9 Simple Tips to Thin Out Your Closet

WRITTEN by JOSHUA BECKER on becomingminimalist.com

There is something uniquely attractive about open space in a closet.

When was the last time you saw a staged photo of a closet stuffed to overflowing with clothes? Rarely, if ever. Instead, clothes hang neatly and are organized tidily–with room for air and energy and open spaces. This is attractive to most of us.

But our closets look very different. They are stuffed full of shirts and pants and shoes and belts and jackets. We run out of hangers or shelf space, and then we shop for storage solutions so we can store even more clothes. Our closets become cluttered all too quickly.

Still, we are drawn to the idea of the thinned-out closet.

Of course, a streamlined wardrobe offers more benefits than simple beauty. It saves time in the morning (and sometimes, the evening). It reduces stress and frustration. It saves money. There is a special pleasure reserved for those who look in their closet and love everything they see.

If you are looking for help decluttering your wardrobe and thinning out your closet, here are nine simple tips to get you started:

1. Start easy. Begin by removing the clothes that are stained, ripped, or faded beyond recognition. Items that are no longer in wearable condition can still be donated.

2. Remove seasonal items. Remove off-season clothing from your closet to free up some needed space. If you didn’t wear an item at all last year, get rid of it. Then, store the remaining pieces in a separate closet where they will not be in your way cluttering up your closet.

3. Get rid of clothes that don’t fit once and for all. If you’re in-between sizes, certainly keep some clothing from both. But if you haven’t cleaned out your closet for quite some time, there are likely a number of ill-fitting items that can be removed entirely—whether you changed sizes, the item shrunk or stretched, or it never did fit quite right. Those ill-fitting items are weighing you down physically, mentally, and emotionally. Pass them on to someone who can use them.

4. Reduce your need for additional accessories. If you’re holding on to something until you find the “perfect accessory,” let it go. Clothes often multiply in our closets because of the Diderot effect (one purchase leads to another, which leads to another). In the future, look for pieces that compliment your existing accessory pile. After all, if you’re constantly adding things to your closet, you’ll never get ahead (not in your closet and not in your checkbook).

5. Consider the idea of one. If one can be enough, embrace it. Rather than owning an entire assortment, try owning just your favorite black dress, belt, handbag, or jacket (just to name a few ideas). A closet filled with only things you love and use will be a closet that you love to use.

6. Reassess current trend purchases. The fashion industry gets rich on one principle: constantly changing fashion trends. You see, the fashion industry cannot survive on people buying only the clothes they need. So the industry invents false need by boldly declaring new fashion trends and colors for every changing season. But you don’t to have fall for their tricks. Find your favorite timeless fashion and start playing by your own rules.

7. Physically handle every item. If you want to make significant progress thinning out your closet, remove every item entirely from the closet. Return only the pieces you truly love. If that task seems too overwhelming, complete the process in sections (i.e. shoes today, shirts tomorrow). However you seek to accomplish this project, it is important that you physically handle each item at some point. The physical touch forces decisions.

8. If all else fails, pick a number. To start, choose 10. Thumb through the clothes in your closet and remove 10 items—any 10 you want. Put them in a bag and drop off at your nearest donation center. Likely, you will find the task was not that difficult. In fact, once you get started, you may find 15 or 20 things to remove without even breaking a sweat.

9. Experiment with less. Test your assumptions about the optimal amount of clothing with a few, simple experiments. Try placing half of your clothing in a different room for two weeks. You will be surprised how much easier is to function and get ready with fewer clothes in your closet. Most of us wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time and would live much happier with fewer wardrobe choices than we have now. But you’ll never realize that until you test it out.

There are many reasons the capsule wardrobe movement continues to grow. A thinned out closet is less stressful, less time-consuming, and more convenient. You’ll love it once you experience it yourself.

And there’s no time like the present to get started.