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Questions to Ask While Cleaning Out Your Closet (And a Few Organization Hacks!)

March 12, 2021

As we steadily approach warmer weather (after what feels like the longest winter in history…) we’re ready to tackle spring cleaning. If you also feel like your whole home (and self) needs a reset after hitting the one year mark since the world shut down due to COVID-19, I’m right there with you. To help you stay sane and potentially avoid regrets in the future, here are my tips and questions to ask yourself while tackling a closet cleanout during the time of COVID.

First thing to point out: Style rules have changed quite a bit during this time. You have probably looked at your closet through a very different lens in the last year, and this also makes  the usual “does it spark joy” calculations less reliable.

For example, asking yourself “Has it been a year or more since I’ve worn this?” Chances are, you have a lot of clothing you love that has been mostly sitting for a year, and there are still clothes in your closet that no longer feel relevant to your life. There’s a possibility that you’ll need them again, but it’s tough, because you don’t know when.

Timeless pieces include blazers, dress pants, and other pieces that are not specific to a trend.

For business casual or more formal pieces that are timeless, and still fit, I recommend keeping them, but maybe store them, so you’re not taking up space in your closet– and this doesn’t necessarily mean putting them in a standard plastic storage crate and banishing that to the basement until we’re “back to normal” again.

  • Make a small investment in some under-bed storage like this container from Ikea, which also stack really nicely if you want to get a few for a spare room or the back of your closet instead.
  • Grab a few cute baskets (like this one or this one also from Ikea) to help segment your closet and add a decorative touch, like putting all your dress pants in one and putting that on the top shelf. They’re still handy for if you need them, but they aren’t creating clutter with your “COVID wardrobe”.
  • If you’re lacking closet space but have floor space in a spare bedroom or a corner of your office, get a clothing rack with a cover like this one from Target. You can pop it up in a corner, store all your extra clothes, and protect your pieces from dust and the other sources of mess we all have in our homes.

COVID wardrobe aside, I have an easy approach to deciding whether or not you should hold on to the clothes in your closet. Not sure where to start? Start at one end and work your way around. Ask yourself these questions with each piece, and decide if it stays, goes, or gets put in storage!

Question 1: Does it fit?

  • If not, why are you holding onto it? Bad energy – constant reminder that you’re not accepting your body for how it is right now 
  • Stop thinking you need to keep something because it might fit again. If it does fit again, you’ll be a different person, and you’ll want something different to replace it anyway

Question 2: Do I love it?

  • Does wearing this make you happy? Does it make you feel good? Do you look forward to wearing it?

Question 3: When was the last time you wore it?

  • If it’s been a while, there’s usually a reason. Sometimes that reason is Covid, sometimes it’s that it no longer aligns with who you are as a person.

Question 4: Is it sentimental?

  • Sentimental means something like the outfit you wore on your wedding day, or a piece of clothing/accessory that belonged to a loved one that has passed on.
  • Sentimental does not mean “my mother in law gave this to me and I feel obligated to keep it”. Fuck that. If you answered “no” to questions 1 and 2 and “I’m not sure” to number 3, it’s time to part with it.

Psst… I have this available as a handy flow chart so you can keep this in front of you while you’re cleaning out your closet. You can download it here.

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