The Bi-Annual Closet Cleaning Strategy

I don’t buy a lot of clothes, but I think I usually do have more than I need in my closet. Since I don’t allow myself to own more than my wardrobe can contain, every once in a while I would take a good look at my closet and weed out clothes that I don’t really use. I usually do this towards the end of winter, or at the end of summer.

Now, admitting that you don’t need something you own can be hard, so I make myself some guidelines to help me get rid of all the bullshit reasoning of why a certain clothing item will be useful in the future when I have really only touched it once since I acquired it.

1. Separate by season 

I would first separate my clothes based on their usefulness throughout the year. Since I live in a cold climate right now, I have three categories of seasons for my clothes :

  • All season: tees, undies, pajamas, jeans
  • Cold seasons (autumn and winter) : long sleeved shirts, sweaters, cardigans, scarves
  • Warm seasons (spring and summer) : tank tops, short shorts, light dresses

If you live in a tropical country, bless your soul, you can ignore this step and go get some mango juice.

2. Separate by function 

I don’t have a super big wardrobe, so I just decide to follow these function categories: skirts and dresses, warm season tops, cold season tops, shorts and pants, scarves, pajamas, and costumes. Other function categories could be based on the clothes being used for work/at home/party, etc.

 

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3. The first filter question : Have I used this the past 6 months?

Now comes the part where we actually start cleaning out our closet from unnecessary clothing items. I start by asking myself a very easy question: when was the last time I used an item? If I haven’t used something for months, I probably wouldn’t use it any time soon. But what if the item is something special, for example a dress I just haven’t gotten the occasion to wear yet? Or a shirt given to me on my last birthday? This is when the next question becomes useful.

4. Second filter question : Do I (still) like this?

This question is especially useful for people who have a tendency to hang on to material things due to certain memories attached to them. For example, a shirt that was given as a birthday present by a good friend. Or, a class jersey bought together with best friends in college. We don’t necessarily like these items (at least to wear anymore), but they remind us of certain people or events in our lives, and we fear that losing them would separate us from those people or memories in a way. My rule of thumb is that if you’re just hanging on to it for the memory, you probably don’t like it on you. Just take a picture of it (or yourself wearing it) so you can have it saved in a format other than its folded self in your wardrobe. Another rule of thumb is that relationships aren’t defined by material things. It is okay to let go of a gift someone has given you. It doesn’t mean you will appreciate each other any less. In fact, since we’re now thinking of that person, why not send a short message or give a quick call to catch up on each other’s lives.

5. Third filter question : Do I honestly still fit in this? (Physically and Mentally)

This last question is for those clothing items that you’ve had for a few years, still fits you, and you still wear from time to time. Honestly, some things might fit physically, but mentally, we’ve grown out of them. You still wear them from time to time, because they fit you well. Think about that shirt that makes you look like you need your mom’s consent to enter a bar. Don’t put it back into your closet.

Once closet is cleaned, it’s time to donate!

There are plenty of places nearby home that you could donate your clothes to, if you just do a little research. You might even know someone around you that would appreciate having hand-me-downs or could help pass on your clothes to other people who need extra clothes. If you have kids that have grown out of their old clothes, you can consider donating to an orphanage.

In Delft, I have the option of dropping off my unused clothes at a second-hand shop. They will sell the clothes for a cheap price, and the proceeds will go to charity. If you live in Delft, and would like to giveaway your clothes to a thrift shop like this, you can check the place I go to here. There is also an option to drop off your clothes to the Salvation Army. You can find the closest drop-off point to your home through this map.

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