5 Tips for a Successful Closet Clean Out

5 tips for a successful closet clean out

What is standing between you and a cleaned out closet?

Imagine Your Dream closet

Imagine walking into a clean, organized closet full of items you love, that suit you, fit you, are in great shape, and the contentment that washes over you just being there. Now I want you to imagine the work it will take to get there. [record scratch]

Closet clean outs are daunting. The current trend is to sprint a marathon and do it all right now, or do it or die trying, but that doesn’t work for everyone. We all want a clean, organized closet full of items we love, but the hurdles between here and there are enough to tempt us to empty our closets, grab the matches and start a bonfire in the backyard! Maybe if we burn it all and start from scratch…

Not necessary! A closet clean out doesn’t have to be painful, and I have 5 tips to make it easier for you to have a successful closet clean out.

Break It Up

It’s so easy to want it done now! But that leads to overwhelm and shut down. How many times have you pulled everything out, made a huge mess in your bedroom, gotten overwhelmed, abandoned your project and slept on the couch for a week because you couldn’t handle it, then threw it all back in there because you just. can’t?

Break the job up into sections or time increments. You can do it one season at a time, one section at a time, one category at a time, or however is logical in your closet. I have my closet organized by season and section, so I can go through my tops for each season, then my bottoms, etc. Or maybe you do t-shirts, then sweaters, then blouses, then tank tops, etc.

If your closet isn’t organized like that pick a time limit and days. For example, 15 minutes every evening before bed. Or 30 minutes every weekend. Or commit to going through 20 items a day. The point is to pick something you’ll actually do, rather than what you think you SHOULD do.

When you choose how to break it up, STICK TO IT. It’s easy to get excited on day one and instead of going for 15 minutes…you go for 5 hours, and you are back to burned out, and scrapping the project altogether.

Choose Your Method

There are two methods of attack, and it’s very individual which one will work for you. If you need a boost, go for the quick win. Pick an easy category like shoes, pajamas, or socks. Pick one that is small in number and isn’t emotionally charged. You’ll feel accomplished and motivated to keep going. That momentum might be just what you need to jump start you!

The second option is to eat the frog. think of the section you are dreading, for me that would be tops because it’s hands down my biggest category. Choose the really awful thing you don’t want to do, the big one, the emotional one, and get it out of the way. That can free you up mentally and emotionally finish the rest when you aren’t staring down the road at what is waiting for you.

Are you going to eat the frog or go for the quick win?

Go for the Obvious First

If you have put it on and repeatedly taken it off, it’s a no. You clearly don’t like it for some reason, so do yourself a favor and say goodbye.

Examine each item for rips, holes, stains, fading, excessive pilling, or any other sign of disrepair that you aren’t going to repair SOON. These items aren’t even fit to donate, and can go straight to the garbage.

If it doesn’t fit and you aren’t willing to pay to have it altered or take the time to alter it, out it goes. If it’s more than 1 size too big or too small, it probably can’t be altered. And these days most clothes don’t have the seam allowance to let out clothes. It’s tempting to hold on to too small clothes because you might fit in them…someday, but by then, you’ll want something new. Trends change, and they probably work anymore.

You’ve had it for a few years and it still has the tags on it? You don’t love it. If you loved it, you’d wear it. It’s ok to let it go.

These are an easy purge

Does it match your lifestyle? I worked in the corporate business world for years, and when I chose to leave that to become a stay-at-home-mom, I had no wardrobe for that, and I kep buying dressy clothes that I couldn’t wear while taking care of newborn triplets. But it was what I knew. I held on to my suits and silk blouses for YEARS. And I wore them…never. I finally purged them because they don’t match my lifestyle.

5 Tips for a Successful Closet Clean Out: Corporate Outfit 2
5 Tips for a Successful Closet Clean Out: Corporate Outfit 2
As much as I love corporate wear, suits, heels, and blazers don't suit my lifestyle.
5 Tips for a Successful Closet Clean Out: Corporate Outfit 1

Give Yourself Permission

Closet clean outs are packed with emotions, and they are often unexpected. Being taken by surprise like that can derail you. Guilt, shame, sadness, anger, it all comes bubbling up during a closet purge, and it’s tempting to keep everything to avoid those feelings. First, it helps to know it’s coming. Second, name them, acknowledge them.

