15 Questions To Help You Decide What Clothes To Keep Or Toss

cleaning your closet tips

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I just moved into a new home, and moving is an excellent time to purge your closet of some clothing. You’ve probably let dozens of items stay in your wardrobe for years, all because you just didn’t have to deal with them. But now, you do. Are they going to take up precious real estate in one of your boxes and then in your new closets/dressers at the new home? Or, while they’re in your hand, right now, will they go in the “donate” bag? When you’re moving, you’re forced to make a decision about some of those items you’ve always felt so-so about. Which is a good thing, but never very easy.


Even if you aren’t moving, maybe you’d like to reduce and minimize. You have too much stuff. A cluttered home can cause what feels like a cluttered mind. And you may have some things you never use, that are just taking up space that things you love could have, and that somebody, somewhere, would be thrilled to receive. Your wardrobe is important, though. It’s not superficial. It’s about expressing who you are through your aesthetic. It’s about boosting your confidence and making you feel happy. Your wardrobe is an extension of who you are, which is why you feel such a buzz when you bring home that new perfect item, and why you feel so sad when you can’t find that one long-beloved piece. It’s all a part of you. So deciding what stays and what goes is tough.


I had to come up with a system to decide what I keep and what I donate, because packing and moving was taking too damn long without said system. So I compiled some questions that I ask myself when deciding whether or not to take or donate an item of clothing. Hopefully they can help you, too.


How often do you wear it?

How many times a year do you wear this thing? Even if you tell yourself, “This item is sort of blah,” but you realize you wear it almost every week, you may want to hang onto it. Maybe it isn’t spectacular, but it’s one of those pieces that ties other spectacular items together. It just goes with a lot, and you feel at home in it. But…if you can say you wore something once this year…or less that once…it’s probably time to get rid of it. Unless…


Is it for a special occasion?

There are some items that are very specific, we don’t need them often, but when we need them, they’re exactly what we need. For example, I have one flapper dress—complete with all the tassels and beads—that I obviously rarely wear. However, I keep it, because every so often, somebody has a Roaring 20’s themed or Great Gatsby party, or I’m invited to a speakeasy cocktail bar, and it’s just the thing. If you have something like that, hang onto it.


Has it just been hiding?

Here’s another reason you may rarely wear something: it’s been hiding! Your wardrobe is set up such that there are several items you just can’t see, or that are hard to reach, so you never wear them. If this piece fits into that category, but you’re surprisingly happy to see it, keep it, store it in a more visible place, and see if you wind up wearing it more.


Does it require another item?

If it’s one of those things that you can never make work without another thing—like a totally see-through top that you must wear a camisole under, but the camisole sort of ruins the aesthetic—let it go. Personally, I’m at an age where I want very plug-and-play clothes that don’t require some additional item, just to be functional. I need to buy clothes that help me love my body.


Does it make you self-conscious?

Could you say that, when you wear this item, there is always some thing in the back of your mind. It flattens your boobs. It sags at the butt. It rides up when you walk a few blocks. Get rid of items like these. They rob you of enjoying yourself when you wear them, because you’re just worrying about these little annoyances.


Is it a vacation item?

This is a different type of special occasion item, as you may wear it a few times a year. If you have a fun little pool cover-up, or chunky pool heels, you naturally won’t wear these any time other than when you’re on vacation, but you know that when you do go on vacation, you’re so happy to have them.


Do you hate to love it?

You know how sometimes, you have those items that excite you but also annoy you? Maybe they’re super trendy, or, though they’re beautiful, they also remind you very much of something that someone you hate would wear? Ditch them. You don’t need these items in your closet that bring up mixed feelings.


Is it hard to take care of?

It’s covered in sequins that scratch up whatever purse you carry when wearing it, so you have to put all your essentials (phone, wallet, etc.) in your pockets when you wear it. It shows sweat stains so easily that it must be washed after every use. If you have an item that requires that much maintenance, it’s probably time to ditch it.


Do you have anything that matches it?

If it’s almost impossible to find something to match with an item—or maybe you have just one thing that matches it, so if you wear it, you always assemble the exact same outfit—it’s probably time to get rid of that thing. You need versatile pieces that compliment many other items in your wardrobe.


Would you be sad to let it go?

Maybe your grandmother gave it to you, you have great memories in it, you got it during an important time of your life, or a best friend gave it to you. You don’t have to give everything away. If you truly feel sad to hand something off, don’t. Why torture yourself? If you only have a couple of things that fall under this category, it’s not like they take up that much space.


Will you even notice it’s gone?

Well, would you? Imagine a world in which this thing is outta there. You can’t wear it. You never again can touch it. The option to put it on is forever gone. How does that make you feel? If it makes you upset, keep it. If you realize it makes you feel…nothing…then you know it’s time to ditch it. Don’t keep clothes that make you feel nothing.


How much did it cost you?

Not that it’s all about money, but sometimes, you feel bad getting rid of something because it’s a nice item. However, if you’re like me, then you have several nice items that retailed at $200 but you got them for $12 at a thrift store. So, stop fixating on the retail price of the item if that’s not what you paid for it. Now that you see this as a $12 item instead of a $200 one, how do you feel about getting rid of it?


Is it one part of your personality?

Maybe you don’t wear this thing often, but it’s a part of your personality, and when that part comes out, it’s just what you want to wear. Perhaps it’s that wispy peasant skirt you wear with a cowgirl hat and chunky jewelry to street festivals and concerts. That’s not you, most days, but when it is, you need something to express it!


Is it an outfit for the parents?

So you want to toss out that structured dress or conservative blouse. Stop right there. Is it perhaps something you need to keep around to wear for the in-laws? Or to church? Or for a job interview? Maybe these things don’t come up often, but you’ll feel silly when they do, and you have nothing appropriate to wear.


Are you happy when you wear it?

Are you truly happy when you wear it? When you put it on, do you get that little surge of energy through your body? Do you want to take a selfie in it? Do you find yourself dancing, unbeknownst to yourself, while you brush your teeth and do your makeup, because your body just lights up in this outfit? If so, keep it.

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