One of the single most impactful places you can declutter in your home is your closet. I’ve worked with clients who would verify this and I’ve experienced it myself. There is something so refreshing about opening a closet that only has items in it that you wear and love because you’ve created a confidence-inspiring wardrobe.
The hanger method:
You can find various ideas online for ways to declutter your closet. One piece of advice I have seen making the rounds lately is the hanger method.
This approach suggests turning all of your hangers
I cringe every time I see this mentioned. Here’s why:
This method requires making your closet look disorganized intentionally for a prolonged period of time. I try very hard not to create further disorganization in my home.
As someone with a type A personality who enjoys organized spaces, this system would make me dislike walking into my closet for the next year to see hangers facing different directions.
What happens when I am trying to decide what to wear and pull out extra pieces of clothes during the process? For this method to work, I need to make sure I put the clothes I decided not to wear that day on the hangers still hung
After I do the laundry I have to remember to turn the hangers around for the items I did wear. This method takes ongoing effort and your decluttering won’t be completed for a year. I prefer a quicker and more thorough approach.
While I understand the idea that if you aren’t wearing an item you should get rid of it, I can’t help but think of all the exceptions. If you live in a place that has more drastic seasons, six months really won’t give you a good idea of all the clothes you’d want to keep.
Even with a year, it could be the winter wasn’t as cold that year and you may still want the extra warm jacket for another year.
Also, you could have a formal dress or two that you like but perhaps didn’t have an occasion to wear that particular year, but the next year you might. I don’t see a need to get rid of these items that fit and that you like simply because you hadn’t worn them that year.
The hanger method assumes we should keep what we are wearing. Sometimes we are wearing the wrong things though. For the first few
My goal was to wear clothes that didn’t have baby fluids on them. That was what I would have considered a win then. Does that mean that is all I should have kept?
Even when we aren’t in a survival season, it is easy to get in a rut and wear things because it is routine. That doesn’t mean we are dressing our best and considering if the items are actually working well for us.
It is totally possible to have a closet with lots of better options that you aren’t wearing simply because you’ve forgotten about them, or are by habit, wearing other things.
Create a confidence-inspiring wardrobe
There is a better and quicker way to declutter your wardrobe. It’s like Marie Kondo’s approach in that you are going through all of your clothes, but it doesn’t ask you if each item ‘sparks joy’. You also don’t have to thank each piece of clothing in this method ;).
3 questions to ask:
Before you even get started going through your closet, raise your level of awareness of how you are feeling when you’re wearing your clothes. If you’ve been operating on autopilot for awhile (which, frankly, many of us are) start to consider the following three things with each item of clothing:
What shape is the item in? Is it stretched out? Are there any holes, stains, pilling, or areas that need to be repaired? If it requires repair, are you able to (or will you) take the time to mend, use stain removers, or fix whatever it is the garment needs? If the answer is no, it is time to go.
Is the article of clothing comfortable? Do you like the feel of the fabric? Does it lay the way it is supposed to? Does it require constant adjusting?
If the item is not at all comfortable, chances are you don’t wear it often. Or if you do, why??? Life is too short to wear scratchy fussy clothes. If you don’t enjoy the way it feels and have to constantly mess with it, let it go.
How do you feel when you wear this garment? Does it make you feel good or bad about yourself? Do you feel confident or self-conscious? We’ve all seen What Not to Wear, right?
There are clothes out there for everyone. It is possible to look and feel good in your clothes no matter what size you are. Let go of the clothes that don’t flatter you and that you don’t enjoy wearing.
The end goal is a confidence-inspiring wardrobe that you feel good about.
Embrace your current life stage. If you have clothes from past seasons of your life that no longer fit your current life, it’s time to let them go. The memories will live on even if the clothes no longer hang in your closet.
Accept where you are now and consider how you want to present yourself in your life.
Keep the items that are in good condition, comfortable and that you feel confident in. For items that don’t meet the criteria, have up to 3 bags. One for selling (which is usually only worth the effort for higher-end clothes), one for donating (to a friend, your local buy nothing group, or a local organization), and one for recycling (damaged fabric that is stained, has holes, etc).
Do a little research to find which local places recycle textiles. Try calling local donation centers to see if they recycle or research the drop-off bin companies that are available in your area.
As you went through your clothes, you may have come across items you weren’t sure about. Set those aside as you go through and re-examine them after you’ve gone through everything else. Sometimes making those decisions is easier at the end.
If you are still unsure, try wearing them again and notice what you are thinking and feeling when you wear it. Having a greater awareness of standards makes it easier to decide after one more wear if it is a keeper or it needs to go too.
Now that you’ve created a confidence-inspiring wardrobe and have an elevated awareness of how you feel in your clothes, it gets easier to decide what stays and what goes. It’s also helpful when shopping for new items in the future as you’ve gotten more in tune with what works for you and what doesn’t.
Being more selective in the buying process means you aren’t likely to have to continue doing a massive decluttering of your closet. You deserve a confidence-inspiring wardrobe. Don’t settle for good enough. You’re better than that.
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I think this is such a good method! We did KonMari our closet (and I’m glad we did!) but I like your approach because it includes confidence. Not all of my clothes spark joy, but the ones that don’t do make me feel confident when I wear them.
Thanks so much for the comment, Marcie 🙂
Very good i have read them all. Very thoughtful and right on. Please keep writing.
Thanks so much, Kathye!
Finally!!!! A clothes “decluttering” method that actually makes sense!!
I’m glad you liked it, Debby 🙂
I’m presently decluttering my body so I can go through my wardrobe and really decide what to keep or not. I dislike having clothes that don’t fit in there. I love your idea of not saying thank you and goodbye to clothes but I also loved a moment that Joshua Becker recounts when a woman goes past a battered women’s shelter and realises that she really doesn’t need so many clothes and the excess would be more than welcome to those women. So I’m going to say “Enjoy your new home” to my wardrobe extras and those that stay will be comfortable and in good condition and make me feel confident. I admire Marie Kondo but the method is so time consuming and for me too meticulous and I’m the slightly OCD member of my family!! Thank you so much for your article, I enjoyed it very much.
Thanks for this great article. I love your 3 c’s. I realised recently since starting to read your work that i can simplify my clothes. I really only like to wear pink and white and denim. Ive tried to branch out with colours but i never feel as good as when I’m wearing pink. Sometimes light blue. I’ve decided i wont go back to face to face work and i dont need to wear uncomfortable business clothes any more. Now to let the other stuff go. It will be easier while keeping your 3 c’s in mind.
Great article. My challenges are two fold.
I am an Indian, so I have three types of dress – western, saris (which need a petticoat and blouse) and punjabi suits (long tops, a scarf and pants/tights). And keeping a ‘clean wardrobe is almost impossible.
The second challenge is – I lost my daughter recently and clearing away her stuff has been excruciatingly hard. That’s not just clothes but everything she used or bought with so much joy and love. How do we deal with this side of decluttering? Thank you so much for your articles.