  • I feel shame because I spent money on that and 2 years later it still has the tags on it.
  • I feel guilty because that was a gift, but I don’t like it.
  • I feel sad because my body has changed and that doesn’t fit me anymore.

All of these feelings are normal, and acknowledging them steals some of their power. Once you do that, you can give yourself permission to let them go.

Know Your Style

Maybe the biggest challenge that really trips us up during a closet clean out is not knowing our style. How do you know what to keep and what to purge if you don’t know what you love and what you don’t love? Do I like it, or do I think I SHOULD like it? Does this make me look and feel amazing? Or did I buy it because it was on sale and too good to pass up?

I have a free masterclass that helps with this called “5 Steps to Find the Right Clothes for You” where I help you figure those things out. It comes with a free workbook to take you through the steps. Once you know your style, a closet clean out is so much simpler! When you can see WHY you do and don’t wear and love certain things, letting things go becomes easier.

You will love your cleaned out closet, and these tips will help you be successful!

Join the free masterclass today!

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18 thoughts on “5 Tips for a Successful Closet Clean Out”

  1. MICHELLE ELLISON

    I am still working through the modules which I have printed out and given a cursory quick read. Being on a weight loss journey I have kept some loved classic pieces over many yrs in the hopes I could wear them again. So glad I did. In the past I have purged with regret later. Sometimes I don’t wear an item because I have so many as I tend to buy multiple colours of it if I like the fit. I am trying to determine now which are my go to core pieces and separate from those worn less often and then work on keep or toss of them. Alas I am very much driven by my mood as to what I will wear each day. Menopause means layers for 3 seasons and tanks or sundresses in summer. Thanks for all the help this program is giving me.

    1. You’re welcome! By the time you finish the course you will have a much better understanding and the bonus closet clean out to help you! I do a lot of those same things, buying lots of classics, multiples of the same. It’s what I like!

  2. Kathleen Lewis

    My problem is finding clothes in my signature colors. Im warm reddish hair, warm skin and green eyes clearly a deep autumn. Extremely difficult to find clothes in my color and classic style. So to purge the closet is difficult emotionally as you said. Reason ,will i beable to find dark warm brown….skirt or jeans? So easy to find cool winter colors so blacks instead of dark warm brown. Do you post places to buy clothes? Im a newbee only unit 2 love what im learning. 64 yrs old, 5’4 messy lifestyle with occational dressy.
    Thank you,
    Kathleen (Kathy) Lewis

    1. Hi Kathy! I share links of where to buy things in the Stunning Style Society. It’s currently closed, but you can join the waiting list here: stunningstyle.com/society.

      It’s easier during some seasons than others, really depends on the time of year, but there are great options for your color palette available in classic pieces. It just takes a while to hunt them down sometimes.

  3. Hi,
    My name is June Parker and I’ve learned so much from watching your Master Class videos. I’m retired and turning 84 this month so my lifestyle has changed in the past few years. You have encouraged me to purge my closet, keep only things I love, alter some things I liked but didn’t love and donate eight large bags of clothing. I’ve also discovered things I had forgotten about but still love! I’ll try to attach a picture of a top I haven’t worn in about ten years that I discovered in a drawer and can’t wait to wear it in the fall. Thank you for your great help even for an old lady like me!

    June

    1. June that’s awesome! I’m so glad you’re getting your closet into the shape you want and finding some lost loves. And congrats on your retirement and happy birthday!

  4. Thanks for all these tips. Seems like I’m never done cleaning out my closet, but I know I’ll get there…
    I loved one line in particular in your article “If you have put it on and repeatedly taken it off, it’s a no. You clearly don’t like it for some reason, so do yourself a favor and say goodbye.” I think that relates to other stuff in life too; i.e., relationships, jobs, vegetables (HA!) The older I get, the more I realize I can find things that will work for me, instead of going back to things, people, etc., I THINK should work for me. Thanks for the insight.

  5. I have to say that for someone who had triplets you have an amazing figure. I did listen to your Masterclass and have done some of the workbook and have found it very useful. Thank you.

  6. I’m going back to work soon,and felt pressured to organize my lower, which is so small and needs purging,..so I did it yesterday, but I’m glad I caught this class, you make so much sense…I overdid yesterday, like you say,..but you have really good tips that aren’t overwhelming, so I want to check out more of your stuff, … thank you

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