Need Help Purging Your Wardrobe? Ask Yourself These Questions
Purging clothes from your overstuffed closet is difficult. You throw out more than just clothes—you discard memories. The questions below will help guide your decisions as you go through the painful process.
Have I Worn It in the Last Year?
Despite the ubiquity of the “have-I-worn-it-in-the-last-year” criterion for keeping or tossing clothes, this yardstick should be a guideline, not an iron-clad rule. Discarding clothes is not a black-or-white decision, especially when considering a piece that is black, or white, or black-and-white. Remember, neutrals remain stylish longer than any other color.
Just because you haven’t worn it in the last year doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep it. Maybe a two-year guideline is more viable for special-occasion outfits. The black dress you bought for last year’s New Year’s Eve party may still be viable.
But when you hold up a pair of flared jeans to the light and you try to decide, consider the last time you wore them and felt good about it. But don’t let that answer back you into a corner.
Does It Fit?
Something that doesn’t fit should be easy to toss out, but in reality, it isn’t. But “does-it-fit” should carry more weight than “have-I-worn-it-in-the-last-year” in the painful exorcism of your wardrobe.
If your weight fluctuates, you understand why this isn’t easy. You don’t want to get rid of the Skinny Clothes you plan to get back into. You don’t want to get rid of Fat Clothes either because—if history repeats itself—you will need them on a not-too-distant day.
Be rational. If the Skinny Clothes are more than one size too small, throw them out. Do the same for the Fat Clothes. If you’ve reduced your body mass by two sizes or more, you deserve congratulations. When—I mean, if—you regain the weight, your current wardrobe will be out of style anyway. This logic works better for the removal of Skinny Clothes. Fat Clothes are more likely to be basic and black.
Can It Live in Limbo?
The Purgatory Pile method of purging is the most comforting method.
To create a Purgatory Pile, put the clothes you think you should discard in a trash bag. Let the bag sit in the garage for a few months. It’ll take you a few months to get to the Salvation Army anyway.
When Salvation Army day is imminent, go through the pile again and allow yourself to rescue one or two items. I’ve made some wise rescues.
The Purgatory Pile method allows you to excise the clothes without feeling there is no turning back. Yet the clothes are out of your closet, in a trash bag, and one step closer to the door. You will be able to make the final decision with more detachment.
Can I Afford to Buy Something New?
Of course you can. Buying new clothes, when you are supposed to be reducing the contents of your clothes closet, sounds contradictory. But a new blouse or new shoes improves your wardrobe just as purging the dingy blouses and beat-up shoes does.
Something new makes you more willing to let go of the something old.
Once you’re done, look around at all the room you’ve made. Just in time to curl up with the 652-page Sept issue of In Style.