how to downsize a closet

The dreaded closet.

You’ve heard it before: we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. And we don’t wear 50% at all.

How can we be more realistic?

Clothes are expensive, and their manufacture and shipping have a huge impact on the environment. What to do?

Imagine if your closet only had items that fit and that you enjoy wearing!

To begin with, we usually don’t know what’s in our closets. I mean that both literally (“Oh, I forgot about that shirt!”) and more loosely: we don’t know if something fits, or if we like it.

One of the first things I recommend to all my clients is to put a “purge” bag/box into their closet. Whenever they try on an item and opt not to wear it, I ask them to consider why they’re not wearing it. If they don’t like it, chances are they won’t like it in the future, either: put it in the “purge” bag/box.

More often, the item doesn’t fit anymore. If it doesn’t fit, it shouldn’t be in the closet. Either it can be donated, or it can be stored elsewhere. When your “purge” bag/box gets full, you will have a chance to review the items in it. Things you don’t like can go to donation. Things that are the wrong size can go in a box somewhere. I have a “rewards” bin in my basement with clothes that are too small. I only allow myself limited space in this box, which forces me to go through it regularly.
If you really want to be serious about turning your closet functional again, spend an afternoon trying every item on.

Even better, do it with a friend or relative. Try on every piece of clothing and look at yourself. Is it flattering? Do you like it? If you can’t emphatically say yes to one of those, it’s time to move it on. Does it fit? If it doesn’t, and you think you can fit into it again someday, store it in the “rewards” box I mentioned earlier.

But it was expensive! I know it’s painful to let go of things that you spent a lot of money on, but if you are never going to wear it, get rid of it. You’ll forget about it and move on. Meanwhile, if it stays in your closet, it is a constant reminder that makes you cringe. There is enough pain in our lives; we don’t need to be reminded of how much money we once wasted on something we don’t need.

But it’s a memento! Great. Put it where you put mementos, but get it out of your closet if you’re not wearing it.

At the end of this exercise, you will only have things in the closet that fit, and that you enjoy wearing. Which means that you’ll have a whole new wardrobe consisting of things you already owned!

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