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How to Cut Your Wardrobe in Half and Always Have Something to Wear

I think with clothing we often think the MORE CLOTHING we have the MORE CHOICES we have to wear, and the more choices we have to wear, the more likely we’ll look amazing and fashionable all the time…but usually the opposite is true.

Too much clothing is actually overwhelming and makes getting dressed a chore. The goal of this post is to help you purge your closet down to the pieces that you truly love so you never end up with the age-old problem of “tons of clothing and nothing to wear.”  

I haven’t always had a minimal wardrobe. It’s taken almost 2 years to get to this point. For me, what finally inspired me was when my son was born. I remember not having tons of time to spend looking for the right outfit. I wanted to be able to open my closet, see JUST the pieces I liked, looked good on me, and were conducive to what I was doing that day. But instead, every morning I felt bogged down sifting through pieces that didn’t match anything or didn’t fit quite right or didn’t work for my lifestyle.

Eventually, I mastered this and it came down to a few basic steps.

  1. Define my style
  2. Purge
  3. Organize by Use
  4. Purge again

So today I’m going to save you the almost 2 years of time it took me, and walk you through each one of those steps, how to tackle it, and ultimately how to declutter your closet so that you always have something you want to wear.

STEP ONE: Define Your Style

I know everyone thinks the first step to decluttering their wardrobe is to purge, but I’m going to stop you right there say NOPE. This not the first step. Because anyone can purge, but purging without a plan is just going to lead to doing it not as well or doing it only to be cluttered again in a few months. So, that’s why I say the first step to a better, simplified, streamlined wardrobe is to start by defining your style.

So what does that mean?  

What’s it mean to define your style?

I am not saying you need some defined signature style. This is reality, not Sex in the City. But I want you to start thinking about the following few things:

  • What kind of clothing suit your lifestyle?
  • What kind of clothing do you always feel comfortable in? 
  • What pieces do you currently wear ON REPEAT, and why?

When defining our style it’s easy to get caught up defining style for our fantasy life and not our real life. Because we all have a dream style, but it’s not always conducive to our actual life. Sure, in my fantasy life I wear adorable feminine dresses, and cute leather skirts, and tweed blazers, and chunky heeled boots. But, in my real life, I spend my days chasing a sticky-handed toddler around and editing videos on my couch, and most of those pieces don’t fit that lifestyle. Now I’m not saying I can’t own any cute feminine dresses, but what I want you to do is really focus on defining the pieces that fit your STYLE and your LIFESTYLE. 

So I find there are basically 6 main categories to clothing.

  • Active
    •  gym, working out, etc.
  • Daily
    •  running errands, casual get-togethers, mom stuff, etc.
  • Formal
    •  dressy attire, special events, etc. 
  • Work
    •  going into an office, meetings, corporate events, etc.
  • Going Out
    •  date night, girl’s night out, restaurants/bars, parties, etc.
  • Loungewear
    •  chores and housework, working from home, etc.

Start by thinking about which of these are your PRIMARY categories, and you want to keep it to three.

Do I go to formal events? Yea. But do I go to a formal event every month? No definitely not. So it’s not a primary category for me. My primary categories are daily and loungewear. I personally don’t even have a third primary category. I mean, do I need going out outfits, yea but honestly less than 2 times a month, so it’s really not a MAIN category for me to focus on. 

When you sit back and really think about the categories of clothing you ACTUALLY need for daily life, it can help put into perspective what your wardrobe needs to look like. If less than 10% of my days are spent going out, then I should anticipate that 10% or less of my wardrobe should cater to that. 

GET THE DOWNLOAD

Closet Declutter Bundle

$1.50

Includes the closet declutter flowchart + more tips on purging your clothes, how to take a closet inventory, the Define Your Style worksheets, and more. Download>>

STEP TWO: It’s time to purge.

Alright, NOWWW it’s time to purge. It’s going to be A LOT easier to purge now that you have a good idea of what your style is, and what pieces of clothing are the most conducive to that. It’s going to help you weed through the clutter and hopefully shed light on what you really need. 

Purging is also the hardest part of this entire process. It’s hard to let go of a lot of the stuff you’ve been hanging on. BUT DON’T WORRY I’m here to help. I was able to conquer this and I hope I’ll be able to help you, too. 

We are going through your wardrobe piece by piece and we’re going to ask a few questions about each thing.  Now, to make it easier I actually created a little flow chart that walks you through some simple steps to help you determine if something is worth keeping or not. Download it from my printables page.

Just in Case Pieces

The first question we always start with when choosing to keep something is…. Have you worn it in the last year? This is a big one because we tend to hang on to a lot of, what I call, “just in case” pieces. These are pieces we’re hanging on to because we JUST might wear them. We keep putting them back in our closets saying “oh, yea, I need this just in case….” and then a year quickly goes by and we’ve never touched it. 

