7 easy steps when cleaning out closets

Spring Clean Your Wardrobe

by Lisa Van den Boomen

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It's that time of year again. It's time to purge and discard anything unwanted, open the windows, and clean out the dust that has collected in our homes over the past few dark months.

I love to purge, but not clean, so I decided to start with a fairly simple project that I actually enjoy, and that's cleaning out my wardrobe.

I've been collecting stuff all winter from thrift stores and a few retail places and my closet is starting to look like a real girly closet. I'm almost embarrassed at the amount of clothing I have at the moment. I probably don't have as much as many women, but for me, it's probably too much. The worst part is that I've been known to say I have nothing to wear. But we've all had those moments, right?

I have a tiny closet with a few dozen hangers and another portable one, which is packed. My mother had purchased this portable bamboo one for me since I can't/don't fold clothes and would leave them on my chair all the time. I hang everything apart from jeans and under-goods.

So for those of you who dread this task, here are a few simple things to follow:

1. If you haven't worn it in 2 years, get rid of it.

My mother told me this and I use it often when I clean out my stuff. If it has sentimental value, that's okay but you shouldn't keep it in your closet or dresser if you will not wear it anymore. I know you loved it two years ago, but it's time to stop living in the past!

2. Make piles or separate the clothes using boxes.

When you go through your closet, keep the stuff you definitely want hung up (or folded in your dresser) and the rest you can separate into piles. For example, your piles may want to include "Sentimental Value Clothes," "Maybes" and "No's." When you can't decide, a maybe box is good to have. I usually keep the maybe box for a few days and go through it again. By that time, I usually know if I want to keep it or not. The sentimental clothes can be stored away in a bin. This box might consist of one or two pieces. If it's more than that, you might want to reevaluate.

3. Use your gut feeling.

I've owned pieces that I really loved, but they didn't look that great on me. It's tough to get rid of those. Use your gut or immediate instinct when going through your clothes. If you have to stand there 10 minutes deciding whether you want it or not, you don't really want it. I've gotten rid of clothes so easily using this method. You will be shocked at the amount of clothes you won't miss once you get rid of them.

4. Give to friends and family.

In some cases, I have given clothing I really liked to friends so I can see that the piece I love is being worn by someone I care about instead of being tossed or given away. I have a tough time getting rid of really great clothes that I liked but no longer look good on me. If I can give it to someone I like, then it will make things easier to get rid of.

Imagine how much simpler life could be if you were debt free. Now take the first step to getting there.

5. Don't keep clothes for fat or skinny days.

This is a trap many of us fall into. We keep that really skinny pair of jeans that doesn't quite fit just in case we decide to go to the gym and get fit again and wear them. Or we keep pants or skirts that are a bit too big just in case something happens and we balloon out of nowhere. I know how tempting it is to do this, but don't. I have done this, and in the end, these clothes just took too much space. If it doesn't fit me now, I get rid of it. A lot of my clothes are now too big for me, and knowing that I fluctuate with my weight a tiny bit, it's tough to get rid of some of my clothes.

6. Make a pile for clothes to be altered.

I had a skirt that I spent $200 on (yes, this was a few years ago and I was temporarily insane). However, this is an amazing skirt. It's very artsy, and I love it. I lost weight when my father passed away two years ago and never gained it back so I hadn't worn it for a while. It was a size 8 and too big but there was no way that I was going to toss this skirt. Since I had spent a lot of money on it and still loved it, I decided to get it taken in to fit me right now. So if you have clothes like this, make a pile and get them altered. It's best if you can do it yourself or have a friend/family member do it for you or barter as getting clothes altered can cost a lot of money.

Related: 7 Simple Clothing Fixes You Can Do

7. Invite a friend over to help.

This is not something I like doing. I tend to like to do this on my own, but this is for people who are not very good at making decisions. You've seen it in the movies where girls are going through their closets and trying things on for friends. Get a friend that is going to be blunt and honest with you and one that has decent fashion sense. You can do this for each other, too. Make a day out of it. Get some wine and snack foods and work your magic! It might take longer, but it will be a lot more fun and less tedious.

You should easily and successfully be able to make a little room in your wardrobe now. Take the "NO" box and decide if you want to give them away to friends or donate to a charity. You can hold a clothing swap with friends so they have new pieces for next fall/winter.

Reviewed April 2017

Lisa Van den Boomen lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada. She is the author of The Frugal Vegan Survival Guide Zine series.

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