believe size is something we wear, not something we are).
Decluttering your wardrobe is a project. It's not going to take a few minutes. It will likely take hours to accomplish the steps laid out in this blog post, and months to curate a wardrobe you love.
Additionally, it may take months to curate a closet you love, and decluttering is the first step to creating a wardrobe you love. As long as you wear clothes in this world, curating a closet you love may be a perpetual, lifelong project. Sometimes motivation sparks when the thing we want is greater than the thing we have. Recognizing that spark and allowing it to flame can get your decluttering motivation going.
I've been curating a closet I love for two years. This "project" will go on as long as I wear clothes... so the rest of my life. But decluttering is how it began.
First thing is first. YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY. You deserve clothes that fit, clothes that you love, and clothes that make you feel happy. I am not going to preach that you need to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes to achieve this happiness.
You can find inexpensive clothes in so many brick-and-mortar stores, online shops, and in secondhand thrift stores. You can build a closet you love without spending a ton of money. If spending money on quality items that you love wearing is in your budget, then that's great, too! I love Christy Dawn dresses and save up gift cards to buy them. I splurge money on good, $150 sneakers and $60 bras, but buy $10 tee shirts from Amazon that I love the fit in my current season of life.
Check out this video: 60 Lessons from my Closet
6 Steps to Declutter Your Wardrobe
Remove every item from your closet. Pile onto your bed. If other items on your bed compete for space (for instance one half is a storage area for other things and one half is for sleeping), then clear off the entire bed for this project.
Gather all your shoes into a pile on the floor near your clothes. Besides the myth that shoes on a bed is bad luck, here are three reasons it is considered gross.
Choose ONLY your favorite items from the pile of clothes and favorites from the shoe mound on the floor. Hang the chosen favorites back into your closet and chosen favorites shoes in the place you keep shoes. You may not have chosen anything to be your favorite. Or maybe you chose only one thing or even five things. Be honest and restrict the urge to designate a "favorite" just so you have something. Favorites should be something that makes you happy, fits well, feels great, and gives you confidence wearing it.
From the remaining piles on your bed and on the floor, pull out clothes and shoes you love. They may not be your favorites but you love how they fit and feel on you. Hang the ones you love back in the closet and put your chosen shoes wherever you keep shoes.
You now have the basis for a capsule wardrobe from your favorite and loved items. Write down a shopping list for curating items in the future to complete your capsule. Do you have pants? Enough shirts?
This last step may be the hardest and most radical. Do not return the rest of the clothes to your closet. They didn’t make the cut and may be serve a purpose in someone else’s home. If you are bold and ready, donate the unselected pieces. If not, box them up and think about donating them when you are ready.
HOWEVER, MAKE STEP 6 PRACTICAL
Here’s the kicker, though. If you did not end up keeping any shirts, you‘ll need to borrow from your donation box until you have the budget and time to find shirts you love. Same with pants, shoes, dresses, etc.
Or maybe you need to shop for new yoga pants that you love before donating the old ratty ones you didn't choose as a favorite or ones you love. I was guilty of this for years. I finally found a pair of yoga pants I adore and feel amazing in from PACT and they have side pockets.
Curating a closet takes time, and doesn't necessarily need to take any more money than you would spend otherwise. Once you nail down the fabrics and fits you feel great in, shopping for those narrows your focus. You can find those at thrift stores, secondhand shops, small boutiques, and online - all within your budget.
You deserve to feel happy when you get dressed. Slowly, deliberately, and economically shop within your budget for replacement pieces. This took me about a year to curate a closet with a few essential pieces. A dress that I loved that replaced three dresses I didn't like. It took me two winter seasons to accept that I don't even like how sweaters fit or feel on me and donate all my sweaters.
Accepting that you’ve been hanging onto clothes that you do not love is a major step towards curating a wardrobe that you love.
I am not advocating you immediately run out and replace the items from your donate bin with items you think you love. In fact, I'm suggesting the opposite. Live with your favorites and the items you love and supplement from your donate box. Window shop in stores, try on clothes, and study the fabrics you chose as your favorites and that you love. Shop by fabric and brand (consider sustainable brands).
Accepting that curating a closet is a long game activity, you will find joy in shopping for clothes you love knowing that they will stay in your closet for years and years.
If you like watching wardrobe decluttering videos, this playlist may serve you up some motivation.
We want it to be easier to get dressed in the morning but the thing we have is a cluttered closet. A cluttered closet does not help our mental health. It’s filled with clothes that don’t fit or it’s filled with clothes that are not part of our color palette. It’s filled with clothes that are stained or torn and when we put them on we just don’t feel good about it. However, the motivation to do something about that can be hard to drum up. Read 13 Way to Spark Decluttering Motivation here.
But letting go - even of a shirt we do not even like - can be very difficult. We have to acknowledge it as a loss. Money spent. Weight we did not lose to fit into it. A gift from a friend or family member. There is freedom in letting go, once we learn how to do it and how the pain of letting go is greater than the joy of wearing clothes we love!
Decluttering your wardrobe is the first step to creating a closet you love. Removing items and paring down to just the items you actually want to wear is a major first step.
Next, you'll create a list of things you want to curate to put into your wardrobe later. This can take days, weeks, even months. I am constantly editing out items and in new things I love depending on my season of life, my style preferences, and color palette.
What should you consider when curating a wardrobe?
A Google search of “seasonal wardrobe color palettes” will yield many choices. I chose 30 Something Urban Girl (even though I am 45 years old) and I’m a warm spring.
From this palette, I shop for clothes in Soft Navy, Cream, Brown, Coral Red, and Olive.
However, I do not limit myself to this palette. I have a gorgeous white dress for summer that I love wearing. I treated myself at a thrift store to it after dropping two sizes. The fit has a smock top with a billowy skirt. It’s a forgiving fit and I feel amazing in it. It’s one of my favorite pieces in my entire closet and it's not in "my color palette."
My journey in minimalism has led me to discover and learn more about sustainably made clothing, fabrics, and practices. I shop for organic cotton bedding, dresses, and more when the budget fits the search.
The easiest way I can recommend learning which fabrics you like is to wear them. Next time you wear something you love, notice the fabric tag. Start to shop for clothing by material.
Fits and Lengths
Do you like a mini, midi, or maxi length dress? Do you like how spaghetti straps look on you? Do you like an A-line cut skirt? Noticing what looks good on you is a forward step when curating a wardrobe and shopping by the cut, fit, and length is possible with online stores.
Many wardrobe experts will discuss quality over quantity. Yes, this is true and can go a long way in curating a closet you love. Treating yourself to quality sneakers is important for foot care. Quality-made boots and shoes support you correctly and last longer. However, wardrobe budgets may preclude you from splurging. Comfort and fit are critical when curating a wardrobe you love, and they are not necessarily indicative of price. You can find clothes you love wearing within your budget. Shopping thrift and secondhand may surprise you.
Wardrobe choices may be dictated by seasonal weather in your area. We have rainy Springs and Autumns. Snowy winters means layers, thermals, and snow gear. My rain boots and jacket have lasted many years now, and I’ve definitely wore my money‘s worth. I will have them for many years to come as well. After years of not having a proper Fall coat, I finally treated myself last year. It was so nice to bring it out again this year. I don't have a scarf I love so I will shop for that this year. I have lived without until now so that I chose one I like and not spend money on a scarf I wouldn't wear.
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