I have a small three-drawer dresser and a half of a closet in which to store clothes and I’m a pretty discerning shopper and still I feel like I have too much of what I don’t want and not enough of what I do. As a first phase in the larger game of building a wardrobe of clothes that I—er—actually like, here’s a step-by-step approach for wardrobe purging that works for me:
Pile #1 – Stay: Anything that I love and that’s still in wearable condition.
These are the clothes that have got to go, no questions asked. I go through this pile and divvy it up into two. In one pile go clothes that I can turn into rags (think: armpits stained beyond salvaging, unmendable rips or tears). In the other goes clothes that have outlived their usefulness to me, but which might make someone else happy. This might include clothes that have stretched out or shrunken so that they no longer fit quite right, but it does not include clothes that are in truly bad shape (see above). Sometimes, unfortunately, this pile includes a dress whose color makes my skin glow like dirty bathwater or a pair of jeans that I finally accept simply won’t stretch to be comfortable. These get packed up into a bag and are either taken to a consignment shop or thrift store, depending on their condition.
Pile #3 – Ponder:
This is the toughest pile to wrangle, and for me it usually requires a revisit. This is the pile of unloved clothes that I know I don’t wear regularly, but that I’m not quite ready to part with. This might include a particularly pricey sweater that’s turned out to also be unbearably itchy, or a pair of pants that aren’t quite comfy but that I can cope with wearing during a dinner out as long as there are sweatpants on the other side of it, or a blouse that’s awfully dingy but that I can’t stand to part with. These go back into my drawer or closet if there’s room, or they get zipped into bag for me to revisit upon the arrival of the new season. When the season for wearing them rolls around again, I reconsider. Sometimes I shove these things straight away into a bag destined for the thrift store, sometimes absence has made the heart grow fonder and I’m reunited with a pair of jeans that become a favorite. Still other times, I need to cycle through two rounds of purging to be ready to admit that I made a bad purchase or that something has become ratty beyond repair.
1. I resist the urge to purge clothes out of season. It’s easy to look at a spaghetti-strapped sundress in the middle of January when the sidewalks are iced over and it’s been days since you’ve seen the sun and decide that you never need to see it again. Different story come June.
2. If any of the clothes in Pile #2 would fall into Pile #1 if they weren’t otherwise worn out, I try to make a note. Did I just part with my favorite white t-shirt? If yes, was it one that I loved unconditionally but that I still managed to ruin? If yes, is it worth replacing? I try hard not to rush out to replace what I’ve given away. Getting comfortable with owning fewer clothes makes keeping an edited wardrobe possible in the first place.
Did I cover everything? How do you guys wrangle your (tiny) closets?
Tiny apartment survival tips #1 – 106, right here.