So, first things first, have you worn this in the last year? If the answer is no, you need to determine why you are keeping it. Is it sentimental? Was it really expensive?  Does it no longer fit?  If it’s one of these things, refer to the flowchart. But I want to take a minute to dive into how to determine how to keep something if you’re keeping it for the dreaded” just in case” reason. Because in my opinion, the “just in case” pieces are the real problem of 90% of our wardrobes.

 I want you to ask these questions. 

  1. Does it fit and do you like the way it looks. If the answer is no, LET IT GO. If you haven’t worn it in a year and you don’t even like the way it looks on you, get rid of it girl. It’s weighing you down and taking up space in your closet you could use for pieces you love.
  2. Next, do you anticipate you’ll need it in the next year? Can you think of a specific upcoming event in which you’ll wear it? If it’s been A YEAR since you wore it and you can easily see a whole other year passing without wearing it, you really need to ask yourself if it worth taking up space in my closet.  Not to mention, If it’s a piece of clothing for special events, remember that we tend to buy ourselves new clothing for special events anyway. 
  3. Lastly, would you buy this today if you saw it hanging in the store? Our style and wants change over time. It’s why we end up with clothing we aren’t wearing. If this isn’t a piece you’d want to buy now, why hang onto it?

At the end of the day, the biggest question I want you to ask yourself when you’re deciding to keep something or not is, “if I was going to get dressed right now, would I want to put this on?”

Remember, the goal is to create a simplified, streamlined closet that you can open, see pieces you like, and grab and go. While we obviously will always have some non-everyday pieces, you want to aim for a closet where 75% of items are things you can wear and WANT to wear on an everyday basis.

PHEW! I know that was a lot. But, it was also hardest step!

STEP THREE: Organizing

Once our clothing is purged, it’s time to put it back into our closet or dresser, or whatever you use to store your clothing. Now, what  I want you to move away from just organizing by type, and instead start organizing your clothing by use.

Here’s my best example… I used to keep my pajamas stuff together with my leggings. Because, I mean it’s all comfy, loungewear, right? Eh, not exactly. Pajamas I wear at night. I sleep in them and they aren’t things I’d wear to run errands or do work around the house. Leggings, however, totally are. I wear leggings at least 3 out of the 7 days of the week and use them to go out, pair them with regular tops, etc. Pajamas and leggings, while both loungewear, really don’t serve the same use.

So, I want to organize these separately. This way, in the morning, when I need to grab an outfit, I’m not sifting through PJ bottoms looking for leggings. And when I’m looking for comfy PJs after my shower, I’m not sifting through leggings, get it?

The reason organizing by use is so important is because it all comes back to  our goal of having a grab and go closet. When we go to our closet we go for a very specific reason. So, we want to organize our stuff but these uses. 

Second Wardrobe

A final note on this topic when organizing by use is to consider having, what I call, the second wardrobe. I know this sounds very frivolous and fancy, but I’m not talking about anything crazy. I’m just saying a place to store any clothing you will not be wearing in the next 6 months. This way have a place to keep the clothing you NEED, but for it not to bog down your everyday clothing. 

So, an example would be I live in CT and we have winter. Starting in about October, I don’t need jean shorts and won’t need them until probably about May. So, to have them taking up space in my wardrobe for the next 6-7 months is unnecessary. It’s going to bog down my stuff and make it harder for me to find what I need in the morning – which is probably pants. So, they can move to my second wardrobe. 

Your second wardrobe can be stored in lots of ways, a set of vacuum-sealed bags, large plastic Tupperwares, you can even buy an inexpensive stand-up wardrobe to keep in your basement. Whatever works, so long as it has a DEDICATED space and you keep that space organized by use.

STEP FOUR: Purge Again

And now, onto the final step of my four steps, and that’s to purge again. At the end of the day, I find consistent purging is just good practice in our wardrobe. And, as you start to move to a more minimal closet, you’ll actually find it easier and easier to let go of things you don’t need. Personally, I am always thinking about purging. As I do laundry and I’m putting clothing away, I’m always looking to see if there is something that doesn’t work anymore and I let it go right then and there. That way I sort of always become in the habit of purging my clothing and it never gets out of hand.

One in One Out

Another rule I love to follow is the one in one out rule. This is a simple rule that says if you purchase a new piece of clothing, you have to remove one piece you already have. Not only does it help overspending and purchasing of items you didn’t really need or love, but it prevents the closet from getting bogged down again too quickly.

Time to Get Stated! Get the Printables

As mentioned, I have a complete printable bundle to help you tackle your closet ONCE AND FOR ALL. Click below to snag it!

Closet Declutter Bundle

$1.50

Includes the closet declutter flowchart + more tips on purging your clothes, how to take a closet inventory, the Define Your Style worksheets, and more. Download>>