Closet full of clothes but nothing to wear? You’re not alone. Most people only wear 20% of their wardrobe . That’s a lot of real estate dedicated to clothes that never get worn. If every time you open your closet you see clothes that you regret having purchased (why did I spend so much money on this?), or that make you feel bad about your body (why don’t I fit in this anymore?), your clothes are not serving you and it’s time to let them go. Purging can feel amazing and has the ability to truly change your life. If you’re not sure how to get started, or if cleaning out your closet seems like a daunting task, here are a few tips to help you get it done with minimal pain and suffering.
1: Think about the upside.
If you’re getting ready to swap, think about all of the beautiful new garments you’re about to get in exchange for the clothes you never wear. Imagine opening your closet and loving everything inside. Everything fits. Everything makes you feel fabulous when you wear it. When you send in the clothes you’re done with, you’ll get equal value for what you send in. There’s no hassle, no haggling, and no trying to sell your clothes for 2-4% of what you originally spent.
2: Work in categories.
Organization guru Marie Kondo suggests doing all of your clothing at once by making a big pile in the middle of the floor and holding up each garment while asking yourself if it “sparks joy.” If that seems overwhelming, try doing one category at a time instead. Start with tops, bottoms, dresses or activewear, etc… It might also feel easier if you start with off-season clothes instead of current-season clothing.
3: If it doesn’t fit, swap it.
Once you get into the routine of swapping, you no longer feel the need to keep things that don’t fit. When you can wear everything you have, getting dressed is much more pleasant. If you anticipate your size will change soon, it’s fine to keep a few really special garments, but try to keep this to a minimum. If your size changes again, you can swap again. Swapping is especially helpful if you’re pregnant or postpartum. When you swap, you don’t have to buy new clothes for every different size as you get bigger and then smaller again.
4. If you haven’t worn it in over a year, swap it.
Seriously, if you haven’t worn something in over a year, you will probably never wear it again. There are always exceptions to the rule, but try to stick to this one. If it’s been over a year, but you’re still have trouble parting with it, ask yourself this: If you saw it in a store today, would you buy it? Do you love they way it looks on you? If you’re not sure, try it on. How does it make you feel? Does it spark joy? If your answer is no to any of those questions, swap it.
5. If it’s damaged, repair it or donate it.
Clothing that’s ripped, stained, faded, snagged or missing parts such as buttons should be repaired immediately or donated. If you’ve been meaning to fix that broken zipper for a long time, but never find the time, you probably never will. Just let it go.
6. Ask for help.
Still having trouble? Ask someone to help you decide what needs to go. If you don’t have a partner, friend or relative who’s a good candidate for this task, you could hire a professional organizer or stylist.
7. Try Project 333.
Take the minimalist fashion challenge that’s sweeping the world. Every 3 months you choose 33 items of clothing and accessories, including shoes, jewelry and outerwear, to wear for the 3 month period. The challenge encourages you to let go of the things you never wear while simplifying your wardrobe and your life.
8. If all else fails, pick a number.
Purge 5, 10 or 15 items to start, and go from there. Take baby steps toward your ultimate goal. Once you get going, it gets easier.
Sometimes the thought of donating your clothes, or selling them for a tiny fraction of what you spent, can make it difficult to part with them. Swapping takes that sting away because you can get something new (to-you!) in exchange. Give it a try--it’s really fun! It also saves money and helps you to step more lightly on the earth. Win, win, win.