If you’re trying to do a major closet cleanout because you want to upgrade your look—or maybe you just can’t find your passport, but suspect it’s in your closet—most experts will tell you to purge, purge, purge.
Don’t listen. It doesn’t work.
Here’s a click-through guide, in case you’re strapped for time:
- Intro/ Why a Dramatic Closet Cleanout Won’t Work
- How to Savor the Closet Cleanout
- The 5 Minute Cleanout
You’ve heard it before: take everything out of our closet and then only allow back in those things that you really love. People will say this like it’s easy to make all those gut-wrenching decisions. In truth, none of them can do it without agonizing over the Delia’s sweater they wore all through college. All right one of them can, but we think she’s a little smug about the whole thing, frankly.
It’s exactly like doing a juice cleanse, or an all-chicken-and-greenbeans diet, or going to the gym every single day.
It will give you a sense of control, of things changing, of you changing.
But that kind of control is not real.
Life will step in, and distract you and you will give just as little time and attention to filling your closet back up as you did to emptying it in the first place.
One year later you will have a closet full of stuff you only sort of like, again.
Think about clothing companies. They change hemlines, proportions, and influences every season, so you think you need to buy new things to stay current.
It’s working. On average women spend $3400 per year on clothing: That’s $283.33 per month, according to the bureau of Labor Statistics.
Stay with me! I’m not suggesting you don’t buy new things.
What I’m suggesting is that we pay more attention to what we’re spending our money on, and hanging in our closets, and putting on our bodies.
How to Savor the Closet Cleanout
Savor the closet cleanout, bit by bit.
Then you’ll get that little “fix” of control every week or so , instead of one big fix that will inevitably lead to more cravings and questionable buying decisions (Hello non-returnable J. Crew dress with the tag still on! Your pattern is too busy for me.)
I’ve compiled tips from all over, not just from stylists, but from office organizers, time management experts, and even interior decorators, to create a gradual sustainable system I call “The Sane Closet Cleanout.”
Sane Closet Cleanout, Step 1: The 5 Minute Closet Cleanout
Spend five minutes right now starting, and soon you will be lighter, and calmer, and will have more space and a plan for filling your style gaps.
Trust me, I tried everything and this system of small steps is the only way I’ve been able to get my closet under control.
Follow these quick steps right now. They are designed to give you satisfaction and momentum, without the regret.
- Grab any storage containers you have on hand like trash bags, grocery bags, totes, Amazon Prime boxes… you will need three.
- Label them: “Seasonal,” “Toss,” and “Outbox”
- Set your phone timer and spend one minute grabbing anything that is blatantly off-season: your puffer coat if it’s July; your swim cover-up if it’s December. Put those in the “Seasonal” box. This can be as few as one or two things. If you’re unsure, leave it where it is.
- Spend one minute plucking anything that is embarrassing, but not sentimental or super-comfortable to you: a stained blouse you only wear under sweaters; running socks with holes; pit-stained T’s that are beyond Oxiclean. These go in “Toss.”
- Place the “Outbox” somewhere handy, preferably in, or right outside your closet. It lives there now. Say, “Hello” and be nice to it. You’ll use it daily as a temporary residence for any item with an uncertain fate.
- Stash “Seasonal” under your bed, or wherever you typically store things.
- Put “Toss” out in the trash. Do it. Now.
Savor your good work.
Here is the rest of the “Sane Closet Cleanout” Series: