4 Things You Need to Know About Cleaning Out Your Closet and Creating a Minimal Wadrobe

minimal closet tips

When you read the words reduce, reuse and recycle I’d bet you are thinking of your recycle bin in your kitchen. Am I right? These three words can influence so much more in our lives than just our trash can. I think of these words when I go shopping for food and clothes, when I’m at a restaurant, when I travel and when I’m cleaning out my closet.

I’m sure from past posts you know by now that one of my goals this year is to buy less, shop more consciously and clean out extra clutter in my home. I like so many others have read and been inspired by the book The Magical Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I’ve moved every year or two for the past 14 years and I’m one of those people that liked doing so. I like the forced purge that happens when you have to place everything you own into boxes. Since we bought our house two years ago I’ve been feeling the itch to go through everything to create a more minimal lifestyle. Reading Marie’s book was the push I needed to start the process without a move being the reason to do so. Without the rush to pack up my home I’ve had the time to go through my wardrobe consciously, cleaning out what I no longer want and only keeping what I love.

When I’ve been going through my closet simplifying my wardrobe these are the tips I found that have helped me keep my focus.

4 Tips for Staying Focused While Creating a Minimal Wardrobe

  1. Ask yourself do I love the way this feels when I wear it? Do I love the way I look when I wear it? Is it still in good condition? You need to get a YES to all three of these questions. Not one or two, but ALL of them, before you decide to keep an item. I would always talk myself into keeping pieces because I loved how it looked. Even if it was an itchy fabric I would say, “Well I don’t wear it that often so it’s fine to keep”… not fine. These three questions are a great way to make sure your wardrobe is at it’s best, you’ll be surprised  just how many pieces don’t make it cut. These questions are how I have been able to get rid of so much (5 trash bags full with more to go!).
  2. Don’t feel guilty about how few times you may have worn something before you get rid of it or use the excuse that it was expensive as reason to keep it. This tip is all Marie Kondo, and has been a really hard one for me to learn. I still struggle with sticking to this. I have a lot of guilt about getting rid of things I feel I didn’t get enough use out of. Her advice is, “every item teaches us something”. You can use this as an opportunity to learn what you really like and refine your style even more. With more clarity about your tastes you won’t keep making the same mistakes, buying items you only mostly like, instead of items you love.
  3. Keep the end goal in mind. When I started to feel overwhelmed, like I was going to regret getting rid of an item or that there was still so much to go through I’d take a few minutes to remember why I was doing this all in the first place. I wanted to feel more free than weighed down when I looked in my closet. I wanted it to be easier to get ready in the morning because my closet would have fewer choices to distract as it would be full of items I loved and as a practicality I physically needed more space. I live in a 700 square foot house with my husband and we share a 1920’s 4 foot long closet, having less really makes life so much easier. Simplicity with your wardrobe is a great step to feeling more peace. It really can make you feel more free, it feels so nice to have less around.
  4. As I’ve been clearing my space, and buying less I’ve also been thinking about some of the clothes I love but aren’t quite perfect. Before this year the only thing I’ve ever had altered by a professional was my wedding dress. I’m a tall lady and have never had to have pants hemmed, because of that getting clothes altered was not on my radar. While cleaning out my closet I came across a few pieces that I knew I would love if I some simple changes were made. Getting something altered is a great alternative to buying new. Down below are a few examples of the things that I was able to give a second life to  with a trip to a tailor.

minimal closet

All four of these steps will help you simplify your wardrobe. It can be a real challenge to get started, but once you do you will feel great. Cleaning out the things you don’t love, makes the things you do really stand out, making you realize that you don’t need more, cheap things to fill the space you worked so hard to free up. It’s a self supporting process, that once you start you won’t want to stop!

Only buy new items that you 100% love not anything less. With how cheap some clothes are now days it is easy to talk yourself into buying more then you need and buying pieces you only partially like because “it’s only $15″…don’t do it!

