THE CONSCIOUS GUIDE TO CLEANING OUT YOUR CLOSET

Girl tugging at orange knit sweater

'Organize Closet' is a frequent visitor on my daily to-do lists. What the task is really demanding, of course, is to actually sort through the abyss of dresses, t-shirts, blouses, jackets, vests, crop tops and entirely unnecessary wide-legged pants that have accumulated since high school. I do a total overhaul probably about once a year, if we’re keepin’ it 100, though it should absolutely be more often (think: every season).

One of the biggest obstacles most of us face when tackling an unruly closet? Attachment. There’s no argument that you haven’t worn that gray pinstripe blazer your mom bought you after college for job interviews in years, but when it comes to actually parting with it? Well, that’s another story entirely. People have different ways of doing this, but I prefer the straightforward, rip-it-like-a-bandaid method. Your closet should be filled with clothes you wear, don’t you think?

Here’s our lazy-proof guide to (consciously) getting you there.

1.) Go All in

My preferred method to actually completing the otherwise daunting task of cleaning my closet is essentially to make it impossible to turn back. I take every single thing in my closet and lay it on my bed. That way, there’s no giving up halfway, or rationalizing that I’ll pick up where I left off tomorrow. I’ve forced myself to commit to completing the task, whether future-me likes it or not. Spoiler alert: she usually does not, but she gets over it.

2.) Pile it On

Once all your beauties are strewn about, it’s time to devise a simple system to help you determine what to do with them. Don’t overcomplicate this. Every single item in front of you is going to be something you like, otherwise it wouldn’t be in your closet. If you give yourself too much leeway, you’ll convince yourself all of it should go right back where it came from, trust me. Try categorizing like this instead:

The Keepers

Anything you’ve worn in the last six months and still love (and fit comfortably into) can earn an elite spot here. After all, there’s no need to part with that versatile black skirt that seems to go with everything. But be brutally honest with yourself; if you can’t remember the last time you wore it, let it go.

The Runner Ups

Anything that doesn't qualify as a keeper but is still in good condition, do something productive with! In college, I had an awful, awful habit of hastily throwing away the clothes I deemed unworthy of my tiny dorm room closet during similar clean-outs. At the time, I had no clue about the impact clothing waste has on the environment, and I was equally ignorant about how easy it is to give old clothes new life by donating or reselling them to others.

Here are several ways to painlessly do good with this pile:

Donate

Organizations like Hope Pick Up in Los Angeles will pick up your donation items for free, all you have to do is schedule a time online. Pick Up Please is a similar service that offers nation-wide donation pick-ups benefiting Vietnam veterans. Do a little google-ing and you're sure to find dozens of other similar services in your area.

Resell

There are several options out there, but ThredUp is a Lifewhile favorite for reselling. The waste-conscious online consignment and thrift store sends you a collection bag, you fill it up with goodies, then drop it off with the postal service or schedule a pick-up (the bag comes with pre-paid postage already on it). You then get a portion of any sales. No brainer.

Reuse

Organizing a clothing swap with friends is an easy excuse to get wine drunk on a Sunday and it’ll feel like shopping, even though none of you will have spent a dime.


The Wildcards

Maybe it’s just me, but I know I have at least a few pieces lurking in my closet at any given time that I love, but that never get any wear-time because they simply don’t fit right. The intention is always to eventually get these bad boys tailored, of course, but the task is just a lot easier said than done. So, during this garment purge, all of these items should be set aside in a very specific way. No, not draped over the chair in your bedroom where they will stay for weeks. No, not back in the closet to collect more dust. Instead, push yourself to hook them on your front door. The next time you leave the house, you’ll be forced to take them, to your car at least. Seeing them every time you drive will probably be the push you need to actually go to the seamstress.

The Goners

In this pile goes anything that is damaged or overly worn. It might be tempting to toss it all down the garbage chute (.....hi, 18 year-old me), but there are other options. If you’re a pet owner, for example, consider cutting these items into strips and making easy DIY toys for your fur babies. Check with local high schools or art centers to see if they can make use of your scraps. Alternatively, organizations like  American Textile Recycling Service and Council for Textile Recycling, help keep your unwearable clothes from ending up in landfills. 



Well, there you have it. It’s no coincidence that just about none of these options for distilling your closet involve having to leave your house. By the end of your clean-out, you and your closet are bound to feel lighter. Let us know if you use these ideas, and how it works out!

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