You can declutter your wardrobe simply over time, by using a closet outbox. If you’re new to Power Suiting, this is Part 2 of our Sane Closet Cleanout Series. In Part 1 we spent five minutes on the Sane Closet Cleanout. We ended by setting up the Closet Outbox.
Now, we fill the Closet Outbox.
Here’s a click-through guide, in case you’re strapped for time:
What You’ll Need to Declutter Your Wardrobe
This is an outbox. So you can go literal and use a box.
An Amazon Prime box will do. A diaper box will do. But set a reminder for yourself now, in your phone or your calendar, to buy something a little nicer.
This outbox isn’t going anywhere.
It is now a filter for the living, breathing, changing, always improving THING that is your closet.
If your closet were a person, the outbox is like her liver, which is gross, so let’s get that image out of our minds by admiring this striped bin, available on Amazon for about $15,
It’s what I use. It does not remind me of a human liver, mostly
The key is to find something you like to look at, and something that’s not too big, so you can’t overfill. Mine measures:
- 20 inches (height)
- 16 inches (diameter)
Where to Start
Start with your hamper. It’s safe to assume that whatever is in your hamper right now is something you:
- Wore recently.
- Enjoy wearing.
- Wear out of necessity (not a glamorous reason to own something, but potentially the most important reason of the bunch).
Dump your hamper’s contents on the floor. Fun!
Make some piles by basic clothing type: T-shirts, jeans, dresses, etc.
These are quick, painless piles.
Side note: As I was writing this I realized that you could just go ahead and do your laundry, and then make the piles while you’re folding. That would be way more logical. The fact that I recommended you dump your wrinkled, dirty laundry on the floor rather than bother cleaning it says a lot about me and why I needed step-by-step systems like this one.
BUT – if you are like me, and would rather do anything, even finish reading this blog post, than do laundry, by all means, continue pawing through your wrinkled clothes. It’s what I’d do.
How to Start
Start with whatever category has the biggest pile of dirty (or clean, for the overachievers) clothes.
Mine is T-Shirts.
Head to your closet and move all of the items of that category to one area, if they aren’t grouped together already.
You can also have two areas for grouping them if it’s a category with some nuance. For instance, I have T’s in two areas: The ones I wear to work that wrinkle easily are hanging together in the closet, and the rest are in my second dresser drawer. And yes, my T-shirts have nuance.
You’ll need a prioritized list of categories to continue with. I suggest just one category a week until you work through them all to prevent burnout, and to prolong the nice feeling of accomplishment you’ll be getting. This limitation also cuts down on decision fatigue or the possibility of going completely nuts, deciding you hate everything, donating 80% of your closet, and then binge-buying even more stuff you don’t like.
Grab a piece of paper and list out the categories you’ll tackle, starting with the largest laundry pile and working down.
My list is:
- Bottoms (pants, skirts & shorts)
- Toppers (cardigans, blazers)
Now peer into the abyss that is your closet and add any standout categories that aren’t even in your laundry right now.
Do you have 15 sundresses that you haven’t worn? Five blazers from your corporate job, but now you work at a nonprofit? Add those categories to the bottom of your list. These things shall henceforth be known as your clothing Achilles heel. Mine, pathetically, is “wedding dresses.” I have three. I did wear one. It’s a story for another day. But adding them to the list will at least get them off my mind until I clear out the other, more necessary categories.
If making a list it too much for you, snap a pic with your phone of the piles and save it. You’re done this step.
Pick a day of the week where you can commit to spending 5 minutes grouping the items together and adding a few to the outbox.
Block your 5 minutes (you may need 10 if it’s a big category) on that day of the week right now, like it’s a doctor’s appointment. I use Google Calendar for this. You can use Outlook, the calendar that comes with your phone, or a post-it note. Just make sure you block the time.
Block the time, I’ll wait.
I’ll be doing 1PM on Saturdays.
You will now choose the largest (or smallest, depending on time) category from your laundry pile and flip through it. Mine is T-Shirts. Toss anything in the Outbox that:
-You forgot you owned (meaning: you haven’t worn it or fantasized about wearing it in six months).
-You look at every single week, but have never figured out how to wear.
-Needs a repair.
-Is too worn out to wear, but you love.
-You don’t like anymore, but has sentimental value.
You might come across some items that are simply way off-season that you missed during part I of this series. Those go in your seasonal box.
You might have forgotten you owned some things that you can start wearing again tomorrow, only because they were crowded out by your Achilles heels, and your Delia’s sweater from high school. All good. Finding these gems is a big reason we’re doing this! They can go front-and-center, back in the closet.
Now, this is the easiest and the hardest part of the exercise: Leave your Outbox alone until your next designated Outbox time pops up. Hopefully this is at least a day from now.
When your next sessions starts, you’ll come to your filled Outbox with fresh eyes. And only then, is it time to empty your Closet Outbox.
Here is the full “Sane Closet Cleanout” Series:
Step 1: The 5 Minute Closet Cleanout
Step 3: Donate Your Clothes, or Don’t: How to Decide What Goes – Head here next!
Feature image via Rubbermaid Products, resized.