When you’ve decided that something in your wardrobe just isn’t for you, don’t trash it, donate it. That will keep it out of the landfill, and give the clothes a chance at another life. What might not be right for you may be perfect for someone else. There are lots of great charities that would benefit from your donation, or you could host a clothing swap with your friends.

I picked up the few pieces,  that were changed just enough to give them new life and make them perfect for me, from a local tailor this week.  Alteration vastly reduces waste and carbon impact produced from buying new; and if that wasn’t enough benefit for you, going to the tailor also supports a local business. It cost me $33 and I gave them back their hangers so they could reuse them. You could hardly buy a high quality new shirt for that much, but I got three great pieces that I’ll be wearing for years to come.

This shirt was from Anthropology. I’ve had it for probably 4 years but didn’t wear it often because it had a ruffle collar that I didn’t like, but I loved the style (which is why I bought it in the first place). I had the collar removed and am so excited to wear it all summer long.

minimal closet

This vintage dress belonged to my grandmother. I love it, but it was was that awkward mid calf length, so I had it altered to fall right at the knee. I’m looking forward to wearing it now that I feel good in it.

minimal closet

These pants were my moms from the early 90’s. I love the pattern and how comfortable they are, but they came up way to high. I know high waisted bottoms are a popular style right now, but these had an elastic band, that was just not my style. Now they’ve been altered to hit a bit lower on my waist I’m much happier with the fit.

minimal closet

So much green living winning I had to share. :)

Do you get clothes tailored? Do you love or hate cleaning out your closet? I’d love to know in the comments below.

Simply Alyson Peace & Love




8 thoughts on “4 Things You Need to Know About Cleaning Out Your Closet and Creating a Minimal Wadrobe

  1. Hi Alyson, your blog post is very timely. We are moving to Oregon next month and I am in the process of packing. I knew this move was coming and so have been purging for over a year – and yet – there is still so much ‘excess’. Some clothes are easier for me to donate, but others, that don’t even fit, I (like many others, I’m sure) think I will fit into it again once I lose some weight ….

    I’m not a shoe person, but yet, 5 pairs of cowboy boots ???

    Thanks for your post.

    1. Tess, Congratulations on planning in advance and purging before your move. About the clothes that you will fit into again someday, I have heard that if you are trying to lose weight, keeping items that don’t fit in your closet actually work against you for shedding the extra pounds. Think about it, when you see those clothes you want to fit into, do they make you feel good about yourself or do they make you feel like a failure or just feel bad in general? Those feelings are not motivating but instead de-motivating. I say, let go of those clothes and when you do lose the weight reward yourself with new ones. And remember, you are beautiful exactly as you are right now.

    2. Tess that is so awesome you were so on top of it before your big move, a fresh start is the best feeling. How is the new place? The photos I’ve seen are beautiful. I hope you’re doing well and loving your new home! :)

  2. I am an eco-fashion gal, having a seamstress or knowing where to get something tailored is so important! Buy nice things and keep them nice with a bit of help!!

    I know our local dry cleaner offers alterations and I always recommend that to people because I hate to see them throw something away just because they don’t know how to make that adjustment themselves.

    1. It’s really been a game changer in teams of making pieces I like into ones I love; and you’re so right it’s super sustainable to get something altered than to go buy new.

  3. For number 2, I like to think about the person that finds that expensive clothing piece or the one that was hardly worn. If it were me, I would be so excited to find a quality piece of clothing at a thrift store. Or a fine article clothing being given to someone that really needs it (such as through Dress for Success). How great that must make another women feel when she receives something that looks brand new or is of great quality.

    I recently took a dress that I grabbed at a clothing exchange party and got it altered. It is now my favorite dress. I will be getting more things altered. And thank you for the examples. I am used to thinking of alterations for clothes that don’t fit right. I will need to look through my closet with the lenses of alterations for items that need a tweak for them to be more to my liking and style.

    1. It has been a total game changer for me to think about how I could make small changes to items so that I can really love them, plus it’s fun and makes them really unique.
      You are totally right, thinking about donating new/expensive items that just don’t work for me are really going to make someone happy when they come across them. :)

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