I'd like to say that my recent closet cleanout was conducted solely in the spirit of spruceness, but it was mostly because I moved into an apartment with my boyfriend — a very small apartment. Over the last few months, as we nestled into our new home, it became abundantly clear that there was not enough real estate for my clothes, shoes, and accessories. Despite him surrendering all under-bed space and an extra closet to my goods, it still wasn't enough. So, I resolved to mindfully purge.
I went into the process feeling a bit resentful about having to get rid of things, but came out on the other end feeling like a weightless, happy human — someone who could actually visualize outfits without being distracted by the surplus of tie-dye tees that I kept for good measure, but never actually wore. Or the crates of skinny jeans I kept around, even though you couldn't pay me to wear tight denim these days. I consigned, I donated, I thrived. And with all that extra space I organized, too!
While I wouldn't recommend my exact methodology (I let it go too long before taking action), I stand by my belief that everyone should do a closet clean out at least once a year, and with spring knocking at the door, it's never been a better time (spring cleaning, ever heard of it?). Ahead, hear from experts on how to edit your wardrobe down as well as a few useful tips for keeping it tidy and organized.
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Closet Cleanout Tips: Ask Three Important Questions
Monica Leed is the CEO and owner of Simply Spaced, a team of professional organizers and lifestyle experts headquartered in Los Angeles. I tapped her to answer all of my burning questions about manifesting a clean slate in your closet — and she delivered. Her first piece of advice with regards to determining if you should keep or get rid of an item: "Ask yourself, do you love it, need it, or wear it? If you can’t answer yes to any of those questions, it’s time to let it go," Leed advises.
As simple as this approach sounds, you'd be surprised how your brain can trick you into holding on to clothing even if you don't love it, need it, or wear it. When I purged my wardrobe, I knew there was a strong possibility I'd convince myself I needed to keep certain pieces, so I came into the process ruthless. In truth, it was empowering!
Closet Cleanout Tips: Find a Charity
If you're in a position where you have too many things, that alone should spark a desire to give back. Once my cleanout was complete, I dropped off a slew of bags to both Goodwill and Housing Works, and knowing my items could have a second life and maybe help someone feel a little more confident made the whole thing worth it. "Before I onboard any new client, I ask them to think about three charities that resonate with them on a deep level," Leed shares. "Aligning with a cause is a great way to get over the fear of letting go, knowing that your items can go directly into your community."
Closet Cleanout Tips: Simplify, Streamline, Style
Once you've cleared out the items you don't need anymore, it's probably still going to look messy in your closet (been there!). Leed says this is the time to do three very important things. 'We follow the Simply Spaced signature three-step method: Simplify, Streamline, Style," she says. The first step, simplify, involves decluttering. "It’s always where we start to get rid of anything else that does not align with the life you want to be living." The next step is to streamline, "optimizing space with product, shelving, or optimal storage." The final step is style, "making the space your own by incorporating elements of your life and personality. This is an important step in any space, including a closet that helps motivate you to maintain it."
The way the Simplify, Streamling, Style methodology manifested in my wardrobe was through storage hacks that looked clean and simple; white linen boxes, hanging shelves, and sleek solutions for things like my footwear and denim. I also put a couple of large straw bags on top of my rolling rack to give the unit a laidback finish.
Closet Cleanout Tips: Hangers Matter
If you have the budget, a collection of uniform, well-crafted hangers is worth the investment — particularly for items you want to save for a long time. "The relationship between closet organization and garment hangers is symbiotic," Lou Hansell Co-Founder & President Pamela Kugel tells TZR. "One provides the framework for your collection, while the other protects and preserves your investment." The brand's luxury hangers are intended to keep your most beautiful pieces in pristine condition. "The garments you choose are purposeful. Whether it be for the love of the art itself, to mark a memorable occasion, or simply as an investment," Kugel adds. "These are the kind of garments meant to be stored to perfection; protected and preserved for years to come."
To flesh out the rest of your closet, Leed points to a few options. "I love velvet hangers for closets that are tight on space, but if you are more of a quality over quantity gal with a capsule wardrobe, white wooden hangers turn your closet from boring to boutique." Personally, I love a natural wooden hanger — but to each their own!
Closet Cleanout Tips: Continually Edit
Okay, so you're all cleaned out and organized — now what? Keep the momentum going. "To stay organized, keep a donation bin nearby and edit as a habit," Leed says. "Once you’ve reached capacity, adopt a one-in-one-out policy and cycle out anything worn, misshaped, or uncomfortable with the higher quality, timeless version."