The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Out Your Wardrobe

I have a confession to make…. I hoard clothes. I love absolutely everything I own, and I love shopping when I don’t need to, pair this with a relatively small wardrobe space, well you do the math. My wardrobe is a mess, clothes are spilling out the edges and I have honestly lost track of everything I own. I reach this tipping point quite often, so as a good rule of thumb I try to do a big cleanout every 6 months.

Now as mentioned, I am overly attached to all my clothes and I find it extremely difficult to part ways with any of them, so a few years back I came up with a system that helps to clear out all the clutter. I still struggle and I must admit, at times I really do have to be strict with myself, but I found this system has been the only thing that really works. I tend to call it my 3 golden rules, but it really is just a series of questions I ask myself with each item that I sort through.

First things first, when you are sorting through, you want to develop three piles:

  • A throw out pile, this pile includes old underwear, swimwear, stuff that you genuinely can’t give away for hygiene reasons.
  • A sell/swap/donate pile, this is all of the stuff that you are definite about parting ways with and is in good condition to sell.
  • An unsure pile, this one is always the hardest, this is stuff that you still love and are unsure on whether you actually are ready to say goodbye to or not, we will come back to how you can get through this pile later.

Now for the actual clean out system, each of these may seem like pretty straight forward questions, but I cannot even begin to tell you how much they have helped me over the years.

1. Have you worn it in the past 6-12 months? 

Now this one can be a little hit and miss because it really depends on the item of clothing. For the most part this question works quite well with most of the items in your closet, because trust me I know you may re discover some awesome pieces that were hiding away, but let’s be honest, you always knew you had it and it was there. If you had really wanted to wear it in the past year you would have. If you haven’t worn it in the past max 12 months, it’s highly likely you are not going to ever wear it, it’s sadly time to say goodbye.

Now the difficult part of this question, and the reason it can be a little hit and miss. I truly believe in sentiment, in the spirit of writing this blog I went through my wardrobe again myself and found the very first pair of expensive jeans I ever bought for myself when I was 15. I tried them on again and they looked god awful on me and I can honestly say I that I do not see myself wearing them at any point in the near future. However, I remembered being so in love with them when I first bought them and living in them 24/7 throughout my teens, and they honestly kickstarted my strange obsession with denim. Considering this, I decided it would be a good idea to keep them, purely for sentimental reasons and that they make me happy whenever I see them. Who knows maybe I can give them to one of my kids one day?

What I’m trying to say, is if you are an absolute sook like me and you can’t part with an item of clothing because of some obscure sentimental reason, just hold onto them, if you have no room for it in your wardrobe, vacuum seal it in a bag and store it somewhere safe so it’s out of the way but you don’t have to part ways with it.

2. Can you style it? 

This one is always fun to start out with, but I’m not going to lie it can get tiresome after a few hours of going through everything. But I encourage you to just hold on and persevere with this one because it is so crucial and honestly helpful in the long run when you are deciding what to do with everything.

Essentially what you are going to want to do is have a little fashion show. Pretend you are shopping in your own wardrobe and try on as much as you possibly can. Now the reason I say this is because, what is it you do when you try stuff on when you shop? Well typically you are looking for a couple of things, the first being, whether it fits (we will get to this), and secondly, if you can style it with anything else you already have in your wardrobe. This is what you are going to do with every item that you try on. This question is crucial and especially helpful when sorting through your ‘unsure pile’. You may like these items, but the reason they’re in your unsure pile is because they may just not be for you, if you have had an item for a while and you can’t style it with anything else that you own, it’s unlikely you won’t get as much wear out of it as originally intended and it’s probably a good idea to sell it and use that money to purchase items that you know you will get some decent wear out of.

3. Does it fit? 

Ok, I cannot emphasise this enough, I say it all the time, I’m sure you may have heard it around somewhere before, but I am going to say it to you again. YOUR CLOTHES ARE SUPPOSED TO FIT YOU, YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO FIT YOUR CLOTHES.

I among most of the population when you are going through puberty and then transitioning out of your teens have really struggled over the years with my body image. Due to this, I felt awful if I no longer fit into some impossibly small item of clothing that I bought when I was 14 when I tried it on again when I was 19. Which is truly ridiculous because as we know, life happens, your body changes, and honestly life is too short to be consistently trying to fit into uncomfortable clothing that no longer fits you. When you are trying on everything, and you find items that no longer fit you, if it hasn’t fit you for the past year, get rid of it, no excuses. Make room for new clothes that fit you, suite your body where it’s at right now, and make you feel amazing.

Now this is all just a general guideline, so feel free to take from it what you will. But I highly encourage you to use this system next time you are cleaning out your wardrobe, it has helped me so much over the years and I know for a fact it will help you. The best part of the whole process? Once you’re done you can post up all your items that you no longer want up to the Populace Threads Wardrobe to either sell or swap!

I hope these tips are helpful and we here at the Populace Threads Office look forward to seeing all of your second-hand goodies up on the wardrobe!