How to Purge and Maintain Your Wardrobe

The first sign that you need to cut some clutter from your wardrobe is when you look at the clothes bulging from your closet and still think I have nothing to wear.

The problem isn’t that you have nothing to wear, it’s that the gems of your wardrobe are hidden by all the clothes you don’t like.

It may also be a sign that you’re hanging on to clothing that doesn’t fit, has gone out of style, or is damaged.

It could also be as simple as a change in your fashion sense. It’s normal to see fashion changes in Toronto every few years. Maybe a recent trend appeals to you and your wardrobe isn’t up to the new standard.

Whatever the reason, if getting dressed is difficult, stressful, or disappointing, it’s time for a change.

While going out and buying new clothes might seem like the most sensible option, it works better to start by getting rid of the clothing you don’t need.

Once you know what you have and like, then you can start shopping smart for the things you still need.

How to Effectively Slim Down Your Wardrobe

Purging your wardrobe takes time. It’s a little intimidating. It can seem like you need to keep clothes you don’t want or need to have enough.

You need to set those feelings aside and trust the process. It may be difficult at times, but the results are well worth the difficulty.

Give Yourself Dedicated Time

One of the most difficult parts of purging your closet is giving yourself enough time to get the job done.

The bigger your closet, the more time you need. Plan at least a few hours so you can try on clothing. Take notes on what you’re keeping and what you’re getting rid of, and put everything away.

You should plan on nothing else during that time. If you need to take breaks to prep and eat meals, plan those in advance.

Give yourself as few distractions as possible. The goal is to concentrate on yourself and your clothing, so you can distill your wardrobe down to its best pieces.

Take Everything Out of Your Closet

I mean it. Strip your closet down to the floor and the walls. Grab clothing that might be hiding in the laundry, closets, or storage. Shoes, ties, and other accessories (except jewelry) are all included in this.

Taking everything out of your closet will help you organize later. It also forces you to look at and consider all the clothing you own.

Decision Making

You need to do more than organize into the ‘Love it’, ‘Donate’, and ‘Trash’ piles. If you have a lot of clothing, organize first by clothing type not whether you plan to keep the garment.

Organizing by garment lets you see what styles and colors you tend to prefer, and which ones you’re more likely to get rid of. Make note of those details.

If you notice you have 4 of the same style/color/detail of any one garment, really think about which ones are your favorite and get rid of the others.

Try on everything you intend to keep. Ask yourself if you like it. Does it fit well? Is it appropriate for the weather? For instance, if you live in Toronto, you may want to plan on more warm clothing and layers.

Look at the garment. Is it in good condition? Even if you love it, frayed hems, missing buttons, or stubborn stains might be enough to take a garment out of the running. Only keep damaged clothing if you have the skills needed to repair it and the time and willingness to do so.

If the answer is yes to every question, go ahead and put it back in your closet.

If the answer was mostly yes, or you don’t want to get rid of it, put it in a maybe box. The box will go into storage. If you find yourself wanting that garment you can get it out.

Wait a year, anything still in the box should be donated.

Damaged clothing should go in the trash. Anything you don’t want or need, but that’s still in good condition, can be donated to the thrift store or charity of your choice.

Be ruthless in this step. Keep only the clothing you love and fits well. Minimize the clothing in your maybe box. Get rid of ‘just in case’ clothing, whether it’s waiting for a suitably formal occasion or for you to lose or gain weight. You can keep a couple of sets of comfortable clothes you wouldn’t wear out of the house but stick to 1-2 outfits.

Think about the types of clothing you have. If you spend half your time at work, half your clothing should be work clothes or at least suitable for work. If you spend 20% of your time hiking, 20% of your clothing should be suitable for hiking, and so on.

Closet Organization 101

Now that you’re down to the best of your clothing, it’s time to organize your closet. If you have a shared closet, or a lot of clothing survived the purge, a closet organizer or two is worth the investment. Pants storage organizers, shoe organizers, and other specialty closet items will help you keep your clothing organized and easy to see.

Arrange your clothing by color. Once you can see which colors you prefer it’s easy to shop for those shades and to plan layers that will look good together.

We highly recommend planning for seasonal clothing. Heavy coats and sweaters do not belong next to thin summer tops and shorts. Store out-of-season clothes, with maybe 1 or 2 unseasonable garments left out so you have options if the weather changes suddenly.

Organizers are helpful here too. Bins, vacuum storage, and designated shelves for your out-of-season clothing will make it easier to switch your clothing with the season.

Once you’ve organized, wait to shop and fill in gaps until you’ve worn your new wardrobe for a few days. Take notes on the garments and accessories you still want after wearing your new wardrobe.

Plan on purging at least once a year. It’s easier after the first time you do it, but clothing will always be going out of fashion and getting worn out.

Every time you purge, take notes on what you’re getting rid of and what you need. If you notice trends like getting rid of orange shirts, or only wearing ruffles once, note that too so you’re less tempted to buy the same styles again.

Buy only the garments on your list, and only in colors and styles you genuine like, and which fit well (or could if you took the clothing to a tailor). Do take your clothing to the tailor, it’ll fit better, look better, and last longer.

That’s it! Getting and maintaining an organized and fashionable wardrobe is easy. Give yourself the time to get it done and commit to getting rid of clothing you don’t need.

How to Purge and Maintain Your Wardrobe
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