I strongly believe in a regular run-through of your wardrobe to keep it fresh and full of only the necessities. Wading through tons of clothes you never wear everytime you get dressed is overwhelming, frustrating, and impractical for many of us with smaller closets! Follow my tips for what to keep, what to give away, and how to deal with with those pieces you just don't know what to do with.
Keep: out of style investment pieces that are still in great shape.
The fashion world is cyclical, so things come in and out of style. If it's an outlandish trend you never want to see again, it may be worth parting with, but sometimes it's worth it to box it up and get it out of your face, but make it available to you at a later date. You never know when you'll suddenly wish you had those cowboy boots again, so if you spent well on them, and they're still in good shape, don't say goodbye to them just yet.
Give Away: things that don't fit you anymore (and probably never will).
There's a difference between a dress you love being a size too small after you've put on a few pounds you intend to shed, and a dress not fitting you since high school. Similar is the top that hasn't fit you the same since you lost some weight, and you loved it before... but it just doesn't look good anymore. You don't need these items haunting you in your closet, and they're just taking up space. Shoes are also important to only keep if they really fit. If you have a pair of heels that you love SO MUCH when they aren't on your feet, but they were only available a half size too small and pinch your toes... get rid of those torture devices.
Keep: expensive denim.
When you invest in a great pair of jeans, you know it. You feel better about your body, you feel simultaneously comfortable and glamorous, all because of how the jeans fit you. Don't say goodbye to denim just because it's an out-of-style color or has a rip at the knee. Save it for later, sew a patch on it, and the last step you should take for denim that seems like a lost cause is to turn them into cut-offs. There's a reason why fashionistas go to such great lengths to keep their denim in mint condition (follow their example by keeping washes semi-rare and avoid throwing them in the dryer at all costs!)... when you find that amazing pair of jeans, they've earned a long-term place in your life (and closet).
Give Away: anything age-innapropriate.
This isn't just about modesty, as different cuts suit different bodies. But look through each piece and think about how long it's been since you wore it, and how you feel about someone your age wearing it. You may have outgrown the spandex minidress you wore in college to parties, or may feel like the kitty-print tee is a little juvenile for you. That's ok! You don't have to feel sad about it, just think about the younger generation and if they could wear it, then give it away.
Give Away: anything that feels un-you.
Fashion is about identity, about having fun, about expressing yourself. No matter the case, if you have something in your closet that feels like a repression of your personality when you wear it, get it out of there. If you have it for a sentimental reason, keep it elsewhere, but if you once wore it and now can't stand the thought of putting it on, keep the past in the past and give it up. You are independent and in control of how you present yourself. Any garment that goes against this projection of yourself doesn't belong in your closet.
What do you do with your "give away" pile?
If... it's full of holes... Throw that out! The Salvation Army will not want your holey socks. Don't do anyone any favors by thinking something worn to exhaustion, stained, or torn can be given a new life if you know it can't. Unless you can rehabilitate it yourself before donating it, the garbage is there for a reason.
If... it's still in good shape but not for you... you have two options, donate or sell it. If you're strapped for cash and would love to get some return for something you once splurged on, stores like Buffalo Exchange, Beacon's Closet, and Crossroads will buy (some of) your used clothes that are still in style. Anything they don't take, you can ask them to drop in the charity bins they usually have, so you can still feel good about the move.
If... it's in decent shape but out of style... Give it to charity. Goodwill and the Salvation Army are staples for a reason, but there are a million charities out there that need your used clothes. If you're getting rid of officewear, Dress For Success is a great cause to donate to.
Organizing what you're left with
Now that your wardrobe's looking a little more pared-down (hopefully), here are some tips for giving your closet a little face-lift:
1. Organize your clothes by color. It looks great, and I've found that I tend to remember pieces by color or print, so it's usually easy to find things this way. If you don't like this...
2. Organize your clothes by kind. If your wardrobe's mostly black or neutral, the previous tip may not be for you. Keep blouses together, dresses together, etc., and if you want to get more specific (cocktail dresses together, button-up blouses together, etc.), it will make things even easier.
3. Keep your lesser-worn things out of first reach. Make your life a little easier by keeping your go-to flats at arms-length, and that one pair of six-inch stilettos further back. This will keep you from weeding through the obvious no's each morning when you're getting dressed.
4. Showcase garments you want to wear more. If you find a really special skirt and you aren't sure why you haven't worn it more, hang it from a doorknob or facing outward, to serve as a visual reminder, as well as to dress up the monotony of your side-facing clothes.
5. Get items to physically organize your clothes. If you can afford it, install shelving to seperate shoes and accessories. If you're on a budget, go to Storables, The Container Store, Target, or a similar place where you can find plastic or canvas shelving, bins, and baskets. Just because the closet your place came with is basically a foot-long bar inside a nook smaller than you doesn't mean you're stuck without organization.
One of the points of closet makeunders is that they remind you of the great things you already have. If you find something in the back of your clothing rack that you totally forgot about, or you remember why you love your favorite sweater, it's so much better than knowing you're spending too much money on new things you probably don't need. Celebrate the process and your resourcefulness!