How To Cultivate Your Closet In 7 Steps
If I had to guess, I’ve had some iteration of cleaning out my closet on my goals list at least five times over the past three years. But I’m embracing little by little progress. And based on some conversations I’ve had, I know I’m not alone.
Today, I’m sharing seven tips that have been helpful for me as I’ve been planning to cultivate my closet (number three is a game-changer). I hope these are helpful for those of you who share this as a similar goal.
How To Cultivate Your Closet In 7 Steps
1. Know your lifestyle
Before you can start cleaning out your closet, it’s important to define what types of clothes you need. Caroline Joy of Unfancy offers a free printable wardrobe planner that serves as a great starting step for identifying what is and isn’t working in your current wardrobe.
My favorite part? She encourages you to make a pie chart evaluating how you spend your time and what activities you dress for on a daily basis.
For example, my closet has quite a few professional outfits from previous jobs, but the occasions to wear them are now few and far between. Putting this work in on the front end helps you identify trends, see holes in your closet, and think holistically about your clothing.
2. Establish purging guidelines
Everyone’s season of life is different. So instead of giving you specific questions or rules to ask as you go through your categories, I encourage you to set guidelines for what works best for YOU. If you need a few ideas for questions to ask yourself, here’s a list you can pull from:
- Does this fit me?
- Have I worn this item in the last six months?
- Is this item the best version of itself? (Does it need to be tailored? Is it worn out?)
- Can I wear this with three other things in my closet?
- Would I buy this now?
- Do I already own a better version of this piece of clothing?
- Does the care for this item fit my lifestyle?
- How do I feel when I wear this?
3. Break it down
We’ve all had that throw-your-hands-in-the-air moment when cleaning out your closet. You know the moment I’m talking about. Every item of clothing you own is laying on your bed, you’re overwhelmed and just want to give up.
Sound familiar? Want to know how to prevent that paralysis from happening again? Break your closet sorting down into categories. Instead of saying you’re going to clean out your entire closet in one weekend, break down the items you want to sort through and go category by category. It’s a lot easier to tackle them in smaller chunks of time, and you’ll stay motivated. Here’s a good list to work with:
One more piece of advice – start with the easiest categories.
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4. Evaluate each piece of clothing
Using the guidelines you decided on above, go through each article of clothing one-by-one. A piece of advice from Marie Kondo’s best-selling book is to pick up each piece of clothing you as you evaluate it. I love how it slows down the process and forces you to focus on only the item in your hand. As you evaluate each item. Add it to the right pile: Keep, Donate/Sell, Repair.
5. Follow through
Choose a date to drop off your donations, put the box in your car, and mark it in your planner or calendar. The longer you let your donate pile sit around your house, the more likely you are to second guess whether or not you should keep something in it!
If there are clothes you’re hoping to sell on Poshmark or a Buy/Sell/Trade group, go ahead and list those items right away. Decide on a “sell by” date and if anything hasn’t sold by then, make a plan to donate the remaining items.
6. Find a place for everything
Once you’ve decided on what’s staying in your cultivated closet, find a home for it. Create a system that works for you. As you do this, fight the urge to rush out and buy brand new storage baskets, containers, or bins. If you need a way to corral your winter accessories, shop your house and use what you have first.
You’ll get a better sense of where you like things to be stored and what you might need, without being left with 17 storage containers.
7. Evaluate incoming purchases
This one is vital to maintaining a cultivated closet, and it’s different for each person. Decide on a system for new purchases, and plan to stick to it. For some people with more limited space, it might make sense to implement a “one in, one out” rule where you donate an article of clothing for each new piece you bring home. For others, you may give yourself a buffer of a time period to avoid impulse purchases.
One thing that works for me is keeping a Note on my iPhone of my perceived holes in my closet. Now, anytime I’m out shopping and see something I like, I can pull up my list and see if it fills a hole in my wardrobe. If the answer is no, then I’ll pass.